Monday, November 20, 2006

The Big Apple Comicon, November 17, 2006

Here is writer and herstorian Trina Robbins, and former Marvel artist/current Archie delineator Stan Goldberg. Trina's beau Steve Leialoha is out of the frame, having walked behind me and doing a peace sign behind my head. This explains Trina's amused look!

Comics legend Irwin Hasen manning his table, which was next to Stan's. (And my friend Jim Salicrup is going to be next to him -- but, alas, Jim was not there on Friday afternoon.) I love the sign Irwin drew. From top left, clockwise, the Hasen stable of characters he's drawn: Green Lantern (Golden Age version), Wildcat, Dondi and Wonder Woman. In the late 1930s and 40s, Irwin was the go-to guy for drawing the DC comics covers. He had a bold, dynamic graphic style that's been compared to Alex Toth and Mort Meskin. (Two of my personal faves.) Read about his career in a 1999 Alter Ego Magazine interview that Roy Thomas did here.

A portion of an original penciled Archie mural that Stan had drawn that morning. It was taped to the pillar behind him.

Stan was selling a lot of Archie originals, but these pages from 1960s-era MILLIE THE MODEL comics caught my eye. This over size art, with Goldberg pencils and Goldberg inks (a rarity since Stan only pencils these days), was gorgeous to look at and pretty rare.

Readers (mostly little girls) would mail in their designs, and Stan would go through the stacks of mail, picking out a few lucky ones to draw. In the early MILLIEs, Marvel published the WHOLE address of the kids, but, soon changed that to just the kid's name and city and state. Each MILLIE book would have a 25 page story and then 5 pin-up fashion pages.

If you have a sharp eye, you'll see that Stan Lee's name is up there, top right. Stan L. would write some text on the page so as to get credit. But it's Stan G's lush illustrations that are the real attraction. I wonder if the typo in the headline ever got fixed in post-production? Anyone have MILLIE #14?

And on the back of each page of original art was the COMICS MAGAZINE CODE AUTHORITY APPROVED stamp, duly initialed by some CMCA Official. The Comicville Web site has a copy of the code from 1954 here.

The code logo -- a stamp with an "A" on it, reproduced above -- was adopted voluntarily by comics publishers after the Wertham hearings. An excerpt:

GGeneral Standards Part B

1. No comics magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.

2. All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.

3. All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.

4. Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly nor as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.

5. Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism and werewolfism are prohibited.


Anyway, the code symbol was carried on all comic books for many decades. Marvel shed the code logo from its comic book covers, to little fanfare, in 2001. I guess we'd seen enough lurid and unsavory hours of TV to desensitize us.

Above: some of my convention swag. I ran across a cartoon of mine in a magazine when I went into a Penn Station newsstand. I have no recollection of agreeing to sell it! Irwin Hasen has self-published his letters from Alex Toth and they're excellent reading. More anon about this rare item that all Toth fans should have. Aaron Douglas, who plays the Chief in Battlestar Galactica, was very nice. We chatted for maybe 10 minutes. He's new on the convention circuit and had just been to a comic book convention the week before and met tons of comic book artists. They were "great guys," and the gave him a stack of comics for free.

Stan Goldberg and Irwin Hasen, the Penn Pavilion, Big Apple Comicon, November 17, 2006.


Mark Anderson said...

Man, that looks like a lot of fun! Mabe I'll come out next year...

Rob Tornoe said...

Hey, that's not fair! Irwin was one of my teachers at the Kubert School last year! I want a copy of his letters to Alex Toth.

He was great, filled to the beak with funny stories about his life in cartooning, and his love of the ladies. He has a sort-of autobiographical graphic novel worked out. I thought Kubert was going to publish it, but I haven't seen it.