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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

OCC receives new artwork at Toy & Action Figure Museum

The Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma has received another large gift of over 1,000 comics related materials for the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection that it houses.

Most of these materials were donated by Doctor Jon Suter, a former librarian at East Central University in Ada,and from Oklahoma writer Michael Vance.Born in Holdenville, Dr. Suter was among the earliest major collectors of comic books and strips in Oklahoma, and Vance is a Tulsa writer who has written for comic strips and books.

The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection (OCC) features the work of more than 50 Oklahoma cartoonists and their associates. The Toy and Action Figure Museum currently showcases over 7,000 toys, 400 pieces of original comics art, and a now even larger selection of published comics written and drawn by Oklahomans.

“We continue to expand,” said Vance who procures original art and published works for the OCC. “The addition of these donations means that it would take many trips to the museum to enjoy the original art and the magazines, books, comic books and comic strips already collected.”

New collections include the works of Oklahoma writer Kate Worley (Roger Rabbit, Wonder Woman), Sam Cobean (New Yorker cartoons), Doug Marlette (Tulsa World editorial cartoonist), Al McWilliams (Blazing Combat), John Romita (Spider-Man), and Al Capp (Lil Abner comic strip parody of Dick Tracy).

Hundreds of issues of Mad magazines featuring the work of Oklahoma writer E. Nelson Bridwell and dozens of Oklahoma associates have also been added, as well as a huge volume of Buck Rogers comic strips, and Vance’s published work. Oklahoma artist Zack Mosley was an assistant on Buck Rogers, the first science-fiction comic strip in the history of the genre.

The collections of work from Bill Mauldin (Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist), Gray Morrow (Tarzan comic strip), Dan Piraro (Bizarro comic strip), Archie Goodwin (Batman, The Hulk), Jack and Carole Bender (Alley Oop comic strip), and associate artist Wayne Truman (Holiday Out comic strip) were also expanded significantly.

Of special interest is a unique, large “presentation piece” by associate and Hall of Fame member Ric Estrada. This original art was produced to sell the then popular trading card series featuring the “Garbage Pail Kids” as a television show, and has only been seen by a handful of television executives.

The Toy and Action Figure Museum is located at 111 S. Chickasaw in Pauls Valley. For more details about the museum, and for group and school tour information, go to, or call 405-238-6300.

Cyber Force/X-Men #1/26 pgs. & $3.99 from Top Cow and Marvel/ words: Ron Marz; art: Pat Lee/sold at comics shops

Remember those TV commercials where peanut butter is accidentally mixed with chocolate to produce a surprisingly tasty new confection? Betcha never thought of CyberForce and the X-Men as confections, didja?

Think again.

Two of the most successful super-teams have been jammed into one piece of comics eye-candy in CyberForce/X-Men #1, co-produced by their re-spective publishers. But is this not-so-surprising concoction palatable?

These teams are so compatible that if you strip the packages [costumes] off of these characters they are almost interchangeable. The only danger for super-team fans who buy it is an overdose of clenched teeth and fists.

Regular readers of Suspended Animation have already noticed an uncharacteristic absence of plot analysis. That’s because the main feature of this issue is one long fight, and its backup feature is just the introduction to another story stripped of color.

So, if plot is virtually non-existent, then characterization takes the center of this paper stage?
While CyberForce/X-Men is well written within its self-imposed limits, the answer must be...uh, no. Art ‘tis the star, me bucko. ‘Tis the art that recommends this new crossover title, and it is very bold, dynamic, and muscular.

Muscular may seem an unusual description for an art style, so a definition may be handy. Everything from muscles to machines to planets is drawn massive. Heavy lines and exaggeration are the keys to this style, and don’t think for a minute that violence is shunned. But this violence is so exaggerated that it isn’t easily confused with real world mayhem.

All superhero worlds are self-contained realities with rules that parallel ours enough to suspend disbelief for readers. This world is one fun romp, and Cyber Force/X-Men recommended for fans of the subgenre.

Michael Vance