Monday, March 17, 2008
(A Suspended Animation "classic" from 1998.)
After nearly a quarter-century, one of the most important works on the history of comic books is back in print.
The first edition of Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson's All In Color for a Dime (Arlington House, 1970) has been unavailable for years; the Ace paperback reprint was on such poor paper that intact copies are impossible to find. The new edition (Krause Publications, 1997) has some useful new material and sells for $14.95.
This is an essential acquisition. I remember vividly the day I stumbled upon the first edition in 1970, a time when comic book collecting was not a respectable hobby.
The bright blue and yellow dust jacket was as garish and eye-catching as any comic book. The bookstore in an Indiana shopping mall had only one copy, and the clerk wrinkled her nose when I placed it on the counter.
For the first time, comic book fans had penetrated the world of mainstream publishing.
Lupoff and Thompson's collection of eleven essays by comics fans changed that forever.
I was particularly impressed by Bill Blackbeard's essay on Popeye, "The First (Arf, Arf) Superhero of Them All." I had never grasped that Elzie Segar's cantankerous sailor was something more than the version in the animated cartoons. Roy Thomas's essay on Fawcett's line of super heroes is also illuminating.
Many of the writers in this collection have become major writers of comic books as well as historians and critics. Others have found different enthusiasms. Some of the 'Facts" in the original essays are now laughably wrong, e.g. the price of a copy of Marvel Comics no. 1, but the enthusiasm in the essays is as contagious as ever.
The preface implies that Krause may reissue The Comic-Book Book and a previously unpublished volume planned by Lupoff and Thompson.
Let it be so.