Friday, April 12, 2013

1000 Comics You Must Read by Tony Isabella

I've lusted after this book for quite awhile, but when it first came out in 2009 I was too broke, and the local comic store had it shrink-wrapped so I couldn't browse it for free to see how I liked it.  In retrospect that was a huge mistake, as if I had opened it up there would have been no way I could leave the store without it.  But I stumbled across it used last week for half price and have been devouring it ever since.

I'll start out with the negatives first.  The biggest flaw I see in the book is that (like the collector's market) it's a bit over-concerned with #1 issues.  In the index, I counted 19 #1 issues under "A" alone.  Second, the size of the book (about 270 pages) along with the fact that each comic has its cover included means that there's really only room for a sentence or two about each comic. Third, Isabella limits the 1930s issues to Superman, which means he misses Detective #1.  That is far from the only significant omission.

On the positive side is just about everything else.  The colors are fabulous, the summaries are generally excellent (if short), and the picks are, for the most part, spectacularly on the money.  Some are hidden gems that I have discussed in this blog, like Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swastika, or Mysterious Suspense #1 or Blue Beetle #5 or Mystery in Space #90.  There's also Justice League of America #16, and Four Color #1309 (87th Precinct) and a few ACG comics like Herbie #14 and Adventures into the Unknown #147. Oh, and Brother Power the Geek #1, and Amazing Spiderman #18 and....

You get the picture.  Yes, there are some puzzling omissions, like the phenomenal Mystery in Space #75 (Planet That Came to a Standstill) and (among more recent comics) I can't imagine leaving Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier off the list.  But that's the nature of any list; there are going to be idiosyncratic hits and misses.  The purpose of the book is not to end the discussion but to start it.

Highly recommended!

Friday, April 05, 2013

RIP, Carmine Infantino

One of the major talents of the Silver Age has passed.  Some of my favorite covers of his:

Here's a guide that Infantino created for Flash Annual #1:
Infantino called a famous meeting of DC's top brass together in 1968, where he presented them with his versions of several recent DC covers.  The bosses had to admit his takes were better than the originals, and as a result he was given the newly created position of Editorial Director.  A few years later he was promoted to Publisher.

But obviously it was his art that is his legacy.  I don't know where he ranks in terms of total number of comics pages created; I would guess he has to be in the top five, certainly in the top ten.