Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Catching Up: #FourComics...that I read in the 80s

Nostalgia for comics begats hashtags...when I posted the following four images on Twitter months ago, I was surprised at how easy it came to choosing them - and the exact issues...there were other comics I recall reading as a kid...at the end of the day, you pick the ones that become hashtag worthy.

Alf's potential was better-realized when he became a comic book character. I always liked the character, but Alf the sitcom had weary jobbing actor Max Wright's inappropriately taciturn and melancholy Willie Tanner giving the series a kind of gloom that shouldn't be there. The comic book, however, was free of these murky waters and Alf's world opened up.

That issue of Uncle Scrooge was the first one I ever read. I was already a fan of the character as he appeared in cartoons, but the comics  ( particularly the comics published by Bruce Hamilton under the imprint 'Gladstone Comics' ) made it clear that there was a whole lot more to discover.

Legends of The Dark Knight was trending in the late-80s, with it's higher quality paper, variant covers for the premiere issue and stories written by in the vein of Batman: Year One. I still recall reading the conclusion to Dennis O'Neill's "Shaman" arc...the beginning of it, anyway, with Bruce Wayne getting the drop on an intruder at Wayne Manor by swinging down from a chandelier..a good 25 years before that song by Sia made it cool, rather than a reckless act usually performed by swashbuckling Musketeers.

I realize what these four comics had in common was they were world-opening. You may have heard of the term, "World Building" used by comic book writers and artists. World-Opening is my way of explaining how a writer and artist show that there's a lot more to what you believed you knew about your favorite characters and there is more to see. There is a fine line between the two terms, but it is there. In world-building, you're going back to basics, or arguing that "Everything you know is wrong," but in world-opening, you're introducing new avenues and vistas for characters to encounter and engage in. We got to see what Alf's spaceship looked like ( kind of like a 50's Studebaker with fins supporting booster rockets), we got to see what a Ducktales episode would look like if Donald Duck was part of the regular cast, and we got to see the Ninja Turtles experiment with alternate costumes within the context of their adventures, and not as action figures in toy stores.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #13 from Archie Comics was an excellent example of world-opening. I didn't know why Raphael was wearing a purple spandex suit, or why the turtles were engaged in a battle royal against an army of bug soldiers in a deserted amphitheater, or why it seemed like writer Dean Clarrion ( the pen name of Mirage Studios' go-to writer Steve Murphy ) was depicting the seemingly final fates of Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady and the Shredder when they were still featured in the cartoons, but it was an incredible issue and I wanted to keep following it. IDW recently reprinted most of issues from that run, so I was able to fill in the blanks on some long-unanswered questions.

I also remember reading Wally the Wizard and Asterix, but the hashtag said " #FourComics "...I don't make up the rules..

Next time: #FourComics...that I read in the 90s.

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