365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

T-shirt #156: EC Comics

T-shirt #156: EC Comics

The other day I spent ten minutes looking for my phone before I discovered it in my pocket. I even called it, but I had the ringer off. This is a good example of how things have been going lately.

I am recovering. Good sleep last night, but energy seems to wax and wane more than the moon.

Meanwhile, I love the support I have been getting from family and friends during my recovery. My wife took me to Meijer, which I usually try to spare her as she hates it (she said it wasn't so bad).

I received my first get well card yesterday. There's nothing like community.

And family. Not only did my family (this includes my wife) visit me in the hosptial, but my dad drove me to Fanfare during the worst of my bladder problem.

I love my dad very much. He's always been there for me. It's impossible to even catalogue how much he has given me in support and security and life over the previous 50 years.

He also gave me my love of comic books. My dad bought all of my first comic books for me and read them to me before bed time.

In the photo shared below, we are posing in Fanfare with the art book from Wally Wood's EC work. It is likely that my Dad owned many of these issues. I am still greatly pained from the loss of the comic books that I could have inherited. Born in 1935, it is possible that my father owned the first appearances of many  of the classic heroes, even Superman and Batman. He had hundreds of comics dating from at least 1940 (if not before) through 1953 that were all lost in a fire at his parents home. Likewise, all the comics my mother and her brother shared were simply given away, lost in the clearing of clutter and mess in their old farm house.

But Dad gave me comic books, and for that I am forever grateful.

Thanks, Dad. I love you.

Though I should mention that my mother played just as substantial a role in my love of comic books. She helped with allowance that allowed me to buy two comics per week. She bought the stack of comics that I always received as a gift on Christmas Eve, giving me something to read when I woke at three or four in the morning on Christmas and could not wake my parents until 7 a.m. But I have a huge love letter blog post for one thing my mother gave me in many ways as valuable to me as comic books in the works. Stay tuned.

Today's shirt is one of my favorites. It features the logo for EC Comics (Entertaining Comics though previously known as Educational Comics).

Starting in 1949, Max Gaines--who renamed the company Entertaining Comics after taking over following the death of his father--began a line of titles featuring horror stories, science fiction stories, as well as military and crime fiction. All the comics followed in the tradition of the "pulps" circa 1920s-1940s. Many of the titles would go on to become among the most famous in comic book history: Tales from the Crypt, the Vault of Horror, Weird Science, The Haunt of Fear, Weird Fantasy, Frontline Combat, Two-Fisted Tales, and Shock SuspenStories and Crime SuspenStories.

Great comic book talents like Wally Wood, Johnny Craig, Basil Wolverton, Al Williamson, John Severin, and Frank Frazetta worked on EC titles. Unlike many other companies of the time, EC credited all creators equally, giving the names of writers and illustrators in each comic and even publishing their biographies in the issues.

EC Comics became the number one target of the comic book witch hunts of the 1950s, which started with the inflammatory (though now very comical) book by Frederick Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, and the Congressional hearing on juvenile deliquency that followed. Ultimately, with the creation of the Comics Code Authority (which I featured in T-shirt #63 and wear ironically), EC ceased publication of most of its titles, and by 1956, the company focused exclusively on its publication of Mad Magazine, one of the greatest influences on my life as reported in T-shirt #92, and surely to be reported on again soon.

Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror returned with movies and fiction novelizations in the early 1970s, which were among my favorite popular culture products during that time period. I must have read the books, by author Jack Oleck who had worked for EC, dozens of times each.

Once I graduated from college and started making some money, I set as a goal obtaining all the hard-cover reprint editions of the EC library. It is a goal I have not yet met.

The Wiki devoted to EC Comics is worth reading.

Two books to recommend.

Though I have not yet read it, the book The Ten Cent Plague by David Hajdu well documents the Great Comic Book Scare and how it "changed America." I have heard nothing but glowing reviews, such as this one from the New York Times.

From pg. 266, Gaines addressing Congress: "The comic magazine is one of the few remaining pleasures that a person may buy for a dime today. Pleasure is what we sell, entertainment, reading enjoyment. Entertaining reading has never harmed anyone. Men of good will, free men, should be very grateful for one sentence in the statement made by Federal Judge John M. Woolsey when he lifted the ban on Ulysses. John Woolsey said, "It is only with the normal person that law is concerned. May I repeat," he said, "it is only with the normal person that the law is concerned." Our American children are for the most part normal children. They are bright children, but those who want to prohibit comic magazines seem to see dirty, sneaky, perverted monsters who use the comics as a blueprint for action...What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of our own children? ... We think our children are so evil and simpleminded that it takes a story of murder to set them to murder, a story of robbery to set them to robbery?"
Also, this time in comic book history is also well-depicted in the Pulitzer winning novel by Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I highly recommend it.

Superman Unchained claims the top spot this week.

It's difficult to do comparisons because Superman Unchained last came out on July 10th, and is now being released about a week, arguably two later. It took second that week (see T-shirt #113) but was beat out by The Waking Dead, which came out last week and was one of the last comics I read before I went to the hospital.

Other comics that came out on July 10th include Daredevil and Superior Spider-Man. Otherwise, this week is a close match to July 17th (T-shirt #119), though the week lacks Ultimate Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. But note that Fables, which back in July was in the back log, has been moved to the top stack. I cleared the back log. Also, it appears that Legion of Super Heroes is ending, AGAIN. This makes me sad. This is a book (like Teen Titans) that should be in production to serve the fan base alone even if sales are poor and the book loses money, assuming that this is economically feasible (which it may not be). Still, many of the comics on the July 17th list came out last week (August 14th). And so to get a full picture, you must also consult (assuming this rating system interests you; but it's also my way to get you to look at older blog postings) T-shirt #133. Note the backlog for that week is much the same as this week though I cleared Uber and Batman Incorporated, the latter I believe was also canceled.


IFanboy: CancelPocalypse

CBR: DC Ends Legion

Bleeding Cool: Now the New 45 (not 52)

As much as I love the Legion, it's not always high in my stack each week. But with art by Kevin Maguire, I rated it higher. Had I known that it was really the very last issue, I might have read it first.
It was a very good sign off for Legion fans with beautiful art. By far, Paul Levitz is the best writer to ever work the book.

Here's what Paul Levitz posted to Facebook: Paul Levitz posted on Facebook: "The word came out yesterday. DC’s officially announced the end of the current run of the LEGION with #23…sad to see my old friends go, and hoping my tale for that issue with Kevin Maguire illustrating will be an honorable end. As a reader, I’ll miss them until their next incarnation, whenever and however that may come. As a writer, I’m privileged to have gotten three chances to work with this vast and wonderful cast, and now on to other projects and other worlds. To those of you who have supported my tales of the future since back when WONDER WOMAN debuted in prime time, Joe Namath played his last as a Jet, and the US thought Nevada was a reasonable place to test nuclear weapons…my thanks. Few of us get to play for so long in a world we loved as a child, and I’ll always appreciate the readers who made it possible. Long live the Legion!"

I am very sad. Despite what I wrote yesterday (see above) about DC absorbing losses on the Legion book, as IFanboy reports, sales estimates from January showed only a 16,000 copy sell through for book. Compare these numbers to figures like 177,269 for X-Men #1 in May or 129,036 for Batman #20. I am not sure if such low sales are sustainable for DC Comics, but with Levitz writing it, I would think the company could keep the comic afloat only to allow him his pet project.

As of now, DC has ceased publication of the Legion that has been consistent, despite a few breaks, since 1973. It's time for Legion fans to be a legion and speak out.

I love the Legion as I showcased in T-shirt #127. I am not done discussing this issue as I have at least two more Legion shirts to share.

BRING BACK THE LEGION OF SUPER HEROES!! This is my clarion cry for the day.

To wrap before the list, allow me some quick thoughts on these other issues. The art in Superman Unchained is beautiful; I love Jim Lee's clean lines and realistic style. But the story was very disjointed and does not seem to be moving along at a satisfying rate. Avengers is teetering on the brink of being too confusing and too cosmic without enough grounding in real character interaction, but I am enjoying the book. I am underwhelmed by DC's Trinity War series. This is the least interesting crossover in quite a few years.
Both Nova and Daredevil continue to be excellent titles. And even the X-Men, which should be called the X-Women, improved with the fourth issue. I have not read farther yet.

COMICS FOR 1308.21

Superman Unchained #3
Avengers#18 (Infinity series)
Justice League Dark #23 (Trinity War series)
The Superior Nova #007
Daredevil #030
The Legion of Super Heroes #23
X-Men #004
Thunderbolts #014 (Infinity series)
The Superior Spider-Man #016
Fables #132
Thunder Agents #1

Indestructible Hulk #012
Morbius the Living Vampire #008
Wonder Woman #23
Ultimates #29
Birds of Prey #23
Chin Music #2
Batman and Nightwing #23

- chris tower - 1308.24 - 19:15 and 1308.25 9:38