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Infantino instructs Gorilla Grodd on “No feet where we eat!” table etiquette – Amazing World of DC Comics #8

January 20, 2013

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Of the in-house fanzines published by the big two in the 1970s, Amazing World of DC Comics is the unquestioned master of the field. It wipes the floor with FOOM, doing the publishing equivalent of what a young, rampaging Mike Tyson once did to the aging Michael Spinks. Did it have better production values? Yes. Was it thicker? Yes. Were the features better? Yes. Was the paper of a better quality? Yes. Though the contents are similarly black and white, they’re more colorful, if that makes sense. The four corners of one unman the other. It’s domination, pure and simple.

To make clear the undisputed champeen status of the title, there’s no better single issue than this one, which mostly revolved around legendary artist and then-editor Carmine Infantino. There are few artists more closely identified with DC’s characters than Infantino — his art is glued to the Flash mythos like green on grass — and why the hell not, you know? (He was actually the focus of the first issue of the magazine as well, a point made rather humorously in a brief interior note about the image you see above — always good to see Jay Garrick with a seat at the table, btw. Infantino’s response to again being the centerpiece was “So I guess this means you want me to do the cover.” Yes, Carmine, yes they do.) There’s no new ground plowed in the multiple features inside, though if you’re keen to get more dope on his time illustrating the Scarlet Speedster, Adam Strange and Batman, you’re in luck. By this point the laurels heaped at Infantino’s feet are legion, twigs on a bonfire, but when you get sketch pages like this, the contemporary encomiums don’t seem so gratuitous:

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It was once said/typed here, when digging though a Gene Colan tribute mag, that Colan’s sketches were preferable to most artists’ finished products. The same applies in this instance. BOW DOWN BEFORE HIS GLORIOUS POINTY NOSES.

All the Infantino stuff is great, but the side features are truly fantastic in and are what put it over the top. I actually learned something, and anything that makes me less stupid has performed a great service for all humanity. Did you know that there were rejiggered Golden Age stories, redone with new art, that were included in Pop-Tarts boxes back in the 1960s? If not, don’t feel dumb — we can wallow in our former ignorance together. Here’s the brief explanation, along with the first panel of an Infantino/Murphy Anderson Batman/Joker story that’s reprinted in its entirety:

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And there’s more! For the intense nerds among us, the pre-Internet days were a time of frustration, as there was no Google or Wikipedia to sate a quest for useless knowledge. Back then, things like this centerfold Map of Rann were a great boon:

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Get going with your Adam Strange fan fiction, 1970s time-wasters! Also, perhaps the Thanagarians used just such a map in their war with Rann. We can hope.

Surely a map of an entire fictional world is enough, right? Not even close. There are made-up parole index cards for Flash’s superb Rogue’s Gallery, voluminous previews of upcoming books (including one for the significant if disappointing Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man), stills from an old Superman serial with “humorous” word balloons, and more. Perhaps the greatest bit of old reproduced ephemera comes on the last page, at the close of a feature looking at assorted fan clubs that branched from the characters at DC, from the Golden Age to the (then) present (Supermen of America, etc.). Just check out the name of the ten-year old on this membership certificate for The Junior Justice Society of America:

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Is is any surprise that Mr. Thomas had such success retconning the Justice Society and the World War II champions of Earth-II, or hell, any story with the heroes of old? Who wouldn’t be proud to hang that on their wall? (An aside: How typical that Wonder Woman, perhaps the biggest name in the Justice Society and its foremost female member, gets stuck being the secretary — yes, I realize this is an organizational secretary, not a get-me-coffee secretary, but still. What, Black Canary didn’t know shorthand? And would it have really killed Diana to use as her “seal” a red lipstick smooch? GIVE LITTLE ROY SOMETHING TO DREAM ABOUT, WOMAN.)

There you have it. A knockout punch of a fanzine, one that, unbelievable as it is, outdid Stan Lee in the arena of self-promotion. No number of contests to create new character which will (never, at least, not for a long time) be in a comic could ever keep up. The P.T. Barnum of comics was for once out-Barnumed.

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