Monday, February 19, 2007

Super-Star Holiday Special!


This is another one of those 'only in Australia' comic books. Seriously. It's one of the most impressive books you're likely to find for one brilliant reason - the comic is the same size as a standard original art page. Thus the pages in here, and the bulk of them are black and white, are as close to the original art as you're likely to see, and when you see what's in the book, well you'll understand why copies of this sucker get snapped up a fair bit.

The book reprints all of the contents from DC Special #21, with some added extras. Inside you have, in order:

Star Light, Star Bright...Farthest Star I See Tonight! by Paul Levitz, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez & Dick Giordano (DC Special Series 21)
The Fawn and the Star by Michael Fleisher, Dick Ayers & Romeo Tanghal (DC Special Series 21)
They Call Him Hawkman by Paul Levitz & Joe Kubert (Detective Comics 500)
Who Haunts This House? by Denny O'Neil, Joe Staton & Frank Chiaramonte (DC Comics Presents 19)
Whatever Happened To Hourman? by Bob Rozakis, Charles Nicholas & Joe Giella (DC Comics Presents 25)
Take Me Out Of The Ballgame by Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers & Terry Austin (Detective Comics 466)
The House of Mystery by Bob Rozakis, Romeo Tanghal & Dan Adkins (DC Special Series 21)
A New Costume For Air Wave by Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk & Frank Chiaramonte (Action Comics 511)
Superboy’s Amazing New Power by Cary Bates, Kurt Schaffenberger & Dave Hunt (New Adventures of Superboy 11)
Case of the Curious Castaway by Gerry Conway, John Calnan & Vince Colletta (Superman Family 196)
The Longest Night by Robert Kanigher, Dick Ayers & Romeo Tanghal (DC Special Series 21)
Wanted: Santa Claus -- Dead or Alive by Denny O'Neil, Frank Miller & Steve Mitchell (DC Special Series 21)

Plus a few games and other little activity pages.

This sucker came out in 1982 according to the Aust DC Reprint Site, and priced at $2:00 I still would have left it on the shelf. But truth be known until last year I'd never seen this book so who knows if I'd have bought it or not. By 1982 I was making a bit more money than 1979 when I saw the giant Superman book, so I might have bought it. I guess I'll never know.

What was I buying back then? Books and piles of them. The local library was still selling books, only due to inflation the prices had gone up from 5 cents per book to 10 cents. Bastards! Still the comics down at the Elizabeth South Second Hand Shop (still there amazingly enough, although it's gone through several owners and no longer has 5 cent comics) were still very low priced - 5 cents for as many as I could carry without covers, 15 cents for comic books with covers. Yep, you read that right. By 1982 they'd allow me to plonk down a little bit of silver and fill my bag up with as many coverless comics and I could stuff into it. But only once a week. Bliss for me. They used to sort the comics well for a general second hand shop, Marvels and DCs with the odd unusual title thrown in, and they'd sort them into groups - all the X-Men would be in a pile, same with Superman, Fantastic Four - you get the idea. I remember leaving behind a copy of X-Men #40 in favour of #94. Beats me where the latter ended up but it's long gone now.

But that wasn't all I was spending my hard earned on. You see at this time I'd discovered movies! At midnight each Friday night in the winter of 1982 channel 7 would show an old Universal Horror film. I saw all of the classics that way - the Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula and Wolfman series along with gems such as The Old Dark House, The Black Cat, The Raven - basically if it had Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff or Lon Chaney Jr in it then they'd show it. So I'd gather myself up, get a set of tongs from the kitchen and half a loaf of bread, some butter and settle in. I'd toast the bread in our open fireplace, eat it and watch the movie, whilst taping it on the slab of concrete we called a VCR. Those days were pure bliss.

Even better was to come. On Sunday nights a cinema group would show classic movies at the Shedley Theatre. The movies cost 50 cents each and they'd show anything that they could find. A lot of them came from a private collection and as a result I'd see some brilliant silent movies - Tom Mix westerns, Lon Chaney (Phantom Of The Opera!!), Chaplin, Arbuckle, Langdon, D.W. Griffin, DeMille - you name it, I saw it. It was only later that I realised that what I was seeing consisted of a lot of movies considered to be lost these days. My mother would palm me a $1:50 and off I'd wander, walk down to the cinema (these were the days when a young lad could walk the streets in relative safety at night), buy my ticket, get a bottle of drink and a bag of crisps and settle in. I was the youngest there and possibly the only person under the age of 60. They'd have an organist who'd play her tunes and look over her shoulder and grin. She always reminded me of Terry Jones doing his Blackmail skit on Python and as such I'd have to stifle a lot of laughs. They showed the films throughout the winters of 1982 and 1983 and then stopped. Pity

Those days were heaven for me and I do look back on them with a certain longing. They did instill in me a life-long love of cinema, classic cinema, and I've often thought that one day I might hire a theatre and do the same kinds of shows myself and see if I can't pass that love onto some young thing somewhere. But then I doubt many people would be interested in them anymore. People ask why do I write about comic books? There's your answer - because the comic books always, ALWAYS, lead me to other happier places. It's as simple as that really.


Bronze John said...

I reckon a pizza-red wine- movies like this night should be a goer.

Danny said...

I'd be in it - and I've got a pile of Universal Horror flicks to watch.