Sunday, October 14, 2007

Number 203

More comic book paperbacks

Little Lulu turned into a paperback edition sometime after The Mad Reader. This Is Little Lulu appeared in November 1956. It's apt: Lulu was considered hip, chic, in the 1950s, like Mad and Pogo. Adults liked them. The first part of the book has Marge cartoons from The Saturday Evening Post, but the bulk of the book is made up of the John Stanley-Irving Tripp combination that modern Lulu fans know. It includes this particularly hilarious segment, as Tubby disrupts a girls' Halloween party:

I showed you the original Batman paperback, issued shortly after the TV show debuted. Batmania wasn't unlike Beatlemania of a couple years earlier. It hit for a short period in '66 and '67, and left a lot of merchandise behind. These two books were part of a series. I'm sure I owned #2 of the series at one time. I liked seeing comic book stories in black and white, because I could look at the artwork without the layers of muddy coloring. Of course, as Pogo might say, "I had stronger eyebones then." Nowadays paperback pages seem a lot smaller to Pappy's eyes.

"Oh honey, sugar sugar…you are my candy girl, and you got me wanting you…" Who didn't hear that song by The Archies on the radio in 1969? We called it bubblegum music with a sneer in our voices and a curl to our lips. But the bubblegummers sure loved it. It was played constantly. We found out "The Archies" wasn't a real group, but some studio musicians and a singer named Ron Dante. The Archie paperback reprinted stories from the comic books, centering on the rock group.

In 1970 I visited comic book writer and novelist, Otto Binder, at his home in Chestertown, NY. At some point in our beery and smoky conversation Otto asked if I had a copy of his 1966 version of Dracula. He had none in his files. I said I could get some from my local used paperback store. He told me that he and artist, Alden McWilliams, had met with publisher Ian Ballantine ("a really nice guy," according to Otto), and that Ballantine was strong on comics-style material. Otto told me he was paid $500 for writing the book, and McWilliams was paid $1500 for drawing it. I notice from the credits page that Craig Tennis is also credited with writing. I don't remember Otto mentioning either Tennis or book packager Russ Jones, but then, Otto was talking about himself. I came home from my visit to New York, found two copies for Otto and shipped them off to him. Since finding those two copies I don't believe I've ever seen another copy of this book except my own.

1 comment:

Occasional Superheroine said...

I use to looooooooove these paperbacks. I didn't care that the images were mostly in B&W or were sometimes so tiny that the words/art got all smeary. I just loved these books.