Hasslein Blog: January 2014


Hasslein Blog

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Marvel Super Special #9

By Matthew Sunrich

By the 1970s, Marvel, once a fledgling publisher of forgettable "monster of the month" comics, had become a force to be reckoned with. Having achieved massive success with superheroes such as Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, the company had taken the industry by storm and proven that comics unwilling to take risks, rendered in a bland house style (it's tough to argue that DC's Silver-Age look was particularly engaging), were yesterday's news.

Even though the Comics Code Authority had revised its standards after the publication of a defiant story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man that featured a subplot concerning drug abuse, there were still things that were simply not allowed. When Marvel began publishing Conan the Barbarian, for example, it was impossible for the creators to explore the character completely because the violent and sexually-charged aspects of Robert E. Howard's original stories were considered too extreme for the comic page. This was, in some ways, unfair to older readers.

In order to get around this, Marvel followed the example of Warren (publisher of Eerie, Creepy, and Vampirella) and introduced a series of black-and-white magazines, the first of which was Savage Tales. Magazines were safely off the Code's radar, so they could show things like blood, severed heads, and the occasional pair of breasts. Savage Tales, an anthology, spotlighted various characters, including Conan, and featured the debut of the sensational swamp-dwelling Man-Thing. Several other magazines, published under the Curtis imprint, were soon introduced, most of which didn't last long. The most enduring was The Savage Sword of Conan, which endured until 1995.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

RIP: Debra Jane Shelly

by Rich Handley

Today, a friend of mine from the online world passed away.

Debra smiling (as she apparently always did),
at The Comic Book Lounge & Gallery
I doubt that I have ever met a nicer, more upbeat individual than Debra Jane Shelly. In fact, I've never seen a photo of her in which she wasn't smiling to the point of beaming. We became acquainted a few years ago through an online forum, and since then I've come to greatly admire and respect her kindness, cheeriness, sense of humor and accomplishments, and for the loving relationship she so clearly cherished with her boyfriend, Kevin A. Boyd.

I was looking forward to one day meeting her in person at a convention or some other event, so we could swap stories and discuss geeky topics over drinks, and it is my great loss never to have had that chance.

Debra was only 38 years old, and she passed away unexpectedly while taking a nap, from causes as yet unidentified. She was a researcher at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and also sometimes worked at The Comic Book Lounge and Gallery (owned by Kevin), where she organized numerous events, including the ever-popular Ladies' Night.

From reading her postings on social media over the past several years, and from our own silly exchanges, one thing has been abundantly clear: She was a much-loved and inspiring person who made a strong impact on the lives of many comic book fans and professionals, as well as family members and friends. I can't think of a single negative thing to say about her, and I doubt anyone else who knew her could either. She was just that nice.

It says a lot about Debra that I could feel such a sense of loss without actually having ever met her. Rest in peace, my friend. The world is a darker place now without your light in it. My sincere condolences to Kevin Boyd, and to everyone who considered Debra a friend or kin. That's a lot of people, to be sure.



Friday, January 10, 2014

CUBING: House of Leaves

By Duy Tano

Last year, while on vacation, I took with me a copy of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, which I picked up based on a recommendation by my favorite comic book writer, Alan Moore.

Quickly flipping through the book, it would have been easy to call it pretentious. I mean, this is one of the pages!

There are, in essence, two main stories in House of Leaves. I'll do my best to sum it up, but keep in mind that there's no doing this justice.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who

By Rich Handley

We are pleased to present the cover to Hasslein Books' first publication for 2014, titled Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who, written by Matthew J. Elliott.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Just What Is the Bronze Age?

By Matthew Sunrich

In the realm of comic-book fandom and collecting, the terms "Golden Age" and "Silver Age" are firmly established. They represent, respectively, the era in which superhero comic books originated and the one in which they enjoyed a renaissance. Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1 (1938) is universally considered to be the start of the Golden Age, and Barry Allen's first appearance as The Flash in Showcase #4 (1956) is recognized as the beginning of the Silver Age.

These ages are primarily concerned with the birth and refinement of superheroes. While there were other types of comics published at the same time, they are usually omitted because their relevance is limited. Comics were a new thing during the Golden Age, which only lasted for about seven years (the popularity of superheroes waned after the end of World War II, leading to the cancelation of dozens of titles), so creators weren't really sure what they were doing. For the first half of the 1950s, superheroes were virtually absent from the comic racks (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were the only survivors of the "crash"), but they returned in a big way when DC decided to bring back a hero from their early years, The Flash, in a new identity. (The fact that this eventually destroyed DC's continuity is another matter altogether.)

The success of this venture led to the resurrection of other Golden-Age heroes and the retooling of the concepts behind superhero fiction. "Comic-book art" became a legitimate thing, whereas it had only been an offshoot of comic-strip illustration during the Golden Age. By 1968, comics had "solidified" (especially at Marvel), and it was apparent that the next big development in the medium was just around the corner.

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