Monday, May 01, 2006

Short and late

This is one of the newest additions to the Shortbox, but one of the earliest comics that I remember reading. How is that possible? It's a Replica Edition.

Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales Replica Edition #1 (2000)
"Originally Published in single magazine form as
Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales Copyright 1964 DC Comics."
(from the indicia)

DC took a classic 80-Page Giant, slid it in a slicker cover, juiced up the coloring, and increased the price to 2380% of the original. And I was glad to play it and happy to get it. The original edition held one of my fondest comic book memories, and I wanted to have it again.

The book has some decent content. There's an Easy Company story and an early Dinosaur Island tale (they don't use that name - it's just a "mystery island" on which the G.I.s fight pterodactyls and T-Rex), The rest are one-shots - a frogman story, a D.I. story, a B-17 story, and infantry story, and so on. It's a classic sampling of Silver Age war comics before the superherofication of the characters. But it was not for the stories that I wanted to return this annual to the Shortbox.

There are some great creators involved in the book. Bob Kanigher wrote all the stories; Joe Kubert illustrated three, and the rest are by stalwarts Russ Heath, Ross Andru & Mike Esposito, and Irv Novick. But it wasn't for the talent that I wanted the book (or even a replica).

No, it was just for this:

I remembered that this splendid Joe Kubert illustration graced the inside back cover of this comic when I first had it as a kid. I could recall seeing this pin-up and poring over it, reading the names, matching up characters I had seen in stories, wondering why Sapper wasn't there. I had always enjoyed the stories in which a new guy comes into Easy and finds his place, or the stories that told how some of the regulars got their nicknames. I have never been a real military buff, but Easy Company stories were where I learned some of my earliest lessons about loyalty, duty, and bravery. This pin-up was somehow a connection with that "band of combat-happy joes" and I just wanted to have it again.

I was discussing comics blogs with a buddy the other day and he made the observation that my posts seem to have less irony and more sincerity than many of the sites that discuss Silver Age comics. Maybe that's true. I'll ponder it as I figure out exactly what I'm doing here.

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