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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #364

The penultimate Reason is here! As for the missing entries, some wonderful guest writers have stopped by to fill in the holes in the archive. I’ll rig up a catch-all post later so you don’t miss out on any of the retconned-in entries, but for now, you can dive into the archive and go hunting.

Today, however, I turn on the wayback machine to propel us back, back in time, to the strange, delirious days of… 1993! Wait, no, that can’t be right. It must be…

12/30/07

364. 1963

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…1963! Image’s kooky six-issue pastiche of classic 60s Marvel was the brainchild of the bearded one himself, Alan Moore! Surprising, I know, but true. He teamed up with a bunch of his ridiculously talented friends for this project– friends like Rick Veitch, Dave Gibbons, Steve Bissette, Chester Brown, John Totleben, Jim Valentino, John Workman, Don Simpson, and more! The series served as both a loving look and a biting satire on ’60s comics and culture.

The titles included Mystery Incorporated, No One Escapes… the Fury, Tales of the Uncanny (featuring USA, the Ultimate Secret Agent, and Hypernaut), Tales from Beyond (with N-Man and Johnny Beyond), Horus, Lord of Light, and the Tomorrow Syndicate. The main characters served as plays on the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Dr. Strange, Thor, and the Avengers, with numerous other touches thrown in as well. On their own, the 1963 books stand as excellent comics. They even come complete with throwback touches like editorial captions to past issues, bulletin pages, letters pages, and cheesy ads (“Shamed by you English?”, Soil-Monkeys, and numerous Commie-bashing items). The issues serve as brilliant tongue-in-cheek packages. They’re also the complete antithesis to everything else Image was publishing at the time.

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I picked up several of these books right around when they originally debuted, but it’s taken me until this year to finally complete the set. And boy, these are great works– fantastic throwbacks to a different time, but still telling super-compressed, exciting action/adventure stories. Moore’s able to laugh at old-timey comics and old-timey ways of thinking and still appreciate the storytelling value of these classic comics. It’s kinda like a Friar’s Roast to the age of Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Heck, and all the rest– it serves as a tribute to them while mocking them at the same time. And it’s all done brilliantly in-character. And oh, what characters! Crystal Man! Neon Queen! Kid Dynamo! The Planet! The Fury! The Voidoid! Red-Brain! Infra-Man! I can go on. These things are marvelous (pun lovingly intended). The stories bring across themes of conflict and travel between eras, cultures, and worlds.

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However, the experiment never truly ended. It was meant to wrap up in a final one-shot drawn by Jim Lee and featuring a crossover between the characters of 1963 and the popular Image characters of 1993! In the end, it didn’t materialize, so it stands as an unfinished work. What is finished, however, was a stunning trip back to a bygone era, flawlessly produced as a product from that era. Pick ‘em up if you haven’t; they’ll never see collection. For evidence of just how glorious and ’60s-y they were, check out the pages I’ve provided for you– one from each story.

When I was a younger lad, I didn’t quite understand that these books were crazy one-shots. I thought I’d stumbled upon actual relics from a long-lost company or something! I really wanted to seek out all the old stories referred to within 1963’s pages! Of course, I did cotton on to the fact that it was all a gag, but the comics held enough power to convince me otherwise, even for just a short duration.

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These books have to be read to be believed; summary can’t do them justice. For more on the dimension-jumping, Commie-smashing, rip-roarin’ madness of 1963, however, then check out these annotations, read this look back (complete with in-character interviews by the creators), and check out Greg Burgas’ own Comics You Should Own column on the series. You can also read more thoughts on 1963, as well as the fake ads within the issues, here.

20 Comments

Excellent reason to love comics. Hope you’ve got somthing good lined up for the final day!

Is there a collection of these available?

They look incredibly good.

Why won’t they be collected?

Its not collected because they never ended it with the 80 page giant. But if you go to mycomicshop.com you can get all 6 issues in near mint for 99 cents each.

Is there a collection of these available?

Clearly, I missed this paragraph:

However, the experiment never truly ended. It was meant to wrap up in a final one-shot drawn by Jim Lee and featuring a crossover between the characters of 1963 and the popular Image characters of 1993! In the end, it didn’t materialize, so it stands as an unfinished work. What is finished, however, was a stunning trip back to a bygone era, flawlessly produced as a product from that era. Pick ‘em up if you haven’t; they’ll never see collection. For evidence of just how glorious and ’60s-y they were, check out the pages I’ve provided for you– one from each story.

One of these days, I’ll learn how to read. Promise!

Also: thanks for the tip about MyComicsShop.com, Randy. I’ll definitely hit that site up.

Why won’t they be collected?

Alan Moore broke ties with the Image gang, I believe. A character or two owned by Rob Liefeld appear at the very end. Also, I think Moore and Bissette (I believe) had a falling out at one point, as well. So I imagine there’d be a bit of a feud over rights, publishing house, etc., and a collection will probably be avoided. Also, like Randy said, it’s unfinished.

Maybe someone with better knowledge behind the book could weigh in.

“Why can’t we all get along with Alan Moore?!?” (with apologies to Rodney King)

He left DC over the WATCHMEN royalties.
He left BIG NUMBERS over Bill Sienkiewicz (or vice versa).
He left IMAGE for ?
He left DC again for whatever reason.

Did I leave anyone out?

Who will he leave next?

;-)

Three years ago I bought all 6 issues for 50 cents each. They’re so freaking brilliant and fun to read! Glad I got them. I do hope one day someone like Checker makes this a trade…from cover to back for each issue.

Didn’t Moore have some type of falling out with Marvel over Captain Britain, way back in the day?

Anyway, I love 1963. Great reason for my birthday. Thanks, Bill!

Isn’t Moore mad at Marvel over having to change the name of Marvelman to Miracleman?

I believe the Marvel feud goes something like this:

Marvel: Change Marvelmans name.
Moore: Ok but fuck you guys forever.

Years pass…

Quesada: We want you to work with us here at Marvel. We’ll do anything you ask

Moore: Alright. One chance. Reprint Captain Britain but I want credit & ownership of my stories clearly marked in the trade.

Quesada: Of course!

Trade ships without Moores request…

Moore: Fuck you guys forever. I mean it this time.

I passed this over for so long because it was early-90s Image. Finally, while working in a used book store, I decided to open a copy instead of just throwing it into the bin at 50 cents a pop like I usually did, and discovered it was written by Alan Moore. Man, am I glad I finally wised up. This is a great series. And pretty easy to find dirt cheap, for those that haven’t read it.

Don’t forget the episode of the Marvel Brand Douche.

Wonder how the Miracleman reprints is going to happen once the lawsuit is over?

Will Marvel call it “Marvelman” or “Miracleman”?

Last I heard about this, was Marvel was in the running to print Gaiman’s book, but I’m not sure about Moore’s issues.

Will Marvel call it “Marvelman” or “Miracleman”?

Marvicle Manmirel.

Marvicle Manmirel.

That was funny. ;-)

Some while back, someone online was ranting some blither about the tone of this being “mean spirited”, particularly the spoof bullpen stuff. I couldn’t decide whether he deserved the nickname “Wrongy Wrongerson” or “Captain Oversensitive” more. There’s mockery, sure, but I think the whole thing is jam-packed with affection for the source material.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 2, 2008 at 12:05 am

Some while back, someone online was ranting some blither about the tone of this being “mean spirited”, particularly the spoof bullpen stuff. I couldn’t decide whether he deserved the nickname “Wrongy Wrongerson” or “Captain Oversensitive” more. There’s mockery, sure, but I think the whole thing is jam-packed with affection for the source material.

Well, I think that was John Byrne, so at times, both nicknames can apply.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 2, 2008 at 9:35 am

I think John Byrne is making his comeback this year.

I thought the Alan Moore/Marvel feud was over them reprinting Captain Britain somewhere without Moore’s permission or without paying him royalties.

Personally I think Miracleman is a much better name for the character anyway – especially when you consider how Alan Moore’s run on the character ends up.

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