This is a twist from the content of recent ‘Back Issue’s I’ve read as it focuses on, as the cover says, ‘Bronze Age Adaptations’. As with ‘The Shadow’, on the cover, you get a look at the original novels before ploughing into the various comicbook adaptations from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Dynamite of the 1930s character. It’s hardly surprising that the Shadow also appears with Doc Savage and ‘Justice Inc.’, as they come from the same licensing. If memory serves, I think I collected the Chaykin version for a time, knowing that it was likely to be a short run.
However, it’s with ‘Korak, Son Of Tarzan’, that I really realised why I rarely looked at these titles. As its pointed out in Don Vaughn’s article, that the material rarely got any fandom exposure. I don’t think it’s necessarily to do with have a savage man running around in a loin cloth. After all, Marvel had Ka-Zar doing that very same thing and that didn’t stop him getting his own series which I bought. I think, for the UK, it was a lack of distribution and limited budget when it was, tended towards, say, the DC Universe titles. With a limited budget, people like me couldn’t buy everything and Tarzan’s son wasn’t well-known outside of ERB circles at the time.
With a look at Marvel’s ‘Worlds Unknown’, Roy Thomas explains that pure SF anthology in comicbook form tends to fail despite having the necessary visuals. I’m not entirely convinced but I can see his point. Mostly because comicbooks lie between written and film/TV but also falls lower than the audience in both for picking them up. The fact that comicbook versions of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’ last a long time does tend to suggest it’s the type of material that is wrong. Had SF had more multi-book realities at the time for adaptation, then things might have been different.
Did you know Disney’s ‘The Black Hole’ (1979) had two comicbook adaptations? Hardly my favourite film but it shows how much pull Disney had even if other studios were making bigger breakthroughs special effects-wise.
I do have issues with writer James Heath Lantz in his article on Jack Kirby’s version of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Not so much with how he relates the Kirby material but his precise of the film which strongly suggests he hasn’t seen it in a long time. Bowman lands on Jupiter??!! Duh! Even if the stargate took him nowhere, Jupiter is a gaseous planet. I doubt if the monolith took him on a long round trip just to transform here.
The final section of this issue looks at Marvel’s film comicbook adaptations from 1975-1989 or from ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ to ‘Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’. It’s interesting picking out common denominators. Tight budgets, no doubt caused by the licensing costs, and even tighter deadlines made many of them a gestalt of artists to complete them. Considering a couple of them were box office failures also shows how early in the production some of licensing was either done or sight unseen. With the way secrecy against spoilers is done these days, I doubt if there will ever be a golden time of these again and I still own some of them.
As always, there is always something to learn from ‘Back Issue’ and a bonus if it can stir some memories as well and make you think.
(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated softcover. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 7.61 (US))
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