Saturday, January 14, 2023

John Severin: Two-Fisted Comic Book Artist

John Severin: Two-Fisted Comic Book ArtistJohn Severin: Two-Fisted Comic Book Artist by Greg Biga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title indicates, this is a chronicle of Jovial John Severin: birth, death, and everything in between.

Like a lot of guys my age, I first stumbled on John Severin in Cracked. It wasn't until decades later that I saw his EC stuff and learned of his vast output over the years. Anyway, the book starts with John Severin's birth and is loaded with photos and art, from John's early stuff printed in Hobo Times all the way to his final professional jobs in his 80s.

Every time I run across some Severin work I haven't seen before, my esteem for the man grows. After reading this, I have Severin esteem leaking out of every orifice. The war comics, the westerns, Kull, Cracked, the man could draw anything and seemed like a good guy to boot.

My favorite piece of art in this is probably the restored American Eagle stuff but it's all great work. I might have to break down soon and get that Blazing Combat hardcover since Severin has a few stories in it.

I'm not sure what else to say. The name on the cover is John Severin and that's what you're getting. Four out of five stars.

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Friday, January 13, 2023

The Woman Who Would Be King: The MADUSA Story

The Woman Who Would Be King: The MADUSA StoryThe Woman Who Would Be King: The MADUSA Story by Debrah Miceli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was never that into women's wrestling back in the day but Madusa always seemed legit. I don't usually take on ARCS anymore but ECW Press hit me up and I couldn't refuse.

There's a lot of dark stuff in this. Madusa grew up in a rough home with an unaffectionate mother, raped by her alleged father at a young age, and was in trouble a lot as a teen. Her life turns around for the most part when she gets involved in wrestling, first with Ed Sharkey, then the AWA, then Japan, WCW, and finally the WWF. Things weren't always great there either.

The last big Madusa moment I remember was when she threw the WWF Women's title in the trash on Nitro. The WWF acted like a victim but they already told her they weren't renewing her contract and scrapping the entire women's division at the time so it's not like she had a lot of options.

From there, Madusa finishes up in WCW and becomes a monster truck driver for over twenty years. She was married a couple times, had some medical issues, and finally got inducted into the WWE hall of fame.

BUT WAIT! There's more. Madusa eventually learned the identity of her real father. He'd passed years earlier but she now has half-siblings she never realized existed! So there's a happy ending.

Madusa doesn't really pull any punches but doesn't go out of her way to get sued either. I feel like she could probably fill another book with a look of shady shit that went down with the Kliq. The stuff she does reveal was dark enough, like Eddie Gilbert being on pills constantly and the Kliq shitting in her bag to teach her a lesson.

I didn't realize how long Madusa was driving monster trucks. Time flies once you're in the steady job grind, I guess. The monster truck stuff was weirdly interesting to me. The Japan stuff was probably the most interesting to me. Like I said earlier, I wasn't that into women's wrestling but I'd like to track down some of her Japanese stuff. She seems like a bad ass.

Four out of five stars.

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Charlton Companion

The Charlton CompanionThe Charlton Companion by Jon B. Cooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've long been fascinated by Charlton Comics, the second tier comic company that finally went under not long after I really got into reading comics. This book contains everything you want to know about the operation and then some. There are tons of cover shots but more interesting are all the quotes from people who worked there.

From the founder's prison stint and probable mob connections to paying the lowest page rate possible, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. I can't imagine running my own printing operation and shooting for putting out as much passable material as possible instead of a handful of quality titles but I'm not in the printing business either.

On the other hand, the creative freedom compared to Marvel or DC had to be a big attraction. Still, Santangelo seems like the shifted prick this side of J. Jonah Jameson. Imagine having flood insurance on your building, collecting on it, and still cutting your employee's page rates IN HALF to compensate for damages. Dick Giordano's assertion that Charlton was more interested in saving five dollars than making five dollars pretty much sums up the Charlton philosophy.

A lot of pros cut their teeth at Charlton, like Steve Ditko and Denny O'Neil, so they had some value. On the other hand, imagine cluttering up your printing area so much with old engraving plates that no one could get past them while you're waiting for scrap metal prices to go up?

I've strayed far from whatever point it was I was trying to make. This is a great look at a shitty operation that somehow remained open for decades and spawned a lot of great talent. Five out of five stars.

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