Sunday, June 14, 2009

Comics By The LB

When I was very young I was already acutely aware of the difference between REAL products and generic brands or knockoffs.

For every real and successful brand name, there was at least one cheaper, crappier version of it. This applies to ketchup, tissues, sodas and comic books.

My Dad would buy me comic books when I was very little (later he decided I was too old and that they would rot my mind), but to him a comic book was a comic book. One was as good as the next.These logos were warnings that you were being cheated by the makers of the content inside.

Dad had an instinct for finding only the "fake brand" comics - the knockoffs or what I thought of as badly drawn books.
Charlton comics, CDC comics were fake in my head. Harvey, Dell, Archie and DC were real because they were slicker and more "professional" looking.
I even thought of Marvel as fake superhero comics in the early 60s, because they were inked so poorly and everyone had strange square heads.
Later, I became obsessed with them and started to appreciate quirkiness in drawing styles. The inking got better too and that really helped.

They used to bundle generic brand comics by groups of 3 to 5 in plastic bags and sell them cheaper than if you had to buy them separately for a whole dime each. So when I needed new comics to read, my Dad would go out and buy them by the pound and never check to see what brands they were.

That's how I knew about Timmy the Timid Ghost.I would usually save the generic comics like Timmy the Timid Ghost for when I ran out of the real comics that I bought myself by collecting empty bottles and cashing them in at the


They were especially good for "sick days", when I stayed home from school. The fake Casper comics were drawn in a pseudo-animation style, as if someone who wasn't an animator was trying to figure out how cartoons were supposed to look.

Later, as the 70s approached, even real characters and brands started to look fake to me.

"Real" Versions of cartoon characters in comics:

"Fake Versions"

Awkward Design
These old "fake" comics had an awkward unbalanced design sense to them, and I thought of that as being unprofessional. Harvey comics and Casper in particular were well balanced - but to the point of being completely generic. Same thing with DC comics and Archie.

Later, I came to discover cartoonists who had quirky styles that seemed slightly unbalanced, but were highly appealing despite that: Jack Kirby, Clampett, Harry Lucey, Carlo Vinci, etc. My favorite entertainment is a combination of skill and individual quirkiness.

After the 70s, to my growing dread, almost everything became generic and awkwardly designed -without the skill.Even famous brand names became unbearable to look at and lost all their appeal.

Now I appreciate the bargain bags of fake comics my Dad used to buy me. But I don't miss drinking RC Cola.