Thursday, April 30, 2015

Free Comic Book Day 2015

This 2nd of May 2015 is Free Comic Book Day.  Support your local comic book shop by showing up for Free Comic Book Day and get your free comics.  It started back in 2002 and has grown to a nation-wide movement.

Three Alarm Comics at 15210 LeMoyne Blv., Biloxi (D'Iberville) MS 39532,  is a local sponsor here for Free Comic Book Day, held every year on the first Saturday in May. 

View my previous post, which was about the SF oriented issues of Classics Illustrated comics of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  

If you want to see who in your local area is sponsoring Free Comic Book Day?  Use this link to find out:


FCBD at 3 Alarm Comics was well attended and there were a good representation of artists doing what they do best, drawing and signing.  There were a number of excellent costumes covering the whole spectrum of fandom.  

Outside 3 Alarm Comics, the Mississippi contingent of the 501st Legion was encamped to the delight of many.  

Jenevieve Broomall
Brian LeBlanc
Wade Acuff
Andy B. Childress
Assorted artists at FCBD 2015 at 3 Alarm Comics

Steven Butler with Sonic Guitar

Steven Butler designed the graphics for a custom Sonic the Hedgehog guitar art last year and this year the finished guitar was signed at FCBD.   I'll post in detail about this very special guitar later with additional information and photos. 

This year seemed to be a successful FCBD and I am sure that at all the other locations, there was fun and comic books to be had by all.  I'd like to thank the organizers and participating comic book shops for making a lot of people happy. 


I really like to push the idea of people enjoying to read and comic books/graphic novels are a good way to spark interest.  Many kids don’t like to read or have difficulty, so I believe that comic books are a way to spur a greater reading participation in the community.  Now I say kids, but adult literacy is something to consider also and it’s a national tragedy that many adults have difficulty reading.  This holds them back from better jobs, so I hope that comics might also get adults to read more.  Support your local literacy council and don’t forget to read to your kids every chance you can. 


Links of interest
The homesite for Free Comic Book Day

Previous CoastConFan blog posts about Free Comic Book Day, with photos.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Classics Illustrated Comics, Remembering Science Fiction’s Printed Past

In the 20th century, science fiction became mainstreamed primarily through SF pulps periodicals in the beginning, outside of regular novel releases.  Monthly publications presented stories and art to readers often with outrageous covers and lurid images accompanying the story.  Comic books became another vector for SF most especially through Classics Illustrated in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Long before our modern “graphic novels” Classics Illustrated produced a series of 169 well-known titles from the mundane to the fantastic with a publication history that ran from 1941 to 1971 for the original series.  They were originally named Classic Comics Presents for the first five releases and then as Classic Comics Illustrated for the next two, after which they were dubbed Classics Illustrated.  When the earlier seven titles were reprinted, they were put under the Classics Illustrated banner thereafter.  They were printed in several countries over the years and in a number of different languages. Classics Illustrated was a stepping stone from the old-style pulps of the 20s and 30s and into a newer form at allowed slimmed down version of text stories with illustrations. 

I remember Classics Illustrated fondly, most especially as I bought them at flea markets when I was looking for more traditional text SF books in the 1960s.  In the days before computers, used book shops, flea markets, and garage sales were prime places to hunt books.  Few of the old Classics Illustrated comics I turned up were in mint condition and some clearly had been read hard and put away wet.  Many early printings in excellent condition can command high prices in the collector’s market.

Science fiction and horror/weird fiction were well represented in the repertoire of the Classics Illustrated series with several classic SF stories.  Interestingly, a good portion of them were stories that were Victorian in origin and more importantly (for the publisher) many were out of copyright. 
Some of the writers represented by Comics Illustrated were Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelly, and Mark Twain.  Alas, there was no Robert E. Howard and no H. P. Lovecraft, although (surprise surprise) Talbot Mundy’s, King of the Khyber Rifles #107 and Arthur Conan Doyle’s, A Study in Scarlet  #110, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #33, and The White Company #102 are in the lineup.  Additionally, The Man Who Laughs #71 by Victor Hugo appears, which was made into an outstanding silent movie* and the basis of the character of The Joker, makes an appearance in the lineup. 

You’ll easily recognize these classic gems of SF, horror and weird fiction, many of which were made into film, some several times over the years:
  Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde #13
  Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court #24
  Frankenstein #26
  Mysterious Island #34
  Poe’s Mysteries #40
  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea #47
  Around the World in 80 Days #69
  The Gold Bug/The Tell Tale Heart/The Cask of Amontillado #84
  King Solomon’s Mines #97
  War of the Worlds  #124
  The Time Machine #133
  First Men in the Moon #144
  Invisible Man #153
  Food of the Gods #160
  Robur the Conqueror #164

In this day and age of reduced reading habits and reduced comprehension, comic books/graphic novels can be a way to hook kids into reading.  This isn’t to say comics and graphic novels are just for kids – by no means.  A love of reading is one of the most important tools you can have in life.  I had previously said before it was my father reading Tintin books (and others) to me, when I was still years away from attending school, and that got me hooked on the idea of reading even before I could read myself.  Parents, read to your kids if you love them and no age is too early to demonstrate reading to them even if they are too young to read them selves.


*The Man Who Laughs (1928) a silent firm starring ConradVeidt, is based on the Victor Hugo story from 1869.
Other Links of Interest
List of Classics Illustrated Comic Books

For those of you interested in those earlier SF periodicals check out this Pulps Primer:   and one on the origin of SF pulps:

For those interested in pulps covers of all types, check out this blog on just this subject:

An archive of pulps, many of which are downloadable

Project Gutenberg has the full text versions, in several formats, of these same stories for download for free: 
No, sorry this is just a spoof cover CI never made one