March Comics Revival Madness - - - March 08, 2011

OVERSTREET’S COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #1  (Gemstone Publishing, Spring 2011)

March 2011 marks the re-boot of some classic Atlas Comics heroes from the 1970’s = PHOENIX, THE GRIM GHOST, and WULF.  It seems that ever since the 2010 New York Comic Con announcement of the planned revival of some Atlas characters there is renewed attention to collecting the original issues from the Atlas Comics line,  and this interest continues to flourish.

Along with new publisher Ardenn’s revival and modern update of these characters comes the announcement of the “Atlas At Last!” exhibit at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore opening March 11 and running through May 29, 2011.  The exhibit is a retrospective of the Atlas-Seaboard line including original comic art, unpublished covers, and a complete run of the comics and magazines (72 in total) that debuted in December 1974 and came to an abrupt halt in October 1975.

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OVERSTREET’S COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #1 is meant to be a companion to the exhibit and its 32 pages are completely devoted to information on Atlas, with the exception of some advertisements and a CBM Highly Recommended back page.  If you have any interest at all in the history and background of this short-lived company then this book is an essential for you and a worthwhile $3.99 investment.  Otherwise, it’s one you can pass up.   There is no mention on the credits page as to whether OVERSTREET’S COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE is a one-shot or future issues will be published.  Gemstone Publishing, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, and the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide are all linked companies - - so this is a very effective marketing piece and a good way for them to promote the new exhibit.  I think it’s smart business.  Perhaps there will be further issues in the future linked (like this one is) to upcoming exhibits.

For my money, this is a great trip down memory lane that I’ve enjoyed and worth every penny.  In 1975 I was a fresh college grad,  just beginning life as a newly wed and seeking a career path. My interest in comics was still there, but scaled back due to expenses during college, and then beginning a new shared life with new expenses and a need to budget.  Excess income was scarce and I only followed a few titles (Avengers and X-Men primarily, along with Marvel’s 1975 revival of Doc Savage). So, as excited as I was to learn of Atlas-Seaboard - -a brand new comics company patterned after Marvel in so many ways - - I was also discouraged by the large amount of new titles.  My budget simply wouldn’t allow for much exploration of this new company, so I sampled a few #1 issues.  As much as I enjoyed them, I made a decision that they weren’t essential and didn’t follow up with any future purchases.  Shortly after that my decision was validated when the entire Atlas line ceased to be.  These were different times, prior to the advent of comic shop distribution, and that may have been the problem.  Atlas was competing with Marvel, DC, and Archie for space in the spinner racks and magazine shelves of drugstores and newsstands.  (And OVERSTREET’S COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #1 doesn’t really offer an explanation of what occurred at the end of the Atlas-Seaboard run.)

The books I sampled back in 1975 were DEMON-HUNTER #1 (Rich Buckler), IRONJAW #1, PHOENIX #1, THE SCORPION #1 (Howard Chaykin) , and WULF THE BARBARIAN #1.  Had I known that Steve Ditko was the artist on THE GRIM GHOST - - I would have grabbed that book up as well.  I’m looking forward to reading the new versions, especially WULF by Steve Niles.

COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #1 includes a short history of the Atlas-Seaboard Company (started up by Timely-Atlas-Marvel founder Martin Goodman and his son Charles).  This is followed by a cover gallery of the entire history of publication, along with a summary of all the major titles and characters. The remainder of the issue is balanced out with an interview with Steve Niles about WULF, an overview of the original Atlas Comics from the 1950’s, and a market report on top-selling Atlas-Seaboard titles.

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