Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Compliments of the Season, Christmas Card 1870

A greetings plate stuck onto the inside front cover of George Buday's 'The Story of the Christmas Card' that was first published in 1954. 

Born in Hungary in 1907, Buday lectured on graphic design at the Franz Joseph University. After emigrating to Britain in 1937, he worked as a book illustrator and as an author. He was elected to the Royal Society of Painters-Etchers (RE) in 1953, and a fellow of the Society of Wood Engravers a year later. He died in 1990.

London's Victoria & Albert Museum holds some of Buday's own designs for Christmas Cards. 

Odhams Press, Long Acre, London

This rather strange 'Compliments of the Season' snowman card dates way back to 1870, and is my favourite of all the cards collected in Buday's slim 48 page book. 

This image was printed in black and white and measured just 5 x 8 cms, so it would be intriguing to know exactly what the original card looked like. 

Season's Greetings!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Young Love #52, DC Comics, 50 Years Ago

I expect that every collector has a a bunch of favourite items that they've picked up over the years. These don't have to be the rarest, the most valuable or prized artefacts in your hoard, but they're the pieces that you're just pleased to have come across and filed away.

I began collecting American comic books as a twelve year old around 1973. Back then my faves were the Marvel superheroes, especially The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Daredevil and Captain America which I'd discovered a number of years earlier in pared down black and white strips reprinted within British comics like 'Fantastic' and 'Wham!'.

Ever since, I've continued to add comics to what remained of my original collection - the ones that had not been passed on to younger siblings of friends and neighbours. Nowadays I've all sorts of titles spanning different genres and eras, but I've always had a particular interest for the comics that date from the 1960s - a decade dubbed the 'Silver Age' by the specialists. One of the comic book artists that I always admired is Gene Colan (1926 - 2011), who was nicknamed 'genial' or 'gentleman' Gene by Stan Lee, his boss at Marvel Comics.

For this post though, the comic book that I've selected is one of Gene Colan's many essays in romance stories for DC Comics, the company that was Stan's mega rival. It appeared a year before Colan had hopped over to join Lee's expanding team of key artists that defined the iconic look of Marvel's Universe which thrilled me to bits during the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. Along with Gene Colan, who couldn't fail to be bowled over by the brilliance of Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko or John Buscema or Jim Steranko, and the mind-blowing cosmic worlds visualized by Frank Brunner or Jim Starlin.

Anyway, DC's Young Love No.52 was published exactly half a century ago in December 1965. I bought it for the cover, though in fact along with the 'splash' page, it's the only part of the comic that's actually illustrated by Gene Colan. I was drawn to the bold background colours, and those two 'before and after' panels. The joyful pigtailed girl-next-door transformed into a sophisticated 60's vamp, bathed in pitch black. Amazing stuff, and a concept that seems to be way too adult-looking for the readership of such a title!

All my troubles began on the day I looked like THIS! Fantastic...
The interior newsprint page has opted for softer colours, and different lettering from the glossy cover

Unlike the majority of Gene Colan's superhero art, his romance work for DC (and later on, several love stories for Marvel too) are all relatively unknown to US comic book enthusiasts - and they're sadly quite hard to track down here in the UK as they weren't distributed beyond America, except perhaps its military bases overseas. My guess is that the demand may just not be big enough to justify a reprint anthology of Colan's work in the likes of 'Secret Hearts', 'Girls' Romances', or 'Heart Throbs', but not having everything easily accessible makes it more exciting to discover his superb romance gems tucked away in DC's 12 cent priced four-colour originals.