July 28, 2014

COMICS WEEK: ARCHIE

Spy Vibe Comics Week: ARCHIE. Spend the week in our secret lair as we share images and stories from the Spy Vibe collection and research. Today we present a 1967 spy issue of Life With ArchieDetails below. Related posts: Cold War Archie. Spy Vibe's archive of vintage photos of people reading comics here.


Spy Vibe is extending Comics Week! During the excitement of Comic-Con over the weekend, I was on a mission to hunt for pop-culture artifacts at my local comic shops. One of the most surprising finds was an original Smash Comics issue with Bozo the Robot from the 1940s (see our post about Robot comics here). I also uncovered a 1967 Archie story inspired by the Spy Boom of the mid-1960s. Made during the single season of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., Life With Archie #57 featured a story called Flight of the Fiend starring B.E.T.T.Y. as "The Girl From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.". The plot revolved around The Birdman, enemy agent for C.R.U.S.H., who took control of Betty via a transistorized thought-control device (hidden inside a tiny bird!). The comic included many fun spy conventions, like a charm bracelet that shot sleeping gas and white Go Go boots that could open electronic locks. Despite the dynamic cover showing Archie as a secret agent wielding a gadget-pen, he was only an ancillary character. What was the story about? Under hypnotic control of The Birdman, Betty is sent to infiltrate "Lodge Enterprises" to steal secret plans for the Model-3X jet plane. Adventure ensues as she betrays all of her friends one by one to get the plans. Oh, that Betty! But things are not what they seem and The Birdman faces dire consequences when he delivers the specs for a jet-powered malted milk machine to C.R.U.S.H.. His chief brandishes a gun on the last page, saying, "You big beaked bird-brain, you've had it!" What, no piranha tank? C.R.U.S.H. isn't too inventive when it comes to dealing with failure in their organization. Below are some of my photos of favorite panels from the issue, including a popular ad for a signed David McCallum pin-up. In related news, the current Life With Archie series has just culminated in Archie's death (by handgun!) and his funeral. You can find issues at your local comic store. There is also a popular Afterlife With Archie comic with zombie versions of the characters. And though The Birdman was unique to issue #57, readers may also enjoy our post about Hanna Barbera's Birdman cartoon here. Enjoy!  










Recent Spy Vibe posts: Comics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: TV Avengers & Batman 75th, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenDiana Rigg at 76Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 26, 2014

COMICS WEEK: ROBOTS

Spy Vibe Comics Week: ROBOTS. Spend the week in our secret lair as we share images and stories from the Spy Vibe collection and research. Today we present a number of classic covers and panels featuring Robots! Details below. Related posts: Johnny Sokko, Gigantor. Spy Vibe's archive of vintage photos of people reading comics here.


We continue our Comics Week with a Saturday Matinee of classic robot covers and panels. Robots were fun! As walking humanoids, they embodied our love and fear of technology. Robots were the ultimate weapon of the mad scientist, and the creepiest operative sent to infiltrate human society. In the control of secret agents and boy heroes, they tipped the balance of power so that good could prevail. They were a mainstay of comics and Pulps throughout the Golden Age, and included such characters as Bozo, Electro, The Human Torch, Marvex, Flexo, Mr. Atom, and Robot Man. During the Silver Age and Cold War era, they loomed especially large in the DC universe, where mechanical versions of heroes like Batman and Robin threatened to destroy the status quo. During the Communist craze, paranoia of shifting ideologies and allegiances was channeled into stories about synthetic duplicates (without heart or faith) stepping in for major characters. And in their dullest moments, they appeared in Superman and Wonder Woman stories about secret identities and romance. From Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Fleischer's Mechanical Monsters (Superman), and Astro Boy, to The Bionic Woman, the Cybernauts (The Avengers), and Battlestar Galatica, Robots have endured as an essential element in genre fiction. In related current publications, readers should check out the 2014 Eisner-Award nominated web-comic by Brian Fies called The Last Mechanical Monster. Selected rogue's gallery of comic robots below. Enjoy!














Recent Spy Vibe posts: Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: TV Avengers & Batman 75th, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenDiana Rigg at 76Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 24, 2014

COMICS WEEK: COLD WAR MATERIALS

Spy Vibe Comics Week: COLD WAR MATERIALS. Spend the week in our secret lair as we share images and stories from the Spy Vibe collection and research. Today we present a number of comic-related materials that examine the Cold War and Atomic Age, including some rare pages about what to do during a nuclear attack! Details below. Related post: Atomic Art. Spy Vibe's archive of vintage photos of people reading comics here.


When I was studying sociology and anthropology in college, my area of focus naturally gravitated toward looking at popular entertainment as a way to understand culture. Berger and Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality and mythology scholar Joseph Campbell were my guides. Although comics have been a life-long passion, I seemed to restrict myself to works by Japanese artists in order to better understand Japan. Frederik Schodt's books and translations were valuable resources, and I'm happy to say that I eventually met Fred, who kindly visits my classes annually to share his expertise. But what about American comics? We have seen a lot of imagery in the last ten years, especially around the anniversary of Superman and the popularity of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which have drawn attention to the Jewish experience and perspective of the 1930s and 1940s. I'm sure many readers have seen vintage panels of superheroes landing punches to Hitler's jaw (POW!). With our interest in spies and Cold War culture here on Spy Vibe, I'm excited when materials like those below appear on my radar.


Comic Books and the Cold War 1946-1962 by Chris and Rafael York.
From Amazon: "Conventional wisdom holds that comic books of the post-World War II era are poorly drawn and poorly written publications, notable only for the furor they raised. Contributors to this thoughtful collection, however, demonstrate that these comics constitute complex cultural documents that create a dialogue between mainstream values and alternative beliefs that question or complicate the grand narratives of the era. Close analysis of individual titles, including EC comics, Superman, romance comics, and other, more obscure works, reveals the ways Cold War culture--from atomic anxieties and the nuclear family to communist hysteria and social inequalities--manifests itself in the comic books of the era. By illuminating the complexities of mid-century graphic novels, this study demonstrates that postwar popular culture was far from monolithic in its representation of American values and beliefs." Available in print and Kindle editions. Info at Amazon and McFarland Books. Additional images from "Cold War Comics" by Daniel Leab at Columbia Journalism Review 


Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World by Ferenc Morton Szasz
From Amazon: "The advent of the Atomic Age challenged purveyors of popular culture to explain to the general public the complex scientific and social issues of atomic power. Atomic Comics examines how comic books, comic strips, and other cartoon media represented the Atomic Age from the early 1920s to the present. Through the exploits of superhero figures such as Atomic Man and Spiderman, as well as an array of nuclear adversaries and atomic-themed adventures, the public acquired a new scientific vocabulary and discovered the major controversies surrounding nuclear science. Ferenc Morton Szasz’s thoughtful analysis of the themes, content, and imagery of scores of comics that appeared largely in the United States and Japan offers a fascinating perspective on the way popular culture shaped American comprehension of the fissioned atom for more than three generations."


Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
From Amazon: "Trinity, the debut graphic book by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, depicts the dramatic history of the race to build and the decision to drop the first atomic bomb in World War Two. This sweeping historical narrative traces the spark of invention from the laboratories of nineteenth-century Europe to the massive industrial and scientific efforts of the Manhattan Project, and even transports the reader into a nuclear reaction—into the splitting atoms themselves. The power of the atom was harnessed in a top-secret government compound in Los Alamos, New Mexico, by a group of brilliant scientists led by the enigmatic wunderkind J. Robert Oppenheimer. Focused from the start on the monumentally difficult task of building an atomic weapon, these men and women soon began to wrestle with the moral implications of actually succeeding. When they detonated the first bomb at a test site code-named Trinity, they recognized that they had irreversibly thrust the world into a new and terrifying age. With powerful renderings of the catastrophic events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fetter-Vorm unflinchingly chronicles the far-reaching political, environmental, and psychological effects of this new invention. Informative and thought-provoking, Trinity is the ideal introduction to one of the most significant events in history."


Secret Identity Crisis by Matthew Costello
From Amazon: "What Cold War-era superheroes reveal about American society and foreign policy. Physicist Bruce Banner, caught in the nuclear explosion of his experimental gamma bomb, is transformed into the rampaging green monster, the Hulk. High school student Peter Parker, bitten by an irradiated spider, gains its powers and becomes Spiderman. Reed Richards and his friends are caught in a belt of cosmic radiation while orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft and are transformed into the Fantastic Four. While Stan Lee suggests he clung to the hackneyed idea of radioactivity in creating Marvel's stable of superheroes because of his limited imagination, radiation and the bomb are nonetheless the big bang that spawned the Marvel universe. The Marvel superheroes that came to dominate the comic book industry for most of the last five decades were born under the mushroom cloud of potential nuclear war that was a cornerstone of the four-decade bipolar division of the world between the US and USSR. These stories were consciously set in this world and reflect the changing culture of Cold War (and post-cold War) America. Like other forms of popular entertainment, comic books tend to be very receptive to cultural trends, reflect them, comment on them, and sometimes inaugurate them. Secret Identity Crisis follows the trajectory of the breakdown of the cold War consensus after 1960 through the lens of superhero comic books. Those developed by Marvel, because of their conscious setting in the contemporary world, and because of attempts to maintain a continuous story line across and within books, constitute a system of signs that reflect, comment upon, and interact with the American political economy. This groundbreaking new study focuses on a handful of titles and signs that specifically involve political economic codes, including Captain America, the Invincible Iron Man, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, the Incredible Hulk to reveal how the American self was transformed and/or reproduced during the late Cold War and after."

Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa
From Amazon: "This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima." Multi-volume classic Manga series. 


If An A-Bomb Falls was an 8-page Instructional comic published in 1951 (see comic pages below). It is in the public domain and can also be viewed on-line at various sites like Archive.org. Summary from My Comic Shop: "If an A Bomb Falls... Will You Know What to Do? (1951), published by Commercial Comics. 8 pages, full color, standard comic book dimensions, all newsprint, no cover price. This promotional educational giveaway comic book describes what to do in the event of an atomic blast. Includes: 1) How important it is to know the signals of an impending atomic attack; 2) The meaning of the different tones of air raid sirens; 3) What to do if you are attacked without warning ; 4) How to react to the brilliant flash of an atomic explosion; 5) How to find the safest place in your home; 6) The equipment you need for a home safety and emergency kit; 7) How to store a good supply of canned goods and water for extended sheltering; 8) How to prepare for an attack if you have advance warning How to seek protection from an impending attack; 9) Remembering to keep calm to stifle panic during an attack ; 10) How people caught outdoors will suffer the greatest casualties; 11) What to do if you are on a car, bus, or train during an attack; 12) How the worst danger from atomic attack is radiation in the air and water; and 13) How to decontaminate yourself if you think you have been exposed to radioactive dust or mist. The back cover features a chart showing the number of deaths and the number of injured people that can be projected if an A-bomb explodes in a populated area." Additional pages below from Ethan Persoff



The H-Bomb and You was an educational 16-page comic published by the government in 1954. Page #1 reproduced below from Ethan Persoff. We'll take a closer look at what these educational comics tell us about the era in the future.


Recent Spy Vibe posts: Comics Week: TV Avengers & Batman 75th, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenDiana Rigg at 76Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 23, 2014

COMICS WEEK: NEW RELEASES

Spy Vibe Comics Week: NEW RELEASES. Spend the week in our secret lair as we share images and stories from the Spy Vibe collection. Today we look at new releases, including a new comic adaptation of our favorite 1960s spy show! Details below. Spy Vibe's archive of vintage photos of people reading comics here. Updates and reviews below.


Batman Day: DC Comics has organized a nation-wide celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Caped Crusader. The action is happening at comic shops, Barnes & Noble, and at over 1,000 libraries around the country. Fans can find a free edition of Detective Comics #27 with the redesigned story by one of my favorite artists and fellow Batman collectors, Chip Kidd! (see review below). Other promo items include a cape and paper masks from Detective Comics, the 1966 TV show, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Court of Owls. Also check out Grayson (current on-going series): The original Robin, Dick Grayson, in an all new monthly series in which the crime fighter turned super spy fights to clear his name. To the Bat-poles! Related posts: Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton, Interview with Batman Animated designer Shane Glines.



Steed And Mrs. Peel We're Needed #1: Boom! Studios kicks off their new Avengers series today! The story centers around the assassination of one of Steed's associates and the investigation of a grand conspiracy. I hear there is even a seaside Village where one of the spies is a prisoner. Homage to Number 6? I love these variant covers, though I still maintain the artists are making Mrs. Peel too young and/or too sexualized (issues #1 and #2 below). Plus, doesn't the second image seem to be referenced from Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow rather than Diana Rigg? The interior art will be different than the cover designs, so I hope they can maintain a high level of energy and flair. So far it's proven difficult to do The Avengers justice as a comic adaptation. Take a look and let us know what you think (see review below). Stay tuned for more spy thrills during our Comics Week celebration. Enjoy!



Review: I picked up the Avengers comic today, and despite some inconstant artwork, I really enjoyed the writing so far. The dialog seems to capture the characters well, and I'm definitely hooked to find out what happens in the next installment. Recommended! The free Batman 75th issue is pretty cool. Sadly, it only contains a sample of Chip Kidd's redesign of the first story- the full piece is in the new 75 Year hardcover compilation. But the free issue today did include the first story as originally printed, and a new re-imagining of the story in a modern context. Also included in the issue was a cool futuristic Batman tale by Scott Snyder! I was happy to see a huge turnout at one of the shops I visited. Happy Bat-Day and congrats to Boom! on their new Avengers series. 

Recent Spy Vibe posts: Comics Weel: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenDiana Rigg at 76Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.
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