follow us in feedly
‘SPLAT!’: Archie Comics and the Joy of SFX

Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art diptych painting Whaam! would not be as powerful without the giant yellow lettering spread over a large part of its canvas depicting the sound effect of a missile hitting a target and a plane blowing up. What the image cannot convey, the word ‘Whaam!’ signifies. There it is in stark bold letters—a brilliant sound effect open to a million academic interpretations.

In the 1960s, the much-loved Batman TV series interjected fight scenes with wonderful descriptive graphics of the various sound effects: “Ka-Pow!” “Smash!” “Aiiieee!” “Awk!” “BAM!”. These colorful images added greatly to the excitement of watching Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) defeat the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman, the Penguin and all their other arch nemeses.
Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!’ (1963).
Comic books, of course, have always had panels filled with such wonderfully onomatopoeic words that greatly add to the reader’s enjoyment. Away from the usual superheroes and action comics, artist Dan DeCarlo and Archie Comics brought a whole new level to the power of graphic book sound effects. DeCarlo has been described as:

...a master at framing a scene, clearly portraying the action, and conveying the appropriate emotions of the characters…. not as easy a task as you might think.

The figures in his frames are active—they are dynamic and appear to be moving and responding to the action around them. Add to this the incredible sound effects in every frame, then Betty, Veronica and their pals are suddenly in a work of surreal mini Pop Art.
A collection of ‘Batman’ graphic SFX.
However, it should be noted that it was the writer who usually picked the words to represent the various SFX and then the letterer who then placed them within the panel—as comic book writer and editor Paul Castiliglia explains:

....most of the sound effects are first indicated by the writer in the script, and then are added in to the art by the letterer after the pencil artist has drawn the figures in each panel. The pencil artist may write in sound effects (in plain text) to indicate their location in each panel but most of the time it is the letterer who determines the shape and lettering style for the sound effects and who actually renders them, inking the outlines.

Archie has employed many letterers over the years. It is highly likely that the majority of the panels you posted were lettered by Bill Yoshida; some may have been lettered by Archie’s long-time editor Victor Gorelick as well.

These written SFX often become the focus of our attention—creating a dynamism mere illustration alone could not provide. This is a little something I find quite fascinating—how did these writers come up with say “Smeerp!” to represent a kiss? Or “Sceeeee!” to depict something untoward just out of frame? Do people actually say “Awk!” when scared? Do we say “Aaaiiiiieeee!” when fleeing in terror? In fact, is there a thesaurus of these wondrous words? And if so, where can I get a copy?

This selection of Dan DeCarlo’s artwork with lettering by (most likely) Bill Yoshida and Victor Gorelick for Archie Comics are a superb example of the surreal joy of comic book SFX.
More of the joy of comic book SFX, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
David Bowie, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, & Thin Lizzy songs reimagined as comic books

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars fake comic
“Ziggy Stardust” as a vintage comic
Chris Sims of the website, Comics Alliance came up with the idea to mashup some old comic book covers with popular songs by David Bowie, The Flaming Lips, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, just to name a few.
Beastie Boys' single
Beastie Boys’ 1986 anthem, “Brass Monkey”
Public Enemy's S1W's get the comic book treatment
Public Enemy’s “S1W’s”
The Flaming Lips 2002 single
The Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.”
Doctor Funkenstein!
Parliament’s “Dr. Funkenstein.”
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Read the comic book of Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus!’ online

I know how it is: you read the trilogy of sci-fi novels, saw the play, listened to the audiobook, even picked up the card game, but you still can’t get enough of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s conspiracy epic, Illuminatus! Where is the balm that will soothe your hurt?

Back in 1987, underground comix publishers Rip Off Press—the persons responsible for the fourth edition of the related sacred text Principia Discordia, not to mention The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers—put out Eye-n-Apple Productions’ comic book adaptation of Illuminatus! A few months ago, Eye-n-Apple (which seems to be identical with one Mark Philip Steele) announced plans for a digital reprint on its Facebook page:

Good news, folks, the ILLUMINATUS! comic I published back in 1987 is now in e-comic format, including text commentary. It’s a zip file available for download, and may end up at other sites in other formats. If you’re interested, download the comic and contact me about it. Some of the comments MAY be posted in further editions. There was one self-published issue, then 3 with Rip Off Press, and an unpublished 4th issue. Plans are for us to release one a month from now till we’re done.

No word yet on subsequent numbers, but you can download a free PDF of the first issue here, and it seems this is the space to watch for updates. Below, Robert Anton Wilson and Rev. Ivan Stang of the Church of the Subgenius discuss the consolations of the Discordian faith on Hour of Slack.


Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Curious ‘Psychoanalysis’ comics from the 1950s
08:42 am

Pop Culture

comic books
E.C. Comics

Fast on the heels of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency investigation into the dire influence of comic books, innovative and transgressive E.C. Comics released its brief educational, edifying New Direction series. One of the New Direction titles was Psychoanalysis, beginning in May 1955, illustrated by Jack Kamen and depicting psychoanalytic therapy sessions as story lines. It was an unusual idea to present such a realistic, near-clinical drama, and neither readers nor wholesalers knew what to do with it. The comic lasted only four issues before it was cancelled along with other “wholesome” New Direction titles (M.D., Valor, Extra!, Incredible Science Fiction, Aces High, and Impact).
According to Life Hacks’ Vaughan Bell:

Critics have noted that psychiatry is poorly represented in these stories, although they do give a fascinating insight into 1950s attitudes towards people with mental illness and their treatment. Despite the fact mental illness is a recurring theme in many contemporary comics, few modern titles have attempted to seriously educate their readers about mental health issues.

Each issue followed the stories of three patients’ psychological issues and how they were quickly cured through traditional Freudian psychoanalysis. Polite Dissent‘s Polite Scott described the basic concepts behind the plots: “First, everything is the parents’ fault. Second, any mental problem can be cured by psychoanalysis. Granted, this is before there were any effective medications for such problems, but several of these patients would benefit from medication.”
Here is a summary of one of the nameless psychoanalyst’s patients and her rapid progress:

Issue #1: Ellen is clearly a very anxious person. She is also troubled by a recurring dream. This dream, which is incredibly detailed, recounts young Ellen trying to get into a walled garden. A kilted Scotsman bars the way and won’t let her enter until she passes a written exam. She fails the exam, but sneaks into the garden anyway, only to find it is dead and barren.

Issue #2: Ellen Lyman was an anxious young woman who had a recurring dream of a empty garden. The psychiatrist explained that the dream meant that she was jealous of her older sister and wished her harm. In this issue, Ellen comes to the office complaining that her life is hopeless. She knocked over the water cooler at work and her boss yelled at her. This reminded her of her father. Digging deeper, the psychiatrist discovers that her father often yelled at Ellen, and her mother routinely ignored her in favor of her older sister. During childhood, Ellen had a couple of accidents that landed her in the hospital. Much like Freddy’s psychosomatic asthma, the doctor informs Ellen that she caused these accidents herself trying to gain the attention of her parents. Furthermore, her other symptoms are due to the fact that she feels guilty because she blames herself for the fact that her parents always fought. The psychiatrist informs her that this is all nonsense, her parents simply did not love each other and it was never her fault. “Oh doctor!” says Ellen. “I feel as if a great weight has suddenly been lifted from my shoulders!”

Issue #3: Ellen Lyman believes that she is ugly and unlikable despite the fact that she is quite beautiful and friendly. By interpreting her dream of standing before a hallway of full length mirrors in a prom dress, the psychiatrist is able to deduce that the only person who considers Ellen ugly is herself. The reason Ellen is unable to have a meaningful relationship is that she does not like or love herself. This revelation strikes Ellen like a thunderbolt and thanks to the doctor’s insight, Ellen announce that she is ready to love herself and start dating. The doctor pronounces her cured.

Comic books are evil: ‘50s anti-comics propaganda:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
The Fantastic Comic Book Adventures of Adam Ant, 1982

Adam Ant was featured as a hero in a comic book series published in a short-lived British magazine called TV Tops. Tops normally featured articles and comic strips based on popular TV shows of that era like Buck Rogers, Fame, Hart to Hart, The Metal Mickey TV Show etc. And for whatever inexplicable reason Adam Ant had his own comic series. I guess Tops was trying to capitalize off his fame? I don’t know. “The Fantastic Adventures of Adam Ant” issue was published April 17, 1982, when Antmania was at its absolute height.

It’s amusing to see Adam Ant fighting against evil, depicted as a Native American, a Lawrence of Arabia-type, highwayman robber and a cowboy. What can’t our hero do?!

I’ve compiled a few scans from the magazine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them in their entirety (except for “Stand And Deliver - Adam Ant’s Story” which is at the bottom), but I think you can get the drift of what’s going on by the ones posted below. Good stuff!

Click here for larger image.

Click here to read larger image.

Click here to read larger image.

Click here to read larger image.
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Gone and Forgotten’: Amazing anthology of comic book failures
07:29 am

Pop Culture

comic books

You haven’t heard of him, and that’s probably for the best

Even if you’re not a comics fan, you can appreciate the steady stream of train wrecks featured in Gone and Forgotten.

Many of the pieces are simply characters that never made it past a couple issues, like “Dash Dartwell, the Human Meteorite,” who has super-human speed, but eschews the cool superhero garb for a fancy suit. There’s also “Minimidget,” whose power is… being very small. That’s really it. It makes sense; there’s sort of a finite amount of superhuman powers one could have, and when the writing ran a little thin, introducing a new character might have seemed like the way to go.

What’s more interesting for comic fans though, are the horrible plotlines, spinoffs, and projects of our old favorite characters and canons. For example, did you know there was a Spider-Man musical? Oh no, not that one. We’re talking a 1975 rock opera album, Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero, that makes that U2 detritus look like La Traviata. It’s clearly one of Stan Lee’s more experimental projects, and while this sort of daring creativity is the reason the man is a genius, we’re talkin’ about some very dated stuff, to put it kindly.

In fact, why don’t you play us out, Spidey?

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
A felted ‘Fantastic Four’ comic book cover
04:23 pm


comic books
The Fantastic Four

A wonderful felted issue #51 of The Fantastic Four originally illustrated by Jack Kirby in 1966 and then recreated in wool by D. Campbell MacKinlay. Brilliant!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Knitted Kraftwerk

(via Neatorama)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
More animated comic book covers

Artist Kerry Callen is back with his animated version of Lois Lane #29, from 1961. There’s also a fun animated GIF of Nick Fury, Agent of Shield #4 at Kerry’s site!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Excellent Animated Comic Book Covers

(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Excellent Animated Comic Book Covers

Awesome animated comic book GIFs by Kerry Callen. I’m digging on The Amazing Spider-Man #33!

More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Dark Shadows comic book covers (1968-1976)
03:01 pm


comic books
Dark Shadows

The Monster Brains blog recently posted some delightful high-resolution scans of Dark Shadows comic book covers based on the 60s gothic soap opera.  I really like the top one from 1970.

Visit Monster Brains to view the rest of the collection.

One more choice selection after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment