Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Lurks in the Longbox? #2

World of Archie Double Digest #1 (December 2010) 
What Lurks in the Longbox? has just started and it’s already time for a holiday column! 
I recently picked up Art Balthazar’s Tiny Titans/Little Archie mini-series for my son.  He is a huge fan of the Tiny Titans series, to the point where he has the comic’s monthly pinup posters covering the majority of his bedroom door.  As a result of this mini-series, he started asking about these “new” characters from Riverdale.  During a visit to a local comic shop not too long afterward, he noticed a Christmas-themed Archie digest in the kids’ section of the store and was immediately interested.  World of Archie Double Digest #1 was noted as a “special holiday issue” and at 158 pages for only $3.99, it really delivered.  Not only is it filled with fun and entertaining Christmas stories featuring the entire gang, it was also a perfect introduction to the world of Archie Comics for my son.  The digest also brought back memories of holiday visits to my cousin’s house when I was a child myself.  The old bookshelf in the family room (well named since their living room was rarely used for anything except piano lessons and the annual unwrapping of presents) would have stacks of Little Archie digests and other comics.  I eagerly read and reread that pile of comics on many occasions while the older family members chatted and flipped channels on the TV.      
The first issue of this new digest series has a nice variety of material, including classic stories from the 60’s and 70’s, all the way to more current stories from the 2000’s.  Almost all of the cast get their own stories, including secondary characters like Sabrina, Mr. Weatherbee, Ms. Grundy and even Moose.  Some great creative talent, both past and present, is also represented here, including Dan Parent, Stan Goldberg, Mike Esposito, Bob Smith and many others.  A couple of my favorite stories were “If the Suit Fits,” in which Mr. Weatherbee finds himself under a tight deadline to lose enough weight so he can fit into a Santa Claus outfit and entertain kids at a orphanage; and “Gift Rift,” a hilarious story about Jughead’s attempt to keep his dog warm while keeping clear of Veronica’s wrath.  The “Jingle Belles” three-parter finishes out the issue, as Santa’s laziest elf has to prove his worth by turning around the lack of Christmas spirit throughout Riverdale.     
I should repeat something I mentioned earlier in this review:  158 pages for $3.99.  It’s amazing the value you can get by using cheaper paper stock in a smaller format.  I wish more comic publishers would at least try going back to this format and allow new generations to enjoy classic stories, or even newer stories reprinted at the lower cost.
In any case, my son is looking forward to World of Archie Double Digest #2, and so am I.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What Lurks in the Longbox? #1

My name is Chris Galvan, and this is the first installment of my new column: What Lurks in the Longbox?  I have been reading, collecting and enjoying comic books for over 35 years, starting with the Charlton, Harvey and Gold Key comics my mother bought for me in the early 1970’s.  As I grew older, I quickly moved up to Marvel and DC titles, and then eventually discovered the world of independent comics in college, enjoying titles from some of the early independent publishers like Eclipse and First.  As a husband and parent, I now attend comic conventions with my family, and also write reviews for Comics Buyer’s Guide, the longest running publication about comic books.  It has been a thrill to be a member of “The Review Crew,” and write for the magazine that I have been reading since I was a teenager.  A veteran comic book writer recently gave me some advice on also establishing an online presence, so here I am.
The name of my column comes from the many interesting and often unusual items my wife and I have discovered in the long boxes of private collections we’ve acquired over the years.  In addition to the comics themselves, these boxes have contained everything from convention programs and animation laser cells, to amateur art and UFO enthusiast magazines.  We even once found a long handwritten list of a person’s medical symptoms (hope they made it to the doctor!).
In future columns I will be discussing a variety of subjects: conventions I’ve attended, comic industry announcements, my own personal experiences from decades of collecting, and of course reviewing comics, both old and new.  Talk to you soon!