Have you ever had the literary version of a steaming turd in your hands, only to marvel at its awfulness? It goes without saying that there are a lot of bad comics out there. Just look in the 25 cent bin at any comic book shop and you’ll find plenty of issues so horrendous that stores can’t even give them away. Occasionally, however, one pops up which forces the reader to simply beg the question: “what were they thinking?” In 1972, Marvel Comics founder and magazine publishing mogul Martin Goodman left Marvel and launched a new company, Seaboard Periodicals. With the help of Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber – Stan Lee’s brother – Goodman offered high-paying jobs to such names as Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Howard Chaykin and Rich Butler. The story of Atlas/Seaboard is incredibly fascinating (and easily accessible by a simple online search), but today we are here to shine a light on the dystopian future which is inhabited by a savage known only as IRONJAW.
EXCESSIVE TOUCHING MAY RESULT IN BURNS (Ask your doctor about Man-Thing™ Brand Soothing Cream) There was a time when not every hero had a perfect smile and wore flattering tight spandex. This was also the time when horror stories didn’t automatically mean zombies and supernatural tales weren’t confined to teenage vampires with over-inflated libidos and under-inflated acting skills. Imagine this pitch meeting at one of your modern comic book publishers: it’s a monthly story about an inhuman protagonist made of swamp muck who lives purely on instinct, not truth, justice and the American Way; someone who doesn’t wear a costume, never leaves the Florida Everglades and can’t even speak. Now imagine this character becomes so popular that it inspires more than one volume of headlined comics over three decades. I’m pretty sure that particular pitch would get laughed right out of the meeting room (“Security! Escort Mr. Hansen from the premises!”). My caffeinated friend, few people would understand how such a formula would work in today’s modern world of comics, but it’s a solid fit for the morning musings of this edition of Comics ‘n Coffee.