PLUS: The house ad we’d want to see!


One of the greatest comic-book tragedies of the 20th Century was the so-called DC Implosion of 1978. It sent many creators scrambling for work and left a number of titles in limbo with stories already in the can (although a few stories did end up seeing print in other titles).

A lot of my favorites got the ax, including Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom’s Firestorm, Bob Rozakis’ Freedom Fighters, and the Secret Society of Super-Villains, as well as Steve Ditko’s Shade, the Changing Man.

I was really disappointed that a new title, The Vixen, had been teased and then tossed, because I was looking forward to that one — especially with the late, great Bob Oksner on pencils!

And the loss of Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden’s Black Lightning was a big big blow. I remember, back in 1977, taking the South Side of Chicago’s Western Avenue bus from Quigley South High School to Dietz and Goff’s Comic Book Emporium on 109th Street to pick up that first issue. Black Lightning was electrifying and I stuck with it until the end!

And how did I know to go? Well, back then, Street Enterprises’ The Comic Reader was an invaluable resource for knowing when titles were going to drop at the few comics shops that were around! It was the TV Guide for comics and it’s what got me on that bus.

The Implosion led to Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, a two-issue ashcan that was printed for copyright purposes. They were jammed with shelved stories, good and not-so-good.

What got me thinking about the “series” was acclaimed comics writer and historian, and 13th Dimension columnist, Paul Kupperberg’s recent tease about CCC with an excerpt from his upcoming memoir: Panel By Panel: My Comic Book Life. You see, Paul was there at the time, so check it out on his website. He included these black-and-white Xeroxed covers for both issues.

It occurred to me that few people have tried their hand at coloring these covers. And it’s pretty easy to figure out why.

If you do a web search for CCC, you’ll find these two presumably fan-colored covers in the results. The colorist (colorists?) is still unknown, but whoever it was did an admirable job considering the quality of the copies they had to work with.

As an amateur colorist, myself, I was determined to give these two a shot. That same web search will return cover scans from the actual copies but given their age and the copier technology of the time, both suffer from a fading that could have come from very low toner not being replenished in the printer.

If you’ve been around a while, you will probably remember that most copiers didn’t use the toner cartridges that we’re used to today. The powdery toner came in a bottle which was used to refill the printer. The powder could semi-permanently cling to your fingers, if you were unlucky enough to spill it, yet would not always adhere completely to its intended target — funny how that works! It often caused a smudgy, ghostly effect on the copier paper — leaving large areas of black ink kind of missing.

Well, the covers of those two issues of Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, while neither crude nor crudely drawn, did come up against toner issues. So, that’s what I was faced with and it’s probably the reason most others haven’t attempted these two.

Al Milgrom’s beautiful cover for Issue #1 is even more difficult because of the use of Zip-A-Tone to make the heroes pop off the page. And while I thought that Alex Saviuk’s second issue might be easier, the lack of the dropped-out, spotted blacks meant that I manually had to fill in those areas.

Milgrom’s piece is gorgeous but it’s a cryin’ shame to see all these great heroes and villains lying on the trash-heap!

With spotted blacks, Saviuk’s cover really sings to me with its storytelling. I love that he flanked Shade, the Changing Man, and the Creeper — both Steve Ditko creations — at the top of the page, (with Creeper in a Spider-Man pose). He also gave Kamandi a worried look as O.M.A.C. is punted into the air. Both are Jack Kirby creations.

So, anyone remember this house ad that appeared, by surprise, in the August 1979 DC titles? The price was pretty steep, but I was so excited that I scoured the neighborhood for empty bottles of Coke, Pepsi, RC, and even Fresca to turn in for 5 cents each, so I could save up enough cash to send away for both issues!

Seriously, though, a few years ago there were some rumblings from DC that these volumes might be reprinted but, sadly, that subsided.

Here’s hoping that the publisher will still make it happen (at a more reasonable price than that faux house ad)! Otherwise, it’s like leaving money on the table. And at the same time, DC, how about collecting The Amazing World of DC Comics and the 1982 DC Comics Style Guide, or all of the style guides, for that matter?


— THE DC IMPLOSION: When the Ax Fell. Click here.

— AFTER THE IMPLOSION: Cancelled Comic Cavalcade. Click here.

A 10-year-old Walt Grogan fell in love with the Big Red Cheese thanks to essays written by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson in the paperback edition of All in Color for a Dime, released in 1970 and bought for him by his father off a paperback spinner rack in a liquor store on the South Side of Chicago. Walt runs The Marvel Family Web Facebook page devoted to all incarnations of the Fawcett/DC Captain Marvel and blogs about Captain Marvel at shazamshistorama.com.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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    • Hi, Chris–

      It was an oblique shout out to Svengoolie!

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  1. It really flumoxes me that these haven’t seen the light of day… though I suppose those with the right connections have managed to get copies (and now scans) of them over the years. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

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  2. Is that a legit house ad? If so, I wonder if anyone was crazy enough to pay those prices and received copies?

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  3. Walt: Funny you talk about the CTA trek from Quigley to the Comic Book Emporium. I was your north side counterpart, taking the CTA from Devon to Lawrence every week to Joe Sarno’s Nostalgia Shop, picking up the Comic Reader along with my weekly DC’s, and equally stunned by the Implosion.

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    • Hi, Chuck! I used to go to both The Nostaglia Shop (less frequently), and Variety Bookstore (more frequently) when I could get my dad to drive me from the south side! Joe Sarno was my neighbor for while until he passed away and I used to visit him a lot.

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  4. Darn ! I was hoping DC was going to reprint it.
    I think it would be cool if they reprinted it on newsprint in black and white like those essential books Marvel and DC were doing a few years back.

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  5. These are amazing! Nice work!

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  6. Is that E Nelson Bridwell giving O.M.A.C. and Shade the kick to the face?

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