September 26th, 2007

The Zombie

Crushty Flunker

September 24 -  Oh, the crush of stuff coming at me right now.  I've got extra stints at the dumb "real" job, Fallfire contest prep, FallCon convention prep, art projects of all sorts, and this Crusty Bunker stuff.  I don't think I'm built for so much work at the same time, so I've been flailing, and failing, a bit.  So, yes, two days have passed without an entry here.  Sorry, Crusty Bunker fans (I know you've been on pins and needles since the 23rd's "cliffhanger").  To get back up to my own imagined schedule, let me just wrap this entry up with your "Crusty Bunker" of The Day - Dave Cockrum!

The Zombie

Atlas shrugged...

September 25 -  Atlas Comics hit the comic book industry like unexpected divorce papers.  The concept behind the line was simple; crush Marvel by utilizing the top comics talents to ape, or even mock, Marvel's greatest characters.  To do this, Atlas offered three benefits that no-one else did; the highest per-page pay rates, creator ownership of the titles' characters, and return of original art.  These are the very things for which Neal Adams (among others) had been lobbying The Big Two for years.  It's not surprising, then, that the all-star creative onslaught that was Atlas (including Mr. Adams, Dan Adkins, Steve Ditko, Dick Giordano, Russ Heath, Mike Sekowsky, John Severin, Frank Springer, Frank Thorne, Alex Toth, and Wally Wood), was complimented by an eager team of young artists, most of whom were also Crusty Bunkers!  When I was a kid, I had no idea from what crazy planet Atlas comics came, I just knew that they looked awesome, so I bought as many of them as I could with my meager allowance (which was $1.00 per week....oh, man; I'm old).  I liked the idea of being in on the ground floor of what seemed to be the next big thing.  My favorite titles were The Scorpion, which was written and drawn by a former Bunker, Howard Chaykin, and Wulf The Barbarian, which was written and drawn by a fellow Crusty, Larry Hama.  With comics titles and talents like these, hundreds of thousands of dollars investment, and cutting-edge creators' rights, how could Atlas possibly fail?  Hmm.  As it turns out, the answer was "By producing terrible comics."  Yep, within less than a year, the whole company was gone, leaving behind just a handful of some of the most bizarre, and bizarrely bad, comic books of all time (a bold statement, but I think that the evidence speaks for itself).  OK, so some, like Wulf, still hold up, but even those that had promise, like 1930's pulp style The Scorpion, were inexplicably converted into seventh-rate superhero titles with horrible storylines that made no sense, and even less impact.  Martin Goodman had begun a creative endeavor with no bigger objective than revenge, which, not surprisingly, was not a particularly good business model.  Whenever the creators wanted to expand or explore their characters, Mr. Goodman demanded that they instead continue to rip-off their Marvel counterparts.  For most, this did not sit well.  In spite of a promising start, the talents behind the comics bolted, many parlaying their Atlas portfolios into jobs elsewhere in the industry.  Atlas did, then, leave two very tangible legacies.  First, once the Pandora's Box of creators' rights had been opened, it could not be fully closed.  Ironically (and, once again, I must add that I have absolutely no idea of what "irony" really is), the higher per-page rates and creator ownership of characters, which are commonplace now, meant nothing in the long run because Atlas folded (taking those employment opportunities and exclusive characters with it), and the promise to return artwork, which is now the industry standard, went right out the window...along with all of the Atlas original art, which was stolen during the company's very last days!  The second Atlas "legacy" was that, for whatever reason, the comradery amongst the artists involved began to deteriorate.  The Atlas arrow, meant for Marvel's heart, struck Crusty Bunker instead.  More later.  Here's your "Crusty Bunker" of The Day - Steve Mitchell!