August 4th, 2008

The Zombie

Format The Bell Tolls...

"July 31" -  Let's pretend that I'm actually posting this WOMP-Blog entry back on Thursday, shall we?  That was my plan, by the way.  I'd fully intended to wrap up Platinum Age Comic Books Month with a nice, tidy bow.  Then one of my dreaded "real" job co-workers was given das boot, and I "volunteered" to work during what would have been her shift.  Ugh!  Big mistake.  Anyhoo, long story shortened, I had no energy and little time to worry about blogging.  And what about the following couple of days?  Well, that's August, and this is "July 31," remember?  OK, OK.  So, let's get back to those olde tyme comics.  I've been thinking about them.  Why didn't they "take off?"  What kept them from dominating newsstands like their pulpy offspring?  At first, I just chalked it up to the introduction of original content versus reprints.  While there is probably a lot of truth to that, I now think that it's only part of the story.  Another reason may have had something to do with the Syndicate Wars.  Each comic strip was distributed exclusively by one of dozens of competing comics syndicates.  Back in the day, newspapers were forced to choose just one syndicate's material for their comics sections.  Competition between syndicates was fierce, and often dirty.  If one syndicate had a hit strip, others might unashamedly mimic it (Little Annie Rooney), or even lure away the strip's dissatisfied cartoonist to copycat their own creation (Buz Sawyer).  Platinum Age comic books were mostly extensions of this system.  Those which weren't were mostly self-published...and we all know how successful self-publishing is (he said with manic forced-smile on face)!  The reason why there was no uniformity is because the Platinum Era publishers actively avoided any.  Since the earliest days of "real" comic books, even bitter rivals have been smart enough to keep their comics the same size.  And don't dismiss format as a trivial side-issue.  Having all comic books printed in a consistent fashion truly changed everything.  This is what spawned comic book industry, comic book collectors, and comic book conventions.  By agreeing to the playing field's dimensions, the game elevated all players.  In the end, Platinum Age comics may have done themselves in because of the cartoon syndicates' petty rivalry and intransigence.  That's it for "tonight" (July 31st...wink wink), except for your last Platinum Age Comic Book Character of The Day - Skeezix Wallet!

It's Skeezix, from Gasoline Alley