Saturday, March 31, 2012

Matthew: Year One (1977) – Celebrating Thirty-Five Years of Collecting Comic Books!

I started collecting comic books 35 years ago this spring and to commemorate this milestone event, I’ll be posting several retrospectives from the glorious year of 1977!  Will it be a weekly event? Monthly?  Who knows?! But I think it’ll be fun (for me anyway).  First up, is my anniversary present to myself: the original opening splash page from Godzilla #8!

I’ve had my eye on this piece for nearly a year now and actually got to see it at the Baltimore Comic-Con this past summer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the cash on hand to purchase it then, but good things come to those who wait (and seek legal counsel as well as bargaining advice from fellow art lovers [Thanks Lee!]).
Okay, here it is in all its scanned glory.  Take my word for it the original is even more impressive (check out the creamy billowing smoke).

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

1.     It’s from 1977 and one of my favorite comic book series as a kid.

2.     It’s drawn by the great Herb Trimpe and inked by the equally awesome Spider-Man newspaper strip artist, Fred Kida.

3.     It’s got lettering!  Something new artwork lacks (thanks to computers).

4.     It has all that cool pasted title page stuff.

5.     It’s Godzilla and Red Ronin! 

6.     It’s also picks up right after the gorgeous two-page spread concluding issue #7 only rotated at a different vantage point.  Now, I got issues 1 thru 7 on the stands (followed by 9, 10, and 11), but I didn’t actually find a #8 until decades later, so this image is the culmination a childhood fantasy.

7.     Like Rod Stewart sang, “every picture tells a story” and this one does too and I don’t mean the great tale by Doug Moench.  You see this artwork has been cut up and reassembled.  “What you talkin’ about Matthew?” 

Now, the listing clearing indicated that the art had been cut for the credit box, but I didn’t really understand what that meant (didn’t really matter to me). However, I find it a fascinating bit of industry practice.  When I turned the artwork over I noticed the extra bit of art upside down!  Apparently, to make room for all the publishing text at the bottom, they cut off the bottom two inches or so of the image above the credit box.  They then cut out the credit box and moved it up to the bottom of the newly cut image, flipping the remaining two inches over for the text and taping it all up together (Yep, I’ve got 35-year old masking tape on the back of my artwork). So, the end result it there is no waste, the piece maintains its original size, and everything is nice and flat for printing.  They also had to move the bottom caption and you can see the white out and new inks to eliminate any gaps at the border.

Interestingly, the Godzilla Essential trade paperback from six years ago shows the original pre-cut image! (How?  Now that’s a mystery.)  It actually gives more scale to the gigantic combatants by extending Red Ronin’s legs and showing off Big-G’s clawed left-hand as well as some really tiny frightened people.  I was starting to feel a little disappointed at my truncated artwork, when I double-checked the actual comic and sure enough my page matches exactly!  Maybe everybody wouldn’t think so, but I think this all is really cool!

8.     It has a note in blue pencil on the side indicating who should be penned in as the colorist.

9.     It’s already signed by Herb Trimpe.

10.  It has a copyright stamp on the back.

11.  It’s a wonderful compliment to my 30th anniversary present to myself, my first ever commission by Herb himself, featuring who else…Godzilla and Red Ronin.  I really need to get a copy of that inked someday…

I hope you enjoyed our first trip in the way-back machine and thanks for celebrating with me!
And finally, here's a shout out and weblink to Anthony the art dealer!  Thanks!

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