Jun 5, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 467: The Comic Reader #167, April 1979

http://www.comics.org/issue/954105/

The Comic Reader was a relatively long-lived comics news magazine from the 1970s, a precursor of sorts for things like Marvel Age in the 80s. While much of the publication is relegated to the release information we might find in the likes of the Diamond Comics releases nowadays, they also devoted a number of pages at the end to reprinting newspaper comic strips. I've been trying to track down 5 or 6 of these publications for their inclusion of the Steve Gerber-penned Howard the Duck strip, and was lucky enough to find this one a few months back.

The Duck strip is classic Howard, featuring the feisty fowl and his pal Beverly taking on a cult devoted to bringing about entropy as a way of alleviating suffering. Once more, Gerber looked at the culture around him and skewered the New Age movement in a way that only he could. But the Howard strip isn't the only draw as far as comics go in this issue, which I was quite gratified to see. There's reprints of old Popeye comics from the 30s, some 40s Batman, and a Gil Kane-drawn science fiction serial from the 70s. A lovely collection of reprints, and a nice example of the diversity that newspaper strips have embraced all along. Contemporary print comics are really only just catching up to the range of genres that newspaper strips had for a long time, though sadly that's no longer the case. What it does highlight, though, is the way in which webcomics are really the inheritors of the place of the newspaper strip. Their attention to diversity of genre has been with the form since its (relatively recent) beginning. Now if only print comics could keep pace with them.

See you tomorrow.

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