TV comics, bicycles, romances and Klaus: books!

I picked up AMERICAN TV COMICS BOOKS 1940s — 1980s: From the Small Screen to the Printed Page by Peter Bosch because the idea of devoting a comic book to The Honeymooners, Sgt. Bilko or Welcome Back Kotter must seem like an alternate reality to millennial comics readers.

But back in the 1950s and 1960s, comics routinely turned to TV for spinoff material, some of which made it to series (DC’s Big Town and Mr. District Attorney) to one or two issues of Dell’s Four Color (Bosch also includes specials such as the Saturday Night Live cast teaming up with Spider-Man). While it’s understandable that Westers and detective series made the jump to comics, it’s remarkable how many sitcoms did — even Hee-Haw had a respectable run in comic book form.

This is obviously specialized but if you’re interested in the topic it’s an informative source with some real finds (both Jack Kirby and Gil Kane did unpublished adaptations of The Prisoner, now available in a pricey TPB). However it doesn’t include animated shows — to save space, I assume — and it doesn’t have an index, which is a real pain in the but if I’m looking for a particular actor or show.

TWO WHEELS GOOD: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle by Jody Rosen looks at how the early 19th century Laufsmachine (literally running machine — like Fred Flintstone’s car, riders propelled it by pushing their feet on the ground) and its successors has been variously seen as an indulgence for the rich, a tool of women’s liberation, a vehicle for protesters, a workhorse (the Bangladesh economy runs on a rickshaw/bicycle hybrid) and a practical tool in surprising circumstances (some Yukon prospectors made the trip by bicycle), plus the target of endless flak even before the automobile (horse and carriage riders found 19th century velocipedes just as objectionable). Interesting, if unfocused, so there are some angles, such as women finding freedom on bicycles, that I wish Rosen had gone deeper on.

While at Concarolinas I’d meant to pick up Lucy Blue’s sequel to Guinevere’s Revenge but I wound up with #4 in the Stella Hart Romantic Mystery series, THE PRINCESS AND THE PEONIES. Stella has returned from Hollywood to England for her wedding, but assorted obstacles seem to derail the road to martial bliss, including obnoxious relatives, a burglar and her fiancé’s ex becoming part of the bridal party. The mystery aspect is very slight but as a rom-com it works enjoyably (probably more so if I’d read the two intervening volumes).

TALES FROM THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: YOU LOOK LIKE DEATH by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and INJ Culbard shows how Klaus became the first of the six to split from Hargreaves, ending up in Hollywood where he discovers drugs and gets involved in a supernatural sequel to Sunset Boulevard (with the serial numbers filed off). Odd but enjoyable, though I’d have preferred a fourth volume in the original series.

#SFWApro. Covers by Robert Oksner, Oksner again and Dave Cockrum.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

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