Sunday, August 17, 2014

SS #022 - Under-read Comics

Shortbox Showcase #22  - The Best Comics You've Probably Never Heard Of!

Professor Alan and Emily talk about their favorite under-read comic books. They discuss the difference between under-rated and under-read, and then talk about some comics that should be read by more people, like Evangeline, Demon Knights, Baker Street, and Sword of the Atom.

Do you have your own favorite "ignored" books? Send e-mail feedback to and let us know your choices. 

Click on the player below to listen to the episode

Right-click to download episode directly 

Promo #1: Pop Culture Affidavit
Promo #2: Superman in the Bronze Age

Link: Professor Alan's blog post on Baker Street 1-5. And issues 6-10.

You may also subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or the RSS Feed.

You can follow Professor Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan


  1. One of my favorite under-read comics is the 70s Marvel book The Human Fly. It was a predecessor of sorts to Dazzler in that they wanted to hire a real person (stunt-man in this case, pop star in that) to take on the "identity" of the hero so as to spread the book to broader markets, and this was them trying to tie into the daredevil stunt-man craze of the period, which they'd already had success with in the rejiggering of Ghost Rider.

    The stories were often mundane and quaint, but Human Fly was one of the first titles Bill Mantlo was handed to develop from the ground up, and he turned it into a nice tale of a man so heavily injured that most of his bones have been lined with steel splints (one of several elements that make me pretty certain Millar read this before doing Kick-Ass), but was otherwise a normal guy who then turned to doing stunt shows. He was kind of a what-if character exploring the exhibition stage of Spider-Man's early career, showing that had he kept doing so wouldn't actually prevent him from also being a hero and doing good. And Human Fly got through everything because he had this secret support team of disabled former stunt performers who all pulled together for this cause, and gradually work out ways to do together as a team what they're no longer capable of doing individually. It was a really fun, quietly clever and entertaining book, and is one of the reasons Mantlo became the go-to guy for adapting odd licensed work nobody else could figure out. Sadly, I believe the contracts make this yet another Mantlo title that can't be brought back into print anytime soon, which is also an issue that cropped up with Dazzler for a while before they were ultimately able to sort that one out.

  2. As always, thanks for the feedback, Noel. There is actually an issue of Human Fly in the Quarter-Bin database, and with this recommendation, I may need to adjust the randomness quotient at some point in the near future .......

  3. This episode just popped up in my feed thanks to one of those frequent and inexplicable iTunes apoplexies, but I'm glad it did. It gives me the chance to cheer your love of Maze Agency ("Moonlighting" meets "Nancy Drew") and Baker Street. Both excellent reads, even if the latter left far too much unresolved.

    While I'll confess that much of the Indie B&W stuff was amateurish rubbish (How the heck did " The Crow," a comic that owed its entire existence to Joy Division lyrics and astonishingly naive tastes in art, ever becomes not one, but several feature films? Seriously!), I will stand up for Marvel's Savage Tales, which utilized B&W to showcase some truly breathtaking pencils and inks which would have been swallowed up by the coloring processes of the Bronze Age. Likewise the Warren books. B&W has its merits.

    On another tip, Emily should check out Lieutenant Blueberry if she hasn't already. The most "western" looking Western this side of vintage Jonah Hex, and a chance to see what Moebius and Charlie can do with the American Western. Pretty pretty!

    Finally, just a few stray comments about the Age of the Indies. 1. Xenozoic Tales was under-read and under-written. 2. Concrete could be charming if ultimately forgettable. 3. To hell with Dave Sim. 4. Even the worst of amateur B&W Indies were better than the pinup-driven age that followed. 5. Seriously, Dave Sim is a douchecanoe.

    Best wishes from your podcast past, and have a pleasant present,