Hard to believe this bad boy is 50 years old this month — well, actually, it’s probably 2 months older, since back in the 1960s comics had a two-month lead time, and this one’s dated Feb. 1963.
Tales to Astonish #40 is one of the fave “low-key” old comics in my collection, credited to Stan Lee (plot), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (art), Sol Brodsky (inking) and Art Simek (lettering), making a formidable team early on in the Marvel renaissance.
The plot is hilariously simple: a villain called the Hijacker is robbing armoured cars with gas, while Henry Pym (aka Ant-Man) has just developed a new gas mask “made of unstable molecules” for the army. You can guess what happens.
There’s also a story by Lee, Lieber and artist Don Heck, “I Was Trapped in the Mad Universe”, a written yarn called “Bird Talk”, and my favourite Steve Ditko romp, “The Worst Man on Earth”.
Interestingly, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) is directing a movie version of Ant-Man, slated for 2015.
While this issue celebrated a half century, today allowed out of the post-natal birthing ward is another piece of literature, this time an anthology called All Due Respect. Just $1.10 (ten times the original price of Tales to Astonish) gets you yarns from Fiona Johnson, Joe Clifford, Nigel Bird, Matthew C. Funk, Patti Abbott, Chris Leek, Mike Monson, David Cranmer, Tom Pitts, CJ Edwards, me, and a swag o’ others, thanks to Chris Rhatigan. You can pick up the Kindle version from Amazon USA or Amazon UK.
Personally, this week has been brilliant — aside from All Due Respect and Tales to Astonish #40’s gold anniversary .
For starters I just signed my first collection of short stories, articles and some comicbook asides to the cool cats at Perfect Edge Books. It’s a little baby I’ve been pottering over since late last year called The Condimental Op (with apologies to Dashiell Hammett’s the Continental Op)… a wayward cocktail shaker of bits ‘n’ bobs, with cover art (as-yet-unfinished) by my seven-year-old daughter Cocoa. This will deliver with it some recent short stories, never-before-seen older material and deleted parts of my first three novels, new comicbook art, and a range of hack articles written about music, culture and Japan from 1999 to 2013. More news soon.
Then I was blown away by a sneak preview review of my as-yet-unpublished third novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, put together by the very cool Marcus Baumgart @ The Ink Shot back in Melbourne. He’s really analyzed the tome and I have no words with which to sufficiently thank him for the overview. What, me — a writer? Hah! Times like this, words escape me. Simply, thanks.
Also cheers to Susi Holliday, who allowed me to ramble on (of course insensibly) about the joys and bear-traps of first-person narration versus third over at her blog.
Otherwise? I got this wunderbar character design for Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, this time the superhero leader Sir Omphalos (a.k.a. The Big O), from Uruguayan artist Maan House.
Watch this space (or the skies at the very least) for more.