Monday, November 4, 2013

Review- SHOWCASE PRESENTS: GHOSTS VOL. 1

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: GHOSTS VOL. 1 (DC, 2011; Softcover)
Collects Ghosts Nos. 1-18 (cover dates October, 1971- September, 1973)
Writers: Leo Dorfman, George Kashdan, Murray Boltinoff, and other, unidentified writers.
Artists: Jim Aparo, Nick Cardy (covers), Sam Glanzman, Carmine Infantino, Sy Barry. Frank Giacoia, Tony Dezuniga, John Calnan, George Tuska, Bob Brown, Wally Wood, Curt Swan, Ray Burnley, Ruben Moreira, Irwin Hasen, Leonard Starr, Jerry Grandenetti, Ernie Chan, Ramona Fradon, Charles Paris, Art Saaf, Jack Sparling, William Kaluta, Buddy Gernale, Nestor Redondo, Quico Redondo, Alrefdo P. Alcala, Frank McLaughlin, Gerry Talaoc, Nestor Malgopo, Eufronio Reyes Cruz, Rico Rival, Abe Ocampo, Frank Redondo, and Ernesto Patricio.

I love these big, thick black and white phone books. They are among the best entertainment values on the planet, clocking in at over 500 pages for $19.99 MSRP. This is something of a companion piece to the three Showcase Presents House Of Mystery volumes, both volumes of House of Secrets, and the one and only volume of Secrets Of Sinister House. These '60s/70s Horror/mystery comics are all interchangeable and are all equally enjoyable. Sadly, DC doesn't put too much stock into their Horror comics, and they are woefully underrepresented in the collected editions realm. They've barely scratched the surface of potential releases.
These stories were pretty old-fashioned even at the time of publication, dealing with ghosts, Victorian era haunted mansions that were usually willed to some unsuspecting relative, and seance type stuff. Nothing too edgy or too complex, just good, fun, watered down for the Comics Code Authority Horror comic books. This is fine late night reading.
The first five issues of the title were double-sized. Marvel followed DC in going from 36 pages at 15 cents to 52 pages at 25 cents format. In one of it's shrewder moves, Marvel immediately went back down to normal sized issues the following month, but moved their cover price to 20 cents. This made Marvel look like a bargain by comparison, and it cost DC some circulation. So you see kids, this tit for tat dirty pool between Marvel and DC has been going on for decades.
Some of these stories were originally published prior to this series, but are collected here because they were reprinted in this title. Issue 1 has The Tattooed Terror! from Sensation Mystery Comics #112 (November/December,1952) and The Last Dream! from Sensation Mystery Comics #107 (January/February, 1952). Issue 2 reprints The Sorrow of The Spirits! from House Of Mystery #21 (December,1953) and Enter The Ghost from House Of Mystery #29 (August, 1954). Issue 5 reprints The Telltale Mirror from House Of Mystery #13 (April, 1953) and The Phantom Of The Fog from House Of Mystery #123 (June, 1962). 
There are some tremendous artists who worked on these stories, such as Alfredo P. Alcala. I have been fascinated by his artwork since I was a wee lad flipping through my oldest sister's copy of House Of Mystery #222. His artwork looks even better here in black and white than it does in color. Jerry Grandenetti is a name familiar to readers of the Warren Magazines of the day (Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella). I used to find his artwork to be distasteful, but am either softening that stance or am learning to really appreciate his heavy handed style. The guy must have burned through so much black ink drawing the way that he does. He uses a ton of solids! There are lots of “name” artists of the day who worked on these DC Horror titles as well as a few who have been lost to the mists of time.
While I finished this book on the morning of Hallowe'en, I have finally just finished writing this review today. Cover artist extraordinaire Nick Cardy passed away yesterday at age 93. His covers were and are great. He has a sense of depth and movement, making his covers more than just a pretty picture. The covers themselves tell a story. 
I hope that we see more of these Ghosts phonebooks, as there were 112 issues published between 1971 and 1982. DC seems to be moving away from these Showcase Presents books as of late, so I doubt that it will happen, but it would be nice if it did. Better yet, I would love to see Archives of this or any of the other DC Horror/Mystery titles. I'm not holding my breath, though. In any case, this book is no apparition or figment of your imagination.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I bought this at a comic shop that was, shall we say, less than concerned about pesky things such as consumer recalls like the one had. DC put out in it's Retailer Email about how this book slipped through the cracks missing a page, and for retailers to pull it from their shipment for immediate return. I went to the shop unaware of this development and bought this book. I found out about the recall once I got home that night. Page 7 of Death Held The Lantern was omitted from this first printing. The page was included as page 474 of the original printing. I just printed the missing page from this Bleeding Cool article and tipped it in.
DC sent out an update email to retailers with the following information: UPDATE ON SHOWCASE PRESENTS: GHOSTS VOL. 1
Retailers, as a reminder, the corrected version of SHOWCASE PRESENTS: GHOSTS VOL. 1 TP (JUL110264) is scheduled to arrive in stores on February 8. New copies can be distinguished by the date "1/13/12" on the first interior page of the book.
This is from my recalled 2011 printing. The so-called corrected 2012 version also states that it is a  first printing and has the same ISBN.
Leave it to those buffoons in DC's collected editions department to screw up the corrected version as well. In the corrected 2012 “First” Printing, they omitted what was Page 482 in my “defective” book, the one page story Phantoms Of The Flash! It's not like there wasn't enough room for it. There are not one, not two, not three, but four pages in the back of the book (both versions!) advertising other Showcase Presents books. What a bunch of maroons! So you see, BOTH versions are defective and are missing a page of story. Way to go, DC!
DVD-style Extras included in this book: None. This era of DC collected editions are rife with mistakes such as missing pages, and you should thank your lucky stars that almost every page is here.
Linework restoration rating: 5 out of 5. DC always took really good care of their stuff. The film for these stories was in excellent shape, as there is no way that they would bother doing linework reconstruction on a $19.99 MSRP book with over 500 pages. There are a few word balloons where some of the words are ever so slightly scratched or obscured. Not enough to rate an OCD score debit, but enough for me to tell you about it.
Paper rating: 3 out of 5. Pro: The cheap pulp paper used in this book helps to keep these books affordable, and also help it to feel like authentic old comic books. Con: Pulp paper sucks. It yellows and feels like it has a dusty film on it as it ages if you leave it unprotected...like this book will be on a bookshelf.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Glued binding.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 4.5 out of 5. The waxlike lamination is a hair thinner than the stuff that DC is currently using on their collected editions but is perfectly fine..for a 4.5 out of 5 rating. No 5 for you!

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/DC/SHOWCASE-PRESENTS-GHOSTS-TP-VOL-01/JUL110264

2 comments:

  1. Your reviews are always helpful and informative. I didn't even know these books existed.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. There are so many collected editions released that it is difficult to keep track of everything.

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