Monday, June 22, 2009
Improving on classic Jimmy Olsen/Superman comics
I've been reading DC Showcase Presents: Superman Family Volume 1, a huge 550+ page book that reprints, in black and white, "classic" mid 1950s issues of "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen." These 8 page stories, mostly written by Otto Binder, are classics of surrealism, at least as good as anything Arrabal or Lecomte put out. This was most likely an accident of necessity- comics in general were burdened with the intrusive "comics code," and at the time the character Superman could do basically anything, from super ventriloquism to "breaking the time barrier." So how do you challenge such a character? And, why does a being who's practically a god hang around with a twerp like the Daily Planet's cub reporter, helping him to stage a "Boy Olympics" (where he teaches some boys to ride a tandem bike), or compete in a marble championship (he teaches Jimmy to use marbles), or helping Jimmy diet so he can become a jockey (he creates a menu for Jimmy, and hangs around him to make sure he follows it)?
Those are some intense creative hurdles for any writer. But Otto Binder was up to the task. The stories presented in the book are sensationally strange, but at 8 pages, they do occasionally seem to run a bit long. For that reason, and in a twist worthy of one of Otto Binder's Jimmy Olsen stories, I started imagining the words "The End" appearing at the bottom of random panels, 3 or 4 pages into the stories.
The results only improved the stories, as suggested by the images I photoshopped below:
Bonus: Doesn't Cyrus Colby, sponsor and promoter of Target Brand Marbles look suspiciously like comedian and actor Norm MacDonald? If someone ever does a film adaptation of "The King of Marbles," from "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen" issue no. 7, I hope he gets the part.
Norm MacDonald pic source.