Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Big If

As I've said before, I don't target many Golden Age comics for my collection. One of the main reasons is that it's becoming far too expensive to land books from that era of comic publishing. In a mad dash to find investments, the rich are heading into collectible comic books and some of the rare or even moderately difficult-to-find books are soaring in value.

However, now and again I'll find the right book in the right (generally lower) grade and price. So it was when I bid on this book. Actually, I was outbid but the fellow who beat me out never followed through, and so my lower bid ended up getting this book. This is the grade that I really like. Not too low that it's risky to handle it, and not too high so that I worry about lowering its value by actually reading it.

Ah, the smell of old pulp.

This title, FRONTLINE COMBAT was one of Harvey Kurtzman's babies. His stories are always impressive in every way. The panels are neat, compact, and each of them seems bursting with emotion. And this issue features one of his most famous stories, "Big If". The Korean War was raging as this book was being published, and this stuff was working its way under the political radar, because it's one of the best, and most effective anti-war stories ever. If I'd been a kid when this comic book appeared, it would have made me think long and hard about ever wanting to become a soldier. To think that this tale was published in the early 50s and not in the thick of some anti-war movement is impressive.

FRONTLINE COMBAT #5. A Classic Harvey Kurtzman cover!

I'm glad I got to meet Harvey Kurtzman. As with a lot of famous people I admire, I was more than a little afraid of meeting him. What the heck was I going to say? How would he react? After all, even as a young man I recognized that he was one of the best comic artist/writers ever to turn his hand to the art form. But I didn't have to worry. He turned out to be the nicest and friendliest guy I ever encountered at a comic show. It's funny that the most talented artist would turn out to be the nicest one of the bunch.

The opening page of "Big If". The most effective anti-war comic story I've ever read.

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