championing dc strips which seldom if ever get reprinted + are unlikely to get film franchises because they do not resemble tim burton films noirs

1    the legion of superheroes’ pets – mostly krypto

it seems to be the case that silver age comics (especially DC ones) have a depth to them not found in more recent material as a result of the scripts frequently (always?) working on two levels at once, since there were two distinct types of reader being catered for: adults who read them as humour strips + appreciated the surrealism, + pre teens who were intended to read the action dead straight

the weirdest (hence the most interesting) stuff out there is anything that really pushes credibility + pays as little attention as it can get away with to any younger readers requirements

the extract reproduced below is from the back up strip in superboy 131, although this is not a very good example because no reader of any age group could interpret this as anything other than completely funny

(c) DC 1966

the sense of humour captured here is something that got lost in the late sixties, when the heroes got sexy + US comics started on the road of becoming either serious + sophisticated or teen age + ironic (+ not intentionally both at once)

without wishing to destroy the charm of this strip by spelling out how the jokes work, note that superboy disguises himself as clark kent in order to look less conspicuous – since he is a dog, krypto looks even more conspicuous in glasses + a cape than he does in just a cape.  something I can’t put my finger on about the way he justifies this + the story carries on as if that made sense is just really badly funny

attempting to identify the way this genre of comic strip is put together in general ought to be the primary goal of this post, + trying to define the basic story telling technique used looks like the right area to start in.  from the example above this appears to be:

mention one new daft thing in at least every other frame + construct the narrative on those foundations, regardless either of how random the investigation into the death of mammoth mutt is getting or of the fact that the writer is throwing away concepts with loads of potential  (a world of dog people walking upright and wearing clothes, with kennel shaped architecture, shop windows advertising bones + biscuits, + an interesting looking couple walking arm in arm) without fully exploring them

the events of the story, however surreal, are held together in sequence + made sense of by the reader according to the protagonist’s commentary on them.  although the artist has been careful to sew the images together by incorporating detail into the previous frame which anticipates the action (eg pulling the lever on the trap door in the background of the frame where krypto introduces himself to the villains anticipates the pink dog headed tyrannosaurus they set on him in the next) the pictures would be mostly ambiguous without the commentary

adopting this technique produces a couple of other significant effects: a) the reader can’t see where the writer is going with the characters (whereas modern comics can be really transparent) + b) the stories are actually quite difficult to remember detail about (ie they can be read more than once)

returning to the subject of the artwork, anyone who has ever tried to draw a quadruped will be aware of the skill involved here, + the same goes for getting the animals to display different expressions, which is difficult enough on a human face

if anyone has a) anything technical to add about storytelling or artwork, b) the time to express any of the points made above either better or in more detail, or c) any advice about where other surreal, absurd or totally hysterical silver age strips may be located post a reply below

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