Action! Mystery! Thrills!: Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933–1945

Greg Sadowsky. Fantagraphics, $29.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-60699-494-8
From Jungle Comics to Jumbo Comics, and from Sheena, Queen of the Jungle to Captain Shadow, the golden age had a lot going for it despite its crude wartime rhetoric and its share of racist imagery. As yet uninhibited by the Comics Code Authority’s censorship, an unprecedented slew of exceptional talent conferred its signature Art Deco style on the epoch, and amply justify its mythical standing. Artists like Lou Fine, Will Eisner, Edd Ashe, Alex Schomburg, and Jack Kirby gave the covers of the day a kind of atomic shelf life, and live they do in this magnificent compilation. Nearly every cover in this collection sizzles like a good slice of breakfast bacon. Pop art and the peculiar modernist aesthetic that defined postwar American culture really started here, with the liberation of comics from the funny pages and their metamorphosis into this most dynamic and demented of mediums. As a result, every deli and newsstand in America became its own peculiar gallery exhibit, a nexus of transient mass culture. This magical and immersive communion is now a thing of the past, but flipping through the gory, scary, and often beautiful pages of this discerning and honest anthology is an intoxicating experience. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2012
Release date: 01/01/2012
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