July 4, 2014

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Panel Patter Pals Get Patriotic

Happy 4th of July to all those who are Panel Patter readers in the United States!

Well, actually, Happy 4th of July to everyone--the day's the same no matter where you live. But for anyone who's in the US of A, today is traditionally used to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which we do by eating a lot of food, drinking beer, and blowing things up.

If that's not the perfect definition of America right there, I don't know what is.

To celebrate here on the blog, I asked some of the creators I know to share their favorite patriotic comic and a little bit about why. Here are their responses!

A panel from Toth's "Paul Revere's Ride"
Steve Lieber (Superior Foes of Spider-Man ongoing series): One of my favorite Alex Toth comics is "Paul Revere's Ride" from Four Color #822 (August 1957, Dell Comics). Toth draws the period costumes beautifully, and the night scenes give him plenty of opportunities to deploy dramatic areas of gorgeous inky black.

Chris Pitzer (Publisher, AdHouse Books, where Bobo Backslack, Youth is Wasted, Operation Margarine are all new releases):  is currently hopping to find some affordable copies of Freedom Fighters to re-read for nostalgic reasons. Uncle Sam? Check. Human Bomb? Check. The Ray? Check. Issue 5 where they
kill Wonder Woman? What the heck!?

James Kaplan (Panel Patter staffer): Ok, this is not the most patriotic comic but it's a pretty memorable one (hopefully this doesn't make me anti-American!). In Action Comics Annual #6 (written and illustrated by John Byrne with a cover from Mike Mignola), Kal-El's Kryptonian ancestor Gar-El lands on Earth in 1776, and allies himself with England and kills all of the American revolutionaries. We then cut to present day where Gar-El remains king of the world, and progress has stifled. Eventually his descendant Kal-El joins the revolution after meeting a rebel named Lois Lane. A fun read from the golden era of "Elseworlds" stories.

Mike Zeck and Klaus Janson's cover to Cap 332
D.J. Kirkbride (co-writer, AMELIA COLE and NEVER ENDING, available now): CAPTAIN AMERICA NO MORE! Issue 332, written by the great Mark Gruenwald, drawn by Tom Morgan and Bob McLeod, with a legendary Mike Zeck and Klaus Janson cover, might be an odd choice for one's favorite patriotic comic, but it also might be a common one, I've no idea. My memories of it are vague, but Steve Rogers quitting as Captain America not because he no longer believes in America, but because he refuses to let the American dream be compromised by the government, blew my mind at the time. He loved the ideals of America, what it could and SHOULD be, so much that he had to turn in the costume and shield.

Whit Taylor (Up Down Clown available now, Panel Patter Contributor): Joel Christian Gill's Strange Fruit Volume I: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History
I just finished this intriguing graphic novel about the stories that you don't hear during Black History Month. A great divergence from the usual patriotic narratives, this book nicely highlights the "American Spirit" through tales of adversity, persistence, individuality, and triumph.

Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm, Nightmare the Rat webcomic currently ongoing): I'm sure that everyone will be choosing the Captain America Bicentennial Battles Treasury Edition by Jack Kirby (and it is a great comic, especially in the oversized format) but I'll have to go with the Shade the Changing Man: American Scream story arc. Probably not as patriotic as you were hoping for, but a damn fine examination of the psychic scars we all carry around.

Kate Beaton takes on July 4th
Alisa Harris (The Collected Counter Attack, available now in PDF): It's an oldie but a goodie. I love Canadian cartoonist Kate Beaton's take on the 4th of July.

Rob Kirby (Qu33r anthology, Panel Patter Contributor, Pratfall anthology due Fall 2014): In contrast to the hollow bromides of the political opportunists of Fox News and elsewhere, Carol Tyler’s autobiographical portrait of her father in her You’ll Never Know trilogy (Fantagraphics) gets to the deepest core of what those who fought in WWII (and other conflicts), as well as their families, really sacrificed for their country. Her depiction of her father confronting his past at the National World War II Memorial in the third book A Soldier’s Heart (2012) is beautifully rendered and uniquely powerful.  If I were King of the World I would assign this trilogy to every American.

Brian Stelfreeze's cover to Punisher Summer
Special 3
Pat Aulisio (Yeah Dude Comics, Upcoming Summer Indie Comics BBQ on July 20th in Philadelphia): Looking through my longboxes the only thing i could find fitting is punisher summer special #3. the 90's were great time to put out specials for no real reasons at all. close 2nd- marvel swimsuit specials. [Editor's Note: And what says more about America than a gun-toting vigilante selling millions of comics, eh? -RobM]

Rob McMonigal (Site Manager, Panel Patter) and Darryl Ayo (Little Garden Comics, Awesome Guy): Jack Kirby's Captain America Bicentennial Battles is an insane romp across time as Cap meets everyone from Benjamin Franklin to John Brown. It's not good Kirby, but it's absolutely fascinating to read Jack's attempt to be
patriotic--and yet not give Marvel anything truly original when he came back. [Editor's Note: Text on selection by me. -RobM]

Rob Ullman (Diamonds are a Girl's Worst Enemy, Old-Timey Hockey Tales, tons of commission/art work): What're you, reading my mind Robby? I JUST YESTERDAY was rereading my Batman and the Outsiders Showcase, revisiting the team's first tangle with the Force of July. It was a memorable ish from my childhood, and one that fits the spirit of your question completely.

Shannon Smith (New webcomic, übërbällöön, just debuted): I don't know if it had anything to do with the 4th of July but the 1st thing that comes to mind is the Captain America vs Red Skull story that came to a conclusion in Captain America 300.  In the story Cap and Red are aged to the the age they should be without all the comic book funny business.  And one of them dies!  Guess which one.  For a kid just buying those things off a spinner rack it had a lot of intensity.  I also think about the Larry Hama G.I.Joe comics.  Especially the Herb Trimpe stuff.  But I think about those about every day.

And last but not least, Alex de Campi (Grindhouse, Lady Zorro debuting July 16th), reminds us that Patriotism knows no national borders with her selection, Captain Britain!

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Panel Patter returns on Monday with a series review of Lazarus by James Kaplan, a preview of the Portland Zine Symposium, and much, much more! See you then!