I suppose it was inevitable....
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Just received a Folio Society email touting their newest offering: Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949. A luxurious reprint of "Five Marvel milestones! Three sovereign super heroes! One exclusive collection! Including a facsimile of the extremely rare Marvel Comics #1! Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949 marks a terrific team-up between The Folio Society and Marvel Comics." ($225 US)
After conquering the US motion picture and television industry, Marvel is testing the waters for what promises to be a forthcoming flood of glossy books (though probably not with the FS production values) recycling 80 years of their output. I have to say my thoughts on this are mixed, as I was a comics fan in my adolescent years, but probably never bought or read another comic after reaching my teenage years. By then, I found them less satisfying than regular books and the movies (the art form from which they derived their style). I remember writing a paper my senior year in in high school contradicting the anti-comics premises in Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, which had mined the public's growing concern in the 1950s with the burgeoning problem of "JD"--I should note that means "Juvenile Delinquency" for some of our younger Devotees, as that term fell out of currency in the ensuing decades, as the phenomenon morphed into other expressions of youthful failure to conform to prevailing social norms. Even by the time I wrote that paper, Wertham's book was being criticized and his research called into serious question. But in the wake of its publication, the book became a stump topic for politicians and by whipping up public concern over a dark conspiracy to pollute America's youth, there was a Senate hearing into the issue with the result that many comics publishers went out of business and the industry adopted a code of self-censorship.
Of course adhering to the code was eventually discontinued, not unlike Hollywood's Production Code of the early 1930s, which for many years prohibited movies in the US for using questionable words such as "damn" and even "virgin," prohibited scenes in which physical intimacy (and by that i mean kissing!) could not last longer than 10 seconds, and at least one foot of one of the couples needed to remain on the floor, and that you couldn't show a couple, even a married couple, sharing the same bed. In fact, the comics industry is more powerful and prevalent today than it was in the period celebrated by the new Folio tome.
I still think comics are to the young a potential stepping stone to what I consider to be more serious and meaningful literature, and I seriously doubt that they ever incited anyone to violence. But I do regret that the comics culture has for the present dominated the motion picture and television business to the extent it has become the sole concern of producers interested in doing large budget movies. Expensive productions along the lines of deMille's Union Pacific, Hawks' Red River, film versions of books such as Gone With The Wind, Northwest Passage, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, and most regrettably, the wonderful MGM musicals of Hollywood's Golden Age are now as unlikely to reappear as the dodo or passenger pigeon.
I'm not sure of what to make of this new Folio Society edition, in fact of what to make of the general trend of the FS after the departure of Sue Bradbury, but I am a little uneasy about it. If it is a huge success, are we likely to see more along this line in special editions, and less of what I consider to be more meaningful and desirable offering such as the Letterpress Limited Editions, the facsimiles of classic works from the Fine Press movement, Japan: Described and Illustrated by the Japanese, Roberts' The Holy Land, Egypt and Nubia, and the William Blake illuminated books? Would the LEC or the HP under the Macys have published a reprint of comic books?
What are your thoughts?
FS has been for some time been just another trade publisher, albeit one with fancier and pricier products.
>2 NYCFaddict: "FS is, here, following Taschen."
But at a bit higher price point. I have the Taschen 75 Years of DC and 75 Years of Marvel books. Like Robert, I enjoyed traditional comics as a child and MAD Magazine as a teen but even as an adult I enjoy Doonesbury, Calvin & Hobbes, Farside, New Yorker Cartoons, and Tom Tomorrow's work.
I buy about 2/3 of Folio's LEs but I'm not the least bit interested in this production. I don't see a problem with selling books targeted at different markets and I hope the FS is successful in selling more books as long as they continue to put out the more esoteric and classical fare that has been their purview in the past.
That said, this production does seem more fitted to the Danbury Mint than the Folio Society.
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