Famed graphic designer in the comics field and elsewhere, Steve Cook, has his own newsletter, SECRET ORANGES, and it’s amazing. Graphic design history, comics history – as I noted elsewhere, I actually owned this comic he still has when I was five years old:
For those not aware, US comics were repackaged in various European markets in local formats. In Britain, that was a roughly A4-sized weekly black and white or two-colour magazine with a colour cover. SPIDER-MAN was all newsprint, but THE AVENGERS has a glossy cover, as I recall: This sent me off to Google, because it made me suddenly remember something weird. British comics made their circulation stick by adding free gifts to the first couple of issues. Issue 1 of THE AVENGERS had a little set of transfers. The second had this:
A little cardboard catapult that used a rubber band to hurl little cardboard discs. But look at what some wit at Marvel UK called it. Wonder-Weapon. Or, as Nazi Germany’s ministry of propaganda had it, Wunderwaffe. The programme of fast-prototyping exotic super-weapons in the last act of World Wat Two. “Wonder-Weapon” is a very specific term, and I assume someone in that office was darkly pissing themselves with laughter at distributing cardboard Wunderwaffe to little British kids. Who probably spent weeks happily trying to blind each other with tiny cardboard discs before the Wonder-Weapon inevitably bent or tore.
Comics in the dark ages, people. Bring back the free gift!
Anyway. SECRET ORANGES is your new favourite newsletter, so go and take a look.