Bloom County (May 14, 1981)

Bloom County (May 14, 1981)
by Guy Berkeley (Berke) Breathed (1957-)
7 x 18 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

The second appearance of Michael Binkley, and the first in a full character reveal.

While he was an ink-slinging student at UT-Austin, Breathed got noticed by The Washington Post, and he was recruited to do a nationally syndicated strip. A 1987 Pulitzer winner, he is known for Bloom County, Outland, and Opus.

Bloom County premiered on December 8, 1980 and ran through August 1989. It was revived in 2015.

Steve Dallas and Michael Binkley were both introduced in May 1981.

Binkley is the first recurring child character, after Milo Bloom, to appear in the strip.

As seen here, Binkley (who first appeared May 14 and gets his first name on May 18) originally appeared as a player on Milo’s elementary school football team. The coach is Major Bloom, who uses the team to live out his fantasy of being a great military commander. Binkley is originally depicted as a stereotypical nerd; he is much smaller than the other children and has thick glasses, bad skin, and messy hair. He has about 8 total appearances in May, and then a week later (June 8, 1981), the more familiar poofy-haired version of the character appears for the first time.

We presume these two Binkley’s are the same character, although a kid who looks like the one depicted here shows up once, on June 23.

See the additional images and judge for yourself.

May 12, 1981 (2 days before)

May 14, 1981 (as printed)

June 8, 1981

June 23, 1981

“Bringing Up Father” (July 28, 1942)

“Bringing Up Father” (July 28, 1942)
by George McManus (1884-1954) and Zeke Zekley (1915-2005)
23.25 x 5.75 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

In 1904, young George McManus was hired by Pulitzer’s New York World as a cartoonist. While he was there he created such strips as The Newlyweds, which comics historians consider the first family comic strip. In 1912, William Randolph Hearst hired McManus away to start a comic strip about a guy called Jiggs, a lower class man who came into a lot of money. With their new wealth, Maggie, Jiggs’ wife, wanted to enter the upper crust of society but Jiggs just wanted to hang out with his old friends at the local bar playing cards and pool and eat his simple favorite foods. This is the classic strip Bringing Up Father.

McManus had masterful line work with a strong deco feel to his designs. Over time, he developed the recurring motif of animating the background paintings in certain panels, and this is generally delightful.

The whimsy in the funny papers often sits in sharp contrast to the news of the day.

Earlier in July (July 4), the mass murder, by gassing, of Jews held at Auschwitz had begun. The Soviets had begun to press the Germans on the Eastern Front (Stalingrad) and the Italians at El Alamain (North Africa). On the 28thh, Stalin, seeking to reinforce the patriotic Soviet spirit, issued the famous Order 227. It’s key phrase “Not one step back!” would become a rallying cry throughout the rest of 1942 and into 1943.

“The Evolutionary Dead End”

“The Evolutionary Dead End” (Non Sequitur, August 14, 2019)
By Wiley Miller (1951-)
8.5 x 14 in., ink on heavy paper
Coppola Collection

In 1991, Wiley launched his popular Non Sequitur strip, eventually syndicated to 700 newspapers as well as published on Go Comics and distributed via email. The strip oscillates between one-panel commentary and stories with recurring characters. In either event, the strips have a history of politically leaning. In February 2019 many newspapers canceled their subscriptions to Non Sequitur after the Sunday comic dated February 10, 2019 included a hidden profane message aimed at President Trump.

The note from Wiley:

“So grotesque and preposterous are the principal characters in this galaxy of clowns and crooks that none but a thrice double ass could have taken them for rulers.”

Attributed to an Officer in the Allied Control Commission during the Nuremberg Trials.

A reminder – Wiley composes these to be able to be cropped as a horizontal or vertical format (see below).

2010 Iron Man 2 Artist Proof (ToS#54, 2010)

2010 Iron Man 2 Artist Proof (ToS#54, 2010)
by Adam Cline (1983-)
2.5 x 3.5 in., pen, ink, and marker on card
Coppola Collection

The card companies provide the artists with a limited number of cards that they can sell to their fans. The artists do different things with their cards, including commissions.

This card features a nice homage on the cover to Tales of Suspense #54, and was the only one of these he did.

2007 Marvel Masterpieces I Artist Proof (FF#1, 2008)

2007 Marvel Masterpieces I Artist Proof (FF#1, 2008)
by Adam Cline (1983-)
2.5 x 3.5 in., pen, ink, and marker on card
Coppola Collection

The card companies provide the artists with a limited number of cards that they can sell to their fans. The artists do different things with their cards, including commissions.

This card features a cool interpretation of the cover to Fantastic Four #1, and was the only one of these he did.

“The Triple Terror” (Tip Top Comics 90, November 1943)

“The Triple Terror” (Tip Top Comics 90, November 1943, p. 7)
by Fred Methot and Paul Berdanier (1879-1961)
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

“The Triple Terror” appeared in Tip Top Comics #54-119 (1940-46).

This is the first page of a complete, six-page story published in Tip Top Comics #90 (November 1943).

The Triple Terror series started off as an unusual concept. Putting their considerable wealth and scientific skills to good use, the Brandon triplets (Barton, Richard, and Bruce) donned costumes to fight evil around the world as Chemix (Barton), Lectra (Richard), and Menta (Bruce), The Triple Terror. In addition to their respective expertise in the sciences, the Brandon boys were extremely athletic, good climbers and exceptional fighters. Menta could pilot an aircraft and they all seemed to be familiar with military weapons, equipment and tactics. In early adventures, decked out in superhero garb, they usually fought to prevent dangerous new technologies from falling into enemy hands, sometimes at the request of the US Government.

After America joined WW2 in 1941, these superheroes (as did many others) changed back to their civvies, joined the Army, and fought in both the European and Pacific Theaters. Their enemies included a female villain in a rat costume named The Rat and a cabal of Nazi sympathizers called the Silver Swastikas.

Triple Terror’s creators, according to Public Domain Superheroes, were Fred Methot (about whom I can find almost nothing) and Paul Berdanier.

“The Mirror Man” (Tip Top Comics 90, Nov. 1943, p. 44)

“The Mirror Man” (Tip Top Comics 90, November 1943, pp. 44)
by Fred Methot and “Sam Singer”
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

This is the first page of a 6-page story, featuring Mirror Man, a former super-hero comic that shifted to the war-hero genre after the outbreak of WWII.

The Mirror Man was a super-hero series introduced in the Tip Top Comics anthology in issue 54 (October 1940), by writer Fred Methot and artist Reg Greenwood (who also introduced The Triple Terror characters in the same issue).

As Mirror Man, Dean Alder possesses the Mystic Garment, a robe that permits him to use mirrors and other reflective surfaces as his transport, and he uses this to fight crime and evil.

Soon after WWII broke out, both the Mirror Man and Triple Terror characters hung up their spandex and enlisted in the army, becoming military warriors fighting the enemy overseas. The first Mirror Man war story was in Tip Top Comics 71 (March 1942), and the Triple Terror triplet had a spy-adventure and decided to formally enlist at the end of their Tip Top 72 (April 1942) story.

Methot and Greenwood (1899-1943) are credited with The Mirror Man stories through Tip Top Comics 87 (August 1943), which was presumably Greenwood’s last story because he is listed as dying in 1943). The more noted Paul Berdanier (1879-1961) took over The Triple Terror and did one Mirror Man story (TTC 88, September 1943). The rest of the Mirror Man series, which lasts about another year, is not credited except for a couple of stories signed “Singer.” Methot is still thought to have written these, and the artist is referred to as Sam Singer in some places.


This 6-page story, from TTC 90, is Singer’s second one (the first one, from the issue before, is signed by Singer). I have the 6 pages, as well as the 6-page Triple Terror story from this same issue, in addition to the stories from both series that appeared in issue 89.

“Tumbleweeds” (02/15/1979)

“Tumbleweeds” (02/15/1979)
by Tom K. Ryan (1929-2019)
22.5 x 11.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Dedicated to the memory of Tom Ryan

From 1965-2007, with his clean art lines and classical, gag-a-day wit, Tom Ryan led a 42-year stint on telling the story of the denizens of Grimy Gulch (population 49), the 6 7/8 Cavalry from the nearby Fort Ridiculous, and the members of the Poohawk tribe.

A classic gag featuring the Poohawk named Limpid Lizard is presented here.

“Tom K. Ryan died March 12, 2019 in Florida. He had devoted 42 of his 92.8 years to the production of a daily comic strip that was among the bellwethers of fresh comedy in newspaper comic strips in the middle of the 20th century. Westerns were all the rage in television of the 1950s and 1960s, and Ryan caught the wave with Tumbleweeds and helped turn comic strip humor in a new direction.”

Introduction to the obituary from The Comics Journal ( written by RC Harvey

Mage: Kevin Matchstick and Edsel (August, 1986)

Mage: Kevin Matchstick and Edsel (August, 1986)
by Matt Wagner (1961-)
14 x 11 in, ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Mage: The Hero Discovered, the first third of Matt Wagner’s Mage trilogy, ran from February1984 until December 1986.

Mage: The Hero Defined(Jul 1997 – Oct 1999)
Mage: The Hero Denied
(Aug 2017 – Feb 2019)

Thirty-five years in the making, The Hero Denied is the conclusion of the tale of Kevin Matchstick, who, after encountering a wizard, discovers he is the reincarnation of the legendary Pendragon and able to wield the power of the mystical weapon, Excalibur.

Matt Wagner: “The main character of Mage is Kevin Matchstick, a somewhat cynical everyman when the story first begins, he eventually meets a wily street wizard (the title character) who reveals that he is heir to a legendary power and destined to become the hero he never imagined himself to be.”

This drawing came from the August 1986 San Diego Comic Con.

What a Great Day for Mail

At this web site, over at the “Take On Me” tab, I have archived the story of writing and then commissioning the art for a 5-page comic story. I wrote the story… I saw drafts of the art… I’ve seen and posted scans of the final pages… and I even made a little book about it.

And yet none of that compares to a package being delivered that contains the original art pages.

Sixty cents worth of graphite, ink and watercolors on a buck-fifty in paper… capturing an idea in the minutes and hours of artistic labor by a pair of clever and talented guys.

Happy, happy, joy, joy… do the Snoopy dance.