Turn on your Magic Beam

A Chordettes reference there to welcome you to a blushing bonus post on the ‘optikon.

At the end of May, when looking at JLA 113, I suggested that the Sandman saga might have been written to close the career of the Grainy Gladiator and make way for a new Sandman.  That theory might not hold water.  (I still stand by the story’s resemblance to the Nuklo tale in the first Giant-Size Avengers. I just wonder if it were deliberate?)

The lead-in to the reprint of “I Hate the Sandman” in World’s Finest 226 caught my eye, as I mentioned in the last post :” We give up! You’ve besieged us with so many letters about the New Sandman that we’re going to give you a special treat–one of his early adventures. He wore a different costume but he’s still the same great character”. Actually, he wasn’t. It doesn’t look like  Boltinoff -or perhaps Levitz -checked with Steve Sherman.

The new Sandman was a children’s character who made his debut in a one-off reunion of Captain America‘s creators, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, in the era of Kamandi and The Demon.  He monitors the Dream Dimension from his Dream Dome and has two comedy sidekicks, Vic and Bob- sorry, Brute and Glob. Although the Sandman uses a sleep- sand gimmick like the 40s hero, he’s plainly meant to be the folkore Sandman.

The Ready Rangers ad on the back cover is contemporary with April 1974 comics, so I think the Sandman one-shot came out around January ’74,  just over six months before the JLA issue and nine months before WF. It’s a feverish, high-energy fantasy that borders on the ludicrous and the caricature “Jap” villain is outrageous to modern sensibilities. My favourite line is ” The General’s head is priceless!”

Sales were considered good enough for the launch of an ongoing bi-monthly series in 1975.  I got the second issue while on holiday in Port William in the Machars of Galloway in the summer of 1976.  (You may remember I went back there last year for the first time in 35 years.)  Initially we stayed in the Monreith Arms Hotel and then in a guest house. Although, as a Fourth World fan,  I was attracted by the Kirby/Royer cover, the contents were  drawn by the late Ernie Chan and written by Michael Fleisher, author of the wrathful Spectre, would-be rapist barbarian Ironjaw and the cannibal “heroes” Morlock and The Brute for Atlas.

It’s a May ’75 issue but in those days, I didn’t notice details like a comic being a year old. Not realising that was the intention, I felt it was juvenile, although that wouldn’t bother me a year or two later when I bought Super Friends regularly. Here are two more comics I read on that holiday, probably bought in Castle Douglas, one from ’75 and the second from early ’76 :

Ballast just off the boat, I presume.

At sixty, Joe Simon might have been out of touch with popular culture , from the evidence of his 70s creations at DC. This is certainly an accusation levelled at  Prez, co-created with Jerry Grandenetti, a distinctive and stylish talent, whom I knew from The Spectre. I bought the entire run of Prez for my friend Jason , when he was the youngest-ever president of Drumoyne Bowling Club seven years ago.

I’ve never read The Green Team: Boy Millionaires but Simon’s First Issue Special: The Outsiders from January 1976 was one of  the most disappointing comics-related experiences I ever had as a kid.

If the  Krofft brothers made a tv puppet show based on EC horror comics, it might look like the bizarre cast of the Outsiders.

I read two further issues of The Sandman in the 70s: they were as fanciful and bombastic as the first. I  was also around for his brief  revival in the final issues of Infinity Inc. Simon died last December, aged 98. I hope he was aware of Cap’s renewal at the movies; his two Sandmen are a highly entertaining and imaginative legacy.

Coming soon: Evil Star over Hollywood

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners


One comment on “Turn on your Magic Beam

  1. rabensam says:

    I can confirm that Joe Simon was not only aware of the Cap film, he enjoyed it:


    All the attention he got as a result of the movies pleased me immensely, because it let him know he was still remembered as an iconic comics creator.

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