The following column first appeared April 18, 2018.
Your humble professor is freshly returned from this year’s WonderCon 2018, returned to its rightful home in Anaheim, California, across the street from the House of Mouse. And a great show it was, feeling much like what was to me the heyday of the San Diego Comic-Con, the late 1990s, when the scale was still huge, but Hollywood hadn’t yet invaded the Exhibit Hall, meaning plenty of comics and toy dealers to explore. This year was especially fruitful, as I found a bunch of rare toys and comics, including a nice stack of Treasury Editions, those oversized reprint comic volumes of the 1970s that were a staple of my childhood. Including one that I never found as a kid, but whose existence haunted me in the advertisement pages of ‘70s DC comic books:
The Super Friends Treasury Edition.
As it turns out, the majority of the book is made up of reprints of Silver Age Justice League of America stories by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. Which is cool, don’t get me wrong. But the real treat here is the framing device tying the stories together, in which the Super Friends introduce new kid sidekicks Wendy and Marvin to the full membership of the Justice League, a fun sequence written by DC editor E. Nelson Bridwell (who also scripted many of the TV Super Friends episodes), and drawn and lettered by comics legend Alex Toth!
Look at that amazing page of the full JLA lineup by Toth. I think that’s the only time Alex Toth ever drew the Red Tornado. Toth also worked on the Super Friends TV series, providing designs for all the characters, which to this day are treasured by both animation fans and comic-book aficionados. Here are just a few:
As a kid, I would have loved this story of the League giving Wendy and Marvin a tour of the Hall of Justice. But is it really smart to just keep Starro and Amazo on display in the trophy room?
I also love this shot of the statue gallery the JLA keeps of “not-quite-members” of the Justice League. I guess it’s nicer than a simple thank-you card.
Even stranger is what the back of the issue holds: a 10-page feature by Alex Toth explaining just exactly how TV animation is produced. And when I say, exactly, I mean exactly.
In excruciating detail.
I mean, he even explains how magnetic tape is used to create the audio track:
It’s all lettered by Toth in his crazy infamous hand-lettering scrawl, which honestly makes the whole thing look a little more like a manifesto than a helpful tutorial on TV production. It’s bizarre and fantastic; worth the price of admission all by itself.
A wonderful little piece of nostalgia, courtesy of WonderCon.