Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Great Moments In Storytelling--Marvel Spotlight #20!!

Oh, are you ready?

Are you bracing yourself for the most action-packed tale ever, a combination of words and pictures that only comic books can bring you?

Uh-oh. The Tarot. Rarely a good sign for an action-packed tale.

Well, let's put our faith in Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema, right??

Anyway, a student of Daimon Hellstrom's gal pal (a professor of parapsychology) has received a vaguely threatening Tarot card/solicitation for a free reading in the mail, and they decide to investigate the mysterious Madame Swabada.

Daimon insists on getting his reading first, because, well, Son Of Satan, you know?

Thank heavens they showed the shuffling, along with the instructions for shuffling!! Please, more detail!!

Wait a minute...are they seriously going to show us the entire reading, card-by-card, panel-by-panel?

Yes...but not panel by-panel:

Ah, just what we needed...a lengthy typeset essay, in the easily-readable white print on black background (click to embiggen to full lecture size)!! Followed a splash page of angsty floating heads looking at cards!! That will make a Tarot reading interesting to comic readers!!

Of course, this isn't the only time Steve Gerber resorted to illustrated essays in a comic book. And, in complete fairness, there's some pretty cool stuff later in the issue.

But man, what a way to bring your story to a screeching halt, just 4 pages into the issue. I wonder how many readers just gave up...

Perhaps there ought to be a rule: if Sal Buscema can't find a way to illustrate your bit in an exciting way, it's time for a re-think.

From Marvel Spotlight #20 (1975)


Dougie said...

The Buscema/Gerber team used this gimmick again with a televised speech from the Sons of the Serpent IIRC.

A similar experiment- ever-so-slightly pretentious - appeared in the Living Mummy strip, "The Asp's Big Score"

David Jones said...

And then again, there is at least one reader who really liked this issue as a teenager when he plucked it off the spinner rack and took it home, and continues to have a fondness for the entire Marvel Spotlight run of this character to this day.

Takes all kinds, I guess.