Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hermes Press' Gold Key Comics The Phantom Reprints

Have you heard of Hermes Press? I will admit that I had never heard of them, until an announcement on one of the comics websites talked about a new Buck Rogers comic written and drawn by Howard Chaykin. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Chaykin's work. While I still haven't had a chance to get the comic that set me on to this path, that one article lead me down a collector's rabbit hole that lead me to one of my favorite comic characters, King Feature's The Phantom.

In addition to "traditional" floppy comics, Hermes Press also does a number of high end collector's restored editions of various comics and comic strips. These aren't cheap books, or trade paperbacks, because they feature high end restoration processes and high end printing and materials. I checked out Hermes Press' The Phantom: The Gold Key Years Volume 2. Gold Key Comics should be familiar to comic fans and collectors. In the 50s, 60s and 70s they did a number of licensed comics adapting characters like The Phantom, Flash Gordon, the television Tarzan, Star Trek, The Green Hornet and many more. They also brought us original characters such as Doctor Solar, Magnus, Robot Hunter and Turok, Son of Stone.

The reason that collectors and fans remember Gold Key Comics after so many years is because of their quality art and storytelling. That's no different with The Phantom stories, and Hermes Press brings this quality to the forefront with their new reprint.

Yes, there are some goofy bits to the comics, like The Phantom's "secret identity" being him wearing an overcoat and hat over his costume, but those touches were established in the original comic strips as well. The art is a bit two-dimensional, compared to current comic art standards, but the art does not detract from the story.

Here are some sample pages that I dug out...

The vibrancy of the original art is maintained and brought to a vivid life by the careful work of the reproduction artists. It makes you feel like you are a kid again, and eagerly flipping through the pages of your favorite comic book. Now, these old stories aren't for everyone. As I said, compared to contemporary comics the art isn't as sophisticated and the writing isn't as complex, however despite that I thought that these comics held up remarkably well. Reading the stories brought a smile to my face as I flipped through the pages.

Do I think that this is worth buying? I'm going with an unreserved yes. The original stories are still fun, and the people at Hermes Press have created a quality product that will appeal to collectors. It isn't cheap, as the books put out by Hermes Press range from $50-$100, but if you want quality you sometimes have to pay for it.