Sunday, October 01, 2006


So a while back I was guility of SWI (surfing while intoxicated) and I rounded out my collection of Micronauts comic books. For me this was THE comic of my childhood. Micronauts were my favorite toys, at that age when a little boy carries a pocket sized plastic hero-fetish with him everywhere. And upon discovering Marvel's comic series, which was loosely based on the toyline, I was hooked. This was one of the first comic-toy tie-in series, and to my knowledge the best to date. It wasn't started as an advertising gimmick, but because the original writer of the series, Bill Mantlo, thought the toys looked cool, and was inspired to do a space opera comic based on them.
And these stories really hold up. The series changed artists several times, so the art stumbles at points, but when it shines it SHINES! Michael Golden, Pat Broderick, and Butch Guice all did some amazing stuff here, with Danny Bulanadi inking. Bulanadi seems to really jam on Broderick's pencils, but when working with Steve Ditko, Howard Chaykin, and Gil Kane the collaborations seem forced and pedestrian. And the Golden and Broderick eras, man oh man, just great use of color, layout and Zip-a-Tone! The Zip-a-Tone sings in a way I've never seen since. The tone crazy Manga wannabes out there could really learn some lessons from the first two years of the Micros. It never overpowers, it only helps to give depth and reality to gorgeous pen and brush, and painterly coloring. These days when I see tone used it is like a crutch for some one who is too lazy to do hatching shades, or learn how to get calligraphic thicks and thins out of one stroke of a sable brush or crow quill. These issues really do stand out as iconic examples of the height of the bullpen system of analog comic production.
The comic was such a fan favorite, that despite having the broad readership of say Spider-Man, Marvel moved it to direct sales only in the early 80's. Even though I was one of those die-hard fans, for most of this time I didn't have a comic-book store in my area, so I missed most of these issues. I am reading them right now, and in a way it is like finding a lost unwritten chapter of my childhood. Perhaps that explains why I'm gushing, so.
There was a revival of the toy line in 2002, and a new comic series that gives some nods to the original, but due to copyright wierdness, is basically a different concept. I've the first few issues but it didn't capture me, the way the original did. But I'm sure at some point, I'll have to collect them, as well.
The toys themselves have an interesting history,dying and reborn as much as Baron Karza and Biotron. While both the toys and comics have been viewed as being knock-offs of the Star Wars franchise, the toys actually pre-date those movies, and the comic was being concieved (though not published) before Episode IV was orginally released.
The comics were so good in fact that there are still some quite good fan sites devoted to them and the toys.
The fan community is weird for Micronauts. I'm willing to bet I'm a good representative of it, guys in their mid-thirties who grew-up with the toys/comics. The kinda guys, many of whom now control much of the computer infostructure of this country. I mean the toys were geekier than the Star Wars toys. Every boy of our generation had handfuls of Star Wars toys. But the Micronauts had this Legos thing and this early Japanese culture fetishism thing going for them too.
Heck, there are even guys (one of whom has an Acroyear tattoo!) working on a new line of the action figures. Man do these look sweet! The release date on these puppies keeps getting pushed back, and it looks like they are going to be going for $20 a pop. I've never been one for the immediate collectible toy market, but I gotta say these would look awesome on my desk. Hell, I bet I'd get $20 bucks worth play outta 'em.
Whish! Zoom! ZAP!
Anyway, that's enough of my "Toys-R-Us" lifestyle for now.
I'll leave you fellow Micro-Nuts with this.

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