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The Strips

Martian Manhunter & J. Hex New!

Superman and The Flash New!

Justice League of America

Jonah Hex

Green Lantern


Green Arrow and The Flash


The Flash


Gotham City Police Dept.

Johnny Thunder and Shazam!

Batman, Green Lantern,
and The Flash


Metal Men

Pete Ross and Lana Lang

Superman & J'onn J'onzz

Charles M. Jones

Batman and Robin

The Flash and Zatanna

Jor-El and Lara

DC Prez Jenette Kahn


Clark Kent and Lois Lane

The Haunted Tank

Superman and Lois Lane

The Unknown Soldier

The Vigilante

The Private Life of Clark Kent

Green Arrow and Black Canary

Sgt. Rock and Easy Company

Witching Hour

Green Arrow, The Human Target,
and Superman

Super Friends

Lois & Clark

Green Arrow & Black Canary

Superman & Jimmy Olsen


Batman & Shazam!

Justice Society of America

Phantom Stranger and
Phantom Girl

Batman and Robin

Black Lightning

Private Life of Clark Kent

Green Arrow and The Warlord

Eclipso / Mr. Mxyzptlk

The Flash & Adam Strange


Lightning Lad & Chameleon Boy

Justice League of America

Wonder Woman

Zatanna and Professor Zoom

Firestorm, the Nuclear Man

Swamp Thing

Gotham City Police Dept.

Bizarro World

The Atom

The Flash and The Mirror Master


The Batman and the Joker

Lex Luthor and Brainiac

The Flash

Enemy Ace

Green Arrow & Black Canary

Hawkman & the Flash

The Phantom Stranger

Legion of Super-Heroes

Green Lantern


Batman and Red Tornado

Green Lantern and the Flash

The Creeper

Robin, the Boy Wonder

Justice League of America

Legion of Super-Heroes

Elongated Man and Plastic Man

Superman Family

The Flash and the Spectre

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen


Hawkman & Hawkgirl


Wildcat & Dr. Fate

Batman & Robin


Plastic Man

Bob 'Answer Man' Rozakis

Batman & the Flash

Green Arrow & Green Lantern

The Atom

Batman & Robin

Coming soon

Jimmy Olsen & Lois Lane

Steve Trevor


Steve Savage

The Flash

Johnny Thunder

Sgt. Rock & Easy Company


Johnny Cloud

Green Lantern

Lois, Clark & Jimmy

Plastic Man

Perry White & Jimmy Olsen

Martian Manhunter

Madame Xanadu

Bruce Wayne


Swamp Thing

Fred Hembeck

Superman and The Flash
Uploaded January 27, 2007

I received a large box a few days ago from the folks in Indiana who run the Discount Comic Book Service. Like a few other outfits, Cameron & Carrie run a service that allows people to order comics, books, toys, etc., essentially anything that gets sold in comic book stories and their equivalents, at pretty high discounts, with the caveat being that you have to pay upfront for goods that will get delivered anywhere from 2-6 months later. (A nice exception to this is that when you order books that have already been published - i.e., from the publishers' backlists - they can be in your hands in just a few weeks instead.)

In addition to an unholy amount of styrofoam packing peanuts, the box contained several volumes of DC's expanding line of Showcase volumes. Each volume reprints the sequential stories of a given character from DC's roster:

These books fit a fairly straightforward publishing model: cheap and thick (over 500 pages), printing in black and white on inexpensive paper, with a card stock cover. Once you get past the lack of the traditional four-colour processing, you realize that the value of these books is huge. Trump-level hyperbole huge. That's how nice these are.

Marvel's been doing this a while now, too, with their Essential lines of collections.

For both companies, the visual appeal of these books is going to vary from artist to artist. Some are so skilled at design and composition that the lack of colour doesn't hurt the stories in the least. Others, not so much. Regardless, the use of this format to get a lot of this material in print, inexpensively, is a grand, grand thing, particularly when both companies have discovered that there's a market for such volumes centered even on obscure characters or those thought to have only niche appeal.

So do I figure should get the official Hembeck Files nod for pioneering the format and demonstrating its viability and profitability?

Dave Sim.

Yes, the guy who created Cerebus the Aardvark.

By the late 1980s or thereabouts, Dave had been writing, drawing, and publishing Cerebus himself for some ten years, getting a lot of critical praise and a reasonably healthy and devoted fan base. My recollection might be fuzzy by this point, but what I believe happened was that DC came knocking on Dave's door looking to make a deal to acquire Cerebus. Instead, Dave came up with a publishing model for reprint books that would give him the same kind of pay-off, but still leave him with complete ownership: the Cerebus "phonebooks," called such because of their thickness. Notwithstanding the subsequent battles with distributors over the books because Dave opted to bypass them and sell directly to the end consumer, Dave demonstrated that the high value/low cost model for black and white reprint books would appeal to consumers and be profitable.

Plus, they make terrific colouring books for the kids.

Kudos to DC and Marvel for paying attention and pushing the format.

- NP

The copyrights, trademarks and publication rights to Fred's cartoons belong to DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Fred Hembeck where appropriate. Proud Robot Productions graphics, site design, cartoon re-coloring and commentary copyrights belong to Neil Polowin and Proud Robot Productions.

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