Writer: Charles Biro
Artist: Charles Biro
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
From their inception in 1935, comic books - starring Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel - had been primarily written for and aimed at adolescents. There were always the occasional outlier artists who pushed back against the commercial constraints of comic books and envisioned the next evolutionary artistic leap in the artform: Charles Biro was one of those artists.
In 1949, the ambitious Biro - who had previously co-created the realistically brutal comic Crime Does Not Pay- edited and wrote an oversized comic aimed at adults, called Tops. Like several other radical adult comics projects that would follow, it proved to be a commercial failure and lasted only two Life magazine-sized issues. The original comics have since become a legendary holy grail among comics fans and historians, fetching as much as $6,000 on the collector's market: written about but rarely seen and never reprinted. Until now.
Fantagraphics' Tops collects both issues of these oversized experimental comics in their entirety. Some of the best craftsmen working in comics at that time drew these pulpy, sexy, and melodramatic stories: Dan Barry, George Tuska, and others. It includes two stunning pre-EC crime tales illustrated by Reed Crandall, reminiscent of his Crime SuspenStories work. Actor Melvyn Douglas (believe it or not) takes the reader on a tour of utopia, entitled "How Would You Live Under A World Government?" - a positive spin on global Socialism!
A treasure trove of fascinating and revelatory comics history for scholars and fans, this compilation includes an introduction by the editor, the historian and cartoonist Michael T. Gilbert, as well as several other essays providing background on the creation of the series and the publisher, editors, and cartoonists who realized it. It includes a chronicle in essay form of experimental, adult comics endeavors throughout the first half of the 20th century. Tops is a landmark work of historical importance and a mind-boggling reading experience from a bygone era meticulously restored and reproduced in a deluxe hardcover in its originally published dimensions.