DC - Lost Treasuries

DC had essentially stopped doing treasury comics with All-New Collectors' Edition #62 (Superman: The Movie). While they brought out a couple more in the ensuing years, for the most part in the wake of 1978's "DC Implosion," the contents of future issues of All-New Collectors' Edition were shelved and the series was discontinued.

That left over some material DC had commissioned for the treasuries, so they had to find homes for it elsewhere.

One of these stories was "The Life Story of Superman", written by Martin Pasko and drawn by Curt Swan, which eventually appeared in Action Comics #500. Supes arrives for the opening of the Superman pavilion at the Metropolis World's Fair, which leads Supes and his friends down a tour (literally and figuratively) of his life. There's a sinister presence lurking around--no points as to who it might be.

This Q&A from an AnswerMan column is from an issue of Black Lightning, further proving that the story that appeared in Action #500 was originally intended as a treasury comic:

Another lost treasury comic was "...When a World Dies Screaming" which was originally planned to be appear in All-New Collectors' Edition. This blurb, in fact, appeared in Amazing World of DC Comics #14 (the JLA issue):

But of course that never happened. It finally appeared as a 3-part story in Justice League of America #'s 210-212. On the opening splash, it was presented as a "Story from the JLA Casebook", specifically setting it in the past of the current JLA stories. The reason for this I assume was that, during the time the story was produced and printed, the JLA took in new members like Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Firestorm, none of whom appear here.

I remember, even as a kid, wondering why they were running an older story (even if the material was all-new) in the middle of the run like that. Since not every JLA story featured every member, they could've dropped the "casebook" disclaimer and simply not even mentioned why not all the members were present.

Although, on second thought, the scope of this story was huge (even more evidence it was meant as a treasury comic) enough that maybe it would've been odd that not all the JLAers bothered to show up. It spans the globe, takes time to develop some supporting, non-superhero characters, and features literally a cast of thousands. Too bad DC scuttled this as a treasury; it would've been a truly impressive comic in the large format. Heck, even some of alien characters in this book are called The Treasurers!

I guess the most infamous "lost" DC treasury comic was the ambitious King Arthur book. Intended as four-part series by Gerry Conway and Nestor Redondo, the book was heavily promoted in the seventh issue of DC's self-published fanzine, Amazing World of DC Comics, as well as in ads that ran in their Sept.1975 issues. In a few issues later of AWODCC, though, the book was still listed as "being near completion." Uh-oh!

After the first issue had been essentially completed, DC had made the decision to stop running original material in the treasuries (damn that DC Implosion again!). Soon after Conway left DC to got to Marvel, and the project was all but officially dead.

The original pages of Redondo's were eventually sold, and most of them now are who knows where. A few are in the hands of some private collectors and appeared in an article about this book in Twomorrows' magazine Back Issue (#11).

It seems insane to me to have commissioned all this beautiful artwork, pay for it, and then just let it lay in a drawer somewhere. Surely DC could have slotted it in somewhere, even as a back-up feature somewhere! What a real shame this never saw the light of day.

Update! As you can see from the successive blurbs from issues of The Amazing World of DC Comics, King Arthur DC kept promising the book, changing the format from a standard-size 25 cent comic to a treasury-size one.

Obviously, there ended up being "unforseen problems." *sigh*

Another "lost" treasury featued DC's biggest treasury comic star--Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Apparently DC had one more Rudolph Christmas treasury on the schedule when they decided to axe the whole format.

So, unlike the King Arthur material, DC repurposed it and used it a year later in Best of DC Digest #4. One of the tip-offs is the digest contains 8 pages of puzzles and games, standard-fare for the Rudolph treasury comics but otherwise never a part of DC's digest series.

Why, when Rudolph was so popular as a treasury comic, he would only make this one appearance in the digests is another peculiarity. Truly, DC sales' offices were a House of Mystery.

A real missed opportunity was Portraits of Villainy, which was a proposed oversize book that would feature Alex Ross' full-page portraits of DC's most famous bad guys alongside descriptions of them, written "by" the bad guys themselves (aka Paul Dini)!

Apparently this idea was hatched around 1999 or 2000, right in the middle of Ross and Dini's run of treasury books, but DC thought the idea wasn't marketable enough (that sound you hear is me, sobbing) since it would be a bigger, and presumably more expensive, publication.

As you can see, Ross did a series of outstanding pencil roughs for a good number of the villains (these are courtesy Ross' website). It's damn shame this project never happened--taking one look at these "roughs" will tell you Ross' roughs are better than most people's finished art. This was how Wizard, who first reported the story, described it:

The Players: Alex Ross and Paul Dini

The Project: Portraits of Villainy

The Story: Alex Ross really wanted to do something bad.

After their highly successful tabloid projects, Superman: Peace on Earth and Batman: War on Crime, Ross and Dini wanted to do a coffee table book with 30 portraits of DC Comics' top villains painted by Ross with Dini supplying the opposite page's text written in first-person "voice" of that villain. In Gorilla Grodd's case, the text would have consisted of a simple grunt. Others villains would retell their origins or specific encounters with DC heroes. In the Joker's case, the Clown Prince of Crime would have explained his origin in the form of a joke.

Why It Never Happened: In the end, it came down to money. According to Ross and Dini, while DC's editorial department loved the idea of the project, the powers-that-be didn't see the project being profitable enough to warrant its expense. After months of trying to get the project approved, it was eventually scuttled, with Ross moving on to focus on Marvel work like Earth X, Universe X and Paradise X.

Will It Ever Happen: "I hope so," says Ross. "I'd still love to do this for DC and I have a similar plan for a Marvel project. If we could work everything out and I was free of other commitments, I'd definitely do it."

Arrrrggghhhh!!!

Courtesy sharp-eyed Treasury Hunter Alex Johnson comes this piece of original art by Sheldon Mayer that he did for Rudolph's Easter Parade, which was scheduled be to an All-New Collectors' Edition but was never published.

Again thanks to Alex, we can now see four pages of Mayer's art that was planned for the unpublished Rudolph's Easter treasury. Click here to see them!

Alex (who seems to have the corner market on this Rudolph stuff) also sent this piece of Mayer original artwork to what is written on the margin as "Front cover Rudolph Xmas '78."

We assume that means it was intended for the one final Rudolph Christmas treasury that ended up being run as a digest(see cover above). Thanks again Alex!


New!
This tantalizing sketch (far left) comes from the 50th issue of TwoMorrows' Jack Kirby Collector, in an aricle about great unused Kirby art.

According to JKC editor John Morrow: "Mystery still aurrounds this piece, which was rumored to have been done for a proposed 1970s book reprinting of the Fourth World Saga.

No real specifics to back this up, so we're left wondering if maybe Jack planned this as the cover to the conclusion he never got to produce for his opus."

Wow, a potential Jack Kirby Fourth World treasury book? What a wonder to behold that would have been...

A recent discovery I made while working on the DigestComics blog was this issue of DC Special Series #18, Sgt.Rock's Prize Battle Tales, cover dated November 1979.

In it is the usual assortment of war comics reprints, but on pages 76-77 is something unusual: a table-top diorama, just like the ones the treasuries used to have!

Since having a table-top diorama made from flimsy newsprint and only 6" high isn't all the impressive, I'm betting this collection was originally scheduled as a treasury then slotted in at the last minute as a digest, like the Rudolph one above. DC was going a lot of rejiggering of it book's contents around this time, so I think its safe to assume at some point there was going to be a Sgt.Rock treasury comic. *sigh*

Update! I recently came across this table-top diorama(and ad) in a 1972 issue of Weird War Tales, a full year before DC ever did any treasury-sized comics.

So my initial assumption(above) seems to be incorrect, that the Sgt.Rock digest comic, along with accompanying diorama, was an abandoned treasury comic. More likely the diorama was meant to be run in one of DC's regular-sized war comics like the one I just posted and ended up surfacing years later.

 
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