Saturday, February 4, 2012

1995 DC Comics Wonder Woman Book "Dump"

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This is a post I've been meaning to do for a while now. When I was a retailer at my first shop, I promoted the William Messner-Loebs/Mike Deodato Jr. run pretty hard. "Bad Girls" were in fashion, so sales of the book were climbing steadily. Unfortunately, both creators jumped ship to work on Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor, and John Byrne took over the book. While I wasn't thrilled with the change, DC Comics provided me with a swell bunch of promotional materials, so I made use of them. The most interesting was this Wonder Woman Counter Dump, a one piece cardboard unit made to display comics directly on a counter top (preferably near the register for maximum POP appeal.)

When left completely flat, the piece is about the length of two comic books, so Diamond Comic Distributors must have shipped them in outer boxes (meaning the meter-ish long boxes that hold two more boxes of two stacks each for a total of four stacks of comics.) I must have folded mine in half for storage, since the Wonder Woman symbol is pulled loose at the perforation (and pretty banged up in the scan as a result.) The backdrop is a metropolitan skyline, but whenever I recall this piece, it's as a dystopian cityscape. John Byrne had decided to move Wonder Woman from Boston to a fictional stand-in for San Francisco called Gateway City, hence the bridge. However, he drew the city as something of a Metropolis/Gotham hybrid with towering skyscrapers and Roman centurion statues that stops dead at the water. My memories then perceive the city as falling apart like the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes, because of the inorganic divide, muddy coloring, and the erratic, asymmetrical, crude buildings that look like they've been chewed on.

The back of the dump is solid maroon, featuring the stands retailers were meant to pop out to support the dump.

The front section was a shot of Wonder Woman flying against a better colored and rendered set of buildings (note another centurion.) Byrne's following had been thinning in the Image period, so (and I can't imagine such an egotist admitting it) he was clearly experimenting with a busier style reminiscent of Todd McFarlane. While not as pleasing to the eye as his prime material, it was a lot more interesting than the hacked out work he would start churning out for Marvel later in the decade (pioneered in the second half of his three year run on Wonder Woman.) Is it just me, or does she kind of look like Anna Paquin*?

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Diana is wearing a short-lived, simplified version of her costume with extended bracelets and two large stars on her briefs. If you look a bit below her feet, you can see the fold line where the figure was meant to protrude from the backing to hold at best a half dozen comics for display. Despite my criticisms of Byrne, this was a nifty piece, so I never had the heart to punch out the white spaces around Diana and fully assemble it. Besides, this dump was made from cardboard thinner than a backing board, so it would have been torn to shreds within a few weeks. Instead, I folded it face-out and put it inside a sturdy Wizard Magazine dump through about #104. Sales spiked with Byrne's early issues. I probably lost some "Bad Girl" subscribes, but I picked up mainstream super-hero ones, so in the end things evened out. I figure the promotional materials helped a lot!

*An unlikely model, as she was only about 13 at the time. Ugh, I'm old.

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