|Ugh, look at that smug face. "Hello, ladies..."|
Today, another odd mystery. I recently stumbled upon a hardcover book, which is the same size as a children's storybook (think of any Dr. Seuss book, for example). There is no printing on the spine, and the book reads backwards (right to left). It's packed with dozens of comic stories, printed in pairs of pages, alternating in green or blue ink. What's more, the stories are from both DC and Marvel! Oh, and it's completely in Arabic!
|The very oddly-designed back cover. They couldn't even pirate enough art to keep from re-using any.|
Before we go any further, here is what I have learned through research: In the 1960's, a deal was struck between DC and Illustrated Publications, a publisher from Lebanon, to bring Superman comics to the Arabic language (here is one article that tells the story). They renamed Clark Kent as "Nabil Fawzi," and all of the printed artwork was reversed, for the same reasons that Japanese comics are reversed when they are translated into English. (Note that on the front and back covers, Superman's "S" is not reversed, which is the only time in the entire book this happens!)
The few examples of these comics that can be found online are completely in color. This book is not. Furthermore, most of the artwork appears to be obviously traced, as you shall soon see. The pages are printed on a cheaper, thinner paper than normally done. All of these factors, including the odd mixture of Marvel stories that are included, add up to my conclusion that this book is a bootleg, a pirated edition. And to that, I say............. Hooray! That's even better than finding a legitimate foreign comic!
I'm not a Superman expert. I have much more experience with Spider-Man comics, and I can point out a few sources for the stolen material as we go along...
|Title page of the book...|
|Our first story is a Golden Age one. Take a look at that third panel. Good grief, can you even tell what is going on there?|
|More craptastically traced Golden Age Superman...|
|We then switch to a Spier-Man story (any splash pages are skipped herein), where a crow brings Spider-Man a note (as they do). I can tell you that this story was cribbed from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #21 (February 1977).|
|By the next pair of pages, our ink is green again, and Kraven the Hunter has captured Spidey and the useless character Tigra.|
|The next page is a one-page feature illustrating Spidey's powers (probably also from SSS). Just take a minute and soak in all of the artwork. It's pretty amazing, especially this panel:|
|I'm not sure what to say here...even the pirates didn't bother to fill in the balloon, which should probably say HELP ME. Is Spidey coming or going here? You decide.|
|Next, one of the myriad Superman origin stories.|
|Next, we...wha? Puzzles and games? What is this, HIGHLIGHTS suddenly?|
|As we progress in the book, the artwork becomes a little more solid...perhaps better-traced, maybe with an actual lightbox this time? This looks Curt Swanish to me.|
|Next is another Spidey story, where Iron Man helps him at an auto show. This story is stolen from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #43 (November 1979).|
|Next, there is suddenly an odd Western story, where an Indian youth tames a horse...? No idea.|
|Next, a weird sci-fi story about a guy with an alien mask. No idea.|
|Then, a cowboy Western story (looks Marvel to me) that must've confused lots of readers.|
|This is another one-page SSS feature, explaining who "Captain Britain" is to some more confused readers. I wonder if they still translated his name as Captain Britain?|
|Whoops, another missed empty balloon here...|
|Aha, the Captain Britain nonsense is from SPIDEY SUPER STORIES #56 (January 1982), where he helps Spidey fight the still-Steve-Ditko-syle Jack O'Lantern!|
|I've always been partial to the Jack O'Lantern. He's no Green Goblin though.|
So there you have it. I don't have much to go on, but at least we can laugh at the artwork. Besides--if this blog has taught me anything--once you have been though the entire SUPER DICTIONARY, you can handle anything.