TreasuryCast #68 – Tops

Rob is joined by legendary comics pro Michael T. Gilbert to discuss his new book, TOPS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF CHARLES BIRO'S VISIONARY 1949 COMIC BOOK SERIES!

Check out images from this comic by clicking here!

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Opening theme by Luke Daab: Closing music by Hanna-Barbera.

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11 responses to “TreasuryCast #68 – Tops

  1. Fascinating! I’m one of those obsessive needs that love comic book history! For decades publishers ignored all these esoteric titles that had very brief shelf lives, while reprinting early Batman, Superman and The EC Comics library dozens upon dozens of times.
    This book looks great. Even if not all the stories are all that interesting. Well, not everything in human history is interesting, but you can learn things from it anyway. That page featuring the sewer treasure hunting is so packed with detail I could look at it until I went cross eyed.
    I’m not sure why, but I feel as though the woman holding her head on what was the cover of the first issue is named Gloria. It was either something that they said, or the voices in her head, that calling Gloria!
    I also had no idea that exploding children were an issue facing our country back in the 40s, I also want to know if I can handle the pressure of being on a parole board. I’ll be ordering this book to find out more!

  2. Love that you covered this book and spoke to Mr. Gilbert himself – I had only just heard of it recently precisely because this new reprint book has been published. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and all of the background information. I’ve always had a soft spot for these daring publishing projects that unfortunately never went anywhere – like, say, the “It Rhymes with Lust” picto-novel from the early 1950s, Gil Kane’s early attempts at adult-oriented graphic novels (“His Name is Savage” and Blackmark) or the Fiction Illustrated series (and several similar books) produced by Byron Preiss back in the 1970s. Tops fits right into that category and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for it, even if – yes – it is a bit pricey for me.
    By the way, it’s good to finally know how to correctly pronounce Biro’s surname, i.e., Bye-ro – I was never sure if it was that or ‘Beer-o’ (which is how I’ve heard it pronounced on another comics podcast several years ago).
    Again, great show, Rob and hats off to Michael.

  3. You got me Rob. I am 15 minutes in and looked at the gallery post and just went and ordered the book. I’ll be back after reading it!

    And Great Get to have Michael on the show!

  4. I can confirm that due to the kid gang craze started by Kirby, Daredevil had become a guest-star in his own book, even more so than, say, Guardian was in Newsboy Legion strips. And very early too. More than 5 years before this particular story was adapted for tops.

    And put me down for a nice Mr. Monster collection as well! it would be… tops!

  5. Re the feedback section: I keep Treasuries in a briefcase, too! A briefcase with Captain Marvel (Shazam!) comic pages in collage/decoupaged to the exterior 🙂

  6. Nope, I had never heard of this comic, but within 15 minutes I had also ordered it. That what happens when top guest meets great host. It’s due tomorrow and I am excited!

  7. Great discussion! It goes without saying the art in these books is gorgeous. I wonder if the cover story in issue #1 about “Our Explosive Children” ever caught the eye of a certain Dr. Wertham?

    It doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Gilbert managed to make the collected volume feel like an authentic 1940s comic. He pulled that off expertly in one of my favorite comics, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight # 94. There he interpreted the art styles of Bob Kane, Dick Sprang and Neal Adams, and even made it look like the pages came from that era!

  8. I like to consider my self an amateur comic book historian.

    I had never heard of this book before. Not even a mention.

    So thanks for covering this book especially with Mr. Gilbert. Such a great review and history lesson! Amazing.

  9. Rob,

    First of all, thank you for your podcast and your devotion to the Treasury size comic. I have ‘binge listened’ to every episode of TreasuryCast over the past three weeks and enjoyed each one immensely, even the episodes I had no interest in (Transformers, G.I. Joe). I have learned quite a bit about these oversized wonders, things I never knew – like the redrawing of Superman’s face on the Super Friends treasury cover, and that the cover to the Justice League treasury is by Dick Giordano (I had always believed the front and back cover to be by Neal Adams, so thank you for correcting me). I have two copies of the Justice League treasury – one with a properly colored Green Arrow on the cover, and another where his legs are colored yellow! The wealth of knowledge from you and your guests has been astounding and a huge thank you to all your guests! I especially loved the episodes about the Hanna-Barbera treasuries. I found all three of them several years ago at One Stop Comics in Oak Park, Illinois for the price of $3 each! Until I saw the treasuries laying on a table in the back of the store, I had no idea they even existed. Best $9 I ever spent!

    My treasury collection is nearly complete. The only DC issue I do not own is the first DC treasury, the implied #C-20, Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer! I have a complete run of Marvel Treasury Edition and all the one-shot treasuries like Captain America’s Bicentennial, the two Wizard of Oz issues, Annie, and Star Wars including some of the Whitman variants for titles like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Will you be doing a specific podcast regarding those off-beat Whitman issues of the treasuries?

    Back in the early 1980’s when I left home for college, my stepmother sold my comic book collection to a local dealer for a mere $100 and I have spent the intervening years recouping my lost collection. In my quest, I found a four issue series of treasury sized comics published by Racine Press/Western called Golden Picture Story Books. The first two issues were devoted to Hanna-Barbera characters (Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear, respectively) and the third and fourth are Disney (Babes in Toyland movie adaptation, and Disney Ducks). Any chance you have heard of or seen these unique books, and will you do a podcast about them if you have? All four issues list in Overstreet as ‘scarce.’

    I remember purchasing my first treasury – the Justice League – from the newsstand, but cannot remember if it was from Crawford’s Drug Store, or one of the five local 7-11’s in the area. My brother and I would ride our bikes to each place to find the new comics that came out that week. Since there were no comic stores back then, it was hit and miss when collecting a specific title, and, the Justice League being my all-time favorite comic series, the idea of a giant book filled with Justice League stories thrilled me no end! I was disappointed though, to find two reprints of comics I already had, but the centerfold by Terry Austin and Dick Giordano was worth the price of admission!

    As far as a treasury that I would like to have seen published, I second (or third) your Wonder Woman idea. The sadly named Harry G. Peter was an artist that is an acquired taste but his work is so distinct that a larger format would be eye-popping with all those squiggly lines and round figures. A Flash treasury with reprints of Carmine Infantino and Irv Novick’s work would have been nice to see. I know he was never a marquee character, but I would have bought a Hawkman treasury, especially if it had Golden Age reprints by Sheldon Moldoff and Silver Age reprints by the immortal Joe Kubert. I think both these artists would have translated well to the larger format. A treasury featuring Jim Aparo’s work from the Brave and the Bold would have taken a dollar out of my pocket, as would a treasury featuring Silver Age Gil Kane and Bronze Age Joe Staton’s Green Lantern!

    The one treasury I would like to see above all others would be a reprinting of the Justice Society origin story from DC Special #29. The Neal Adams cover and the interior work by Joe Staton and Bob Layton, as well as the story by Paul Levitz would be a genuine treat to this old fanboy!

    Sorry for the rambling mess of a letter. Keep up the great work and thank you very much!

    Russell Rosenkild

  10. I’ll be honest. Before listening to the Tops podcast, I took a quick look at the gallery and thought “What the hell is this,,?” Then I listed to your conversation with Michael T. Gilbert and found it riveting. What a great story behind this bizarre collection. Now I don’t know what to do first: Get on the parole board or look for gold in the sewar! Well done, Rob. This is why TreasuryCast is my favorite.

  11. Thank you Michael T. Gilbert! Thank you for your great comics. Thank you for your preservation and restoration of TOPS! Thank you for talking to our pal Rob on this podcast!

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