Flashmob Fridays: Time Warp

The latest Flashmob Friday takes a look back at one of DC’s Dollar Comics, Time Warp, a science fiction anthology that ran five issues from 1979-1980.

Time Warp #1 cover

Johnny Bacardi provides some background on the line and its contributors, while Christopher Allen sums up the pros and cons of the series, and I provide a list of lessons I learned from the first issue. (For example, “I’ve always been surprised that science fiction isn’t more successful in comic form, since it seems the perfect medium for it: idea-driven, cheap to show the most outrageous concept, capable of portraying anything that can be imagined, sharing much of the same fandom.”) Joseph Gualtieri, meanwhile, considers the series “a pale imitation of EC” and Scott Cederlund ponders comic memory and why he never heard of Time Warp before.

Update: (2/22/12) Here’s my contribution in full:

I didn’t read all five of the Time Warp issues we were assigned this week, because even with my fondness for another era of comic storytelling, 300 pages was a bit much all at once, especially without continuing characters. But the one I did read, the first, reminded me of several things:

1. Short stories are harder to do well than longer stories, which might be why the comic anthology is all but dead while the collection-told-in-serialized-chapters rules the comic market.

2. I’ve always been surprised that science fiction isn’t more successful in comic form, since it seems the perfect medium for it: idea-driven, cheap to show the most outrageous concept, capable of portraying anything that can be imagined, sharing much of the same fandom. But if one rules out superheroes (which are only SF in the loosest definition), then it’s difficult to think of any well-known, successful SF comics. (Manga, as usual, is the exception, and many more people should be reading Finder.)

3. I miss the art style of the ’80s, where competence was required at a minimum. Ah, the glory of Dick Giordano inks and relatively realistically drawn and posed figures. These were filler work, but they’re all readable and easy to follow, artistically.

4. Science fiction is where O. Henry-style stories went to multiply. The twist ending — aliens are just like us! judging by appearance is bad! love will show you how bad prejudice is! murderers get what’s coming to them! aliens may be bigger or smaller than us! — is a requirement, it seems, to make the tale meaningful. It’s the EC influence, I’m sure, with everyone remembering those classic morality tales disguised as fiction.

5. Yet science fiction ages badly. All these technological marvels, and no one could envision equality between the sexes, or a world run by people who weren’t white. Maybe because the future is shown as a scary place, full of things that can kill you. That’s the biggest twist ending of all: technology can’t protect you.

6. My gracious, the limited color palette made for some vibrant choices. Purple shirts, orange machinery, bright yellow walls, reds, blues, and of course, lots of green tentacles.

I think the piece I’ll remember most is yet another “Martians want our women” story with Steve Ditko art, because, aside from the cliched premise, his showgirls are really strange-looking. His aliens, in another chapter, are much better.


One Response to “Flashmob Fridays: Time Warp”

  1. marty Says:

    I remember buying this waaaay back when it originally came out. A number of fairly standard stories for the day, but those Kaluta covers – worth the dollar just for them.

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