Monday, December 20, 2010

CBR Heroes, Inc. Presents Cannon

A while ago, after receiving by mail some comics I ordered over the web, I looked at my mail...and there it was...
A random comics I never heard of, thrown in the mix as a "gift".
The comics looked old, from the 50 or 60s probably. The pages were all turned yellow.

Was I a lucky "winner", did I get a super rare oldie? Or was this just some seller trying to get rid of something?

Let's dig in this book...

Comic title: Heroes, Inc. Presents Cannon
Art by Wally Wood (and then some...)
Story by Wally Wood

Published by self-published
From 1969
Lineup Cannon
Format: Single issue.

The first thought I had when I saw this was probably:
"What the F...???"

What is this comic? No recognisable character? No publishing house? Looks to came out from Golden Age of comics only to disappeared and be forgotten about all those years... But what's this book? Where did it came from? Who's behind it?

It's a little self-published comic by cartoonist Wally Wood.
It came from a simple idea. Most comics back then where for kids, at least all those put out by the 2 big ones, Marvel and DC Comics. Wood published this comic for the underground comics market. He wanted to write at and target a more adult and mature audience.

But what is it really about? And did it succeed its own goals? Let's check the stories inside it...

Cannon, the self-titled hero supporting this whole concept.

After some bizarre advertisment for some acres New Mexico (??), the book opens up with the very first tale.
And a surprise awaits the reader right here.
Cannon's no lightweight, look at that, bottom of the page, what does it say??

"Art by Ditko and Wood"

Ditko?? The Ditko, as in Steve Ditko?? Creator of Spider-man, Blue Beetle/Ted Kords, The Question, The Creeper and many others??

As it appears, Wally Wood was able to get  Ditko pencil all of this first story, which Wood inked, colored, etc.. All the rest of the book is 100% drawn by Wood, but this first part was actually partially done by a big name author. How was he able to get Ditko himself help him out, history didn't keep this part. I imagine Wood was able to get Ditko drunk on evening, forced him into drawing this part, with scorpions in his clothes, a big box of cartoony TNT bars while holding a bazooka to his underwear.
Or something like that.

Anyway, onto the comic itself.

Cannon is basically your typcial G.I.Joe hero, a soldier that will give his life for his country and all.
The whole thing is clearly aimed at young adult who have been to or are in the war. Clearly pro-military.
The art is..ok I guess (gosh, I never thought I'd say that from Ditko someday!), not spectacular but not bad either.

The story itself stupid.
Cannon is a soldier who's been under various experiments, leaving him....without emotion!!! DUN DUUN DUUUN!!!

Yeah..that's pretty stupid.
And apparently enough to make a man invicible, able to inflitrate enemy territory, save the girl, win the day and destroy all of his foes.

Oh and it was clearly made in the late 60s, with stereotypical enemies and all.

An heroine who kicks butts and like to show her's.

We left the main "meat" of this compilaiton, so now let's dig in...huh...some "meat" as 60/70s men would say.

After some hilarious military jewelry ad and more "Army = Epic" stuff, we're introduced to our second tale, The Misfits.
This one has a little collaboration by Ralph Reese on the inks, with credits adding "W. Wood and R. Reese" and "Copyright Wally Wood 1969" in case we missed it still is a Wally Wood comic..

It's about a girl who wakes up in the middle of an hold-up, with amnesia.
What a surprising introduction!!
She then is taken to a military camp (again with the military??) where she's kept captured.
Then an alien invaer comes to earth to conquer us all, the girl tries to escape with a little telepathic creature/kid and a huge golem. Oh and she has psychic powers too.

You get the idea. It gets pretty random.
It's actually funny, in a very "simple cheap scifi B-movie" sort of way...but let's be honest..this whole story as only one purpose!
Show off the heroine's under every angle.

Cheesecake for the win!

Also she's walking around in a very tight red suit for no reason.
(oh I forgot, cheesecake)

The story feels pretty different from the first since the message seems now...anti-miliary??

The oddest comic book couple ever imagined. Ever.

More military jewelry stuff.
Then the greatest ad segment of this book.
A letter column. "This is your book!"
It's a page asking for "fans" to write letters to the "editions". To tell what kind of story they'd like to see featured in the book (and they replied "something else" and bought books from other editors).
It's hilarious, with epic 'splosions, a guy in an helmet, planes, horses, more 'splosions and pin-ups around it.

Finally the third and last tale, Dragonella.
This one was actually written by Ron Whyte and not Wood.

It's a sort of fantasy/medieval tales parody.
The story riffs on old Grimm fairy tales right from the start with the evil Queen forcing someone to kill a baby but the guy only abandons her in the woods and all...
And then she's adopted by a family of Dragons/Dinosaurs (?), grows up and is seen later on going on adventures with her buddy George the Dragon.
Men find her beauty amazing and chase her...zany adventures.

This one's a rather strange story.
It's either the best of the bunch, with humour, nothing taking itself seriously (in-story and in the way it's presented/narrated as well).
But it's also the creepiest.

The Dragon loves her and wanna marry her, she wants a man and live happily ever after, all the women (evil Queen as well) are drawn very suggestively with the less dress they can hold around their bodies...and the moral here is..?
I think the guy wanted to sell some issues at any cost.
(plus adult comic + sexy gals = $$$ amIriteoramIrite??)

Finally more military jewelry (seriously, guys in their mid-20 back then looked like gangstas or Mister T.!).

Overall, it's a very strange product of its time.

With a number #01, you'd expect an issue to have been made back then...right?
Well, it's not that simple.
See, this comic was actually never distributed.
Yeah, what a strange story, right?
So they stored all the 1800 copies they had in a warehouse back then.
But later on in the 70s, 900 of those were stolen!
This turned this comic into a collector item!! Sales were super high for this comic!
All the way through the 90s, this was a collector comic!

Now you wanna say "Eyz, man! You're super lucky to have a copy of this one" yeah? Well guess what,, wrong!
Then in 2005 someone sold off 70 000 copies of this comic in the business, got rich quick probably and flooded the market.
This comic has overflown now comic shops all over the USofA and even a bit in Europe.
Chances are you either already have it or will get it sooner or later. Either "free" in a bin in a comic store or will get one copy someday while buying comics online.

And the famous issue #02?
It was released back then in 1976, like 10 years after the original one. I can already imagine the letter column (Hey kids, we're back! Missed us? - kids: "What? Who are you!!?")

The comic is pretty average, silly and sort of stupid.
But hey, it's one of those "so bad it's good" comics.

Check it out, but don't search for it, let it found you!

I give it:

  1,5 / 3 Ampersands!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Copyright & trademark 1969 & 2012 Wallace Wood Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Cannon has had a long life since this, his first appearance. There was a 2nd issue of HEROES INC, then Cannon ran as a newspaper strip for years in the US servicemen paper, The Overseas Weekly and he had an 8 issue mini-series published by Fantagraphics in the '90s.
    re Ditko: There is no one in the history of comics that Steve Ditko respected more than his friend and collaborator, Wallace Wood. Not only did they team for this first Cannon appearance but also, famously for THUNDER Agents (Tower), Witzend (Wood), Jungle Jim (Charlton), Stalker (DC), The Destructor (Atlas), Plop (DC), Pussycat (Marvel), etc.
    You can keep up with all the latest Wood news on the official Wallace Wood Estate facebook page at:
    or visit

    Best regards,
    J. David Spurlock
    Director for The Wallace Wood Estate