Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Lately it seems you can’t go to the theater to see a movie without having to deal… err enjoy… no I’m going with deal, with it being in 3-D.

Love it or hate it, and I personally am one who hates that trend, but that’s not what this is about.

This is not the first era to contract that particular contagion. There was a short flirtation with it back in the early 50s that at the time even roped in such people as Alfred Hitchcock (Dial M for Murder), who really should have known better, and John Wayne (Hondo), which explains why in it’s now exclusively 2-D prints the Duke spends so much time throwing punches directly at the camera, and why so many of the actors playing Indians do so much time jumping right at us.

At the same time this was going on in the movie houses, the comics also produced their share of 3-D comics, with the Three Stooges and Mighty Mouse being two of the first character so treated.

The problem was that in comics the red / green separation needed for the 3-D effect used at the time meant those were the only colors that could be used making the comic, so that when viewed without the glasses they looked just horrid. So that died out even faster than it did at the local Bijou.

However there was one company that made a try at striking balance and producing something like 3-D, but without the glasses and with the full color that American comic book fans demanded.

The company was American Comics Group, or ACG, most noted, along with the distinct style given their comics by their main contributors Ogden Whitney, Kurt Schaffenberger, for publishing `Adventures into the Unknown’, the first comic book devoted to the horror genre, and one of comicdoms oddest characters, Herbie Popnecker.

Their experiment was something they called Truevision “3-D effect No Glasses - Full Color!”

Appearing in seven issues of Adventures into the Unknown, and two issues each of teen comedy comics The Kilroys and Cookie in 1953, this consisted of letting characters and objects slip out of the restraints of the then universally restrictive comics panels and out into the area surrounding them, which instead of being white was now died black, at the same time they had the artists render the background less distinct, like something seen at a distance, while the colorist saw to it that only the close-up main characters were in full color, while the hazy backgrounds where rendered mainly in pastel blues, yellows and off whites.

Compared to the other comic on the stands at the time it was unique, the 50s however was not a time that very much welcomed “unique” and Truevision was gone before 1953 was, leaving it an interesting experiment that made so little impact that the few comics that feature it aren’t even all that more collectable than the average ACG comic of the time, that is to say, not very.

                                           Click pictures to enlarge for that full 3-D effect!

Still at the time it was a bold move by the small company, and was perhaps rather too ahead of its time. I mean just pick up some of the comics today, and there you have limbs and objects flying hither and yon all over the black based backgrounds. Truevision it seems, even if no one would call it that, lives on. 

                                Justice League Dark #6, copyright DC Comics 2012

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