In 1967, toy manufacturer Wham-O released a single issue of WHAM-O GIANT COMICS not to newsstands, but rather distributed to toy stores and department stores alongside its product line of frisbees and hula hoops .The gimmick here was that this was intended to be the largest comic book ever done in terms of its overall size–and for many, many years, it was. This thing dwarfed the Treasury Editions that would be released in the 1970s. It measured a staggering 14″ X 21″, was 52 pages in length and was held together by stapled, just like its more regulation-sized counterparts. It was intended to be a regular series but only this first issue was ever produced–and given that you could still l find it on toy shelves well into the 1970s, my guess would be that it didn’t move units all that well. The content ran the gamut–there were strips in almost every genre imaginable, contributed by a whole string of talent. Key among them was Wally Wood.
Wood contributed a number of strips to this issue, including teh lead-off story introducing a new super hero of his own devising; Radian. As with just about everything in WHAM-O GIANT COMICS, it was clear that the Radian story had been originally produced at regular comic book page size, and then was cut apart and reconfigured for this publication. The pages in this book are so large that it was no trouble to fit three to four pages of material onto a single page of GIANT COMICS–and so that’s what Wood did here.
Radian feels like the sort of character Wood might have developed as part of Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents line, though I have no idea if there literally was any connection. Either way, this was his first and only appearance. Wood’s artwork is as lovely as ever, and Radian, like Dynamo before him, evokes a bit of the Joe Shuster/Fleisher Brothers version of Superman in the manner that Wood visualizes him. The coloring, though, is a bit of a mixed bag, as it is all throughout GIANT COMICS. While a more sophisticated range of color was available than was typical in the comic books of the era, it was applied in a rather haphazard fashion, but colorists who don’t really seem to know quite what they’re meant to be doing.
It’s kind of a shame that the character didn’t go on to anything further, though if I’m being honest, he’s a bit generic–it’s ood’s artwork and aesthetic that’s the star of the show here.
WHAM-O GIANT COMICS was one of the very few comic books that was actually advertised on television–apparently, the company put a real marketing blitz behind the launch, and this commercial was in heavy rotation in 1967, especially on the west coast.