Karen: As a kid, I not only devoured every Marvel story, but I enjoyed reading the letters pages and bullpen bulletins too. And besides those, there were always those great Marvel in-house ads, whether they were for posters or other toys, or just announcing new titles or characters. Marvel had a real identity, a real flavor, and it was typified by those ads.
Doug: Couldn't agree with you more. In addition to the little treats you mentioned, I enjoyed the Silver and early-Bronze Age habit of including artwork from the issue that the letters referenced. You know it's funny, but I guess how we usually organize one of our review posts looks somewhat like the letters pages to which I'm referring! Like many Marvel fans, the seemingly-personal interaction between fans and the Marvel personalities was really fun, and a sense that DC tried to match, but just couldn't. Karen: To the side here is an ad from 197o featuring some amazing posters you could order from Marvelmania. Man, I wish I had gotten these babies, especially the Galactus and Silver Surfer one!They are truly some great work by Kirby. I love how we get the headshot of the Thing telling us all about the posters. And the price! $1.25...oh my.
Doug: Isn't that what just kills you? I know it's relative to today's economy, but when you see what Marvel was asking for some of these goodies, it boggles the mind. I wasn't yet reading comics when this ad would have seen the light of day. Did you happen to notice that the Kirby FF art shown in the poster at right was recently used as the cover to the "lost issue" that would have been Fantastic Four #103 but was finished/patchworked by Big John Buscema and became FF #108? See to the left...That issue was about as strange to look at as the Tales of Suspense story involving Iron Man and the Sub-Mariner where Gene Colan started it and Kirby finished it. Not many other artists' styles matched the King's very well.
Doug: I also enjoyed that many ads had an emcee (sort of). In the case of the ad above, it's Bashful Benjy. In other ads I can recall from the Silver Age, it was the Hulk and even good ol' Doc Doom. Great stuff -- really light-hearted and even a little self-deprecating.
Karen: Moving into 1971, we still have posters for sale, but look who the artist is now: Steranko! The times were a'changing, to be certain. You got all 4 black and white posters ("for coloring"! No!!!) for a mere buck. Unbelievable. Although I have to say I'm not all that impressed with his Spidey, but the others are just wow!
Doug: Talk about a contrast in styles! And you and I noticed the same thing: Marvel seems to now be marketing the artist as much as their characters. Yes, you can not only have a Spidey poster, but a Spidey poster by Steranko! Sadly, longtime Bullpen stalwarts like Kirby, Heck, Colan, and Buscema never got that marquee treatment. They should have. But as to your comment on the times a'changing, they sure were. There was a new dynamism on the shelves when Neal Adams and Jim Steranko (et al.) blew in.
Karen: In Marvel titles dated August 1970, we got this tantalizing ad for a new title called Conan the Barbarian. Look at how this is put together -we get a small shot of Conan, and the very dramatic sword and flames. It's just enough to pull you in. It was also an example of Marvel showing a willingness to take chances and try out new ideas. As the banner says, "Mighty Marvel is on the move again!" They most definitely were, and I can't heap enough praise on Roy Thomas for the creative guidance he brought to Marvel in the 70s.
Doug: It's certainly eye-catching and with the exception of Arkon's appearance in the Avengers, way different from anything Marvel was producing at the time. Of course Conan would spawn many a companion/imitator mag (both color and B&W).
Karen: And then there were less successful ventures, such as The Cat and the whole mini-line of female-oriented books circa 1972. Although the original Cat did generate both Tigra and the Hellcat, who have been reliable supporting characters for many decades. All in all, Marvel's attempt to draw in female readers with titles like The Cat, Night Nurse, and Shanna the She-Devil was a dismal failure.
Doug: Valid points. And by the way, that may be the ugliest rendition of the Cat I've ever seen.
Karen: After Marvelmania folded, Marvel came up with its own fan club in 1973: FOOM! FOOM, which stood for "Friends of Ol' Marvel", was dearly loved by yours truly. The membership package included a card, stickers, and an outstanding 2' by 3' poster by Steranko featuring a ton of Marvel characters. Oh yeah, you also got a magazine produced in-house with lots of news about upcoming Marvel books, which was published quarterly. Just as Marvel had made readers feel like they were "a part of something" in the 60s, they continued this effort in the 70s with things like FOOM. Heck, I still have my magazines and poster!
Doug: Lordy, how I wanted to be a Friend of Ol' Marvel. But I don't recall that I ever even asked my mom to sign me up. Which is strange, because I did join the KISS Army. Today I sometimes look for issues of FOOM on ebay. I've never bought one, but I am curious. And hey, like I said above -- check out Benjamin J. talking to the reader!
Karen and Doug are honored to have been asked to join this summer's Super Blog Team-Up. Come July, we'll be back in the reviewers' chairs and taking a look at one of the great treasuries of the Bronze Age!
Patronize our Staff Writers
Our collaborators, Martinex1 and Redartz, now manage their own space. If you have liked the sorts of topics seen here on Bronze Age Babies, then you are going to feel right at home at Back in the Bronze Age... Give them a visit!
Karen and Doug
Bronze Age Babies, Unite!
On Sunday, 4/23/17, Martinex1, Doug, and Redartz gathered for a day of fun at C2E2 in Chicago. It was great to finally meet in person after years of online cameraderie.
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Karen and Doug met on the Avengers Assemble! message board back in September 2006. On June 16 2009 they went live with the Bronze Age Babies blog, sharing their love for 1970s and '80s pop culture with readers who happen by each day. You'll find conversations on comics, TV, music, movies, toys, food... just about anything that evokes memories of our beloved pasts!
Doug is a high school social science teacher and department chairman living south of Chicago; he also does contract work for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is married with two adult sons and a daughter-in-law.
Karen originally hails from California and now works in scientific research/writing in the Phoenix area. She often contributes articles to Back Issue magazine. She is married. She hangs out with Joe Biden occasionally.
Believe it or not, the Bronze Age Babies have never spoken to each other...
We don't own property rights for any of the images we show on Bronze Age Babies -- those copyrights are retained by their respective owners. Most images are from books, etc. that we have individually purchased, while others have been copied from the Internet. All images are displayed here for the purpose of education and review within the "fair use" terms of U.S. Code: Title 17, Sec. 107. If we've used something we shouldn't have, please ask and we'll take it down. Thank you -- Doug and Karen
Dig Karen's Work Here? Then You Should Check Her Out in Back Issue!
BI #44 is available for digital download and in print. I've read Karen's article on reader reaction to Gerry Conway's ASM #121-122, and it's excellent. This entire magazine was fun! -- Doug
Back Issue #45
As if Karen's work on Spidey in the Bronze Age wasn't awesome enough, she's at it again with a look at the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in Back Issue's "Odd Couples" issue -- from TwoMorrows!
Karen's talking the Mighty Thor in the Bronze Age!
Click the cover to order a print or digital copy of Back Issue! #53