Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stop! Identify Yourself!

Doug: So it occurred to me the other day while I had my middle-aged self on the Nordic Trac, and looking at the nifty comic cover wallpaper border (see below) that encircles the walls in my comic room, that Marvel's had a few different ways of splashing their name on the covers of their wonderful mags over the years.

So, today's exercise in cover love will be a romp through the years, using as my source material. We'll start with #1, and move on forward. Here we go!

Avengers #1 (September 1963) -- Only a year earlier, Marvel identified themselves with only a small white box on their covers that had an M over a C. By this time the Marvel Universe had begun to take shape, and so had their boldness... and why not?

Avengers #19 (August 1965) -- Ah, the Pop Art era...

Avengers #24 (January 1966) -- ...didn't last long.

Avengers #32 (September 1966) -- Combining the issue info. with the logo.

Avengers #59 (December 1968) -- Yeah, I know this is #63, but Cover Browser had a lousy image of #59, which is when this motif appeared -- so I went to the first best duplicate, and this is it. This really just reorganizes what had been on the covers since #32. You'll also note that the mag's title appears near the top of the book. Perfect for those of us who, in our youths, pulled down on the corners of books on the spinner racks, looking to see what gems might lie behind!

Avengers #93 (November 1971) -- The Marvel Comics Group logo that all Bronze Age babies know and love. This would last through the decade of the 1970's and into the 1980's.

Avengers #156 (February 1977) -- For a short time, the magazine's title was highlighted in a white box; between #93 and this issue, the title had just been printed in black ink with no separate background coloring that would distinguish it from the masthead.

Avengers #199 (September 1980) -- For issues # 199-200, this logo was used due to the fact that a big honking advertisement was splashed atop the magazine's cover!

Avengers #223 (September 1982) -- Note that the price and issue number have now occupied the space formerly designated for the book's title. Additionally, the masthead would now be outlined in a separate color -- here we have sky blue set off by black; there were several different color combinations in this era.

Avengers #236 (October 1983) -- Similar to what we'd seen in the Silver Age, sans the "-Comics Group" lettering.

Avengers #237 (November 1983) -- Same artwork and general layout, but with the big M for the price and issue number. This would only show a couple of times, and then be used intermittently afterward. I always liked it...

Avengers #239 (January 1984) -- Yep, Assistant Editors' Month, and the David Letterman issue. I like the homage to DC's late Silver Age books, with the go-go checks and the bullet in the right corner. This lay-out was a one-time deal.

Avengers #314 (February 1990) -- Marvel's corporate logo for a few years.

Avengers #392 (November 1995) -- Can you remind me again why I was still buying comics in the mid-'90's?

Avengers #398 (May 1996)

Avengers #487 (November 2003) -- Counting down to Bendis. Ugh...

So, just a little cover artwork for you -- we hadn't done that in several months, and I know some of you (our pal Andrew Wahl in particular) dig this sort of thing. I love the changing logos, corner boxes, etc. that Marvel used throughout the Silver and Bronze Ages. Seeing some of this just takes me back to certain periods -- funny how we "anchor" ourselves with this stuff.


HannibalCat said...

I do love the old 1960's Marvel masthead; it's like seeing a Victorian photograph, somehow stilted and posed, but linking back to a very different, more innocent time without the slick commerciality of today. The things I love about old Marvel comics are the Bullpen bulletins and the one line huckstering at the bottom of every other page for the rest of that month's output. When that stopped in the mid 70's I really missed it.

david_b said...

Doug, thanks much for the interesting tour through the mast heads. I was always curious exactly which month the 'POP ART' stylish lingo started.

I also loved the occasional Ben Grimm orange 'MMMS Wants You' on the FF covers, curious as to why the Bullpen didn't use other characters doing that plug on their respective mags.

And for goodness sake, WHO approved that silly bike ad to appear on every mast head in 1980....?? I CANNOT believe Marvel was that hard up for cash at that point.

Steve Does Comics said...

HannibalCat, I still haven't got over them dropping those one line plugs at the bottom of each page. For me, half the time it was as much a part of the entertainment as the actual story itself.

Beyond that, reading Doug's post reminds me of the spell in the 1970s when Marvel Comics printed for export to the UK said, "Marvel All-Colour Comics," in the crossbar instead of, "Marvel Comics Group."

Edo Bosnar said...

I always liked that big "M" for the price and issue number - it's a really nice design solution.
And man, did I hate those banner advertisements over the masthead on Marvel comics in 1980/81. And david_b, it wasn't just the bike ad: there was also that obnoxious "This Marvel Comic Could Be Worth $2500 To You!" which, in the most egregious case, blemishes the cover to X-men #137, and the Toys "R" Us shopping spree ad which, similarly, pretty much devastates any hope of dignity on the cover of X-men #138.

Darren Clayton said...

The 1983 covers with the big 'M' containing the price and issue number were actually used alongside the more traditional layout.

The 'M' ones were direct distribution copies (so they have foreign as well as US pricing, but no CCA seal or Curtis Circulation badge).

Doug said...

Thanks for the information,
Darren -- I thought it was odd that there were only a few issues on that showed that particular logo, as I'd recalled it being much more prevalent in my own comics buying from that era. Now we either know or are reminded!



Darren Clayton said...

There should be a version for each issue. They used that 'M' design for a couple of years. Also the direct copies would not have UPC codes on them - they were replaced with a black-and-white Spidey head, or all sorts of other pictures and messages later on.

I was buying my comics in England in the 80s and the direct distribution covers were the versions we got. It was very rare to get one of the 'regular' Curtis covers and because of that rarity I still prefer the look of the Curtis ones.

I think they had something about all this in one of the early 80s Bullpen Bulletins. Apperently some collectors had noticed there were two types of cover available and were worried that one may be more valuable that another to other collectors.

Doug said...

Darren --

Yep, I recall the conversations about the UPC or no-UPC box and whether or not one form was worth more than another. I guess I didn't consider that the top of the comic was aligned with the style of the UPC box.

Interesting that in the UK you got only one style. Thanks for sharing that -- I find information like that to be pretty neat. It just provides another angle on this hobby that we love!


Darren Clayton said...

No problem Doug.

US Marvel comics were distributed almost from the start in the UK. Some of them were exactly the same as the US versions but with a UK price stamped on them. Others were actually specially printed for the UK market, so during the 25c period in the 70s for example, our copies would lose the Curtis logo and have an 8p (or whatever the price was at the time - it seemed to increase almost every month in the inflation mad early 70s) price instead of the 25c one.

Most UK collectors collections consist of these UK priced comics, but they are considered inferior to the 'genuine' US priced article.

When the big M price box came about for direct distribution copies in the 80s, this problem was finally done away with as these comics had triple pricing (with the Canadians also getting into the act.


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