Monday, May 16, 2011

Splash Tops, or Everything I Need to Know I Learned at the Top of a Marvel Comic's 1st Page

Doug: Over the past many months, we've looked at corner boxes, logos, and covers from both Marvel and DC. There were many reasons to love Marvel Comics in the Bronze Age, but for this young reader none was as educational, and indeed endearing, as the little blurb found at the top of the splash page. In this short paragraph, often ending with all of the hyperbole we'd grown accustomed to over our love affair with the House of Ideas, a new reader could immediately have the very basics of the character(s) contained within the thin newsprint magazine recently exchanged for a quarter or some other loose change. So enjoy this little look back, and remember how much simpler it was 35+ years ago -- hey, we didn't need no stinkin' full-page recap!

Doug: And here's where you can help me out -- do any of our readers have further background on this Bronze Age nugget? Do any of you know who wrote these? Was it the series editors, or the writer of the magazine at the time these first appeared? Any input along these lines would be much appreciated!

Credit where credit is due: Most of the images above came from our friend Ol' Groove at Diversions of the Groovy Kind. Why reinvent (or rescan) the wheel? Thanks, buddy!


david_b said...

Yes, I recall when this started.., not sure what month exactly, but I do wonder WHO'S idea was this.

Did DC do this..? I seriously don't recall, but I didn't collect much of them to remember.

And when did Marvel stop doing the 'splash tops'..?

J.A. Morris said...

I bet Shooter can tell you who wrote them, if you asked him nicely.

I loved them, they told you everything you absolutely needed to know. First time readers don't need to know what the heroes ex's name was or where they were born.

Though I will admit, when I first started reading X-men comics(I would've been 8 or 9), I had no idea what "Children of the atom" meant. But it didn't bother me, I just figured they got their powers like the Hulk did.

I came to Marvel via Spidey Super Stories. Since it was a young readers comic,in addition to the usual origin text, the splash tops had a small drawing of Parker getting bitten by the spider. I always thought it was a nice touch.

@david_b, I remember some DC books doing that. I learned about Batman's origin on an Englehart/Rogers/Austin-era splash page. But I didn't read enough of DC's other books, Doug & Karen can answer that better than I can.

Edo Bosnar said...

Loved these back in the day. And to this day, I think my favorite is from Master of Kung Fu - it has a cinematic quality, in that it's kind of like that dramatic first-person narration at the start of a film that sort of sets the mood.

William said...

Oh man, great topic. I loved those origin recaps that used to be at the top of the splash page on old Marvel Comics. I used to read them every time, even though I knew them by heart. I really missed them when they went away.

I especially like the one's for Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Avengers. I also really like the one for Iron Fist too, but since you didn't include it in your article, I'll supply it myself…

"You were born Daniel Rand. At the age of 9, your life was shattered by the murder of your father. At 19, you emerged from the mystic city of K"un-Lun—reborn in the fires of a dragon's heart. Yours are the most finely honed Martial Arts skills in the world. You were born Daniel Rand. You have since changed. Stan Lee presents: IRON FIST, The Living Weapon!"

That one is awesome, but overall , I think that Conan's is probably the most well written and dramatic, but if I'm not mistaken the wording for that one is taken directly from one of the novels, so it doesn't really count.

Unfortunately they weren't all poetic works of art. A couple of them were pretty uninspired, like Iron Man's which basically says… "When Tony Stark puts on his armor he becomes Iron Man." OoooKay, that pretty much covers it. And Ms. Marvel's which starts off… "Carol Danvers was a woman who had it made… until…" (she gets the powers of a Kree Warrior and becomes a super heroine) Uhm, I don't understand what the "until" is in there for. I'd have to say that she still had it made (even more so) after she became super strong and could fly. But maybe that's just me.

The Groovy Agent said...

You're most welcome for the scans. What a great way to use 'em! Love this topic. I know for 99% sure that the "splash tops" (love that term) started with the Marvel comics cover dated November 1974. I'm positive it was under the editorship of the ever-innovative (and fan-friendly) Roy Thomas. I figured that some of Roy's assistants like Scott Edelman and Tony Isabella wrote the majority of 'em, so I Facebooked Scott who verified that he did write many of them. Scott dug the topic, too, so he's either going to post about it on his blog, or here, or both. Stay tuned, Splash Top fans!

Doug said...

Wow, Groove -- I feel like this is turning into the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, comics-style!! Thanks for the information -- that's good stuff!

Best as always,


Scott Edelman said...

Ask and yet shall receive:


Doug said...

Scott --

We appreciate your time in solving this mystery that's been eating at all of BABdom lo these many years!

But I couldn't help but notice in the splash top samples you provided on your blog, that you CUT YOUR COMICS!! But that's OK -- most of us were cutting up our comics at that time to. Daggone Marvel Value Stamps!

Thanks again,


Karen said...

Hey Scott, thanks for dropping by and giving us the inside scoop on the splash tops. Another Marvel mystery solved!


Related Posts with Thumbnails