Thursday, November 6, 2014

Buried Treasures: The Groovy Breed of Super-Heroes



Karen: "They're IN! The new, groovy breed of ...'super-heroes with super problems'." So proclaims the cover of this Fantastic Four paperback from Lancer Books, published in 1966. Despite its age, it's not in too bad a shape -the covers have some chipping and foxing, and the interior pages are  a little brown, but it's all in one piece. This little gem originally belonged to my uncle and wound up in my hands, only to get buried in the garage for many years -til now. Although I've held on to it all this time, I can't say I've really sat and read through it -not even before I had access to the comics this book reprints, because the layout is so unappealing. Each page holds a couple of black and white panels. You have to turn the book sideways to read it. 

It has the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom team up from FF #6, which is interrupted by a partial version of FF#1, so that the reader gets the origin of the FF. Then it's back to FF #6, then FF#11, with the Impossible Man, and finally FF #31 with Sue and Johnny's convict dad (I'm not kidding) and the Mole Man. There are also a number of pin-ups sprinkled through-out.

I also had the Daredevil book from Lancer books, but that wasn't in the same treasure hoard where I found this one. I don't think I sold it or gave it away, so my guess is it is still in a box waiting to be found one of these days.

8 comments:

Martinex1 said...

The back cover blurb "The Playboy of Comicdom" is such a strange endorsement. I'm not sure how they intended that.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, Martinex, I puzzled over that myself; maybe it's somehow connected to that old eye-roll inducing claim made by middle-aged men that they "got Playboy for the articles." So maybe in this case, you only read FF because they it had "superheroes with super problems", and not because they engaged in costumed fisticuffs and other derring-do ... nah, still doesn't make any sense...

Anyway, Karen, this is indeed a cool little treasure. However, I think it's more interesting as an artifact of its time rather than something you actually enjoy reading, because I also hate that turn-the-book-sideways format. In this regard, I think those Marvel pocketbook reprints from the late '70s are far superior: they had more stories, they were in color, and they were a little sturdier than the DC (and Archie) digests being printed massively at about the same time.

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Humanbelly said...

It really is a little mini-time-capsule of marketing hype, isn't it? Kinda priceless, I'd say. With the Playboy comment & the youth-centric character descriptions, it's hard, but you do have to force yourself into the context of it being a product of the early/mid-60's. This was coming out right in the early part of the heart of the "youth" movement, right? The PLAYBOY comparison speaks more to the perception (correct or not) of its being grown-up and relevant and edgy and of-the-moment. The "young people" comment was- ha!- certainly off-base, but that was a Village Voice reviewer, wasn't it? Those readers were on the verge of becoming the next wave of Marvel's creative force.

This is such a cool little find, Karen. I have a similar one from a few years later-- a 1972 paperback collection of Nick Meglin/Jack Davis' SUPERFAN strip which appeared on Pro Quarterback magazine in the 60's/70's. The whole sideways reading thing is indeed a bit of a hurdle.

HB

david_b said...

It was all part of the '60s love affair with pulp paperbacks, all the network TV shows had 'em, and, 'course thanks to the still under-appreciated Dozer Bat-craze influence on the comic industry as a whole, efforts to put comic book material in **any** trade format was extremely lucrative and carried on into the early '70s.

Anonymous said...

My first introduction to "comics" was the Peanuts paperback books. I'm not sure how I found them but I do remember they were always part of the back to school shopping trip to the mall in the big city. Since Sears is where we shopped, I can only guess that that is where I bought the books. And the coolest thing was that they put two books back to back, one straight, one flipped. When the pages got all crazy, you would close the book, flip it over and start reading it again. Linus was too young to go outside so he would watch Lucy and her friend play through the mail slot. I also found that great American snack food Funyens, which, IIRC, was the Playboy of snack food.

The Prowler (Ain't going down 'til the sun comes up ain't givin' in 'til they get enough going 'round the world in a pickup truck ain't goin' down 'til the sun comes up).

Humanbelly said...

That whole cheap paperback humor/cartoon/comic market was just a fantastic world of delight, wasn't it? I think it kind of flew under the establishment radar for years and years-- even as they had to have been selling zillions of units. I still have a ton of those MAD Magazine paperbacks that excerpted (or highlighted) some of the magazine's best material. The "Sing Along With Mad" volume still gets returned to every so often for it's "Modern" versions of Christmas carols. The entire run of the B.C. paperbacks (pre-Hart's off-putting conversion to fundamentalism) holds treasured shelf-space. Peanuts were huge. Wizard of Id and Crock are well-represented. Oh, just so many-- and I always felt like they were there just for me and my buddy to buy when we could scrape up the necessary change. Probably a whole 'nother post of it's own, I bet, eh?

HB

Redartz said...

Prowler- those Peanuts paperbacks kept me going through summer camp when I was 11. Stuck in the cabin, but at least Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest were there too.

That is a pretty cool book, Karen! I once had the Spider-Man edition, cover by Ditko. Wore out the spine trying to read it sideways...

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