Saturday, March 12, 2016

This Cover Made Me Buy This Book


Doug: Well, actually I talked my mom into buying it. I saw it at the grocery store of all places. The cover date of the book as listed at the Comic Book Database was August 1976. That would have been on sale in June, so I am wondering if maybe this was a gift for my 10th birthday. If you were to take a college course on the foundations of DC super-heroes, this would be your textbook. Released at the same time Marvel Comics was making their Origins of Marvel Comics series available, this was my primer to the DCU. The ten heroes pictured on the cover are all featured in this book, making it a tour de force of DC's Golden and Silver Ages. In cases where there are two heroes with the same name (think Earth-1 and Earth-2), both heroes' origins are featured.

Here are the contents (all links in this post take you to the CBDB):

Action Comics (1938) #1
Adventure Comics (1938) #256
All-American Comics (1939) #16
All-American Comics (1939) #19
The Amazing World of Superman, Metropolis Edition (1973) nn
Batman (1940) #47
The Brave and the Bold (1955) #34
Detective Comics (1937) #33
Flash Comics (1940) #1
More Fun Comics (1935) #89
Police Comics (1941) #1
Showcase (1956) #4
Showcase (1956) #22
Showcase (1956) #34
WHIZ Comics (1940) #2
Wonder Woman (1942) #1
Wonder Woman (1942) #206

Doug: And oh, yeah... this still sits on my bookshelf (far left).

23 comments:

Redartz said...

Great looking book! I've never seen this before; at the time the Marvel Origins books had all my attention. Apparently I missed this volume; my loss...of couse, had I noticed this book with that sharp Adams cover, it probably would have ended up going home with me . Also, that's a nice benefit; both the GA and SA stories being included.

By the way, thanks for another look at your bookshelf, Doug! Good stuff...

Colin Jones said...

I love the Galactus figure in the top-left corner :D

dbutler16 said...

That looks like a wonderful book, Doug, and I love the fact that you still have it on the book shelf! I would have been seven here, and wouldn't have had an opportunity to see this, as this isn't the sort of thing that the nearby convenience store would carry, and I didn't discover the LCS until about 1979.

Martinex1 said...

I never knew DC had this origins collection. I didn't know Plastic Man was from the Golden Age. Two new things I learned today. Nice cover. I always like black backgrounds.

dbutler16 said...

Martinex1, Plastic Man is one of the better Golden Age comics out there. That, and The Spirit.

derek marrero said...

I remember reading that at my dentist's office in the late 70s. It made the visits a little less painful!

Doug said...

Happy Saturday, everyone --

These huge trades were a sight to behold back when books like Marvel Tales and the back ends of various Giant-Size and Dollar Comics were "all we had". I loved all of these Origins-type books, and I think that's why I've held onto them and kept them in pretty good shape. Of course they are well read, but none of those books have dog-eared covers or pages, everything's intact, etc. They were treasures then, and remain so in spite of the glut of reprint material now available.

And Derek -- that would indeed have made dental appointments more tolerable!

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

That is indeed a great cover, and I would have begged and pleaded for it had I ever seen it (like I did for the Marvel/Fireside books, which were usually Christmas presents). It's really cool that the book includes the Golden and Silver Age origins of certain heroes - that's a really nice package.

Martinex, just to add to dbutler's point about Plastic Man: the original stories by his creator Jack Cole from the 1940s are still considered the best Plas stories and among the better superhero comics from that era. They're also all available as free scans at the Digital Comics Museum. Also, in case you're wondering, it's all perfectly legal - all of the comics uploaded there are public domain.

Martinex1 said...

Thanks dbutler and Edo. I just did some quick research so thanks for the link. It looks like some of the early Cole stuff is pretty whacky and surreal. I appreciate being clued in; my limited experience with Plas is highly influenced by Saturday morning TV and that cannot be his best stuff!

Anonymous said...

Cool book Doug, but I was even more interested in the contents of your shelf. You've got some interesting books on there, some I own and some I've never even heard of. I'm particularly intrigued by "Comics Gone Ape: The Missing Link to Primates in Comics"; I might have to track that one down!

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

Ah, Mike, that book is long gone to an eBayer. It was a fun read. Back Issue! editor Michael Eury did a nice history of simians in comics. I enjoyed it, but in the interest of culling the population parted with it for a loss.

This summer I'll have to post some updated pics of the room once I've had the opportunity to reorganize the shelves. I intend to make a dent in my action figures once school is out.

Doug

dbutler16 said...

Since we're talking about free Golden Age comics, comicbookplus.com has an awesome repository of free Golden Age comics, not to mention comic strips and radio programs. There's no DC or Marvel, but since Golden Age Plas is a Quality comic, you're free to enjoy.

J.A. Morris said...

Stories like Doug's remind me of how few books there were like this one back in the 70s and well into the 1980s. We take for granted now that we can walk into not just comic shops, but chain stores and find shelves containing dozens of comic reprint books.

I never read 'Secret Origins Of The DC Superheroes'. But my favorite book of Golden Age stories is 'The Great Comic Book Heroes' by Jules Feiffer, which reprinted origin stories of Superman, Shazam, Namor, Batman, Plasticman and others. I checked that out from the library a dozen times while I was growing up.

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, by the way, if anyone is interested in checking out the Plastic Man stories at the Digital Comic Museum, they're posted in the Quality Comics section. Also, Plas stories appeared in both his eponymous title and in Police Comics. Most issues of the latter also have Firebrand stories beautifully drawn by Reed Crandall, while other Quality titles worth checking out are Doll Man and the oddly named Crack Comics featuring, among others, Black Condor - with lovely art by Lou Fine.
And thanks for the link to Comic Book+, dbutler. There's some great stuff there, too...

Humanbelly said...

I don't know if anyone's read Jim Steranko's History of Comics-- but Vol. 1 (IIRC) launches with a chapter that's pretty much an all-out valentine to the origin of Plastic Man. Steranko's obvious love for that character has a charming near-fanboy quality that made me like Steranko almost as much as any of his comic book work did.

Also, Jack Cole once did a "Plastic Sam" parody of his own character for MAD magazine-(or comic book, at that time?). Since he was spoofing his own creation, it was of course spot-on with the humor and looked just great.

Heh-- we have that Galactus figure downstairs ourselves. Pretty sure he went through some tough "set-ups" with a much-younger HBSon many years ago. (As did many of those ToyBiz 10" figures. We've got popped-heads, loose-joints, missing legs, lost capes, etc, etc, etc.)

HB

Kirk said...

Humanbelly, I loved the "Plastic Sam" parody too. It's collected in the "Son of Mad" paperback. But I'm pretty sure it was Russ Heath, not Cole, working over Harvey Kurtzman's layouts. Checking the bookshelf now... Yep, it's Heath.

Humanbelly said...

Oh rats, really? That delightful legend was indeed a myth? Welllll heck-- it still doesn't tarnish how much I enjoyed it, eh?

Good job on the detective work, Kirk--!

HB

William said...

Oh yeah! This is one of my favorites. I got my copy back in the day at a tiny book/magazine store located next to the supermarket where my mom shopped. I can't remember how I got the money to get it. Either begged mom, or I might have had some allowance saved up. Either way, as soon as I laid eyes on this beauty, I had to have it. (And I still do).

This book really got me interested the deep history of the DCU. I loved the way they featured origins of both the Golden Age and Silver Age versions of many characters like The Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom, Green Arrow, Hawkman, etc. I think I may have already known about a couple of the GA characters because of the yearly JLA/JSA team-ups, and in many cases I actually preferred the Golden Age versions. I've always been a big fan of GA Flash. And I loved the craziness of the original GL's costume with that big purple cape, green pants, and red shirt and boots. (He should have been called the Color Blind Lantern). But I loved it.

But my absolute favorite story in this book is the origin (and first appearance) of Plastic Man! This book started my life-long love of good old Plas. (He is the only character for which I have all of the hardcover Archive Editions). Something about the art and the "coolness" of Plastic Man, as rendered by the late, great Jack Cole, just burned it's way into my adolescent brain.

As I said, I still have this book, and I don't think I could sell it even if I wanted to, because I read it so many times growing up it is now front coverless. (Ironic for a thread titled "This Cover Made Me Buy This Book"). I still have the front cover, BTW, but it's just no longer attached to the book. (The back cover still is though).

Doug said...

Thanks for the depth of love in your comment, William -- and to everyone who has responded thus far. Posts that elicit conversation and memories like we're discussing this weekend are great. I had no idea there was so much love for Plastic Man! I always saw him as kind of silly, but then maybe that's the point.

I scored a bit of a coup last night on eBay. I've been periodically checking for the two volumes of Supergirl Archives and hoping to get them on the cheap. DC is publishing a Supergirl Omnibus in June, and Amazon is pre-selling it for $50. But last night I found a vendor selling the Archives for $15 each with no shipping cost. BANG! They should be on my doorstep in about 10 days (media mail, you know).

Doug

PS: Be here Monday and Tuesday, as we'll have two posts on The Dark Knight Returns #4. Our review will run Monday, and then we have a little surprise on Tuesday. Hopefully both days will generate some nice conversation (forewarning everyone -- don't make it a low comments review day, as you know how that drives Karen and I crazy. And you wouldn't want that...). See ya!

R. Lloyd said...

My Dad purchased this book for me back in 1976. It has the "Secret Origins" name on the front based on a comic with the same name. Back in the 1970's DC had a comic book that gave readers the origins of all the classic DC characters. This book holds lots of fond memories for me.

It must have been in competition with Stan Lee's Origins Of Marvel Comics hard covers back in the day. I remember going to a long defunct retail store called "Two Guys" and in the mall area there was a book store that carried few if any comics related titles. When I saw it, there was only one copy. My dad, being a fan of the classic DC characters picked it up for me. It had the original golden age origins side by side with the modern origin stories. It brings back lots of good memories for me because on that day I read the book from cover to cover three times. I've picked it up several times since. It was like finding gold in the book store.

The clerk who checked out my order was chastising me on my reading choice (comics), but I didn't care. I got the chance to see how all my favorite heroes started.

JJ said...

I received this book as a Christmas gift as a kid in '76 and absolutely adored it! I look back now and count myself lucky. For even though the Bronze Age was fully underway by then, my first exposure to the DC heroes, as well as the Fantastic Four (Pocket Book featuring issues 1-5) featured the golden and silver age versions of these characters. It's interesting to me now, that back then these decades-old comics still had a major impact on my mind. These stories gave birth to a passion for these characters that lives on today. They still held up, even many years later, to a young reader in the 1970s. Reading them was a great way to fall in love with comics. I'm so glad I discovered them in those iterations.

I would dearly love to own this book again. I wonder if I can find it online. Hope so.

JJ said...

As much as I admire the great Marvel characters and concepts, the DC heroes will always have a special place in my heart. I love them the best. This book is the reason why.

Also, Doug, I too have that DC Vault book. It's wonderful! Bulky, but a prized member of the collection for sure.

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, don't you just love those chance eBay finds that turn out to be great deals? I'm still happy about those Byrne FF Visionaries books I scored last fall for less than $10 apiece.
And don't worry, I'll be ready to comment away in the coming days, as I'm still paying for repairs to the house from the last time you and Karen went on a low-comments driven rampage ... :P

R. Lloyd, you're not the first person who's mentioned getting comments and/or stares from store clerks for a comics-related purchase; it's something I can't really understand - it's a bookstore, they're making a sale! What do they care? Also, I doubt you'd get the sanctimonious comments on your choice in reading material if you were buying some ghost-written crap by Dr. Phil or the Dog Whisperer.

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