Saturday, March 21, 2015

That's Just Dumb...

Doug: Seriously? In the 15c era, DC was still cranking out comics like this? That's just dumb...


Humanbelly said...

I took a quick look at a Superman cover gallery, and you're right-- it's like there was a bizarre (Bizzaro??) editorial shift that took place in the book when the made the jump from 12 cts to 15 cts (about 6 months prior-- so this would still have been. . . the very late 60's, right?). The covers in the run up to that point were surprisingly compelling, even a bit dark-- lots of Neal Adams & solid Curt Swan. After that the book seemed to go back to a heavy dose of "what-the-heck?"/imaginary-type/absurd-situation stories-- as if they wanted to turn the clock back to the nonsense being churned out 10 years before. Maybe that's when the book was selling better? Who knows. That trend didn't last too long, though-- I imagine two different stories in 6 months involving two different "SuperToddler" offspring may have been more than the fans could bear.

I also noticed that the book had surprisingly regular giant-size reprint extravaganza issues, rather than new work, which of course served up a wealth of kitschy stories like this.


Martinex1 said...

I took a look at the covers also. I like the "When Superman Became King Kong" one. Noticed many of the 15 cent issues had multiple stories. They must have just been cranking out some goofy stuff in 1969.

I seem to remember the Flash also turning fat in an issue. And didn't Lois turn into an animal or something? Thankfully I don't remember Marvel relying on that kind of thing. Although I may have just turned a blind eye to it.

Humanbelly said...

Nah, MX1, I think this was always a particularly "DC" sort of convention. The kind of thing, in fact, that Marvel made it a point to NOT do (although the FF going bankrupt and getting "regular" jobs or something in a very early issue came perilously close). Jimmy Olsen looks to have been full of this kind of silliness, as was Lois Lane. Hmm-- possibly World's Finest at times, too?

I daresay it's symptomatic of the done-in-one, what's-the-hook-this-month? nature of comics for years & years prior. Without any ongoing storylines of any depth, the idea-well runs horribly dry before long, y'know? That may be why the radio program did so well for so long-- the story arcs ran forever.


Anonymous said...

Hey Doug, you've been known to be critical of the DC "grim and gritty" thing, yet you don't like the more whimsical older stuff either? Theres no pleasing some people(:

Seriously though, I can't see whats dumb about that cover, except maybe the finished execution - those comics were a bit passé compared to, say, the Kirby/Lee FF or Thor from the same period, but I think that's more down to the staid art and writing than the approach as such.
DC should really take a look at those old comics next time they think about a new direction - with a reasonably good writer, I could easily see a two ton or giant gorilla Superman transformed by - what? aliens magic, red kryptonite? - being a big improvement on the next crisis that will change everything we know or whatever.


Garett said...

I think it's a fun cover, if you look at it in an Archie or cartoon kind of way. My problem would be that you'd open up this comic, and it would be a serious story instead of just straight up humour.

Also DC knew what they were doing, because check out the sales figures for 1969 when this issue came out:
1969 Comic Sales
Superman was #2 in sales, with Superman related titles taking up 5 of the top 10. Marvel only had 1 title in the top 10, and 4 in the top 20.

Anonymous said...

And Archie was the #1 seller. What a different era!


Doug said...

Hi, Sean --

I think (I hope) I'm on record as stating that back in the mid-80s I really enjoyed the fresh take that was TDKR and Longbow Hunters. What I do not now like is the legacy of those works some 30 years later. You're right in that I do not now care for all of the grim-n-gritty characters and plotlines in comics. But back then when it was new, it was appealing to me as excitingly line-crossing.

And yes, I can enjoy humor in my comics, but for me it comes more in the form of wise-cracking Spider-Man (as an example). While I can now enjoy an old Archie comic, as a child I thought such things were beneath me. I really did enjoy Edo's review of Barks' Ducks, and we have another off-the-beaten-path review coming your way this week. Now middle-aged, I'm envious of those who could enjoy that type of entertainment side-by-side with their super-heroes.

Which brings me to my point about today's cover. I don't know if "appropriate" is the right term, but with comics like Sugar and Spike and Not Brand Echh around I don't see the need to do humorous or absurd stories in a superhero mag. Maybe I'm pigeonholing the genre too much, but I know what I like in my superhero comics, and Fatso Superman isn't it. Over in Mad or Crazy -- all the way, man! But not here in the mag that should be playing it straight (my opinion).

So that being said, I would think that, with my sensibilities and preferences, that had I been of reading age in the early and mid-60s I think I would have gravitated to Marvel.

Of course, that was the company that gave us the Living Eraser...

Happy weekend, everyone!


Dr. Oyola said...

I love these covers and the covers over at

I know the stories are likely very terrible, but those covers are worth the price of admission. :)

Anonymous said...

Hope that came across right and you didn't take it the wrong way - apologies if that's not the case. I think its always pretty clear on BAB that "grim and gritty" doesn't refer to DKR, Watchmen etc but rather the derivative stuff that came later.

I think though that maybe absurdism is a bit different to humour, that Not Brand Echh isn't quite the same thing as 60s DC strangeness.
Its not so much that I'd like to see a complete return to that - at least not regularly - but more that DC could take something from it. My favourite Superman comics - Kirby's Jimmy Olsen and Alan Moore's stories (including his Supreme run) combine that kind of absurdism with their own styles to really good effect.


Anonymous said...

Should have been clearer that last comment was addressed to Doug.


Redartz said...

Perhaps in Superman's case they went a bit overboard with the 'oddity' stories. I personally enjoyed the occasional encounter with red Kryptonite, with the usual ensuing consequences. On a monthly basis, no; but now and then.

That, for me , still holds true. "Grim and gritty" is fine, but not when that is the only approach. Mix things up a bit, a little lightness and humor would do much for today's comics. Actually, there are a few; "Squirrel Girl" is a fun read with more 'cartoonish' art. And of course, there are posts out there on other comic sites complaining about that...

Doug said...

No, no, Sean - you're fine. I think I took it good naturedly as you intended.

I agree that superhero comics in general, at least when I quit reading new books around a decade ago (wow, has it been that long?), were taking themselves way too seriously. So a little light-heartedness is welcome.

I think my original thought when I saw that cover was simply that DC was known for Rainbow Batman and such things in the 1950s and '60s and I was just surprised that as the 1970s were about to dawn that those sorts of ideas were still being marketed. I appreciate Garett's sales figures, as I guess I'd have thought that by the time of the 15c era Marvel was making more of a dent in the market shares.


Doug said...

As long as we're here and we're talking new and old, serious and light-hearted, can anyone give a little review of the Dan Slott/Mike Allred Silver Surfer series? I've heard high praises for it, but seeing it I'm finding the art samples a bit out of my comfort zone.


WardHill Terry said...

A very important consideration to keep in mind about Dc comics from this era; there was no DC style. Superman was Mort Weisinger's book. It had the same editor, writers, and artists it had had for more than 10 years. I'm sure there are others who could make a great case for a behind-the-scenes fight for control over covers when Carmine Infantino was art director. Other things affecting the books at this time was the sale of the company and other changes in editorial and publishing. From what I've read, Weisinger took control of what he could when he could, and he knew what covers would sell Superman. He would (be) retire(d) not long after this.

Doug said...

And Julie Schwartz would take the reins and bring in his Batman writer in Denny O'Neil; of course Neal Adams had been doing several covers. Curt Swan continued as the main Superman artist on the interiors.


Graham said...

I had this issue, plus the Superman as King Kong issue. My mom bought them for me when she went to the grocery store. I was five years old and I figure I was the target audience at the time.

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, we could definitely use more gorilla covers these days!

Mike Wilson

Humanbelly said...

Just made HBWife happy and took down the remaining Christmas lights from the roof.

OT, I know, but. . . I've gotta commemorate the final end of the season by telling SOMEone, y'know??

(jnglbls,jnglbls,jnglalthwyyyyyyyy. . . . . )


Anonymous said...

HB, you shoulda kept up those Christmas lights 'cause Halloween is coming up in, oh, seven months! :)

Anyways, one has to love those goofy covers. All that was missing from that issue of Supes was the zany Bob Haney and you woulda had one heckuva crazy comicbook in your hands!

Like Doug, I prefer my stories with more action and realism, which is not to say I don't appreciate the occasional humourous detour. Once it's not overdone I have no problem with that. I've never been into the funnies like Archie or Richie Rich like some of my friends.

- Mike 'the dark knight goes to make a sandwich' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Fred W. Hill said...

Just the sort of stuff that put me off DC when I was about 8 years old and not quite a regular collector yet but already preferring Marvel Comics. Yeah, I liked some silly humor too, but only in what was easily recognizable as a humor mag, not in what was supposed to be a straight superhero mag with events that were supposed to have some meaning the next issue and later stories. If say, out of the blue,

Doug said...

Fred W. Hill!

Welcome back! You have been missed!


david_b said...

A few comments real quick.., Garett brings up an excellent point in terms of demographics for comic readers. Seeing that Supes was a top seller back during this period, it runs contrary to the over-arching mood of 'realism sells' during the post-Dozer Batman craze.

Granted sales could have been based more on 'stalwart' or dedicated buyers (pharmacies, gift shops, 'We've always bought Batman and Superman'...) versus actual buyer interest. Again the audience of the 7-12yr olds may have been more in droves than the still-maturing college market who devoured the realism of O'Neil and the Marvel titles like ASM and Doc Strange at that time.

Like Dr. Oyola, I'm huge into the Adams DC covers during this period, especially the Superboy and WF ones, where you can find near-perfect covers for a fraction of their Marvel equivalents.

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