Wednesday, 1 December 2010

FROM THE '30s TO THE '70s...

Art by Wayne Boring (main figure) & Joe Shuster

 A book I absolutely loved when it first came out was SUPERMAN -
FROM THE '30s TO THE '70s, published in the U.K. by SPRING
BOOKS. (CROWN BOOKS in the U.S.) I first saw it in W. & R. HOLMES
(a bookshop, stationers, toyshop, artstore and newsagents) back around
October 1972, alongside its companion volume, BATMAN - FROM
THE '30s TO THE '70s. (Okay, they had the apostrophes in the
wrong place, but hey - nobody's perfect.)

For 'Atomic Comics' read 'Action Comics'
These books were the bees' knees, being over an inch thick and
containing what was purported to be the milestone adventures of DC
COMICS' two premier heroes, SUPERMAN and BATMAN. I bought the
Superman volume and pored over its contents, absorbing every word of
E. NELSON BRIDWELL's informative and well-written introduction.
Curiously, the back cover claimed that Supes first appeared in ATOMIC
COMICS, whereas, as we all know, it was actually ACTION COMICS
#1 that contained his momentous four-colour debut tale.
Art by Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson

I didn't obtain the Batman volume 'til its second printing in 1979
(although I now have first and second editions of both volumes) and this
is also a highly commendable publication. There were also WONDER
WOMAN and CAPTAIN MARVEL (SHAZAM) volumes, but I've never
seen the Wonder Woman one - 'though I managed to get a hardback
American edition (complete with dustjacket) of Captain Marvel
from a jumble sale in about 1985.

Only £1.25 - wotta bargain!

The one drawback to the Batman book is that Batman's first
appearance from DETECTIVE COMICS #'27 (and one or two other
tales, I suspect) is a recreated version and not the original. The pages
were taken from an anniversary presentation of the tale from an issue
of Detective Comics in the '60s and has been reprinted several times -
even in the deluxe hardcover ARCHIVE EDITIONS of a few years ago.
The good news is that proofs from the original 1939 version were used in
the MILLENIUM EDITION of Detective Comics #27 ten years ago, so
that's the one collectors should look out for. (I'll have to check to
see which version was used in the 1970s Treasury Edition.)
These are two books well worth having 'though, and shouldn't be too
difficult to obtain on ebay. Interestingly, there was an updated version
of the Superman volume, entitled SUPERMAN - FROM THE '30s
TO THE '80s, and that is also worth seeking out.

FOOTNOTE: The second printings of these books (in 1979) were
not quite as thick as the earlier editions, but this was merely due to
being printed on slightly thinner paper - the page count and contents
were not reduced in any way.


Philip Guest said...

Wow, your post took me back.
I remember these books from the early '70s, as - bizarrely - they were stocked in our local Habitat store. Whilst Mum & Dad browsed the furniture and light fittings, I took the opportunity of poring over these compilations.
Never bought them but after a few visits (Mum & Dad loved Habitat!) I had read them both cover to cover.

Kid said...

They were excellent books indeed, Phil. Glad my post stirred up a few happy memories for you.