Friday, 25 April 2014

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


Images copyright DC COMICS

Towards the end of 1972, two books appeared in my favourite
local bookshop, W. & R. HOLMES.  They were the SUPERMAN
and BATMAN volumes, From The '30s To The '70s (although they
had the apostrophes in the wrong place).  I bought the Superman edition
right away, but I didn't buy the Batman one until 1979, when it was re-
issued along with its companion in the wake of the 1978 Superman
movie starring CHRISTOPHER REEVE.

A good many years back, I managed to acquire first editions of
each tome to sit alongside the '79 reissues, but 'though I've showcased
the Superman book on this blog, I don't recall ever featuring the Batman
one.  I can remedy that oversight right now by showing you the front and
back covers, but not the interior pages, alas, without risking damage to
the spine.  (Unfortunately, there's some dust under the protective
cover, but I can't be bothered taking it off to clean.)

Although I didn't buy the book in '72, I thumbed through its pages
many times whenever I was in the shop, so whenever I look at it nowa-
days, it evokes memories in me of the early '70s when I was still a young
teenager with a larger slice of life ahead of me than behind me - the
reverse of which is now the case.

Funny how happy memories are often accompanied
by the shadow of sadness, don't you think?

14 comments:

jfire2 said...

I had the Superman and Batman volumes in the 1970s and read them more times than I can count. I loved reading the old stories and seeing the evolution of the characters decade by decade. Probably why I became so interested in the history of superhero comics and all the creators involved.

I always regretted not getting the "Shazam!" collection as a kid, but was able to nab a reasonably priced copy off eBay several years ago.

John@popculturesafari

John Pitt said...

I know the cover picture has been used many times, but it always makese think of that first set of bubblegum cards.

Colin Jones said...

My only knowledge of Bat-Man in the '70s was the TV show and because I never saw or read any DC comics my impression was that the character was supposed to be a joke and that only Marvel made proper comics. Around about 1982 I was given a pile of Bat-Man comics and it changed my view of him - surely the TV show couldn't have done him any favours!! Kid, your last sentence about happy memories being overshadowed by sadness comes at an appropriate time of year for me as yesterday was 26 years since my sister's death at the age of 19. When I think of our days as kids that event always casts a shadow that's for certain.

Kid said...

J@PCS, I got a hardcover of the Shazam volume in a church jumble sale about 30 years ago - don't think I've even read it yet (apart from the introduction), but I'm glad I've got it. I plan to track down hardcover copies of the Superman and Batman volumes one day.

******

That's strange, JP, because I've got those cards and there isn't one that looks like the cover. Why the association?

******

CJ, the TV show did him a big favour in that it prevented his comic from being cancelled. It certainly didn't do his image (or that of comics in general) any favours 'though, so I know what you mean. Shame about your sister - bet it doesn't seem like 26 years, eh? Time goes by so fast.

John Pitt said...

I guess I must have seen that picture for the first time SOMEWHERE at the same time I was collecting those cards. Was it on the cover of a paperback in '66, as I did buy one at the same time? It takes me back to the cards for some reason.
Kid, I have to say this - another cracking run of posts again!

Kid said...

Yes, there was a red covered paperback book at the time (I've got it and it appears somewhere on the blog) that used the figures, although they were slightly amended. It also appeared as a centrespread pin-up in an issue of Batman or Detective Comics.

I think the cover appears in my post 'When Batman Wore Wellington Boots'. I may also have used the first Topps card - I'll have to check. Thanks for the compliment.

Colin Jones said...

Kid,thanks for that - it certainly doesn't seem like 26 years. Wow, I didn't know the Bat-Man TV show was that important ! I've been reading about the 75th anniversary in Comic Heroes and they didn't mention that the show had saved the comic but I know the success of Marvel knocked DC for six.

Kid said...

Yup, apparently the character had been in decline for years and was on the verge of cancellation, but the TV show revived interest in him and raised circulation. Purists were appalled by the campness of the show, which filtered through into the comics until Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams restored the 'creature of the night' aspect to the mags.

Gey Blabby said...

I can't deny my fondness for the TV show during the sixties, and the film version might have been the first film I ever saw at the pictures - at the La Scala cinema on Paisley High Street, I think.
And then, during the early days of Breakfast TV in Britain, the ITV networks started showing it every morning when their technicians went on strike. I seem to remember that it was such a hit that they kept on showing it even when things were back to normal. It showed how enduring its appeal could be.

And I've always liked Infantino's version of Batman. That front cover image was quite ubiquitous back then.

Kid said...

GB, I liked the TV show myself, and the 1966 movie, but diehard Batman fans (older ones anyway) resented seeing their hero being presented in such a light-hearted way. Kids, of course, thought the show was perfectly serious and the camp aspect was completely over their heads anyway. Carmine's 'new look' Batman was, I suppose, the 1964 attempt to do what the '70s revamp eventually achieved, but the TV show influenced the direction of the mags to some extent for a couple of years or so. I have to confess that, much as I enjoyed the show at the time, I preferred the O'Neil/Adams approach in the comicbooks.

Gey Blabby said...

The timing was perfect for me, Kid. When the show was on, I was about six years old, so it suited me perfectly; by the time O'Neill, Adams, Robbins, Novick and the others were doing their moody thing, I was a good few years older and the show was a fading memory.
However, I remember that I found some of the Batman comics published during the TV show's heyday to be favouring a darker outlook, too. The issue with The Hooded Hangman on the cover, holding Batman out by his cape over the buildings, struck my young mind as more disturbing, and it and others like it possibly acted as a bridge for me between the camp of the show and the seriousness of the later comics.

Kid said...

Some of the comics did, as you say, sometimes lean towards a more serious tone, as begun by Julius Schwartz and Carmine Infantino in '64. However, with the advent of the TV show, camp elements (like Robin's 'holy' oaths) were also incorporated, somewhat negating (to a slight degree) the darker aspects. Having said that, what most people tend to forget is how ridiculous many of the SF Batman tales of the 1950s had been.

Gey Blabby said...

Ridiculous?—The Rainbow Batman? Surely not?

Kid said...

Well, GB, if you're going to hit me with that kind of unassailable logic, I may have to seriously reconsider my opinion on the matter.

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