A cascading cornucopia of cool comics, cartoons & classic collectables - plus other completely captivating & occasionally controversial content! With nostalgic notions, sentimental sighings, wistful wonderings, rueful reflections, remorseful ruminations, melancholy musings, poignant ponderings & yearnings for yesteryear! (To say nothing of a few profound perplexities & puzzling paradoxes thrown in for good measure.) Plus a bevy of beautiful, bedazzling, and buxom 'Babes'!
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
BARRY'S PEARLS OF REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PASSED ON...
Wow, are you in for a treat! Bashful BARRY PEARL, one of the men behind-the-scenes on the recent TASCHEN book on MARVEL (and who supplies many of the scans for Rascally ROY THOMAS's ALTER-EGO mag) has generously con-sented to write a guest-post for this here Blog of mine. That'll give you a rest from reading about me prattling on about myself. So, without further ado, let's see what interesting stuff Barry has for us.
Don't think that, to early Marvel, the 'superheroes' were more important than The Rawhide Kid or Millie the Model. Publisher Martin Goodman cared about sales and advertising, so in the 1950s and '60s (when Millie and Rawhide were top sellers) they were most important.
Although all comic book companies competed for spots on the newsstand, many people now tend to think (inaccurately) that DC and Marvel were the only main competitors. However, there were several others, but that’s a whole other post!
DC, using several editors, had a very different business model to that of Marvel. Each editor did their own 'genres', and their respective staff tended to work under just one editor. Mort Weisinger edited the 'Superman Family' of magazines; Jack Schiff edited the 'Batman Family' and Julius Schwartz edited The Flash, Green Lantern and JLA, amongst others. They generally didn't share writers, artists, or ideas, so a Martian in a Superman comic would look different to one in a Green Lantern comic. (Or J'onn J'onzz in his 'own'mag.)
When it came to scripts, the editors generally didn't write them, but handed over plots to a scripter. DC published 25 to 30 comics a month and each editor was responsible for around half a dozen of them. Most of DC's comics were published six to eight times a year, with extra mags during the summer to give circulation a boost. That usually gave a creative team 45 to 60 days to complete an entire comic. The monthlies, Action, Detective and Adventure Comics, had fillers, giving the artists more time to finish the main stories.
A major exception was Robert Kanigher, who, at that time, edited most of DC’s war comics and also wrote many of them. Kanigher also wrote the origin of the Silver Age Flash and is famous for his work on Wonder Woman.
At Marvel, there was just one editor, Stan Lee, for all the comics: superhero, romance, war and westerns. Stan also wrote most of these stories, and often plotted the ones he didn’t, mostly for his brother Larry Lieber and occasionally for Robert Bernstein and a few others. When Martin Goodman’s distributor (American) suddenly went out of business, he used Independent Distributors, owned by the parent company of DC, who placed restrictions on the amount of comics Marvel could publish. So Marvel was limited to about 16 comics a month at this time (sometimes a bit more or less).
The main artists at Marvel, of course, were Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck and Dick Ayers, who, unlike their DC counterparts, drew for all genres. Al Hartley, Sol Brodsky and Stan Goldberg produced mostly the romance and teenage humour comics, with the occasional story or cover by any one of the aforementioned four. Yes, there were others at that time, but those seven carried the load. As time went by many of the 'new' Marvel writers, including Roy Thomas and Denny O’Neil, usually broke in on the romantic comics.
So at Marvel there were no 'barriers' from one genre to the next and that showed up in many of their comics. For example, Spider-Man and The Hulk were very often soap operas!
We can see that the western mags introduced quite a few 'new characters'. For example, The Ringmaster was originally presented in a Captain America comic in the 1940s, but his circus of crime entered the Marvel Age in Kid Colt, later turning up in Hulk, Spider-Man, Daredevil and Thor.
The Red Raven was a Simon & Kirby creation, also from the 1940s, and appeared in the Silver Age first in a western before moving to The X-Men. And before The Cobra slithered into Thor's mag (Journey Into Mystery), a similar character popped up in The Rawhide Kid. ("Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?!")
There are so many characters we think are unique to the Marvel Silver Age of Superheroes, but actually got a try-out somewhere else. For example, did you know that The (Black) Panther started out as a western character in Two-Gun Kid, months before he met The Fantastic Four? Below is the TGK's cover, along with an unpublished one for the FF.
Of course, Dr. Doom, the villain in the iron mask, was the major bad guy in the Fantastic Four, but he was also a western nasty too! And he was the“Monster in the Iron Mask” in Tales of Suspense also!
When Stan wanted to attract and keep older readers, he had many of his teenage characters graduate High School and move on to College, just like his readers were doing. But he started this trend in Patsy and Hedy, who graduated High School in issue #95 in 1964. A little later, The X-Men would, too, and soon Peter Parker also received his diploma. In all three strips this was a big event, but Stan liked to give the appearance of change without really changing anything.
As with Patsy and Hedy, when Peter Parker graduated High School, he wound up in College with basically the same people. What Flash Thompson, on an athletic scholarship, is doing in Peter's science classes, is a mystery. And blonde Liz Allen is 'exchanged' for blonde Gwen Stacy.
My favourite is The X-Men. Professor X was their only teacher in 'High School' and after graduation they stayed on in the same building and he's still their only teacher in what is, effectively, 'College'. As I said, this is not really change, but merely the illusion of change.
And it all started in the Romance mags.
Thanks once again to Barry, and I'm sure all Criv-ites will join me in hoping that Barry's cat, KIRBY, who has been ill recently, will be back to his normal self soon.