Tuesday, 10 May 2016


Images copyright DC COMICS

I'm feeling a little self-indulgent tonight, so, if you'll forgive
me, I'm gonna yak about what may be a case of 'false-memory-
syndrome' regarding two of my favourite JIMMY OLSEN mags
by JACK KIRBY.  I'll try to make it more palatable by including a
lot of great JK art, because we all know how long-winded I can be
when I get my teeth into a topic.  The issues under consideration
are #s 142 143, which I first bought sometime in 1971 or '72.
Or did I?  It would've been '72 at the latest, but at what point
in the year did I buy them?  Aye, there's the rub.

I associate this page with my new house - mainly because (I assume)
I remember drawing it while sitting at my dining table

You see, I moved houses halfway through June of '72, but
when I look at these two issues today, some pages take me right
back to my former abode, and other pages I associate with my cur-
rent residence.  How can that be?  I'm pretty sure I bought the two
mags (on different days in all likelihood) from the newsagent's over
the road from my old house during school dinner hour, so a variety
of possible scenarios present themselves.  (First I should explain
that I still attended the same school in my old neighbour-
hood even after flitting from the area.)

I associate this page with my old house, as well as a classroom in my
school's technical block.  ( I bought the mag during dinner hour)

So I either bought the mags while yet residing in my old
home, or not long after having moved to my new one.  That's the
choices on offer.  If my previous dwelling, that would obviously ex-
plains the association in my memory, but if the new one, it doesn't.  Or
does it?  It may simply be the case that, if I purchased the issues in my
former neighbourhood not too long after having flitted, the afterglow of
subconscious association yet lingered in the back of my mind.  And that
would be accentuated by the fact that, having retained our original fur-
niture, the ambience of our old living-room was continued in our new
one.  (Also, I probably spent time thumbing through the mags in the
shop for days [at least] before I bought them, so that would no
doubt reinforce my association of them with the area.)

Old house on some occasions, new house on others.  Could be
I'm remembering the first time I read it - and a later re-read

Of course, perhaps I'm over-analyzing things.  Maybe I
associate some pages with my old house because I first read the
mags there and they made an impression, and other pages with my
new abode because, upon a later re-reading, they made a stronger
impression second time around than they had the first.  Could be as
simple as that.  "But what does it matter?" you ask, "and why bore
us with it?"  Well, I tend to use comics as 'diaries' to a certain ex-
tent, in that I usually date past events by whatever issues I pur-
chased at the time.  It can therefore be confusing to look at a
mag and have two different associations spring to mind.

Great as this page is, panel 3 is misleading because of the downward
angle of SUPERMAN's arm, and the speech balloon seemingly indi-
cating that the figures are 'small'.  Fact is, they're normal size, but in
the distance.  Had STAN been editor, he'd have had JACK (or
someone) reposition it.  I associate this page with my old house

However, congratulations!  You've managed to make it
through to the end (I hope) of my tedious ruminations, so you
can take comfort from the knowledge that you richly deserve the
joy you'll undoubtedly derive from perusing the pulsating pages
and panels of one of the masters of the comicbook medium -

Ever been plagued by such perplexities?  Any thoughts,
theories, or observations on my woeful waffle?  Then let rip
in the comments section, Effendis!  Lines are now open!

I associate this page with my old house...

...and this page with my new one


Phil said...

Nope. Murphy Anderson faces on Kirby bodies just don't mix. It's like pineapple on pizza or beetroot on your burger.
Otherwise I liked them fine separately! And sometimes, like the Don Rickles issue you just went ..... Whaaaa?
Much like the one time I went to Leicester with a group of friends and he went to an Indian shop to order a hamburger and got some sort of meat covered in batter .... It was a mystery what I was.

Kid said...

I'd never heard of Don Rickles, Phil, so I didn't realize he was a real person until years later. ('Though I probably vaguely wondered if he was at the time.) Murphy Anderson inked heads on Kirby figures works for me, because Kirby couldn't draw Superman's hair consistently, and it often looked like a comb-over or badly fitting toupee. Kirby had no reason to complain, because he'd altered the art of Don Heck (and others no doubt) over at Marvel, and John Romita usually made changes to Kirby's art when it came to Peter Parker and Mary Jane, etc. Kirby's Spider-Man was sometimes redrawn, or had Ditko figures pasted over, so what DC did was nothing new. (They also did it to Werner Roth's Superman in Lois Lane, if I recall correctly.)

TC said...

I had these issues, but I don't have any particular memories associated with them. And I don't usually recall dates by when I acquired certain comic books; with me, it's generally the other way around, e.g., "Detective Comics #354 and Hawkman #15 must have come out in spring or summer, because I was on vacation from school."

I was never bothered by Anderson re-drawing Superman's and Jimmy's heads. At the time, I didn't know the difference. It did keep their appearance consistent with the other Superman Family titles.

I had heard of Don Rickles before he guest starred in Jimmy Olsen #139 and #141. He was in some of the Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and he was a frequent guest on American TV comedy and variety shows. Still, he was an odd choice to appear in a comic book. So was DJ William B. Williams, who showed up in Detective #357. Neither of them was particularly popular with kids, AFAIR.

Rip Jagger said...

I agree with you about how comics serve as a "diary" of sorts. I do the same thing, associating particular comics and such with points during my life. Seeing the comic kindles the memory.

As for Kirby art alterations, I'm rather on your side about this one. Changing artwork, especially in the Silver Age era of the factory-produced comic was the norm, and not the scandal some make it out to be today. It's just strange that DC went to all the trouble to attract a high-end "free agent" like Kirby, well known for his distinctive style, and then tried to smooth him out. Of course the real win might be getting him away from the competition.

Rip Off

Kid said...

It depends on whether it's a U.K. or U.S. comic, TC, when it comes to determining the date I got it. With a U.K. weekly comic (which was usually dated a week in advance), I'd know, many years later, when I got it going by the date on the cover (if I got it the day it came out). So, for example, I know I went into Glasgow with my parents on Saturday 30th September 1972 and got a pair of school trousers and a black anorak because I also bought The Mighty World Of Marvel #1 that day, cover-dated October 7th.

With a U.S. comic, which could be months or even years old by the time it went on sale in this country, I'd only remember exactly when I bought it if I got it at the same time as a U.K. weekly, or on a birthday or some significant event. So I can date parts of my life going by British comics, but it's harder with American ones. In the case of the two Jimmy Olsen issues, because I associate them with two different houses, it irks me that I can't tie them down to a particular point and place in time.


I suppose that Superman was considered greater than any artist, Rip, hence DC's desire to keep his look consistent. I suspect that DC thought Marvel might collapse without Kirby, having perhaps bought into the myth then starting to do the rounds that Kirby was the real and only creative force at Marvel and that Stan Lee was merely riding on his coat-tails. Boy, did that backfire! I understand that sales on FF actually increased after Kirby left, as they had apparently done on Spider-Man when Ditko quit the book.

paul Mcscotty said...

I remember picking up MWOM issue 1 on 4 October (based on your info if it came out on 30 September as I wasn't aware of it coming out (or I would have purchased it on the Saturday) and it was a Wednesday when I bought it as I remember having a bad day at school at double Technical drawing (which was on a Wednesday). I vividly recall going into R S McColls at lunchtime for a look at the comics as I used to do (US mostly) and saw MWOM on the counter. I didn’t buy it then but ran back to the shop at 4pm to get it - I also recall the free Hulk transfer wasn’t in my copy (but my Dad got me one later) - I cannot recall what I was wearing but it’s a good bet it was flared black trousers and a white shirt with a tie that had a knot in it the size of a baby’s head (it was the 70s) :)

Oracle said...

Sales on all Marvels increased but nothing to do with Kirby leaving. It was because Marvel were cheaper than DC in 1972.

Kid said...

In 1972 I was still wearing drainpipe trouser, PM. I still had to wear what my parents bought for me - I wasn't asked for my opinion on the matter. (So you were obviously spoilt. Nyah!) I now have at least 3 copies of MWOM #1, two of which have the iron-on transfer.


I have a sneaky suspicion that someone calling themselves Oracle left a few cheeky comments a while back, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this occasion. Marvel may have been cheaper in 1972, but Kirby left Marvel in 1970. And how would that explain Spider-Man's sales increasing when Ditko left in 1966? Nah, doesn't wash.

paul Mcscotty said...

Well you may have looked a "plonker" in 1972 in drainpipes but in old pictures looking back now folk will think you were really trendy as a kid - amazing how dated folk look if they dressed for the times especially the 70s and early 80s. I can't actually recall if I had a lot of clothes when I was a kid but I think I had a very sparse wardrobe with only a couple of pairs of trousers (dont think I even had jeans in 1972) a few shirts and t shirts - without iron-on transfers :( -and a duffle coat - I was hardly the fashionista then that I am now!

Kid said...

Thing is, PM, I eventually started wearing flares, but by then they were long out of fashion so I was never trendy at any point in time. And, hey, I had a duffel coat (so named because they originated in a small town called 'Duffel' in Belgium) - small world.

(Yes, I know the word now tends to get spelt as 'duffle'.)

Oracle said...

Kirby's absence from Marvel wasn't felt until 1971. Sales increased in 1972.
Sales increased after Ditko left Spidey when Marvel got new distribution deal.

Never left cheeky comments anywhere.

Kid said...

Nah, that won't fly. Goodman revised his distribution deal in 1968 (changing distributors in '69) so that Marvel could produce more than 8 titles a month. That would have nothing to do with sales of an individual title like Spider-Man increasing (if indeed, as claimed, they did). Sales of comics overall actually started to decline in the early '70s, 'though some individual titles would've increased (and some decreased). And just because DC titles were dearer in '71/'72, that wouldn't necessarily mean that readers dropping their DC mags would suddenly start picking up Fantastic Four. Personally speaking, I continued to buy whatever Marvel and DC mags I wanted, regardless of the price. Not every comicbook reader was a Kirby fan, and the fact that he left the title was probably at least one reason why sales increased (if indeed, as claimed by people like John Romita, they actually did), even if other factors also contributed. Kirby's DC books weren't selling that well (in spite of later attempts to rewrite history in that respect) even before the price increase, so his name on a mag wasn't the guaranteed draw that some of his fans seem to think. His Marvel mags certainly didn't crash and burn after his departure, which is something to think about.

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