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 came out was SUPERMAN - From The '30s To The '70s, published in the U.K. by SPRING BOOKS.  (CROWN BOOKS in the States.)  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, so they had the apostrophes in the wrong place, but hey - nobody's perfect.)

For 'Atomic Comics' read 'Action Comics'

These two books were the bees' knees, being over an inch thick and containing what was purported to be the milestone adventures of DC COMICS' top heroes, SUPERMAN and BATMAN.  I bought the Superman volume and pored over its pages, absorbing every word of E. NELSON BRIDWELL's informative, well-written introduction.  Oddly, the back cover claimed that Supes first appeared in ATOMIC COMICS, whereas, as we all know, it was 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 (though I now have 1st and 2nd editions of both volumes) and it's 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 U.S. edition (complete with dustjacket) of Captain Marvel from a church jumble sale around 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 re-created 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 from a few years back.  The good news is that proofs from the original 1939 version were used in the MILLENNIUM EDITION of DC #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 books are well worth having though, and shouldn't be too difficult to obtain on ebay.  There was an updated version of the Supes volume, entitled SUPERMAN - From The '30s To The '80s, and that's also worth seeking out.

FOOTNOTE:  The second printings of these books (in '79) weren't quite as thick as the earlier editions, but this was merely due to being printed on slightly thinner paper - the page count and contents weren't 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.

Unknown said...

I have both 1971 issues Infantino signatures in both, did he sign all soft back issues?

Kid said...

If you're referring to the dedication in each book, DT, that's a printed signature. If your books have handwritten signatures in addition to the printed ones, then Carmine perhaps signed a limited number of copies - if they're genuine. (No reason to suppose they're not.) So the answer to your question is - as the books were printed in their thousands, it would've been impossible for Carmine to sign every softcover copy.

MetropolisQuartet said...

Hi, Phil - just a heads up that - while the artist was doing his best to ape the style of Wayne Boring - this image is from Curt Swan's first drawing of Superman in 1953 on the cover of "The Three-Dimension Adventures of Superman" (nn). This was shortly before he got his first regular Superman assignment on "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen" in 1954.

Kid said...

Thanks for the info, MQ. Sure looks just like the figure from the cover of Superman's 10th Anniversary issue, "The Origin Of Superman!". If the book drawing's by Swan, then he did a really good job of imitating Boring. Remember also that sometimes the cover artist differed from who'd drawn the interiors.

Unknown said...

Hi Fella, have been rummaging around my old books and have the Superman 30’s-70’s but alas I can’t find the Batman edition.
Anyway my question is all the images I can find are not recognisable to me, I’m sure my copy was similar to the Superman one, any ideas or images would be extremely welcome.
Thanks Regards John

Kid said...

Unfortunately, the books don't lend themselves to scanning as it's virtually impossible to open them wide enough to do so without damaging them, so I can't show you any internal images. However, I can confirm that the Batman book was in the exact same format as the Superman one, with double pages of reduced covers from different decades.

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