Friday, 2 January 2015


Images copyright DC COMICS

Funny how we sometimes like to 'repeat' the past, eh?  I first
bought the above comic around 1973 ('though it was issued in '71)
from my local R.S. McCOLL'S in the main shopping centre of my
home town.  The memories that resurface just typing that sentence
almost overwhelm me;  memories of shops that no longer have a
presence  in that centre - or anywhere at all in some cases.

have turned off their lights and pulled down the shutters one by one.
Others, like HALFORDS, have upped-sticks and relocated to out-
of-town retail parks where rent and rates are less expensive.

Sorry, I got distracted there - we're not here to talk about
extinct shops, but DC SPECIAL #15, featuring JACK COLE's
PLASTIC MAN.  I had such a soft spot in my memory for this mag
that, when the 'lost' 80 Page Giant PLASTIC MAN Annual was
issued in 2003/'04, I bought it immediately just because it reminded
me of the yellow covered mag from the '70s that I'd once owned.
That's what I meant about repeating the past.

One of the things I thought I'd  read in this comic was that
Jack Cole drew his pages printed size (at least for the origin tale)  -
not twice up as was the custom of the time.  However, I can find
no mention of the fact anywhere in my recent replacement issue, but
I definitely read it somewhere way back in the 1970s.  (Interestingly,
LEO BAXENDALE fell out with The BEANO editor for doing
something similar to meet a deadline once, refusing to redraw the
page when the editor insisted on it, so obviously the same
allowances weren't made for him as Jack Cole.)

Anyway, enjoy the selection of images from this mag from
over 40 years ago.  Time doesn't just fly, it also stretches  - at
least, it does when you've got your very own time machine in
the form of a classic comicbook from your youth!


Graham said...

I bought that when it was published. I had not been into comics very long at the time, but I read that one until the covers came off. Wish I still had my copy.

Kid said...

Quite a few copies on eBay at the moment, Graham. For some reason it's described as hot, but I got mine purely for the nostalgia factor.

Colin Jones said...

I just googled Plastic Man and I see he first appeared in 1941 so when the Fantastic Four came out DC must have thought Mr. Fantastic was a rip-off of Plastic Man but for me Reed Richards came first as I only knew Marvel characters.

Kid said...

Actually, CJ, DC probably thought he was a rip-off of their Elongated Man, who appeared in The Flash #112, 1960.

Dougie said...

Happy New Year, Kid. I own both of these specials and have grown fond of Plas, especially since he is namechecked in John Byrne's "Slab Boys" which was my first paid acing job.

Like Colin Jones, I discovered Reed Richards just before Elongated Man; the Drake/Kane revival of Plas was one I was aware of from Go-Go Check comics adverts.
I think my first Plastic Man stories were the Pasko episodes in Adventure Comics circa 1980. As I recall, they were very witty.
(Actually, my first exposure to Plas in a story might well have been the JLA/Englehart adventure set in the 50s, circa 1977.)

Kid said...

Dougie, long time no hear. I thought you'd abandoned me for Steve Does Comics, so good to see you pop in. I've got that original '60s Plas ish (which is reprinted in the Annual) by Drake & Kane, and I used to buy a comic in the '70s (I think) which featured him. (Maybe it was the '80s one you mention.) I've also got a four-issue mini-series from a good number of years back, but to be honest, I think I preferred the Elongated Man. I liked the detective angle that ol' Ralph's strips had.

Don't be a stranger now, and have a great 2015.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I bought my issue in R S McColls in Rutherglen (a few miles from Kids home town) fantastic stuff I still have it - Jack Cole was a grat cartoonist up there (imho) with Wil Eisner and a very good err "good girl" artist aas well ( well so Im told!) - sad and baffling end to his life - my fist "stretchable" hero (that I recall) was actually Elastic Lad (Jimmy Olsen) - I really enjoted Kyle Bakers Plastic Man series a few years back and would recommend it to anyone.

Kid said...

I might have seen Elongated Man in an issue of Detective Comics or The Flash first, McScotty, but I'm not 100% sure. I'd guess that the first rubber-skinned hero I ever saw was The Rubber Man (cursed by an Indian Fakir) in Smash! around 1966. My first sight of Plastic Man would've been in a 1960s DC comicbook ad for the Drake/Kane issue #1.

TC said...

I first saw Elongated Man in a reprint in a Flash 80-page Giant issue in 1966. Soon after that, I began reading his solo strip when it ran as a back-up in Detective Comics.

I would have seen Reed Richards for the first time later that same year, either in the Fantastic Four comic itself, or in reprints of older FF issues in Marvel Collector's Item Classics.

I remember the 1966-67 Plastic Man comic with Drake scripts and Win Mortimer (and, later, Jack Sparling) art. There was also a PM self-titled comic in the mid-1970's. Each run lasted ten issues. There was also the Pasko-written strip in the digest-sized Adventure Comics ca. 1980.

To this day, I have never read a story with Jimmy Olsen as Elastic Lad.

In 1966-67, with the Batman/camp comedy/pop art fads, the time must have seemed right for the tongue-in-cheek Plastic Man (and Inferior Five) series. But the preteen kids (then the majority of comic book fans) still wanted their superheroes played straight. And adults would watch campy action-adventure TV shows (Batman, Man from U.N.C.L.E., Wild Wild West) and tongue-in-cheek action movies (Bond, Flint, Matt Helm), but they did not read comic books.

Kid said...

That's grown-ups for you - a mass of contradictions. I don't think I ever saw an episode of Wild Wild West (it may not have been shown over here), so I'll have to keep an eye out for it and watch it one day. I know who was in it because I've read about it - just never seen it Funny thing about MFU was that it was originally played straight - it was the Batman influence that turned it camp.

TC said...

The Wild Wild West was basically Solo and Illya as US Secret Service agents circa 1870. Like The Man from UNCLE (and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space), it started out being played fairly straight, but then the Batman/camp comedy fad became a big influence, and the series got increasingly silly and juvenile.

Even The Avengers was affected, although possibly to a lesser extent. ("Mission Highly Improbable," "The Winged Avenger," "Never, Never Say Die.")

Most of those shows really went over the top in 1966-67, then tried to tone it down in 1967-68, when the camp fad was passing. By then, though, it was too late. Fans who liked the campy weirdness were bored by an attempted return to playing it straight, and fans who wanted straight action-adventure had probably already quit watching by then.

Kid said...

I was too young to pick up on the silliness of some of these shows. I thought they were straight adventure tales, TC. It's only when I look back on them that I see how outrageous they were.

TC said...

Those of us who were kids at the time didn't notice the difference back then, although our parents were probably laughing their heads off (or maybe wincing in disgust). When I was seven, even Batman seemed just as dramatic as Gunsmoke or Dragnet. It wasn't until years later, watching reruns, that I noticed the stuff that had gone over my head the first time.

Kid said...

Exactly. Although, when I first saw the 1966 Batman movie on TV in the mid-'70s, I fell about laughing because I thought it was so funny (in a good way). It still never occurred to me that the TV show was meant to be viewed in the same way.

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