Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jingle Jangle Jumble

I was never a DC Comics reader growing up in the 1970s. Even remotely. The 1970s was the decade of the Hulk on television, whose impact on seven year old Carter was immeasurable by any scale.

Marvel Comics wasn't necessarily blowing the doors off the creative Coup de Ville, but during the 1970s Marvel knew exactly how to talk to readers of any age. Readers wanted that included feeling, the clubhouse effect, of Marvel. All the Marvel readers were hip, they all knew the continuity, and they were getting exposed to some of the future artistic luminaries of the field just starting out (George Perez, John Byrne) and other legends of their decade (Barry Windsor Smith, Frank Brunner, Michael Golden.)

It hasn't been till recent times I've discovered the DC Comics of the 1970s. There was interesting things going on then. Some of it worked and some didn't. DC was competing with the runaway train of Marvel and trying new stuff, while trying to be the "down-home" comics tradition it had always been. Which didn't work, and ruined their one big coup (welcoming the greatest living artist and disgruntled primary creator of Marvel, Jack Kirby, into DC's ranks in 1970, ostensibly giving him control of his own books and then wresting that control away, alienating Kirby and driving him back to Marvel by 1975.) The sad thing is: DC could have competed. By 1981, according to stats from COMIC READER, DC's top seller, SUPERMAN at 195,000 sold, couldn't crack Marvel's Top Ten books, with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN nearly doubling DC's number one in sales. That's horrific.

Of course DC did finally reclaim a huge portion of that lost ground in the 1980s, but the worm has turned again. DC languishes far behind Marvel.

But what I've discovered in my aged years, the best of DC in the 1970s are some the best comics I've ever read, and speak to me more now than they ever could when I was a kid. Weird, that, considering Marvel's 1970s product supposedly targeted the college age, while DC retained their appeal to pre-teen readers. Yet I get more from the better DC comics of that era than from Marvel (well, barring MAN-THING or TOMB OF DRACULA.)

I've added some great Christmas-themed covers from the 1970s and slightly beyond, which bespeak of DC's bizarre approach to the Holidays. No garish Treasury Edition Holiday Specials for DC: the subtle implications of Christmas, in most cases, was supposed to clue you in. It's too bad we don't get these neat little zingers much anymore!

Nick Cardy
Jim Aparo
Jose Garcia Lopez
Joe Kubert
and Gil Kane round out the luminaries involved in these covers.

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