DC Bicentennial banner comics by the numbers: lies, damn lies and statistics!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

Tale of the Tape

 This is for all the number crunchers …

 Tally:

Of the 33 Bicentennial comics …

 

 July issues: 12

August issues: 21

 50-cent issues: 5

35-cent issues: 28

 

Bi-monthly issues: 20

Monthly issues: 11

9-times-a-year: 2 (Superboy/Legion and World’s Finest)

 ***

             Comic books were “required by law” to publish an annual sales statement, including individual issues sold closest to the reporting month. Here are the comics I have during that reporting month from 1976 that stated their individual sales figures.

Brave & Bold 151,000
JLA 193,000
World’s Finest 132,185
Adventure 104,309
Superman 216,122
Superman Family 156,636

***

 Editors:

 Denny O’Neil edited one comic

Nelson Bridwell two

Gerry Conway, five

Joe Kubert, three

Julius Schwartz, seven

Murray Boltinoff, seven

Joe Orlando led them all with eight comics

 ***

Cover artists:

 Bob Oksner

Dave Manak

Keith Giffen

Ricardo Villagran

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, two including one with Bob Wiacek

Mike Grell, two

Jim Aparo, two

Luis Dominguez, three

Joe Kubert, four

Dick Giordano, five issues, including one with Terry Austin

Ernie Chua drew an astounding ten issues

 ***

 Writers: keep in mind there are more than 33 writers here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue. Some comics, such as Ghosts, did not list the writers, and neither Grand Comics Database nor DC Comics Database list authors for that issue.

 Barry Jameson

Bart Regan (two)

Bob Haney (three)

Bob Rozakis (two, including one with Michael Uslan)

Cary Bates (three)

Dave Wood

David Anthony Kraft

David Michelinie

David V. Reed

Denny O’Neil

Don Cameron & Joe Samachson

Elliot S! Maggin (three)

Gardner Fox (two reprints)

George Kashdan (two)

Jack Oleck 

John Broome (two reprints)

Len Wein

Martin Pasko (two, NOT counting two more with Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz)

Michael Fleisher

Russ Manning

Sheldon Meyer (a reprint)

Steve Skeates

Weshley Marsh (Murray Boltinoff)

Gerry Conway (seven, including one with Marty Pasko)

Robert Kanigher (our leader with nine total stories written in the 33 comics)

Did I miss any? Wouldn’t surprise me… 

***

 Artists: as with the writers category there are more than 33 artists here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue

 Buddy Gernale

Carmine Infantino (two reprints)

Chic Stone and Mike Royer

Curt Swan (three, including one with John Calnan)

Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin

Don Perlin

ER Cruz

Ernie Chua (two including one with Tex Blaisdell)

Nestor Redondo (and/or his studio)

Franc C Reyes

Fred Carillo

Gene Ureta

George Evans

George Molintorni

Gil Kane & Sid Greene (reprint)

Irv Novick (two, one with Ted Baisdell)

Jerry Robinson (reprint)

Jess Jodloman

Jim Aparo (two)

Jim Mooney (a).

José Delbo

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (two, one with Bob Oksner)

Keith Giffen & Wally Wood

Keith Griffin, Ricardo Villagran and Oscar Novelle & Luis Dominguez

Mike Grell

Mike Kaluta (reprint)

Noly Zamora

Pablo Marcos

Pablo Marcos  & Bob Smith

Paul Kruchner and Tex Blasdell

Ricardo Villamonte

Rich Buckler

Rico Rival

Romana Fradon & Juan Canale,

Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

Rubeny

Ruby Florese

Russ Manning

Sam Glanzman

Sheldon Moldoff (reprint)

Terry Hensen

Ric Estrada (an amazing 8, which includes 2 with Joe Staton and one with Al Milgrom – with that many comics I can imagine he would need the help!)

 ***

             Comics, especially from the Big Two, rarely have letter columns in these days of email and Instant Messaging. I think that’s a shame. But letter columns made up an integral part of a comic book – it’s how fans kept in touch with one another. Some fans became professionals simply because their letter writing gave them name recognition at hiring time (Bob Rozakis for one) – it helped that the letter writers (Bob included) were also talented! One wonders how many hacks were turned away – “but I had 46 letters published!” “Your letter writing skill is good, that’s true, but as a comic book fiction writer … you stink.”  The only future comic book talent from the letter writers of these July 1976 comics that I recognize is Bob Rodi (from Karate Kid #3).

            “Hey!” I write for comics and I’m on that list! Oops, sorry I didn’t recognize the name. What comics do you write/draw/etc. for? I’d love to read them!

            I left out anonymous and obvious fake names. Here are, I think, all of them:

            The most prolific writers were Mike White, who appeared in 7 issues (nearly one third of the comics) and Fred Schneider in 5 issues.

 Adam Castro of New Rochelle, NY (3 letters total)

Arthur Grance of Staten Island, NY

Arthur Kowalik of Wilmington, DE

Barry Charles of Louisville, KY

Bart Casey of Dayton, Ohio

Bob Robinson, Lincoln, NE

Bob Rodi of Columbia, MO

Brian Dyke of Goodlettsville, TN

Brian Scott of Streator, IL

Burt Fowler of Jacksonville, FL

Cadet Captain Ruby S Nelson of Jacksonville, AL

Carlton McDaniels of New York

Clifford Gerstman of New York, NY

Craig Kenner of Massillon, OH

Damian Brokaw of Denver, CO

Dan Cardenas, San Luis Obispo, CA

Dave Wilcox, Arlington Heights, IL

David A Jones of Horse Cave, KY

David B. Kirby of Richmond, VA

David Hanson of Swartz Creek, Mich.

David J. Brown of Hammond, IN

David L Klees of Newton Centre, Mass 

David Trenton of New York, NY

DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME

Doil Ward of Ardmore TX

Don Vaughn of Lake Worth, FL

Drury Moore of Springfield, IL

Edward Wojcik of Detroit, Michigan

Elizabeth Smith of Tacoma Washington

Eric Ehrlich of North Platte, NE

FL Watkins, Champaign, IL

Fred Schneider of New York (6 issues)

Gerald Duit of New Orleans, LA

Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA

Hugh J. Leach, Mason, MI

Charles Backman of Sterling Heights, MI

Jack Gregotz, Mayfield Heights, OH

James Parker of Clarksville, TN

Janet Fadel of Hollywood, CA

Jeff Sporn of Bethesda, MD

Jerry Rosen of New York, NY

Jim Dever of Philadelphia, PA

Jim Humm of El Monte, CA

Jim Planack of Poughkeepsie, NY

Jimmy Holcomb of Mesquite, TX

Joe Peluso, Brooklyn, NY

John Baker of Baltimore, MD

John Elliot, New York, NY (3 letters)

John Jesse of Hobart, IN

Jonathan Kuntz, Los Angeles, CA

Judy Newton of Thompkinsville, RI

Katie Raisler of East Lansing, MI

Ken Kemble of San Antonio, TX

Ken Regalado, South Pasadena, CA

Kevin L. Callahan, Brea, CA (3 issues)

Kirk Anderson of DeForest, WI

Linas Sabalys of Laval, PQ, Canada (3 issues)

Louis A, Latzer of St. Louis, MO

Marie Munas of La Mesa, CA

Mark McIntyre of Atlanta, GA

Mark Schmeider, Concord, Mass (5 issues)

Mark Wannop of Camden, NJ

Mark Zutkoff, Timoniom, MD

Mary E. ReCasino, Vernon, CT

Matthew Elyosin, Madison, CT

Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI (3 issues)

Michael Lapsley of Morrow, GA

Mike Karvalas of Chicago, IL

Mike Thompson of Lockemup Prison

Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (the most: 7 issues)

Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (3 issues)

Paulo Mariorann of Parma, Ontario

Peter Sanderson of New York, NY

Robert Gustive of Grand Island, Neb

Robert LaChine of Chicago, IL

Robert Vias, Dover, NJ

Robert W. Chan of Edmonton, Canada

Rod McLaughlin of Ramsey, Mont.

Roger Thomas Enevoldesen, North Augusta, SC

Ron Lindsey of Augusta, GA

Ronald M. Fitz, Valparaiso, IN

Sam MCHendley of Berkeley, CA

Sarah Finnegan of Washington DC

Scott Gibson of Evergreen CO (5 issues)

Scott R. Taylor of Portland, TX (3 issues)

Steve Kalaitzidis of Toronto, Ontario

Teddy Arnold of Houston TX

Terry Chadwick of Phoenix, AZ

Thomas Edward Bigham of Matt, Mass

Thomas Russon of Mt. Kisco, NY

Tim Corrigan, Rochester, NY

Tom Kelleher of Norwalk, Conn.

Tom Weyandt of Broadtop City, PA

Wade Sears of Calgary, Alberta

Walter Green of Wading River, NY

 ***

 Thanks for reading the blog series. It was as much fun to read (and re-read) these comics as it was to comment about them.

 My father would bring home stacks and stacks of DC comics for me. He worked for the Air Force, but some of his staff’s spouses worked for Sparta Printing – where they used to give away comics to the employees by the truckload. It was literally, “your boss has a kid? Here!” {thud}

Doing this blog series reminded me of that. I had a stack of comics next to my chair. I also had a notepad and pen to make notes. But at times I imagined my dad bringing home these 33 comics for me to enjoy.

This blog series is dedicated to him.

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

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Adventure Comics #446: Aquaman and the Creeper!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#31

Adventure Comics #446

Adventure_Comics_Vol_1_446

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: Jim Aparo

Editor: Joe Orlando

            Until its first cancellation in 1982, Adventure Comics was the oldest continually running comic book on the stands (back when there were stands…). Its first issue was called New Comics dated December 1935 by someone calling themselves National Allied Publications. It changed its title with issue #12 (January 1937) to New Adventure Comics. The New was removed in November 1938 and remained that way until its cancellation (although during the Spectre’s run in the early 1970s it was called Weird Adventure Comics, as part of the Weird line: Weird Mystery, Weird War, Weird Western, etc. Weird). Some New Adventure Comics are available for viewing at the online library Comic Books Plus.

            It went from a comic of humorous stories to action/adventure tales during this time – some stories were written and drawn by eventual-Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel.

            At the dawn of the superhero age Adventure dove right in with the debut of the Sandman with issue #40, Hourman (#48, March 1940), Starman (61, April, 1941) and Simon & Kirby’s Manhunter (#73, April 1942).  When More Fun Comics changed formats to humor stories, its characters moved to Adventure, including Superboy, as of issue #103 (April 1946).  In issue #247 (April 1958) the Legion of Superheroes debuted. They eventually shared billing with Superboy during their classic run. They were replaced by a solo Supergirl lead as of issue #381 (June 1969). She starred in the comic until #424 (October 1972)

            The comic switched back to its adventure roots for the next few issues (Captain Fear debuted) before Black Orchid debuted in #428 (August 1973).

            With issue #431 (February 1974), the Spectre began his iconic run of stories by Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo that were more in the supernatural setting than the superhero one.

            Aquaman (a back-up feature for a time – with Mike Grell’s first DC work – although published after he took over the Legion’s art from Dave Cockrum) took over as the main feature as of issue #441 (October 1975).  This is where our Bicentennial issue comes in…

            During this run the readers were treated to some fantastic back-up features; including the aforementioned return of Aquaman and a “lost” story of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.

            Superboy returned home as of issue #453 (October 1977) until the comic reverted to its anthology roots by becoming a Dollar Comic as of issue #459 (October 1978) and featuring, in various issues, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Deadman, Elongated Man and Aquaman. This lasted for seven issues. As a Dollar Comic, Adventure became a bit of a repository to wrap up story arcs from cancelled comics: the New Gods and the Justice Society of America completed their storylines (most notably the JSA tale featured the death of the Earth-2 Batman, a critical moment in the creation of the Huntress).

            With the new decade Adventure returned to standard size as of issue #457 (January 1980) with a new version of Starman debuting, sharing the bill with Plastic Man (and eventually a three-way bill with the returning Aquaman) through issue #478. Issue #479 (March 1981) featured a rebooted Dial H for Hero, where two normal people turned into fan-created superheroes, until #490 (February 1982).

            The title was revived in September 1982 as a digest-sized comic featuring new tales of Shazam and Challengers of the Unknown. It was mainly a reprint series for the Legion of Superheroes. Those reprints eventually took over the book until its final cancellation as of issue 503 (September 1983).

            Adventure Comics was revived a few more times and in September 2010 was brought back with new numbering through twelve issues, but then resuming the older numbering with #516 (503 + twelve new issues, you see) again as a Legion vehicle until finally put to rest as of issue #529 (October 2011).

***

            This is the only comic of the Bicentennial line that recognizes the Bicentennial on the cover other than the top header. Aquaman, king of a foreign state, is happily waving the Stars and Stripes on the left side of the cover. Atlantis honoring our birthday! Of course, he IS half-American on his father’s side. Was he the first comic book anchor baby? 😉

The Manta-Ray Means Murder”, Paul Levitz/Marty Pasko ( w ), Jim Aparo (a)

 Adventure 466-2

            The splash page shows Topo the octopus strangling Arthur Jr., but the dumb brute was only rescuing the baby – who was crawling to the exit. Robin calls the Sea King to report he has not been able to find Aqualad. Aquaman tells Robin of recent events – his being deposed and banished from Atlantis – and tells Robin to warn Aqualad when found to avoid the undersea kingdom lest he be shot on sight!

 adventure 466-3

            Meanwhile, Aqualad and Tula (Aquagirl) are on a gambling boat in Louisiana to stop a diamond-smuggling ring. Aqualad fights off the smugglers but if finally knocked out. He is revived to discover the ringleader is Black Manta! Manta catches Tula eavesdropping and, not knowing who she is, ties her up and throws her into the sea to her supposed death!

 adventure 466-1

            Interlude: while Aquaman is away, his successor Karshon, plots an assault on Mera and Arthur Jr.

            Aquaman finds Tula and unties her. They raid the gambling boat, rescue Aqualad and beat Manta to a pulp. Black Manta ducks out and escapes, even fighting off a giant squid holding his manta-ship. On board, Aquaman discovers a cache of underwater laser rifles – the kind used by his successor Karshon. Manta was not only smuggling diamonds, but running guns to Atlantis!

            This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Death of a Prince, 2011.

***

Mind Over Murder”, Martin Pasko ( w ), Ric Estrada and Joe Staton (a). Part two of three.

 creeper

            A solo Creeper tale. He first appeared in 1968 in Showcase #73 and in his own comic for a time. He was a creation of Steve Ditko and the art here is reminiscent of his style.

            At the Humbolt Institute for the physically handicapped, the Creeper saved Dr. Joanne Russell from a brutal assault from a giant plastic monster that had already killed one therapist. The four policemen charge into the room and train their guns on our hero – thinking him responsible! The Creeper fights off the police.

            Creeper remembers the plastic killer – he saw it during an interview with Dr. Vernon Maddox in his secret identity as TV reporter Jack Ryder. Maddox could control a mannequin with his telekinetic power.

            As Ryder visits Russell, a sleeping Maddox subconsciously activates the killer mannequin. Russell tells the Creeper that she and Maddox are rivals competing for the same grant money, but is that reason enough to kill her? While they talk, the mannequin attacks!  Russell, on the Creeper’s instructions, calls Maddox and wakes him. Maddoz uses his telekinetic power to force Russell to walk out the window of her high-storied hospital room! To be continued!

 

 

Dateline Adventure: letters for Adventure Comics #444. All positive letters praising the Aquaman series (and rightly so, it was a great run) by Kevin L. Callahan, Brea, CA, Scott Gibson, Evergreen, CO and Scott R. Taylor, Portland, TX.

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #32: Tarzan #251

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

Brave & Bold #128 – a Bicentennial team-up!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#19

The Brave and the Bold #128

B&B128

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist: Jim Aparo

Editor: Murray Boltinoff

             I beg your pardon in advance for this crass hype, but I’ve already done the work on this one.

            All information gleaned from my new ebook: The Brave and the Bold – from Silent Knight to Dark Knight, an index of the DC comic book. Available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords websites.

 brave-and-bold-cover

            The Barnes and Noble link is here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brave-and-the-bold-michael-curry/1120872264?ean=2940046443011

            The Brave & the Bold ran for 200 issues from 1955 through 1983. During its run, the best writers and artists in the business introduced us to comic book icons, some of which are still published today: the Justice League of America, the Teen Titans, the Suicide Squad, the Outsiders, The Viking Prince, the Silent Knight, Metamorpho, Katanna, Nemesis, Wonder Girl/Donna Troy, the silver age reboot of Hawkman, the revival of Green Arrow (he changed costumes and grew his beard). Those were just the good guys. Starro, Amazo, Bork, Copperhead, Shadow Thief, Matter Master and the Manhawks also made their villainous debut in B&B.

            It began with swashbuckling features such as the Viking Prince, Silent Knight, the Golden Gladiator and Robin Hood. Five years later it changed to a Showcase-style try-out anthology featuring the Justice League of America, the Suicide Squad, Hawkman and others. Next came something new in comics – regular team-ups of characters throughout the DC Universe: war comics characters, established superheroes, even a meeting of the various youthful sidekicks from the superhero line. The aforementioned Teen Titans were one of their many successes.

            By the time of the Batman TV show any comic graced with the Caped Crusader on the cover outsold any other comic, Brave and Bold included. It wasn’t long before the dollar signs in front of the eyes of National Comics’ owners and editors helped them decide to keep Batman as the permanent star of the comic.

            As a third Batman title, it was criticized even then for being out of the regular Batman continuity. Regular writer Bob Haney wrote in his own continuity bubble – he was even jokingly given his own “alternate earth” where events of his comics happened; events that were mentioned nowhere else in DC’s comics. Bruce Wayne had a brief stint as a Senator. Wayne adopted many more wards than just Dick Grayson (most of them were either killed or sent to prison as criminals…). Wayne’s chief financial rival was the femme fatale Ruby Ryder – who continuously planned the demise of Wayne Enterprises! And she appeared no where else – only in the pages of B&B.

      By its Bicentennial issue the comic was coasting on its once vast popularity.  Quoting From Silent Knight to Dark Knight: “B&B still had good sales* and loyal readers from years past (the sales drop was proportionate to the industry as a whole), and the marvelous Aparo art was always spectacular, giving B&B its distinct look. … It wasn’t the best comic book in terms of sales, story and originality, but it was still good!” Before this point in its history, B&B was at the very top. But once you are at the top, there is only one place to go.

       This issue in some ways reflected that problem…

This is one of the few Bicentennial issues I owned when they were published.

***

Death by the Ounce, starring Batman and Mister Miracle, Bob Haney ( w ), Jim Aparo (a).

            The Shah of Karkan, the world’s richest ruler, is landing in Gotham (of all placed) to sign a peace treaty. Gotham’s finest and Batman scour the city for spies and assassins. While searching a condemned sports arena, Batman sees a body being dumped from the rafters. He is beaten by the shadowed killers, only to discover it is Big Barda and Oberon – the body being “dumped” was Mr. Miracle practicing an escape for his big comeback.

            Things get worse for Batman – his idea of smuggling the Shah in a laundry truck backfires and the Shah is kidnapped by someone called “Gigi”.

 b&b 128-2

(dig this beautiful Aparo art!)

            Via a tapped phone to the president, they fool the kidnappers into thinking they only have a decoy and the Shah is safe in his hotel room.

            Batman enlists the help of Mr. Miracle by besting him in an escape routine.

 b&b 128-3

            Batman, disguised as the Shah, is kidnapped in his bed and taken to an underwater derelict redesigned as a headquarters for Mr. Miracle baddie Apokolypsian Granny Goodness (G.G. – “Gigi” – get it?). She agreed to kidnap the Shah in exchange for one ounce of a youth-restoring potion created by a Dr. Kiev.

            Mr. Miracle, hiding all this time under the bed on which the Shah/Batman slept (the kidnappers lifted the bed through he skylight while the “Shah” slept) frees Batman and the real Shah. They escape and Mr. Miracle detonates left-over gun powder in the derelict ship – destroying Granny Goodness once and for all … yeah right…

 b&b 128-1

            The second of only three appearances by Mister Miracle, and the only issue of B&B that gave even a small nod to Kirby’s Fourth World with an appearance by Granny Goodness (a bit out of character and out of place here, I think) and a few mentions of Darkseid.

            Using Granny Goodness seemed an afterthought – something to link with Mr. Miracle. Any super villain could have been used. Any non-powered villain could have been used. Come to think of it, any guest star could probably have been used. Anybody can hide in a bed – you don’t have to be the World’s Greatest Escape Artist to stow away. The Marx Brothers could stow away.

            Now that would have made a fun comic…

            See what I mean by coasting?

 

Brave and Bold Mailbag (letter column): comments mainly on issue #125 and as always peppered with team-up suggestions, edited and answered by Jack C Harris. B&B’s letter columns read more like movie posters than actual letters – “Fantastic,” says Bob Rozakis of Elmont, NY; “Fair,” Keith Griffin of Mobile, Ala. writes; “Blows!” Michael Curry of St. Louis, MO shouts. This way the editors can mention twenty or more letter-writers in one issue.

            David A. Jones of Horse Cave, KY (positive)

            Jim Dever of Philadelphia, PA, Robert Gustive of Grand Island, Neb., “Hackman” of Santa Martia, CA and Joe Peluso (he contributed five total letters to the comic during its series) all ask for Aparo to draw Flash in his regular series.  I would add Aparo should draw EVERY DC series. JCH says Aparo’s schedule will nor permit it.

            Burt Fowler of Jacksonville, FL thinks Aparo’s Barry Allen looks too much like Aquaman…

Jim Planack of Poughkeepsie, NY, Scott Taylor of Portland, TX, Jerry Rosen of New York, NY, Thomas Russon of Mt. Kisco, NY and John Jesse of Hobart, IN are mentioned.

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #20: Blitzkrieg #4

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

 

* Here is a sample of sales figures published in DC’s annual “required by law” financial statement for 1976:

Brave and Bold: 151,000

Justice League of America: 193,000

World’s Finest: 132,185

Adventure Comics: 104,309

Superman: 216,122

Superman Family: 156,636