From the inside front cover of every DC comic book to hit the stands in December, 1961:
Posts Tagged ‘DC’
December 31, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
November 15, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
From Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #30:
“Lois Lane, Daily Planet reporter, has braved a thousand dangers without fear for her life! And why? Because she knows that, like a circus acrobat, she always has a ‘safety net’ under her that will prevent her from being killed! Lois’ ‘net’, of course, is Superman who usually keeps an eye on his reckless reporter girl friend! But one day, shockingly, Superman loses interest in saving the impetuous newshawk! It is then that the Planet’s star reporter faces certain doom on the fateful day…WHEN SUPERMAN ABANDONED LOIS LANE!”
It’s a busy day for Lois Lane. On her schedule: She must get a manicure before attending dinner with boss Perry White and his wife. Then she needs to acquire a window cleaner’s uniform so she can spy on mobster Phil the Wrecker (who she just happens to be scheduled to give evidence against at trial.) Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen warn her of how dangerous her plans are (the spying, not the dinner party) but Lois insists that she can always count on Superman to save her if things get dicey. As usual, things don’t go according to plan. Her magnificently manicured fingernails alert Wrecker’s gang that the person outside their window can’t be a a real window cleaner, but is in fact a GIRL!
Wrecker and his gang see their opportunity to rid themselves a witness in his upcoming trial and unclip Lois’ safety belt. Superman arrives in the nick of time before Lois and her fresh manicure make contact with the sidewalk below. Superman lets Lois know that he is fed up with her recklessness and that he might not always be able to come to her rescue. Knowing Lois has not been sufficiently chastised by his lecture, Superman knows it’s time to teach Lois another lesson.
The next day, Clark and Lois visit a local dog show where Lois spots a drug smuggler making a drop. She ignores Clark’s suggestion that they alert the police and let them handle it, and pursues the criminal herself. Spotted by the smuggler, Lois nonchalantly buys a chocolate pop from an ice cream vendor. Before she can take a bite, a large black dog snatches the pop from Lois’ hand and gobbles it down. The dog suddenly convulses and collapses, whereupon Clark announces that the dog is dead and that the ice cream must have been poisoned. And Superman wasn’t there to help her if it had been her instead of the dog who swallowed the poisoned ice cream pop. We soon learn that the dog was Superman’s friend Krypto in disguise and that the whole thing was part of Clark/ Superman’s campaign to get Lois to stop thinking she can always count on Superman to come to the rescue.
As Superman and all the readers know, one lesson is never sufficient for Lois (three lessons are the accepted minimum). Just before scuba diving for a murder weapon, Lois is warned that the local waters are infested with killer octopi. Sure that Superman will save her if she gets in trouble Lois dives to the sea floor where she is almost immediately seized by the eight tentacles of a giant octopus. Once again, Superman does not come to her rescue. Only the timely distraction of another swimmer saves her from being eaten by the creature. It turns out that Superman called in a favor from Aquaman (the other swimmer) and his friend Topo the octopus.
Lesson number three occurs at a recently burglarized fur warehouse where Lois gets herself locked in cold storage. Clark waits outside monitoring Lois’ condition with his x-ray vision. Not until Lois has almost frozen to death does Clark (not Superman) free her from the deep freeze.
Finally convinced that Superman has abandoned her, Lois notifies Perry White that she won’t accept any more dangerous assignments. Clark can barely suppress his pleasure with the success of his campaign but Jimmy Olsen is worried for Lois’ safety since she is due to testify against Wrecker and his gang the next day.
Jimmy’s fears are realized when Lois is met in her apartment that evening by Wrecker and his gang. Almost immediately, “Superman” appears and the crooks flee after their bullets bounce off of his chest. Lois is thrilled that Superman hasn’t abandoned her after all, and declares she will now return to taking whatever chances are necessary secure in the knowledge that Superman will always be there to protect her. No sooner does Lois rush downstairs to pursue her would be attackers, the real Superman arrives to confront his doppelgänger who turns out to be Jimmy Olsen wearing his Superman disguise and a bulletproof vest. Alas, all of Superman’s efforts to teach Lois a lesson have been for naught.
November 11, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Okay, it’s probably a typo (Wikipedia assures me that DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes is from the 30th Century) but everything else about this extra from Superman Annual #4 is very informative, especially for someone like me who grew up reading mostly Marvel books (where one might win a no-prize for correcting such a millennial flub).
October 18, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Not that I ever need an excuse to revisit the goofy world of Lois Lane in 1961, but yesterday was Margot Kidder’s birthday and I feel kind of bad that I didn’t post this installment of “What was Lois Lane up to 50 Years Ago” a day earlier. This story is one that was somehow overlooked when I posted about DC weddings a few weeks ago.
In Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #28 (October, 1961) we find a story called “Lois Lane, Gun-Moll”.
“There’s an old theory that, as in the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — each person has two personalities — one good, one evil — and that they battle for control until one dominates the other! Theory…or fact? You’ll soon see for yourself, as you watch a familiar friend change from good to evil — from reporter to robber — to become known as the notorious… Lois Lane, Gun-Moll!“
Of course, Lois’ reaction to the ray is only delayed. When it kicks in, Perry and Jimmy are the first to observe Lois in her new “evil” persona. Lois’ sister and roomie, Lucy also notices a difference.
While snooping around in Lois’ room Lucy discovers some stolen jewelry and realizes that Lois is moonlighting as Metropolis’ newest super-villainess, the Leopard Lady. Lois chloroforms her sister and (after punching Lucy’s boyfriend Jimmy Olsen in the nose) takes her back to the Leopard Lady’s secret lair where Lois and her gang are planning their next job.
The robbery at the Daily Planet is interrupted by Superman in his guise as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Kent pretends to be knocked unconscious when Leopard Lady Lois cracks him in the head with the butt of a tommy-gun, and then follows Lois and her gang back to their hideout. Superman quickly takes out Lois’ two goons but Lois lays him low with a boulder made of synthetic kryptonite. While Superman struggles against the effects of the kryptonite, Lois informs him that she’s sick of waiting around for him to return her love and has found a new man…Lex Luthor! Lois and Luthor announce their intention to be married and make a quick exit before the synthetic kryptonite wears off.
True to their promise, the next day, the self-proclaimed King and Queen of Crime are married on the steps of city hall where a force field prevents the police or Superman from doing anything about it. As the justice of the peace asks if anyone objects to the union, Superman pounds on the force field screaming, “I object! I do! If only I could batter through!” After the justice proclaims Mr. and Mrs. Lex Luthor man and wife, Lois turns to Superman and sneers, “Hear that, Superman? That makes it official! You had your chance to marry me, but you muffed it!” The force dome explodes and the newlyweds make their escape. Superman is so dejected, even Lana Lang doesn’t want to exploit the mopey superhero’s new relationship status.
Meanwhile back at the hideout Lex Luthor and his gang are yucking it up over the look on Superman’s face at the wedding. The merriment is short-lived as Superman bursts through the door and turns to Lois still in her bridal gown and proclaims, “There is evil in you Lois, an evil that must be destroyed — burned out!” Superman then uses his heat-ray vision to…reduce Lois Lane to a pile of ashes!
Relax! It was a robot Lois Lane all along!
October 12, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
I love superhero origin stories; even those that never went anywhere. My thanks to the posters at the DC Comics Time Capsule for this page scan from House of Mystery #117 (1961). Besides the human light bulb, the George Roussos drawn story, “The Three Who Changed” also featured a human acetylene torch and a human grasshopper.
October 10, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
When The Brave and the Bold #35 came out in the Spring of 1961, readers noticed something a little different about the letters page; the full address of each letter writer was printed under their name. Armed with this resource, two young comic book fans, Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas, quickly established a network through which they could distribute their new fanzine, Alter-Ego.
In November 1960, Roy Thomas wrote DC comics inquiring about back issues of All-Star Comics. DC editor Julius Schwartz forwarded Thomas’ inquiry to All-Star writer Gardner Fox who replied that he had sold his bound volumes of the title to a fan in Detroit named Jerry Bails. Thomas secured Bails’ address and an extensive correspondence between the two fans ensued. The result, several months later, was the creation of a fanzine and a comic book fan network the like of which hadn’t really existed for the medium since the days of EC’s Fan-Addicts.
Letters from Bails and Thomas were frequently found in the letters pages of DC titles during 1961. (Marvel wouldn’t introduce letters pages until 1962). Most important of these for the future of fandom was a letter from Thomas printed in Justice League of America #8 near the end of the year, in which Julie Schwartz allowed him to pitch the new fanzine.
Schwartz’s reply is interesting. One wonders why the originators of Science Fiction fanzines (a first usually credited to Raymond A. Palmer) hadn’t promoted or encouraged such an endeavour for comic books sooner. Perhaps the printing of letter writers’ addresses was intended to achieve that goal all along. If so, I salute the subtle marketing skills being exercised at DC fifty years ago.
September 22, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
I can’t tell you how tempting it was to title this post “Who was Lois Lane Doing 50 years Ago?” This Curt Swan cover from Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #29 (Nov. 1961) depicting Lois being gang-kissed by the Justice League of America is perhaps one of the most disturbing images to come out of comicdom in 1961. The expressions of sexual urgency on the faces of Aquaman and Batman are exquisitely rendered. Aquaman’s impatience is palpable. And Batman appears more than a little conflicted about being in the position of partaking in Aquaman’s sloppy seconds. However, as animalistic as their urges may be, the heroes still have the decency to form a proper line. I doubt any member of Hell’s Angels would display such classy comportment.
September 17, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
The Superman comic strip ran in as many as 300 papers daily from 1939 to 1966. Readership at the peak of the strip’s popularity was over 20 million. In the early Sixties, storylines ran to about forty 3-panel daily strips. Although some famous comic book characters like Lex Luthor and Mister Mxyzptlk debuted in the strip, by 1961 the strip’s stories were being lifted from 3-year-old Superman comic books. The artwork was new and the scripts were tweaked to fit the storytelling conventions of a daily strip, but the plots were lifted wholesale from the comic book.
The story arc that ran from August 14, 1961 – September 16, 1961, was adapted from a story (“The Super-Luck of Badge 77″) in Superman #133 (Nov. 1959). In that story, Clark Kent’s boss, Perry White sends Clark undercover as a police officer. Otto Binder wrote the original story for the comic book but I don’t know if it was he who adapted it to the strip. I believe the artist is Wayne Boring. If not, I’m sure someone with a better eye will clue me in soon. Here are a few strips from that arc. If you want to know why badge 77 was so lucky, just turn the numbers upside-down to see whose initials are displayed.
The whole story arc can be read here
September 16, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
There were several comic books in the early Sixties that included tales of both magic and science fiction, but the two genres were rarely combined into an individual story. An exception was the DC title House of Secrets which between 1959 and 1965 featured a magician named Mark Merlin. Mark Merlin was a supernatural sleuth (think Doctor Strange, except more sensibly dressed) who lived in a mansion he inherited from his stage magician uncle. The mansion was located on Mystery Hill and contained a vast collection of occult books and artifacts. Defying all expectations from an expert in the supernatural, Merlin would use these tools to battle extraterrestrial threats to Earth far more often than he used them to thwart villains with an occult bent. Along for the ride was Merlin’s beautiful blond secretary and girlfriend, Elsa Magusson.
Mark Merlin was created and drawn by Mort Meskin, however, as with My Greatest Adventure, the covers were all done by the prolific Dick Dillin. Here is the 1961 cover gallery for House of Secrets:
September 9, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
My Greatest Adventure was a DC science fiction and fantasy anthology series similar to the ones that dominated the Atlas/Marvel line in the early Sixties. Along with two other DC titles, Tales of the Unexplained and Strange Adventures, MGA‘s covers were filled with alien and supernatural menace. Although he drew none of the interior artwork (that was done by Will Ely, George Roussos, Lee Elias and others) every MGA cover in 1961 was drawn by Dick Dillin. Dillin cut his teeth on titles like Blackhawk (Quality Comics) in the early Fifties. After Quality Comics went out of business he was delighted to find that DC had bought the rights to Blackhawk and were looking for an artist. It was while performing the duties of full-time artist for Blackhawk (covers and interiors) that Dillin added a few bucks to his paycheck by drawing the covers below. Dick Dillin would gain fame a decade later with his unprecedented run on Justice League of America between 1968 and 1980.