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Posts Tagged ‘DC’

  1. Wedding Bells

    August 30, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     If not for the “Imaginary Story” disclaimer or a last-minute intervention of circumstances, Superman and several of his friends might now be celebrating their 50th anniversary of marital bliss. I’m not simply referring to Superman and Lois Lane (although they were married to each other in a half-dozen or more stories in 1961) but also Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl and Lana Lang. Even Bizarro-Superman proposed to Lois Lane during one of her freakish physical transformations.

     

     

     In Action Comics #279, Superman decides that the only way Lois Lane and Lana Lang will ever stop pursuing him is if he brings back a couple of hunks from the past to marry them. Traveling through the time barrier, Superman travels to the past and brings Hercules and Samson back to modern-day Metropolis and introduces them to Lois and Lana. In short order Lois and Lana become Mrs. Hercules and Mrs. Samson repectively. Hercules spends his first day as a married man moving the home he and Lois have bought from one spot to another until Lois is finally satisfied. Meanwhile, Lana has Samson running errands like securing a mountain lion as the household pet.  Lois is so  envious of the Samsons’ exotic pet that she dispatches Hercules to the nearest zoo to steal an ostrich. Because the two women love shopping so much Hercules and Samson are each forced to hold down several jobs, none of which go very well. Samson and Hercules finally confront Superman and beg him to return them to the past. 

     

    Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #57 begins with a  splash page showing Jimmy slipping a ring on a beaming Linda (Supergirl) Danvers. As best man Superman tries to restrain his disapproval.  We soon learn that Jimmy has unwittingly beguiled Supergirl’s alter ego with a chunk of red Kryptonite. The red K causes Linda to lose her superpowers and forget she is Supergirl. When Superman returns from a mission in space he finds the two are engaged to be married.   Even though he soon figures out that red K is to blame, Superman can’t bear to break up the happy couple and the marriage goes on as planned. When the red K finally wears off Supergirl is afraid  Jimmy won’t still love her if he finds our she’s Supergirl, so she attempts to woo him as her super personae. After numerous adventures, Supergirl eventually confesses and is delighted that Jimmy has no problem being married to Linda Danvers and Supergirl.

     

    In Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane#25 Superman and Lois are married in secret so Lois won’t become a target of Superman’s enemies. Lois soon tires of this arrangement and insists that they go public. Against his better judgement, Superman agrees and the newlyweds are personally congratulated by President and Mrs. Kennedy. As soon as the couple moves from the Fortress of Solitude to the suburbs, Superman goes to work protecting his bride and new home from his enemies. When a serum to give Lois super powers doesn’t pan out, Superman creates the hilarious bullet-proof vehicle depicted on the cover. Lois soon learns that being Mrs. Superman in public is not all that it’s cracked up to be and admits that Superman was right to want to keep their marriage secret. But the cat was already out of the bag, so she would just have to live with the situation along with her super smug hubby.

     


  2. Yes Jane, There is a Paradise Island

    August 19, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     From the letters page of Wonder Woman #125 (1961):

    Dear Wonder Woman:

         I am the president of our Wonder Woman Fan Club and we would like to know if it would be possible to visit Paradise Island during summer vacation.

    Jane Hanis, Oakland, Cal.

    Dear Jane:

         Paradise Island, the secret home of the Amazons, is fictitious. If it weren’t, and were open to the public, it would no longer be a secret, would it?

    Wonder Woman

     

     

    Dear Jane:

    My name is the Belated Nerd and I would first like to apologize for not writing you sooner to correct a lie told to you fifty years ago. Second, I want to assure you that the reply to your letter above was NOT written by Wonder Woman. As I’m sure you are aware, Wonder Woman and the other superheroes you used to read about when you were a kid (and perhaps still do) are kept very busy protecting us from the forces of evil. Because of this they are unable to respond to letters like yours personally. Even though they often write as if they are the heroes themselves, it is the comic book editors who actually write the replies found on “Wonder Woman’s Clubhouse” page and other comic book letter columns. The name of the editor who answered your letter back in 1961 was a guy named Bob Kanigher.

    Jane, Bob Kanigher is wrong! He has been affected by the skepticism that often comes with age. Which is a scary thing for a man who writes and edits comic books. Yes, Jane,  there is a Paradise Island. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

    Now that we have settled that, I’ll refrain from further plagiarizing Francis P. Church and give you an example of how an editor more sensitive than cranky old Bob might have responded to your letter.

    Dear Jane:

    I spoke to Wonder Woman about your request and she said that as much as she’d like to give you a tour of her homeland, it would simply be too dangerous for a young mortal like yourself. You see, the women who live there are very fond of a sport called “bullets and bracelets”. This means there is almost a constant rain of ricocheting projectiles on Paradise Island. Any visitor lacking Wonder Woman’s bracelet skills would soon be reduced to swiss cheese.  ‘Nuff said. 

     


  3. Pick a New Hair Style for Linda (Supergirl) Lee

    August 17, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     

    In the summer of 1961, readers of Action Comics #273 were asked to help choose a new hair style for Supergirl‘s secret identity, Linda Lee Danvers. Although the new hairstyle only meant that the golden-haired Kryptonian would be wearing a different brunette wig, readers took their mission seriously and over 20,000 votes were cast!

    The results of the reader poll were finally revealed in Action Comics #281 with “campus cuddle-bun” as the winner. I may be belated in many things, but I was rooting for the last place “contempo cut”.

     


  4. 10¢ Comic Books: The Long Road to Extinction

    August 6, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Comic books had cost 10 cents for as long as anyone could remember. Famous Funnies, the first true American comic book, sold for 10 cents and established a price point that would stand for almost thirty years.  The 10 cent comic book even survived the period of 25% inflation after World War Two that almost cost President Truman his job.

    By the late 1950s, it must have seemed almost inconceivable to comic book readers that a normal-sized comic book could cost anything other than a dime. Sure, there were 15, 20, and 25 cent “Giant Size” comic books, but the price increase was always proportional to the extra content. A 25¢ Giant-Size book would have (at a minimum) as many pages as two-and-a-half 10¢ books.

    So, it must have been with no small amount of trepidation that comic book readers noticed the inclusion of the single word “Still” set before the 10¢ price on the cover of a February 1959 issue of Chip ‘n’ Dale.  In fact, the word was on the covers of all of Dell’s comic books. Unlike most comic book companies, Dell books were populated by characters licensed from movie and television companies like Walt Disney (Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and the very popular Scrooge McDuck) , MGM (Tom & Jerry), Warner Brothers (Bugs Bunny), and Universal TV (Wagon Train). Apparently, Dell realized early on that the time was nearing when they could no longer make  a profit on a ten-cent book and pay royalties.  Surprisingly, the Dell books were “Still 10¢” for another two years!

    One month before Dell finally raised its cover prices to 15 cents in early 1961, DC comics started sporting the “STILL 10¢” price on all of their covers.  DC didn’t have the same problem with royalties that Dell had (Superman creator Jerry Siegel was still writing uncredited DC comics for scale!), but they didn’t want a cover price differential to imply that their characters were less popular. DC had as many iconic characters as Dell; why should Mickey Mouse rate a higher price than Superman?

    A month after the Dell price hike, Charlton Comics pasted a “STILL 10¢” spash right on top of every title. This was a bold move for a company that had a reputation for turning out some of the shoddiest low quality pulp in an industry filled with shoddy, low quality pulp. Throughout the rest of 1961, other comic book companies were content to leave their 10¢ cover text unadulterated; even Atlas/Marvel which could usually be counted on to jump on whatever bandwagon DC was riding. Despite Dell’s price increase and the ominous “STILL 10¢” on the covers of at least two companies’ books, readers (save those who were exclusively Dell readers) continued to enjoy comics for the price of a dime for another six months. By the end of the summer of ’61, DC had even dropped the “Still” from the 10 cent price!

    This lasted until December when Action Comics #283 displayed something nobody could remember ever seeing before: A 12¢ price tag! Was this a good thing or a bad thing? It was an increase, but it wasn’t nearly as big a bump as Dell’s, and DC had given fair warning earlier in the year. A kid’s 25¢ allowence would still buy two comics although a few penny candies would have to be sacrificed.  If the price increase prompted any real outrage at the time, I’m unable to find evidence of it.

    The rest of DC’s titles began selling for 12¢ the same month Action did and the following month Archie Comics followed suit with all of their teen titles. That same month, Harvey Comics (Blondie, Casper, Baby Huey) adopted the ominous “STILL 1o¢” cover text.  Encouraged by the sales of the first two issues of Fantastic Four more than any lingering inclination to follow industry trends, Marvel jacked their prices up to 12¢ in February 1962 foregoing the  ”STILL 10¢” preamble. Harvey went to 12¢ a mere month after they first bragged that they were “still” ten cents and  Charlton and every other comic book company made the change by March, 1962.  It wouldn’t be until the end of the decade that companies felt confident enough to raise their price as high as Dell’s 15¢.


  5. What was Lois Lane up to 50 Years Ago?

    August 4, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     

    Since becoming a self-appointed anthropologist of 1961 pop culture, I’ve taken to asking myself a lot of “I-wonder-what-(fill in the blank)-was-like-50-years-ago” type questions. When somebody on the radio pondered, “What ever happened to Margot Kidder?” I somehow scrambled that into “What was Lois Lane up to 50 years ago?”

    Well, here we go…What’s that? You read the panel on the left and you already know that an evolution ray turned Lois into a big-headed, bald freak that only a Bizarro-Superman could love? Today’s blog post is going to be a breeze!

    The first story in Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #27 (Aug. 1961) is entitled “Lois Lane’s Super-Brain”.  Lois is assigned to interview a scientist who has invented something called a brain bank. The machine collects the wisdom and knowledge of great people and has already absorbed the intelligence of hundreds of famous people. After Lois  interviews some of the famous scientists and mathematicians contributing their vast knowledge to be stored in the machine, Lois puts the machine on her head to pose for a picture. Inadvertently, she hits the reverse switch and all the knowledge stored in the machine is stuffed into Lois’s brain.

    The next morning…you read the panel? Okay, so, Lois has this big bald head and no matter what kind of wig or hat she wears, she just can’t keep it a secret from the public. Just like any right-thinking minor celebrity, Lois flees to Las Vegas where she uses her super brain to win back a young couple’s losses at a roulette table and her giant noggin to win first prize at a science fiction convention costume contest. Bizarro-Superman then shows up and…yeah.

    As often happens in Lois Lane stories Superman comes to the rescue and…just read the panel (drawn by the under appreciated Kurt Schaffenberger).  Bizarro-Superman returns with flowers and a wedding ring but is repulsed by Lois’ normal good looks.

    By the way, Margot Kidder is doing just fine.