The year of the comics
It’s Jerry Grayson’s fault. He knows all these people with opinions about comics and culture, and as the geek social fallacies would advise, said, “Hey, if I get all my friends together, they’ll be friends too!!” Which actually worked this time, for a jam let’s-all-try-it discussion for his own 1972 Project.
It helps to have a project in which we’re individually invested without needing approval from the others. In this case, it’s Jerry’s fancy name for spending money on lots of comics because they happen to have been published during the year he was born. The name sort of expands though because we’re looking at Lindsay Hanlon (1988), Jason Tondro (1968), and me (1964) as well. As a special bonus detail, the day of this posting also happens to be my actual birthday as well, so, um, well, that’s not actually significant, but I like it anyway.
Watch the video! The other people are full of ideas and quite funny, and I am at least tolerable. Along with each of us musing over birth-year comics (e.g. The Killing Joke for Lindsay, Captain America #100 for Jason, the launch of Hero for Hire for Jerry, and Fantastic Four Annual #2 for me), you also get spontaneous multi-mind sessions about fridging, the New Gods, and black heroes.
Hey – try it. The internet is pretty good about the relevant searches. List a few titles for yourself in the comments! You get to be scholarly and self-indulgent at the same time, ‘sfun!
Links: Khepera Publishing (Jerry’s company)
Posted on September 4, 2018, in Commerce, Politics dammit, The 70s me, The 80s me and tagged A Face Like Mine, Bill Foster, Black Goliath, Doctor Doom, Godnose, Jack Kirby, Jason Tondro, Jerry Grayson, Kim Yale, Lindsay Hanlon, Luke Cage, New Gods, Oracle, Robert Crumb, The 1972 Project, The Killing Joke, Venom, Watchmen, X-Men: Inferno, Zap Comix. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
Happy birthday! Also, apparently you were born on what’s recently become Argentina’s Comics Day https://static.vix.com/es/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/btg/comics.batanga.com/files/dia_historieta_1.jpg?itok=aWHl3MPK
so happy Día de la Historieta as well!
I started watching the video last night and will finish shortly. The idea is awesome. Will comment & add examples of my own year, 1987. Later!
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My year is 1961. This is the year that the Marvel revolution started — Fantastic Four #1 came out when I was four months old.
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It urns out you can go one better and get it down to the MONTH.
Avengers #57, first appearance of the Vision!
Brother Power the Geek #1 (!!!)
Daredevil #45 with the pop-art cover with the Statue of Liberty background
Incredibly Hulk Annual #1 (It’s that iconic Steranko cover with the Severin retouch)
Mysterious Suspense #1 (Return of the Question by DItko)
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #115 (one of the internet-famous ‘Superman is a dick’ covers, where he’s only got enough water for Jimmy or Aquaman as they crawl to him in the desert(!?!))
Uncanny X-Men #49 (First Appearance of Polaris, iconic cover by Steranko)
Wonder Woman #178 (First appearance of the ‘mod’ Diana, out of costume and wearing ‘the latest fashions’.)
As a YEAR, 1968 is an embarrassment of riches:
Carmine Infantino gets the go-ahead at DC to clean house
Zap Comics #1 in February
March: Debut of Ditko’s Creeper
April: Tales of Suspense changes to Captain America and the spin-off Iron Man book gets its own #1
Tales to Astonish becomes The Incredible Hulk, Namor the Sub-Mariner gets his own book.
May: First Neal Adams Batman pencils
June: Strange Tales changes to Dr Strange. Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD solo book launches, and Steranko is in the mid-point of his nova-like ascension (and equally quick burnout)
July: Franklin is introduced in Peanuts
The Avengers are on a white-hot tear with the Roy Thomas/Buscema stuff, and Lee’Kirby (though probably mostly Kirby, right?) FF is an ongoing masterpiece. (They introduce Annihilus in FF Annual #6)
Marvel also launched Captain Marvel and the short-lived by fondly-remembered Silver Surfer double-sized solo book.
1968 character debuts: Whitney Frost (!), Mephisto, The Badoon, Franklin Richards(!), and of course Ultron (introduced in the same Avengers issue as the Vision)
It’s a high-water mark for supehrero stuff at Marvel, just before the Cosmic Zap stuff starts to appear, the last hurrah of the Lee/Kirby era before it turns sour and Jack bolts for DC in 1970. You can see the transition to the younger writers and artists happening before your eyes. It’ll take a few years for DC to catch up, but Infantino is lining it up already, and pretty soon we’ll see Hard-Travelling Heroes and bugfuck Spectre. Good times.
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In the video, Jason presents for 1968 and mentions some of the same things, especially the title shifts at Marvel, Franklin, and the last really powerful moments of Kirby at 60s Marvel. Coincidentally, he also took it to his own month (April) for more detail. I mention the shift in editor policy and overall direction at DC, as a component of the Warner Bros merger.
I finished watching this video on the same week my students asked me for a class on the history of comics – centered around the comics from Argentina, since one of them is filming a short documentary on the subject. And this video really helped inform that class, procedurally – I had asked them to bring comics from their own personal libraries, that they’d like to see placed in a bigger scheme. When we reached the 90s, I started to ask them for recollections of their own personal lives, since they (we) had lived through the following decades.
It’s really useful to focus, as you guys ultimately did, on a shared cultural background starting by personal jumping off points. Especially when, as in this case, the difference in ages means some of you were buying the comics as teens while the others were being born. I’m really loving this idea of the year when one was born – not too close, not too far away from one’s perspective, striking exactly at that part of “identity/background” one’s not entirely conscious of.
I haven’t had the time to properly assess my year yet – but of course I did look at what the cover of the main comics magazine was in the month I was worn, and well: https://ilustracionargentina.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/00129.jpg
It took me a while to realize that… Damn, she’s JUST welded HIM. The 80s were something.
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Oh! NSFW, I guess.
The 1972 project: Santiago Verón. 1987, La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina
Historical note: The capital of the Buenos Aires province used to be the better known city of Buenos Aires. However, this resulted in way too much power for a single region, which was in charge of both the country’s single port and its most fertile, arable land. After trying to become an independent state from the rest of Argentina and losing the inevitable civil war, the city of Buenos Aires was declared to be a federal district. The province of Buenos Aires received a different capital, a city built from the ground up to fulfill this purpose, called La Plata. 105 years later, I was born there.
This year marked the 30 year anniversary of El Eternauta, our single most important comic, and the 10th anniversary of its writer’s disappearance. (As in, abducted and tortured by the 70s dictatorship. And murdered, but I shouldn’t be saying that, you never say out loud that the disappeared are dead: they’re disappeared until the State provides you with a body.) Argentina was just recovering from said dictatorship, having lost a war against the British in 1982 and regained democracy in 1983. The single most important comics venue was the monthly magazine Fierro, which had the subtitle “Comics For Survivors”. At its helm and in its pages were the men (and a few women, but it was a real boys’ club) that strove to be the new generation of Argentina’s comic creators. They wrote the first History of Argentine comics. They reprinted the stories they grew up reading in the 50s, all written by El Eternauta’s author, and it was thus that Héctor Oesterheld became canonized, our Lee/Kirby, our Ozamu Tezuka. They rejected the popular comics of Columba, the biggest comics publisher of Argentina’s history, which published weekly magazines non stop from the 1930s well into the 90s. Columba was simpler, more conservative, and it had found no problems to continue on making comics under the dictatorship. The Fierro people positioned themselves as the voice that was allowed to speak again after decades of silence.
I’ve never liked them much. I can enjoy 50s Oesterheld, and 60s-to-90s Columba, but Fierro is just… I mean, I devour every piece they’ve written ABOUT comics. But the comics they did are so… So European 80s. I hate that stuff. Moebius looks beautiful but makes me feel like I’ve oversugared a pastry, Corben is just raw. Everything feels overdone. There’s titties everywhere. Everything may turn out to have been made of plastic and circuits and cogs, and drips slime. Nothing is for kids. Nothing is fun. Everything is purported to be taking the mask off the bourgeois, but it’s just as bourgeois.
These are thoughts I’ve never dared to speak out loud, so thanks to The 1972 Project for that.
The name Fierro, however, is beautifully chosen. It’s one of those words that accompany a country’s slang for centuries. It can mean knife, shiv, a metal protrusion, gun. It’s the surname of the hero of what we consider our country’s first work is literature, a gaucho epic about a renegade who deserts the army. It’s a deformation of the word hierro, which I guess takes it back to its Latin ferro. If you know your periodical table, you already know what Fe means: iron. So the message is clear: France came up with Metal Hurlant, then the US took notice and made Heavy Metal, and now we’re joining in with our Fierro.
This has been long enough, so I’m going to leave it at this for now. When I get some time again, I’m gonna put up some images of both Fierro and Columba during 1987, so you can compare and contrast. Also I’ll peek a bit at what the Americans and Japanese were doing, so I can mention something someone reading this already knows. See you!
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Small corrections: The proper Latin is ferrum. Richard Corben is American. I meant to write “our first work of literature”, not “work is”. “Arable land” is fine, but the real money was on raising cattle.
Here are some images of Columba in 1987. Some of this material was published, almost at the same time, in Italy and Spain. Also neighboring countries like Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, etc.
Here are some images of Fierro in 1987. Some of this material was published, almost simultaneously, in Spain and France.
And now, Japan: It is with great pleasure that I find out that, on the day before the one I was born, Saint Seiya published the tankoubon where Ikki, knight of the phoenix, reveals himself, in what constitutes the first big plot twist of the story. It’s the story’s first villain, who, as the brother of one of the heroes, would become one of its greatest allies. I haven’t read the comic, but everyone my age in Latin America grew up with the anime. It was a bigger hit here than in USA or Japan. Though I bet the Spaniards and Italians were also very into it.
Finally, USA: I was delighted to find out 1987 was the year Byrne started his Superman ongoing series. Turns out his ‘Man Of Steel’ was a self contained reboot story from 1985. Why did they take two years to start an ongoing series? I got to read some of these stories in a book published around 1994, which had a photo cover of the ‘Lois & Clark’ TV show, which I loved. ‘The Comics That Inspired The Hit TV Series’!
That’s what you got in the newsstands in mid-90s Argentina when searching for comics. A book published by a Mexican company, with the cover of an American TV series, with content from an American comic much older. (Well, in retrospect, 1987 isn’t that far from 1994, right? I’ve just realized it felt that way because of my age at the time.) With our government aligned with the neoliberal economies of the IMF and Clinton, not taxing imports, local production couldn’t compete all across the board. It was the end for both Columba AND Fierro. The 1980s were, in many ways, the last decade of Argentine comics.
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