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Author Topic: More info on Superman's new continuity  (Read 31522 times)
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2007, 04:53:34 AM »

I still disagree...how can you base research on letter columns? First of all, they are a self-selected group of people who are already fans, secondly, they are then picked by editors of the comics themselves.  A group that is self-selected is a poor representation of the thinking of any time.

My thinking isn't based on my experience at the spinner racks in 1968 as much as its based on the fact that these comics sold in incredible numbers but are actually relatively rare today - suggesting that most kids read them and their mothers tossed them.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 04:55:57 AM by MatterEaterLad » Logged
TELLE
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« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2007, 08:56:32 AM »

Julian, I missed you!

The name of the work escapes me (it was one of those slim "coffee table" overviews of comics heroes), but there was the interesting claim that a major portion of the audience of the Silver Age JLA (and a big reason for that book's unreal popularity) were adults who remembered the original JSA, as well as the original characters the JLAers were Silver Age variations of. These guys were thrilled to see the heroes of their youth in action again.

The Golden Age of Comics Fandom is a good source for this sort of testifying.

Quote from: TELLE
In 1986 I remember feeling, "Thanks Rao, I don't have to read superhero comics anymore and have my heart broken when a writer or artist leaves my fave series or a new artist who I used to like comes on board and radically changes everything the last team did."


I'm calling B.S. on that, because at the time Crisis happened, it wasn't immediately known what the DC Universe was going to look like, and certainly not enough was known to have a giant drama "I AM LEAVING COMICS FOREVER" fagsplosion. At least, for those of us without psychic powers.

...

What's more, at the time when CRISIS happened, it just wasn't a big deal. I've mentioned this before, but a friend of mine told me that when CRISIS came out, nobody cared because everyone was paying attention to SECRET WARS.

Heh.  Well, I'm telling you different.  I read Crisis. It actually got me interested in Dc for the first time since my early 80s Teen Titans kick.  Gave the new Superman and Wonder Women books the benefit of the doubt --wasn't 100% soured on Byrne and didn't have anything against Perez at all.  Byrne quickly infuriated me --I read most of MOS and some Supermans and Action team-ups.  These were among the last super-hero comics I read on a reg basis.  Dabbled with Nexus.  Read some Miller, Moore, and Chaykin.  But for the most part switched to older comics, alt comics or new graphic novels.  While not 100% accurate to say Crisis turned me off supers, 1986 was certainly a turning point in my reading habits.  That, and getting a girlfriend.





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nightwing
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« Reply #42 on: June 01, 2007, 01:30:42 PM »

Aldous writes:

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And frankly, anything that comes out of Stan Lee's mouth is suspect by definition.

Maybe. If you're talking about Stan's shameless promotion of his company back in Marvel's heyday, I don't agree, because I doubt if anyone with half a brain didn't realise he was being provocative and outrageous. And it worked.

Well I didn't mean to say that Stan's a pathological liar necessarily, in the way Jack Kirby for example might have alleged.  What I meant was that Stan is an habitual pitch man who's "on" 24/7...he's "Funky Flashman."  He developed a style of patter in those early Marvels and I don't think he could turn it off now if he wanted to.

But my point was that Stan was forever talking up his books as the greatest thing since Homer, and I think the first generation of Marvel fans understood that was part of their charm...the insane sense of bravado from this little upstart company that dared to poke the Distinguished Competition in the eye.  Let's face it, labeling the Fantastic Four "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" way back on Issue #4 (!) was akin to a kid adorning his lemonade stand with a banner reading, "More Popular Than Coca-Cola!"

I think over time either Stan started to believe his own hype or, more likely, the popularity of the books took away any sense of irony.  Spider-Man started as, essentially, a parody of super-heroes (Powers from a spider-bite?  A costume that won't stay sewed together? Etc) but as he became the flagship character of the line, what was fun became heavy, and the soap-operatics went from humorous (Ha! He has to run away from Doc Ock to get Aunt May's prescription before the drug store closes!) to out-and-out sturm und drang.  Similarly, I maintain that early Marvel, pretending to be the biggest kid on the block when it was really just a pipsqueak with a lot of wit and pluck, gave way to 70s-and on Marvel, which really WAS the big kid on the block and hardly any fun at all.  When an Underdog is full of bravado and boasts, he's charming.  When the guy on top talks the same way, he's a braggart and a bore.

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His behaviour was backed up by the quality of the comic books; in some cases, exceptional quality. Your analysis ("post-Modern irony") is really interesting as always, but there is enough of a history in place now, not wholly from Marvel, to suggest they WERE very big among college people, particularly (maybe even only) "The Amazing Spider-Man". I don't relate to that personally because I was never an American college student.

Well, of course at the time they wouldn't have had the term "post-Modern irony," but what you see in Marvel for the first time anywhere is an acknowledgment by the storytellers -- and to a certain extent the characters -- that these are comic books; that both we and they know the "rules" of the genre, and that with this knowledge, this shared understanding between reader and storyteller and even character, comes the ability to play around a bit, to tell stories that "break the rules", confound expectations and upend convention. What if the bad guys get away sometimes?  What if the hero is a loser plagued by bad luck?  What if the "good guys" are so petulant and thin-skinned they fight each other as much as the villain?  What if a "monster" was really a hero?  And so on.  I wasn't around in 1961, but I imagine reading early Marvels made you feel SMART, and that's why some readers held onto the hobby...or resumed it...through their college years.  If you look at the basic concepts, they're as silly as any comics: people in long underwear fighting aliens and monsters and mad scientists (and each other), but Stan found a way to make it seem less silly, or perhaps more accurately to make silliness acceptable.  He found a style that said, "This stuff is completely ridiculous...and isn't it great?" 

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You may be too smart for your own good, because young college students would have read those comics, when they first came out, without your insights, at your age and experience, and in the 21st Century. I have recently been reading (yet again) "The Amazing Spider-Man" from the 1960s and very early 70s (up till the death of the Goblin), and I am struck (again) by how exceptionally good those comics are. I could read them for the soap value alone, with Peter and Harry, Mary Jane and Flash, and (sob) Gwen, not to mention all the other crazy characters and their twisted relationships -- Osborn Senior springing to mind.

Well I read the early Spideys in the mid-70s (thanks to those wonderful pocket-size reprints) and I agree they read great and look even better (though I'd gladly forego the soap opera junk you seem to love).  I think the Lee/Ditko run is probably the best stuff Marvel ever did, but I lost interest quickly after that.

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They're just a good read, plain and simple, and they are definitely works of art. I sincerely doubt that any 1960s college student ever held up a Spidey comic in class and said, "Hey, dad, dig this post-Modern irony!" More likely a college student had Spidey comics because they were just great comics. The proof is there, Nightwing; anyone can read those same comic books and see for themselves.

Yeah, they're good, but back to my point: college kids may pride themselves on their "individuality" or whatever but ultimately they're no less susceptible to peer pressure than anyone else...adults included.  No matter how good Marvel comics were, no college kid would've been caught dead reading them (instead of say, Playboy, Rolling Stone or the Village Voice) unless there was a perception they were somehow "cool."  And I think what made them cool was the perception that they were, in their harmless way, anti-establishment, subversive and hip.  They took a genre that had been aimed at celebrating authority and the sort of ideals your parents would approve of and filled it with characters and concepts that were trippy, stylish and smart-alecky and a universe that was, ultimately, kind of morally ambiguous.  The leap from The Lone Ranger to Spider-Man was startlingly huge, and probably very appealing to young adults who couldn't connect at all with the Eisenhower era definition of "superhero."

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And you are right that Marvel wasn't taking it too seriously, but that was obvious, and Stan never kept it a secret, let's face it. It was ticking over nicely till the Goblin's actions put an end to Marvel's Silver Age in '73.

Yeah, that's about when I lost interest.  I still have that comic, though it looks like it was run through a thresher.

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I think if you and Nightwing believe that young children bought 1960s Marvels, and college-age youths did not, based on your own experiences at the local spinner rack, that is OK.

I didn't say college kids didn't read Marvel, even if I never saw them at the racks.  I do in fact believe that the phenomenon of older readers really took off (and maybe was born) out of Marvel comics for the reasons outlined above. I think early Marvel appealed to different ages for the same reasons the Batman TV show did; younger fans could take it as straight action, older ones could appreciate the in-jokes. 

What I said was that all my life, my fellow comics shoppers have looked like me.  When I was little, so were they, and now that I'm getting on in years, they are too.  To a point, that's cool; I don't have to feel self-concious browsing the racks beside a pack of grade-schoolers.  But eventually you have to step back and say, "Hey, what happens when we're gone?"

I still remember taking my (then) 10-year-old brother-in-law to a comics convention and how excited the pros were to see a kid, any kid, show up.  They all talked to him, gave him free comics and drew him free sketches.  Obviously he loved it, but it was still kind of sad in a way; I really don't think a lot of pros get into the business hoping to impress other people their age.  I think they get in because they felt a sense of wonder as kids and they want to pass it on to the next generation of kids.  At least that's why I wanted to do it back when I was going to be the next Neal Adams.


« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 01:34:13 PM by nightwing » Logged

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Aldous
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« Reply #43 on: June 02, 2007, 12:08:32 AM »

Quote from: nightwing
I still remember taking my (then) 10-year-old brother-in-law to a comics convention and how excited the pros were to see a kid, any kid, show up.  They all talked to him, gave him free comics and drew him free sketches.  Obviously he loved it, but it was still kind of sad in a way; I really don't think a lot of pros get into the business hoping to impress other people their age.  I think they get in because they felt a sense of wonder as kids and they want to pass it on to the next generation of kids.

Man, Nightwing. Talk about a poignant sidewinder! What's the answer then? Human nature hasn't changed that much, and maybe if I had a young relative I could sit him down amongst my comic collection and let him discover what I discovered all those years ago. But, would he discover it? Is that still possible in this day and age?

Perhaps those pros know that a kid doesn't start analysing and picking their work to pieces... A kid just looks at it and either goes "Neat! Keen!" and starts reading, or else throws it aside in all honesty.

And I guess that's how I was trying to describe those 60s Spider-Man comics to you (if you re-read my post you will see that), but you weren't having any of it. You seem to find it hard to believe that those Marvels, whether they present their heroes with a wink and a nudge or not, can be read and enjoyed by me or anyone who merely thinks "Neat!" or "Keen!" without any further analysis.

There are also arguments you take too far. The main one is:

Quote from: nightwing
Spider-Man started as, essentially, a parody of super-heroes (Powers from a spider-bite?  A costume that won't stay sewed together? Etc)

I completely disagree. Spider-Man was not started as a parody.

Related to that:

Quote from: nightwing
the soap-operatics went from humorous (Ha! He has to run away from Doc Ock to get Aunt May's prescription before the drug store closes!)

Those soap operatics were not intended quite the way you're determined to present them. You really have missed something significant about what Lee and Ditko accomplished.

Quote from: nightwing
but I imagine reading early Marvels made you feel SMART, and that's why some readers held onto the hobby...or resumed it...through their college years.

There you go again, deciding there MUST be an ulterior motive on that part of the reader. Refer back to my original argument that these comics are just a good read, plain and simple. Can you not understand that a youth, or even an adult, can read and enjoy a work like this in the same spirit a 10-year-old can? I'm not dismissing your point entirely, because you said "some" readers... So then, why were the rest of them reading?!

Quote from: nightwing
Well I read the early Spideys in the mid-70s (thanks to those wonderful pocket-size reprints) and I agree they read great and look even better (though I'd gladly forego the soap opera junk you seem to love).  I think the Lee/Ditko run is probably the best stuff Marvel ever did, but I lost interest quickly after that.

I can see a case for Lee-Ditko Spidey being the best of Marvel, and that's fine. As much as I like it, I still think Lee-Romita was the master-team. (On a side note, sometimes I look at John Romita, Sr.'s art in "The Amazing Spider-Man", once he had found his feet, and I just shake my head in wonder at how blamed GOOD it is.) Calling the non-super-battle "civilian" relationships in "The Amazing Spider-Man" junk is just so missing the point of these comics. It's such a vital ingredient in the mix that to want the same comics without it is an absurdity.

Quote from: nightwing
Similarly, I maintain that early Marvel, pretending to be the biggest kid on the block when it was really just a pipsqueak with a lot of wit and pluck, gave way to 70s-and on Marvel, which really WAS the big kid on the block and hardly any fun at all.

I tend to agree. Generally speaking, Marvel through the 70s (although there were exceptions) was in decline.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #44 on: June 02, 2007, 01:49:17 AM »

Somehow I knew this would get off-point and turn into a debate on "quality" of the stories rather than how many kids really read comics into college years in the 60s and early 70s (the 300 submissions written to letter columns out of 95 million baby boomer kids in the US notwithstanding).  Wink
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jamespup
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« Reply #45 on: June 02, 2007, 02:57:55 AM »

I recall letters from servicemen in Vietnam appearing in the DC letters column, and I'm led to believe that comics are currently WAY popular with those currently serving overseas.   
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Ruby Spears Superman
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« Reply #46 on: June 03, 2007, 05:41:05 AM »

 First of all, I actually like a lot of the Golden Age stories. For one thing, there is no continuity so you don't feel obligated to know his back story. You can read them blank and still enjoy it. I actually have some reprints of the early Spider-Man stories. Particularly the Sandman story. I do see why someone might see it as a parody of superheroes given how he compares his life to "real" superheroes.

 I admit I haven't been following the new continuity, I don't know if I like the idea of everything that was ever published being squeezed into continuity. This is why I developed a renewed interest in the Golden Age stuff. I guess I just think he works better simplified, but then I guess Superman has never been simple has he? 
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Criadoman
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« Reply #47 on: June 03, 2007, 05:42:02 AM »

Man, I remember how ticked off I was about the 1st Crisis!  I loved the multi-Earths!  I was 17 at the time that happened.  The only thing I really liked about Superman:MOS was how much a kick I got out of Byrne's Superman art.  (As I wince waiting for tomatos to get thrown at me.)  But I really did like the Superman art - I thought Lois could have been cuter though.

And also, put me down for hating that Bats and Supes weren't friends.  Oh, and Lex wasn't bald.  Hated that too.

I liked Ma and Pa.  They were always a great addition.  Lana however, always looked a bit mangy during Post-Crisis.  Swan handled her much better.

Oh yeah, AND DARN IT!!!!!!!!!!!  THEY KILLED SUPERBOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (I was an unhappy camper!)
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