One of the things that John Romita used to say is that Stan Lee based a lot of his theories on how to grab comic book audiences and how to speak to the readership from Charles Biro, who co-edited the Lev Gleason line of titles in the 1940s and 50s. Biro was a pioneer who brought a literary bent to his stories inspired by the B-pictures of the era. He was also a raging egomaniac by all accounts, which is why he signed his work so large and so often. Biro’s one of the great largely-forgotten players in the history of comics.
By DAREDEVIL #42 in 1947, the super hero fad had pretty well run its course, and the big new trend seemed to be crime comic books, led by Biro’s own CRIME DOES NOT PAY. So Biro decided to overhaul the DAREDEVIL strip, taking his lead character out of costume and setting him up with a new ongoing status quo. This met with only mixed results, and Daredevil would be back in harness a few issues later (though te Little Wise Guys tended to dominate events throughout, until they eventually supplanted Daredevil himself entirely.)
I first got a look at the cover to this issue of DAREDEVIL in the STERANKO HISTORY OF COMICS, and it made an impact on me–so much so that on my first trip to the San Diego Comic Convention, I sought out a copy of this issue. Even after all of that time, it didn’t disappoint. The story was written by Charles Biro who also drew/inked all of the Daredevil heads. The rest of the artwork was done by Dan Barry.
The boxing portion of the story, featured on the cover, accounted for the second half of the issue. Depending on how this goes over, perhaps I’ll run that at some future point.
Biro’s titles all ran letters pages as well, and while they weren’t as conversational or as funny as Stan’s, they did help Biro to develop a rapport with his audience and gave them a place to showcase their views. Biro also awarded every printed letter two dollars–the equivalent of twenty comic books. I’d imagine that alone encouraged a lot of kids to write in to try to earn some scratch.
And Biro wasn’t above a little bit of Marvel-style boasting either.