A post from my long-gone Marvel blog about the comic books that finally made me a Marvel fan.
We’ve had some intermittent service this past week or two as we did some work on the website. So, back on the horse this week with another classic series, this one the direct polar opposite of the “Bad Comics I Bought” run I did a few weeks ago. Because this week, we’re going to look at the things that made me a Marvel reader.
For those who weren’t reading the blog all those weeks ago, I started out reading and loving DC Comics, especially those edited by Julie Schwartz. And during that same early period, I found myself alienated by the couple of Marvel books that I tried in one way or another.
The first book that started to turn this around is shown at the left, THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES by Jules Feiffer. First published in 1965 (after its text was first serialized in Playboy), it was remaindered for years thereafter, and copies were always plentiful in department stores and bookstores throughout the ’70s, at least in my area. I got my copy around 1976.
In addition to Feiffer’s insightful text about being both one of the first-generation comic book fans as well as a comic book artist during the Golden Age (reminiscences I didn’t fully appreciate until years later), this volume collected about a dozen vintage early comic book stories, one for most of the best-remembered characters of the era.
I bought it for all of the DC stories (which included, in my mind, the Plastic Man tale and the Captain Marvel snippet, since by then those characters were being published by DC.) But among the few remaining tales were episodes of the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, and the origin of Captain America.
Having been burned by Marvel before, I skipped over these stories the first couple of times I read through the book–I knew I wouldn’t like them, so what was the point of reading them? But eventually, on one slow summer day or another, I took the plunge and digested them. They were still kind of odd and creepy–the Timely/Marvel comics of the ’40s were descended almost directly from the pulps, which meant that they tended to be more lurid, more grotesque and more angry than anything clean, classy DC was putting out.
These three stories weren’t enough to turn me into a Marvel reader just yet, but the set the groundwork and gave me some information and exposure to a couple of the important Marvel characters. It would take another book for me to make the leap to seeking out Marvel comics on my own–as we’ll see tomorrow.