CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE was something of a legendary title, in that it wasn’t really a published title at all. In 1978, as a publishing initiative designed to restore the health of the division, new DC Publisher Jenette Kahn and her editorial team had made the decision to raise the price of the line from 35 cents to 50, increasing the amount of material in the books from 17 pages to 25. The 50 cent price point was seen as more attractive to Newsstand outlets, who would be making more money from each copy sold. And to fill the additional pages, back-up series were added to virtually every book in the line. The entire initiative was marketed as the DC Explosion.

But DC’s plans ran slap-bang into one of the worst winter seasons in modern history. As a result, shipping was disrupted, resulting in a huge quantity of books never even making it to the sales racks in certain communities. It was a bloodbath, and DC was ordered by its Warner Communications overlords to cut down the size of its line dramatically and to lay off a certain number of staff members. This became known in fan circles as the DC Implosion. In the reduced DC line, the cover price would now be 40 cents, with the back-up material dropped.

Consequently, there was a huge stack of material that had been prepared but which was now not going to be published. Some of it would be adapted and recycled into future books, but most of it never made it to the readership. As a measure to retail ownership of the material, DC created 35 copies of the pages for all of these discontinued books and bound them into two bound volumes as CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE #1 and #2. These are among the scarcest DC books ever published, and became somewhat legendary throughout fandom. Copies were given to the assorted creators, and to the Library of Congress to secure copyright on the material.

Accordingly, copies began to circulate on the black market. As these were only bound photocopies of the original art pages, it was a simple matter to unbind the contents and then to print off as many copies as were wanted from the individual pages. Over time, people produced copies of copies, with the attendant decay in image fidelity. Solid blacks in particular tended to fragment, the copiers of the period not being up to the task of reproduction generation after generation after generation.

The first section of CCC#1 contains material intended for issue #12 of BLACK LIGHTNING, as well as a penciled cover done by Mike Netzer for what would have been #13. The #12 cover is by Rich Buckler and Vince Colletta, and includes an inset promoting the back-up series starring the Ray.

This would have been the second issue of BLACK LIGHTNING not written by the series’ creator Tony Isabella. Tony had reached irreconcilable differences with DC on the series, in part due to the manner in which the company refused to pay him for the character’s use in the new SUPER-FRIENDS cartoon–to get around this payment, the animation studio changed Black Lightning into the similarly-powered Black Vulcan. In any case, with Isabella’s departure, Denny O’Neil took over the series, and this issue was illustrated by Mike Netzer and Vince Colletta.

This story was eventually repurposed and run in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #260, and printed in a BLACK LIGHTNING Trade Paperback in the 2010s.


  1. I had a letter printed in the CBG years ago questioning comic publishers methods on canceling titles. I was mostly upset about Kamandi being abruptly terminated. I could see something that ran 4-5 issues and sales just weren’t there. In my view DC should have wrapped up the series in some fashion for readers that had followed him for years. Even if it meant taking a small loss, it should be worth the good will. Anyway, someone was nice enough to send me photocopies of Kamandi 60 & 61( I think those are the ones) that appeared in the CCC. He just asked that I didn’t make more copies and just keep them as a dedicated collector. It was a cool gesture. ________________________________

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  2. I saw Mike Netzer’s later work before his earlier stuff. By the 90s it was masterful. A step beyond Neal Adams (I’d learn of Mike’s Continuity years after seeing his 90s DC stuff), maybe closer to Deodato’s more naturalistic work. These pages are the most raw of Netzer’s I’ve ever seen. Not just because of the depleted finish, from being a copy of copies. But the figures’ elongated anatomy, the awkward stiffness. I’m glad he kept on improving, eventually really achieving a high level.

    Denny’s an all-time great. But I only maybe the last few panels separate this script from loads of other mediocre material from the day. Exposition, overwriting. Why did so many supervillains seem to talk w/ such an elaborate vocabulary, like they were trying to sound like Dr. Doom? That was the style. That seemed like the norm. From dozens of writers, on at least as many of the villains. Maybe before Alan Moore’s revelatory writing in “Swamp Thing”, I didn’t really complain. But afterwards, & some of Miller’s terse dialog, the difference was glaring. It took a long time for comic book dialog to sound more natural. I think my fave Denny stuff was his run on “The Question”.

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