Monday, September 15, 2008

When Trumpets Were Mellow: A Groovy Guest Post by Barry Pearl

Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again
Dancin' at church, Long Island jazzy parties
Waiter bring us some more Baccardi
We'll order now what they ordered then
Cause everything old is new again!

Every generation thinks that theirs was the most inventive, the newest, but so much of what we admire is built on the past. This is not about quality, but so much of what we came to see as new in the Groovy era was a redo. Let me tell you a secret, shhh, come closer.

The secret of putting out so many comics, or TV show each month is to take an established idea and re-working it so it look new. For example, Jack Kirby created an entire race of super-hero people and gave us Thor and Asgard. He did it again with the X-Men, The Inhumans, the New Gods and the Eternals. No one can endlessly come up with five or ten great ideas a month. Where did he get this ideas? I don’t know, but see Kirby’s first work for Marvel: Mercury!! One of the Gods!

Go to the comic store today and 75% of what DC has out for sale are based on characters they originally created from 1938-1942. Marvel’s percentage is the same, except the years are1960-1965.

The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Hawkman, The Atom, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and the Spectre and all reintroductions of famous old heroes. So were Captain America, Sub-mariner and the Human Torch. But overall, DC was more overt than Marvel, releasing separate versions of their heroes, who would, in a crisis, meet the first versions.

Marvel started a “horror” era in the 1970s, with comics like Tomb of Dracula, Dracula Lives, and Werewolf By Night. Original? Not really, here we see scans using the same titles!! Frankenstein comes from Crestwood, where Jack Kirby was an editor at the time.

Daredevil, many of you know, was also the name of a non-Marvel character in the 1940s. But Marvel had also used the phrase “Man Without Fear” before, as we see here. Also note that Daredevil’s costume looks a lot like the Flash’s! Marvel also used other names like the Hulk and Sandman before the more famous versions came along. With the name Thorr they also used the Stone men who would appear in Thor’s first story in Journey into Mystery #83.

Bullseye is a villain used in the Daredevil comics and movies. But Marv Wolfman told me that the idea came from a Kirby Character, a sharpshooter from 1955! And Marv did not know that an assassin by the same name was used in Nick Fury #15.

The Vision was just one character Marvel resurrected from the 1940s. See in these two pictures how close the poses look. John Buscema must have looked at Jack Kirby’s work! Ka-Zar is another character from the 1940s. He first appeared in a pulp magazine, then in Marvel Comics #1. Marvel brought back 1940s heroes and remade them into villains. Here we see Jack Frost from Iron Man and Red Raven from the X-Men, but they had made their first appearances 25 year previously…but as heroes. Also, some villains like the Ringmaster and the Yellow Claw were just brought back.

We'll order now what they ordered then

'Cause everything old is new again!

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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!