Monday, January 21, 2013

The Comicbook Soundtrack of My Life, or Imitation Is the Sincerest form of Flattery

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! I recently received an e-mail from Groove-ophile Peter Bebergal supplying a link to a post he felt I'd be interested in. Was I interested? I think Pete's post is about the coolest thing I've ever read, the kind of post I can't believe I'd never thought of! In his post, Pete discussed how his comicbook memories intersected with his music memories, then went on to share several of his favorite comics along with YouTube clips of the songs he remembered listening to as he read 'em. 'Tis a most magnificent post, and you should get to Peter's blog, Mystery Theater and read it right now! Here's the link. I'll wait 'til ya get back! And thanks again for the inspiration, Pete! (And thanx as always to Grand Comics Database for the covers!)

Are ya back? Was that far-out, or what? Okay, what follows was inspired by Peter's post...

My family often likes to joke about my long-term memory. I can remember the most elusive things, but that's not all! No, Ol' Groove can usually remember a particular comicbook that goes with that memory and/or a song that was on the radio at the time. (Yeah, I listened to the radio a lot, both at home and in the car.) That's why I had one'a those smack-yourself-in-the-forehead moments when I read Peter's post. So let's trek through the 70s, comicbook in hand and radio on, while Ol' Groove regales ya with the comics and songs that made the Comicbook Soundtrack of My Life...

1970: DETECTIVE COMICS 400 and "HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER" by THE HOLLIES

By April of 1970, Li'l First Grade Groove could read just about every word in a comicbook on his lonesome. One of the first (near) solo readings I can remember is the spectacular Detective Comics #400, with the debut of Man-Bat. I remember a sunny afternoon, Dad asking me if I wanted to go to King Kwik with him, which I did (it always got me some candy or a comicbook), and hopping into the Volkswagon. I'm sure we listened to the radio either going or coming or both, and I'm sure The Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" played. Probably sending messages to The Batman on how to handle his Man-Bat problem...

1971: AVENGERS 89, BATMAN 232, FANTASTIC FOUR 112, and "JOY TO THE WORLD" by THREE DOG NIGHT

1971 was the year Young Groove went over-the-brink bonkers for comics, and April 1971 is probably the reason! Avengers #89, the beginning of the Kree/Skrull War! Batman #232, the debut of Ra's al Ghul, and Fantastic Four #112, a classic Thing/Hulk battle! Those are just a few magnificent mags that came out that month. And the song that summarizes that Spring for me? Three Dog Night and "Joy to the World"! All us 7-year-olds were rockin' out to that one!



1972: CAPTAIN AMERICA 155 and "BRANDY" by LOOKING GLASS
By 1972, Young Groove was buying just about every mag in sight. The mag that blew my mind the most was Captain America #155 (August), as the Star-Spangled Avenger learned that he'd actually had a replacement while he was on ice for two decades. It also seemed that every time we'd get in the car, we'd hear Looking Glass singing "Brandy". I'm sure I heard it on the way home from the store as I flipped through Cap 155!



1973: SPIDER-MAN 122 and "COVER of the ROLLING STONE" by DR. HOOK

 In March 1973, Young Groove's mind was totally blown by Amazing Spider-Man #121. I was devastated by the Death of Gwen Stacy. Totally bummed. Luckily, a mind-blowing, funky, and funny tune was dancing along the airwaves. Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone" sure helped cheer me up!




1974: STRANGE TALES 178, THRILLING ADVENTURE STORIES 1, "I CAN HELP" by BILLY SWAN and "KUNG FU FIGHTING" by CARL DOUGLAS

 Two of my all-time favorite comics came out in November 1974, Strange Tales #178 (featuring the debut of Jim Starlin's Adam Warlock, natch) and upstart Atlas/Seaboard's Thrilling Adventure Stories #1. I can remember sitting in my room listening to Billy Swan sing "I Can Help" as I read that classic Warlock tale. I bought my copy of Thrilling Adventure Stories #1 on a cold, rainy Saturday at Mack's, flipped through it in the back seat of the car as Carl Douglas black-belted out his hit, "Kung Fu Fighting"...







1975: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN 1 and TONY ORLANDO and DAWN "HE DON'T LOVE YOU"

My fave comic and my fave song (from my fave show, yeah, I was a TOaD fan and still am!) of 1975 kicked off the spring and ended my time in Loyal, KY. Strong, strong feelings here, Groove-ophiles...




 

 1976: DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE 5 and "AFTERNOON DELIGHT" by STARLAND VOCAL BAND

During the Summer of 1976, you could not turn on the radio without hearing Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight". I was never too crazy about it, but I was sure crazy for the fifth ish of Marvel's b&w Doc Savage Mag!



1977: DETECTIVE COMICS 475 and JAMES TAYLOR's "YOUR SMILING FACE"

My hands-down fave series of 1977 was the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin run on Batman in Detective Comics. The hands-down best ish of the run was ish 475, which came out in November. "The Laughing Fish" is an all-time classic, and there's one song that was riding the air-waves in the Fall of 77 that totally goes along with it--"Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor!


1978: THE DC EXPLOSION and "ONLY the GOOD DIE YOUNG" by BILLY JOEL

The biggest comicbook event of 1978 hit in the summer (of course!)--the DC Explosion! New mags, more pages, back-ups featuring new and beloved characters. What more could a fan ask for? For it to last, baby! By September the Explosion was an IMPLOSION. What other song could get us through such a short-lived comicbook Nirvana? Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young"!


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 1979: ARCHIE'S SUPER HERO COMICS DIGEST  MAGAZINE 2 and "GOLD" by JOHN STEWART 

Summer is always a great time for comics, innit? Out of the blue, in June of 79, Archie Comics smacked us upside the head with the second ish of their Super Hero Comics Digest Magazine featuring "new" (unpublished from 1974, actually) Black Hood stories by the likes of Gray Morrow and Neal Adams. T'was filled to the brim with classic Archie heroes like the Fly, the Shield, and Hangman. Pure gold, baby! Solid gold, even! Made me think of John Stewart's hit "Gold" (with Stevie Nicks' backing vocals)! And hey, YouTube has him singing it on Solid Gold...

  



 

1980: X-MEN 137 and "LITTLE JEANNIE" by ELTON JOHN

 Another heartbreaker, X-Men #137 (June 1980) featuring the death of Jean Gray/Phoenix signaled the end of the Groovy Age for moi. T'was a magnificent if heart-rending ish that hit Teen Groove even harder than the death of Gwen Stacy. My sister, Electra-Woman, who read only Iron Man and X-Men was devastated by Jean's death, as well. T'was she who, as soon as she finished reading the mag, put Elton John's "Little Jeannie" 45 on the turntable and re-read it again.




Okay, Groove-ophiles! Peter inspired yers trooly--now it's your turn! What's the comicbook soundtrack of your Groovy Age? Lay it on us in the comments section! Don't be shy!

9 comments:

  1. Far-out, man, I'll play:

    Helen Reddy "Angie Baby" -- Marvel's Greatest Comics#56

    Paul Simon "Kodachrome" -- Avengers # 118

    Elton John "Philadelphia Freedom" --The Spirit #8

    Elton John "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" -- Vampirella#39

    Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" --Eerie # 59

    Chicago "I've Been Searching So Long" -- Giant-Size Avengers #2

    Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" -- Marvel Premiere # 15

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right on! That's how you play it! Nice choices!

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  2. Very interesting idea, though my musical choices would be very different.

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  3. There is a half-page montage in GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW #84 ("Peril in Plastic" was pencilled by Neal Adams and inked by Berni Wrightson) where scripter Denny O'Neil has Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris, reunited lovers, riding horseback, embracing, etc. in a manner VERY reminiscent of James Bond (George Lazenby) and Tracy Draco (Diana Rigg) in a very similar romantic montage in the 1969 film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." During the film montage we hear Louie 'Satchmo' Armstrong singing "We Have All the Time in the World" and it would be a perfect fit with that part of GL/GA #84.

    Chris A.

    ReplyDelete
  4. For a different spin on this, the 1st thing that came to mind was the rare instance of a comic book character listening to pop music: Shang Chi, beginning his love affair with Fleetwood Mac http://essentialmasterofkungfu.tumblr.com/post/26545389887/master-of-kung-fu-54-jul-77
    (He would also dig the Stones in #114, but that's just past the Groovy Age, but still pretty groovy, no??)

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    Replies
    1. I LIKE it! I remember the Fleetwood Mac references in MOKF!

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  5. DETECTIVE COMICS 400 - 25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago

    AVENGERS/BATMAN/FANTASTIC FOUR - Signs - Five Man Electrical Band

    CAPTAIN AMERICA - American Pie - Don McLean

    SPIDER-MAN - Right Place Wrong Time - Dr. John

    STRANGE TALES /THRILLING ADVENTURE STORIES - Band On the Run - Paul McCartney and Wings

    GIANT-SIZE X-MEN 1 - The Ballroom Blitz - The Sweet

    DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE - The Boys Are Back in Town - Thin Lizzy

    DETECTIVE COMICS 475 - Hotel California - The Eagles

    THE DC EXPLOSION - Dust In the Wind - Kansas

    ARCHIE’S SUPER HERO COMICS DIGEST - Renegade - Styx

    X-MEN 137 - Call Me - Blondie and Love Stinks - J. Geils
    I gave 2 on this one because I remember most of the senior class went down to Florida for a week & a classmate kept playing Call Me single & Love Stinks album all week long. Even today when I hear them it takes me back w/ a warm smile.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome, awesome choices! I like some'a yours better than my own!

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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!