Friday, August 30, 2013

The Grooviest Covers of All Time: Summer of 1978--The DC Explosion Implodes!

The DC Explosion imploded beginning in August, 1978. Compare the drop-off in the number of titles published in August to June and July! 31 titles in June, 27 titles in July...21 in August...and this was just the beginning. Oh, the bittersweet memories that follow...




















Thankfully, while the 44 page format and many (many!) of DC's titles bit the dust, the quality kept up and even improved in the short run, allowing DC to bounce back. When DC tried the 44 page, 50 cent mag format for a second time in 1981, t'was much more successful. Dont'cha just love a happy ending?

12 comments:

  1. Putting aside the whole implosion melancholia, that Jonah Hex Spectacular was amazing.
    The lead story was the bleakest thing I'd read in four colours up to that point, and it was also the first time I'd encountered Bat Lash, with Moliterni doing a nice Cardy pastiche.
    Why DC has never realised that a well done Bat Lash hardcover would sell its socks off in a limited print run I'll never know.

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  2. As Charlie Chan would say, Groove, contradiction, please.

    DC raised their prices back to 50 cents in June 1980, at the end of my junior year in high school. A year later, it went up again, to 60 cents, then to 75 cents three years after that. Also, they didn't go back to 44 pages in 1980. They simply added 8 more pages of story & art, from 17 to 25, while the total page count remained at 32.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, HF! I'd forgotten the fact that they just ousted ads for those extra 8 pages. And hey, I didn't know you were Class of '81, too!

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  3. The DC Explosion Implodes!
    Just Look At Those Wonderful Comic Books.
    Now Take A Look At What's On The Rack Today.
    Love This Blog
    -Sam

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  4. I was 13 in '78, and used to compare the covers of that time with the covers of the '60s and early '70s, and wondered why the COLOURS looked so much better on the covers of only 5 years earlier: much richer pallette of more varied hues, many quite subtle, and a few that jumped out and grabbed you at the right time and place---unlike these garish, bubble gum pastels. Just not the same! Pick any title and see for yourself! Go to comics.org, and look at all of the covers of, say, DC's HOUSE OF MYSTERY from #176 (in 1968) until #262 (1978) and you'll see that about 5 years in, something happened... And I'm not talking about the switch from metal to plastic plates---that came a bit later. It's the COLOURING---in both choices and availability.

    Chris A.

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    1. What a great article--or series of articles--this would make, Chris! You should do something about that--I'd love to read more!

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  5. To Rockett Davey...

    I understand what you are saying, I certainly have an appreciation for comics from when I was a kid from the late 70's going into the 80's. It's what I mainly collect and while my collection of Marvel comics out way my collection of DC comics they were just as enjoyable. In fact the the Detective Comics 480 I own.

    But on your reply to the comics that are being sold now there are some really great reads as well and when we are in are 60's and 70's the kids from now will look back on the comics from when they were growing up with great appreciation from there childhood. There's something about comics that just captures our imagination still and makes us feel as if we are still seven years old opening a new comic.

    Shane G.

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  6. There is nothing I love more than a Joe Kubert cover where the hero is saying, "We're safe now" while death lurks in the foreground. He did it a thousand times and I never got tired of it.

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  7. @ Rockett Davey
    Many of today's comics are really well drawn, but the STORYTELLING seems to be a lost form for many. Pretty drawings, but not well staged. Someone like Steranko had a lot of drawing problems early on, but his storytelling was such that he caused major film directors to stand up and take note. Impeccable design, too. His drawing did improve quite a bit as he went along, especially by the time RED TIDE first came out.

    @ Groove
    Am pondering what happened with the colouring. Ironically, Neal Adams introduced a method in the early '70s that allowed DC to use more hues than ever. Hmmmm...

    Chris A.

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  8. @Chris A: Jack Adler was the grand master of DC cover coloring from the 1960s-up and he retired in 1981. That might've had something to do with it. Aside from the switch from metal to plastic plates, they were also switching to newer presses and different, lesser, paper all around this same time (if I'm remembering this at all correctly).

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  9. I'd say that DC may have switched printers circa 1974-75, and that was the cause of the big change in colour results. But it may have been an editorial decision, too, to make the hues of the mid to late '70s intentionally 'bubble gum'-ish (as opposed to earth colours and any other sombre hues with only occasional accents of saturated colours----which are actually far more resonant with discerning viewers---look at Neal Adams' tour-de-force cover for BATMAN #244 of 1972, e.g.).

    Chris A.

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  10. Wow, that Jonah Hex 18 cover! That girl's top appears to be defying gravity!

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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.

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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!