Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Decade of Diversions Week! Groove's Favorite Comics from 1972/1973

What "A Decade of Diversions Week" is all about: 

This week, Ol' Groove is sharing lists his favorite comic mag from each year of the 1970s (1970-1979), along with four runners-up. Guess you could actually call that sharing lists of my top five mags of each year, huh?  Two years per day, five days--yep that's ten years! 

Lemme tell ya, it was not easy to make these lists. I had to comb through every comic, each month, each year--okay, Mike's Amazing World of Comics' Newsstand made that mucho easier (thanks, Mike! The Diversions couldn't make it without your site, man!), but still, that's a lot. Then I had to whittle each year's gi-normous list down to five. To keep it from becoming too stressful, I had to make myself a few rules:

1) No reprints (reprints are awesome and some of my fave comics are reprints, but...)

2) Single issues. The mags have to stand (or at least be able to stand) alone. That knocked out a lot of great mags whose best stories were multi-issue epics. (They'll get their own lists someday.) And yes, there are exceptions to this rule. Especially first issues and/or first chapters of sagas.

3) The mag had to be memorable to me. My idea of comicbook perfection (or something close to it). Something I read 'til the cover fell off.

4) I tried (really, really tried) to keep my list free of using the same mag more than once per year. That was TOUGH.

5) The rules were to help me decide, not bind me--so there might be exceptions to any or all of these rules.

Now, this is Ol' Groove's list of faves. I'm not saying these were the best comics of the year (or even the month), but they're my favorites. You have your favorites, too, I'm sure, so you know what I mean. Please comment and leave lists of your faves, but don't knock mine (or anyone else's list), please. After all, if we all loved exactly the same 50 Groovy Age mags, there really wouldn't be a need for this blog, would there?

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1972:

Young Groove had never seen anything like Swamp Thing #1 before. It was like a classic Universal Monster film in comicbook form, but better. Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson hit on the perfect style of writing and art and applied it to the perfect character. The ultimate, at least at the time, monster hero. The combo of a  heart-tugging origin and the moody, expressive, organic art style made "Deadly Genesis" an all-time classic. Wein was also thrilling us on JLA, while Jim Starlin was making his Captain Marvel debut and Barry (not-yet-Windsor-) Smith was finishing his run on Conan the Barbarian. And then there was Chamber of Chills #2 that gave us Western horror, sci-fi horror, and sword and sorcery horror by such up-and-coming super-stars as Frank Brunner, P. Craig Russell, and Val Mayerik under a Gil Kane/Tom Palmer cover! Ah, 1972 was a great year for comics!





Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1973: 



1973 was one of the absolute hardest years for me to whittle down to a list of five. Ol' Groove could have easily had a list of 25 faves and not many of ya'd argue with any of 'em. Still had to make it a top six by calling a tie! What would you have done? Batman #251 (in which Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams give us the definitive Joker) and Detective Comics #437 (Archie Goodwin's fabled turn as writer/editor of 'Tec, with Jim Aparo drawing Batman and a very young Walt Simonson co-creating the legendary "new" Manhunter) in the same year? No way Ol' Groove can choose between 'em (can you?). Two of the greatest Bat-Mags of all time, imho. Still and all, they edged out some heavy competition: the debut of DC's Shadow mag; the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel by the LSH dream team of Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum; and the debuts of Master of Kung Fu (by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin) and E-Man (by Nick Cuti and Joe Staton)! The cream of the crop from a year that literally teems with superior comicbooks!



Rap about your faves in the comments, then be here tomorrow as A Decade of Diversions Week trucks on with Ol' Groove's fave comics from 1974 and 1975!

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Decade of Diversions Week! Groove's Favorite Comics from 1970/1971

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Happy 10th Anniversary! Ol' Groove cannot believe it's been a decade since that first post (a simple paragraph reporting the the return of DC's Warlord with creator Mike Grell writing), but I look back at a job change and five grandkids (not to mention that old guy I see in the mirror) and realize, "Yep, it's been a decade!" But what a decade it's been! I've had the privilege to "virtually" meet so many of y'all via this blog and FaceBook: fans, pros, guys and gals, parents and kids, folks of every walk of life from all over the globe. Seems that Groove City has become a kind of haven for a lot of us. A place to go and reminisce, or even find something new and exciting about the medium we all love--all without all the hassles of the "outside world" horning in.  Thanks to you all for making Diversions an enjoyable "home away from home."

As we start a new decade, it's cool to see that we've hit a few milestones, but we still have more coming. Over 8 MILLION page views. Nearly 3,000 posts. Tons of followers. It's all very humbling--and so very rewarding. I started out blogging just to practice my writing and to communicate with like-minded fans. I've accomplished that, for sure, but I've also found myself back writing comics (see that "Writer of Comics" blog link? Yep, that's moi!) and loving it more than ever. Couldn't have done it without the fun experiences I've had here with y'all in Groove City!

Now, Ol' Groove's plan was to share my fave posts from our first year (which I did last week, natch), then do a big anniversary post today. Naturally, yers trooly can't do things the easy way. Today's post swiftly ballooned into a whole week's worth of posts, starting with the one you'll read as soon as I hit the return key...

Ah, here we are! This week, Ol' Groove is gonna share his favorite comic mag from each year of the 1970s (1970-1979), along with four runners-up. Guess you could actually call that sharing my top five mags of each year, huh? (See what I mean about not doing things the easy way?) Two years per day, five days--yep that's ten years!

Lemme tell ya, it was not easy to make these lists. I had to comb through every comic, each month, each year--okay, Mike's Amazing World of Comics' Newsstand made that mucho easier (thanks, Mike! My site couldn't make it without your site, man!), but still, that's a lot. Then I had to whittle each year's gi-normous list down to five. To keep it from becoming too stressful, I had to make myself a few rules:

1) No reprints (reprints are awesome and some of my fave comics are reprints, but...)

2) Single issues. The mags have to stand (or at least be able to stand) alone. That knocked out a lot of great mags whose best stories were multi-issue epics. (They'll get their own lists someday.) And yes, there are exceptions to this rule. Especially first issues and/or first chapters of sagas.

3) The mag had to be memorable to me. My idea of comicbook perfection (or something close to it). Something I read 'til the cover fell off.

4) I tried (really, really tried) to keep my list free of using the same mag more than once per year. That was TOUGH.

5) The rules were to help me decide, not bind me--so there might be exceptions to any or all of these rules.

Now, this is Ol' Groove's list of faves. I'm not saying these were the best comics of the year (or even the month), but they're my favorites. You have your favorites, too, I'm sure, so you know what I mean. Please comment and leave lists of your faves, but don't knock mine (or anyone else's list), please. After all, if we all loved exactly the same 50 Groovy Age mags, there really wouldn't be a need for this blog, would there?

If you're still reading, thanks, baby! You're why I'm here! Now, let's reward your efforts by gettin' on wit da list!

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1970:

Li'l Groove turned seven in 1970. I didn't get a ton of comics that year, but the ones I got were pretty special. The first Man-Bat. The first Rose & The Thorn. And of course, Captain America and The Avengers would be my early favorite Marvel mags. The absolute fave comic of the year, though, was Jack Kirby's New Gods #1. The cover grabbed my attention, the splash made my imagination soar, and I was riveted by each and every page. I'd only feel a similar sensation of total awe when I'd see Star Wars seven years later. Not far behind are Detective Comics #400 (Frank Robbins and Neal Adams introduce Man-Bat); Lois Lane #105 with it's tear-jerker lead Lois story and (ta-da) debut of Rose and Thorn; and of course, Young Groove's favorite Marvel Comics were Captain America and the Avengers, so naturally they'd be on this list! Cap #127 with it's cool story by Stan Lee and astonishing art by Gene Colan and Wally Wood is one of my earliest Cap acquisitions and still a strong fave. Avengers #82, although the finale to a mini-epic is able to stand alone as a cool story with lots of mood--and even more cameos: the FF, Peter Parker and Aunt May, and even President Nixon! Plus, DD guest-stars. Wonder why this particular mag edged me ever so much closer to becoming a Marvel Maniac?








Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1971:

Was there ever any doubt that Ol' Groove's fave comic of 1971 would be Avengers #89--the beginning of the Kree/Skrull War? Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema were the first comicbook creators to whom I actually paid enough attention to want to seek out their work. They were Marvel Comics to Young Groove. Not only that, but everything about this mag worked for me. The tension (Heroes seriously out to take down another hero?). The pacing (starting in medias res, then flashing back to how it all started, then back to the action--classic comicbook move, Roy and Sal!) That small, but interesting group of Avengers (Vision, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch). The links to the rest of the Marvel Universe (the FF's Baxter Building and their foe Annihilus). And this cover! Yeah, folks could argue that any or all of the four runners-up below are far better comics, but to me, Avengers #89 tops the heap of a superior group of comicbook classics. In Batman #234, Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, and Dick Giordano bring Two-Face (Ol' Groove's favorite Batman villain after the Joker) back with a vengeance; New Gods #6 with Kirby's mind-blowing "Glory Boat" epic (plus that Simon/Kirby Manhunter reprint that just oozed Golden Age cool); Roy Thomas and Gil Kane change Him into the awesome Adam Warlock in Marvel Premiere #1; and Ol' Groove's all-time favorite color Conan the Barbarian ish (and the story I aaaaallmost made #1 for the year), Conan #4 by Roy Thomas (him again?) and Barry Smith. That was my first Conan mag and it slayed me! There are panels of that mag etched in my memory forever! Ah, 1971. The year that made Ol' Groove!




Rap about your favorites in the comments, then be back tomorrow for more of a Decade of Diversions Week as we look at 1972 and 1973!

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Diversions Turns 10 "Best of" Birthday Bash! Archie Comics' Supernatural Side: Die In the Name of the Law! and The Man Who Tried to Kill Death

Happy anniversary, Groove-ophiles! This coming Saturday Marks 10 years since the Diversions hit the interwebs, so Ol' Groove thought we'd celebrate by looking back at some his favorite, but least viewed, posts from our first fateful year! We'll be back new and live next Monday with a special anniversary post. Until then, enjoy these "reprints" and rap with us about 'em!



Welcome back, my Groovy Ghoulies! Ol' Groove is once again dipping deep into his museum of the macabre to bring you the most spine-chilling comicbook tales of the 1970s. This time around, we're looking at the always-wholesome Archie Comics Group's entry into the eerie, Red Circle Sorcery.

If you want the full rundown on the history of Archie's Red Circle Comics Group, check out the howling history written by my pal Jon Gilbert posted right here at the Mighty Crusaders website. I'll wait by the coffin for ya...

Back? Okay then, now that you know all about how even the Archie folks tried to cash in on the creepy and cookie supernatural craze of the early 70s, let's take a look at a couple stories from Ol' Groove's very most favorite issue of RSS, the legendary issue #8 (May, 1974)!

First up is "Die In the Name of the Law!"by Mysterious Marv Channing and Gruesome Gray Morrow. I could always relate to this story of a compulsive collector (of pulps novels, which I also dig the most)...



Author Channing was on a roll this ish. Here he teams up with the master, Alex Toth, for "The Man Who Tried to Kill Death!"

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Diversions Turns 10 "Best of" Birthday Bash! "Reunion!" by Gill and Staton

Happy anniversary, Groove-ophiles! This coming Saturday Marks 10 years since the Diversions hit the interwebs, so Ol' Groove thought we'd celebrate by looking back at some his favorite, but least viewed, posts from our first fateful year! We'll be back new and live next Monday with a special anniversary post. Until then, enjoy these "reprints" and rap with us about 'em!


Charlton Comics tried to corner the market on color horror/mystery comics back in the Groovy Age. They also pretty much owned the romance genre, as well. What happens when a mad, mad, mad publisher decides to combine two of the company's best-selling genres into one mag? Taking writers, artists, plots, unrequited love, ghosts, and other things that make the heart thump harder, and sewing them together into an unholy patchwork of comicbook cheese leads to this...this...creature they called Haunted Love, and it's coming for you, Groove-ophile! You can't run! You can't hide! It's after you as you run every so helplessly into...

Gothic romances were flying from the books shelves in the early 1970s. The genre had been around forever, and probably always will be, but it was reaching a definite peak. Why? Well, partly because, at that time, anything to do with the supernatural was big business in movies, TV, paperbacks, magazines, and of course, comics. On the other hand, your garden variety romance comics, which had long been a comicbook staple, were dying out. I don't know if the folks at Charlton wanted to try to save the romance genre, or if they were just following the Gothic romance trend when they began publishing Haunted Love in January, 1973. Sadly, the mag didn't last long, running for eleven short issues, the last being published in July, 1975.

Now, at the time, I couldn't admit it, but Young Groove really dug Haunted Love. My mom bought the romance comics in the house (dad dug westerns, my sister was into the Harvey and Archie stuff mostly, and I got everything else!), and when she wasn't looking, and if I was desperate for something new to read (sorry ladies! I was a kid!), I'd dig through her stash to see if there was anything interesting in there. Occasionally, she'd have a Marvel romance mag and there'd be some Romita, Buscema, or Colan art in 'em. But those Haunted Love mags, with their far-out Tom Sutton or (my fave!) Joe Staton covers were what I was really looking for. I think I read 'em all, but one story stuck with me. I don't know why I flipped for it, but I did, so I thought I'd share it with you! The story in question was written by the always excellent Joe Gill and drawn by Groovy Age Charlton Artist Supreme, Joe Staton. Here it is, from Haunted Love #4 (July, 1973)..."Reunion!"

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
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!