Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer of '76! Grooviest Covers of All Time: Turn Up the AC to Dig Some DC

With a total output nearing fifty titles each, it seems Marvel and DC were trying to squeeze each other--and everyone else--off the spinner rack! Luckily, at thirty cents a pop, it wasn't terribly hard to keep up with your fave titles--but keeping up with everything was nigh-unto impossible. Still, the fun was in trying, and Young Groove tried with all his might! Looking at these covers and comparing them to Marvel's output, seems that DC had the best variety of genres--half their mags were super-heroes, but the other half was a mix of sci-fi, sword and sorcery, western, war, and mystery/horror. Note that Isis and the first female Starfire were making their entrances during the Summer of '76 in an effort to take some of the burden of Wonder Woman as DC's sole female-starring mag after Supergirl and Lois Lane had been forced into co-features in Superman Family. Sadly Plop! was on its last legs and the last of DC's romance line would bite the dust as well. There's still plenty of far-out comics to choose from here! Lots of Mike Grell (on GL/GA, Superboy and the Legion, and Warlord), Walt Simonson (on Metal Men and Hercules Unbound), Jim Aparo on Aquaman (in Adventure) and Brave and the Bold, Curt Swan on Superman and Action. Good stuff to fill some hot afternoons with delight!

 Tomorrow we'll check out what black and white comics could be found for those of us who haunted the magazine racks!


  1. Love the ACTION COMICS cover you lead off with here...daym, I gotta get me one. I was curious if you were going to give DC equal 76 cover time, but I shoudda knowd dat you would :)

  2. My favourite post of yours ever, seriously.

  3. I guess even at that early stage in my comics reading I was already a Marvel boy - I did not have as many of these, but the ones I did have, like DC Super Stars featuring Aquaman, the 4 Star Spectacular and the Superman vs. Flash book, I loved to pieces (and read the respective books to that state as well). That Aquaman book was a particular favorite, it was really good introduction to Aquaman lore.
    By the way, I ended up buying that entire brief mid-70s run of Metal Men later - talk about an under-rated gem, initally written by Steve Gerber, with Simonson and then Staton on pencils. Why it's never been collected is beyond me.

  4. This is the year before I found somewhere racking US import comics in the UK and I missed all the stuff I love so much now, the humour, romance and war comics. Summer of 77 I was buying this stuff by the bucket load and loving every minute of it. Like so many kids though my childhood comics disappeared so I hope you'll do a summer of 77 some time and bring back more memories for me. Strange thing si, here in the UK at the time these books stayed on the racks until they sold or disintegrated. I bought the shazam book off the spinner almost exactly one year later.

  5. I too was a serious Marvel Zombie. But still loved DC alot. At this time beside's those great Limited Editions. I was still buying the occasional Flash, Superman & Batman titles. But was really into their dying ghost/horror comics. I also really dug the Brave & the Bold, the Metal Men,Karate Kid, Ragman, Hercules Unbound & Legion of SH's.

    With Kirby gone, I figured Kamandi would end soon. So was buying it, to see if & how DC was going to end the series. I was also a huge Jim Aparo fan & still am!Can we see the summers of 70 & 71 soon? Thoses were probably my favorites beside's 1968 & 69.

  6. Does anyone know why DC had so many covers by Ernie Chua (Chan) at this point? I always thought they were weak, even through his interiors on one of the Batman books were pretty good.

  7. Couldn't say with any authority but around that time both DC and Marvel had artists who could churn out covers by the dozen every month. I get the impression at DC it was kind of an unwritten policy among editors from interviews I've read over the years and I guess Ernie was both fast and available. I remember around roughly the same time every Marvel cover seemed to be by Gil Kane, DC's Mystery book covers were all by bernie Wrightson or Mike Kaluta and DC's war books all seemed to be covered by Joe Kubert.

  8. Peter Bangs - about the covers: yes it was Neal Adams late 60s and early 70s then Nick Cardy early70s before Chua at DC. I agree, Chua's weren't as good as his predecessors, he was OK on Batman, but thought his best work was at Marvel inking Buscema on Conan.
    I didn't start buying in UK until latter 70s but read plenty of my older brother's stuff around this period. You're right: stuff I bought late 70s was still on the shelves lingering from 1976.

  9. The drop in overall cover quality at DC was due, imho, to Nick Cardy stepping down as art director to be replaced by the last man who should have held the post, good old Vinnie Colletta. I think it was hoped that he would have less time to slather ink around, but of course not, he just took the plum jobs for himself.

    Also, in the late 60s up to the mid-70s, most of the covers had been designed by Carmine Infantino and/or Nick Cardy, then drawn by various assigned artists. I suppose that Kirby and Kubert were given a lot of room, but many of Neal Adams' finest covers were conceived by Carmine and Nick, kind of like some of Frank Frazetta's Warren covers were designed by Roy Krenkel. Anyway, the cover quality control process was likely much slacker under Colletta. Still, I'll take Chua over the horrendous Buckler/Giordano and Andru Giordano period that followed.

    Jack Adler's ascension to production manager ironically took away the man who was certainly one of the finest colourists in comics, and the industry-wide deterioration of the printing process didn't help either. Then came the plastic printing plates...

  10. I read about half of these as a kid. This was right before the DC Implosion if I recall. Probably also the last year where I put DC on par with marvel. By 1978 I was exclusively a Marvel Maniac but those DC memories are sweet.



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