EP 174: The Comic Book Show

This week Patrick is joined by guest host Kehaar, of the now concluded podcast Dissecting Worlds, to discuss the history of Capes and Tights by crafting a Mad Men style television series that spans four, maybe five seasons of comic book history.

Season 1:  The story arc begins as a young Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko launch into the swinging 1960’s with The Fantastic Four and the Amazing Spider-Man at the House of Ideas.   Conflict ensues when Stan brings on a young Roy Thomas in to reign in the talent and they all escape to the distinguished competition. All of this prompts flashbacks to the days of Bill Finger and Bob Kane in the 1930s.

Season 2: Season Two opens on a dsytopic early 1970s New York City and a look into the offices of D.C. and Jack Kirby pushing the boundaries of art and story with his New Gods. A brash young Dennis O’Neill pops onto the scene and attempts to buck the Comics Code Authority.   Flashbacks to the 1950s fill in the tale of the death of Horror comics and Cold War Paranoia thanks to Frederic Wertham and his book vilifying comics Seduction of the Innocent.

The season ends with Marvel facing bankruptcy fears but securing the rights to Star Wars and also bucking the Comic Code.

Season 3:  Opens in 1977 England, with the brash young talent of launching 2000 AD.  We fast forward five years and many British and Canadian writers and artists flood the offices of DC and Marvel.  The comics code is abandoned with the advent of Swamp Thing, Watchmen, and Dark Knight Returns for DC while X-Men reign supreme at Marvel.  Yet in the bowels of the artist tables late nights on the phone while working lead to a brewing revolt and flashbacks of creator credit fight that was Siegel and Shuster and the legacy of Superman.

Season 4: The 1990’s open the season with an open revolt of artists from Marvel escaping to form Image Comics.  All the while a speculator boom is growing with boomers buying up dozens of comic book “# 1’s” and inflating the market.  By the end of the 1990s lawsuits have crushed the Image Revolution and DC buys a large portion of the pie that is left.  The entire industry is in dire straights and on the ropes by 1997.

4 Comments

  1. I’m impressed by your thought experiment. But I’m perplexed why you don’tt credit Howard Chaykin for making a fictional work exactly as you describe? His 2019 graphic novel, HEY KIDS COMICS, is a history of several fictional stand-ins for industry pioneers and their ups and downs creating the comic book industry. It doesn’t spare the reader the painful parts if their lives, and the rales told in the book are reworked versions of the true tales and personalities of their counterparts. Chaykin makes it clear that its not a straight one to one translation, some industry story are comingled, swapped etc.. He does say that if you know the real stories, you can parse out the reality his book is based on . Part two will be coming out thus year as well I believe.

    At any rate, I appreciate your eagerness to engage in the topic if this podcast, I would say that the lack of attribution to Chaykin for executing this idea is unfortunate opportunity lost.

    I would also warn you both to not allow the lens of nostalgia nor modern cultural ideas to cloud your story ideas regarding what people were thinking, their motives, or what conditions may have been in the 30s-on. It is easy to attribute anachronistic social and ethical mores on people from past eras.

    I would also seriously check your facts. I have heard a few hiccups in your podcast, due to error or assumption.

    I think it’s a great thought experiment again, and a great way to condense the very long and not so obvious history of US and UK comics and the real people who made them.

    Like

      1. Thanks, and sorry for my clumsy phone keyboard typos!

        Some other books I would recommend are-

        Tales To Astonish by Ronin Ro
        Bios of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and as backdrop, the greater comics scenes they inhabited over the years.

        The Great Comic Book Heroes (1965) by Jules Pfieffer
        Pfieffer, the great 20th-century cartoonist, playwright, and social commentator, also came up in the early days of comics with Will Eisner and other Eisner-Iger creators. The book is a series of reprints of key Golden age stories interspersed with Pfieffer’s recollections of the old days. It is of critical importance to your project as he talks from the perspective of someone who lived and worked in those times, of the regular day to day struggles of being a working artist and also that it wasn’t glamorous nor easy. You can find copies of the original hardcover with the reprint stories, or a modern reissue that is only the essays. Excerpts can be found in this TCJ.com article:
        http://www.tcj.com/the-great-comic-book-heroes-intro-afterword-by-jules-feiffer/

        Like

  2. G’Day Educationers !
    I loved the episode, and thought it nicely covered most of the history of the “Big Two” with a necessary diversion to the formation of Image comics.
    The Chaykin series has finished and was pretty decent, though for a more straightforward history of comics by comics creators you can’t go past Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunleavy’s Comic Book History of Comics (I also recommend their Action Philosophers book).
    Other cool comics history books include the graphic novel The Joe Shuster Story, Batman & Bill and the now tricky to find The Ten Cent Plague.

    Oh, and to answer your question: The Amazing Spider-Man “drug” issues (#96 – #98) were published between May-June 1971, only a few months before the “My Ward is an Addict” story in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 which is cover dated Aug-Sep 1971

    Thanks again for the episode ! I’ve had fun trying to come up with a TV series which covers the same eras in the Indie scene !!

    Liked by 1 person

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