I have the 1975 and 1976 Marvel Calendars up on my office walls, with the correct month showing. As I was switching them to December, it occurred to me to look for the Iron Man month in either of them - and neither of them had one. Clearly Marvel was underwhelmed with Iron Man at the time. But I wasn't.
Today I was recalling my days of buying comics at smoke shops and Italian ice stores. I would show up with my limited amount of money, having ridden my bike there as I didn't drive yet, and would select whatever comics looked coolest. Sometimes this was a DC book, but usually the Marvel books impressed me the most. And month in and month out, I would buy Iron Man.
This was before Dave and Bob. The writers were Archie Goodwin, Gerry Conway, Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, Mike Friedrich, Steve Gerber, Len Wein, Bill Mantlo. For some reason, I guess the book didn't sell very well. But it had great covers! And the stories inside were right up my alley, month in and month out.
I've ordered Essential Iron Man volumes 3, 4, and 5, as this was my Iron Man. I'm a fan of the earliest Iron Man adventures - I own the Masterworks - and I'm also a fan of the Stan Lee/Gene Colan collaborations on the character. But those stories were before my time. I know them only through reprints. And I wouldn't have read those reprints if I weren't already a fan of Iron Man in his mediocre period, when he didn't even rate a Marvel Calendar month.