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Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
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Subj: Re: Why and how did DC keep its war, western, "mystery", other sort of adventure, etc. titles running for so long?
Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 11:36:10 pm EDT (Viewed 544 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Why and how did DC keep its war, western, "mystery", other sort of adventure, etc. titles running for so long?
Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 11:17:55 pm EDT (Viewed 248 times)



        I find it striking the DC kept so many genres such as westerns, war comics, "mystery" anthologies, etc. around for so long and in such abundance from the 1970's to the 1980's.

        I think it depends on what timeframe we are looking at. In the 60s and 70s Marvel still put out non-superhero stuff, like romance, previously mentioned westerns, horror, war, and sci fit tiles. Specific examples include Patsy Walker, Man Thing, Tomb of Dracula, Conan the Barbarian, Warlock, Killraven, Howard the Duck, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, etc. Of course some of those did mix a degree of superheroes in them.

      Werewolf by Night (72-77)
      Tomb of Dracula (72-79)
      Conan the Barbarian (70-93) and The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian (74-95)
      Red Sonja (77-79)
      Master of Kung Fu (74-83) and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (74-77)
      Howard the Duck (76-79)
      The Nam (86-93)

Conan is the big exception to the rule, but Master of Kung-Fu was pretty darned close to a flat-out superhero book -- if an exceptionally well-written one -- for most of its run, with costumed enemies like Midnight, Razor-Fist, Shockwave, Zaran, and characters like Brynocki. Similarly, Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf By Night would be among the "horror titles that ended up doing lots of superhero crossovers" I was talking about. Not only did the main title give us Dracula vs. Dr. Strange and later the Silver Surfer, guest-shots from characters like Brother Voodoo (himself a superhero/horror hybrid). Plus, Dracula himself turned up in superhero books like Giant-Size Spider-Man #1. And the Werewold spent lots of time fighting the likes of Moon Knight, the Committee and its super-agents, costumed sorcerer Doctor Glitternight, evil costumed vigilante the Hangman, and met Iron Man to team up against Daredevil's old enemy the Masked Marauder and his Tri-Android.

    And of course there were even anthologies

    Amazing Adventures (70-76)
    Adventure into Fear (70-75)

Amazing Adventures was a superhero double-feature, launched with another, Astonishing Tales. AA featured the Black Widow and the Inhumans, and AT started with Ka-Zar fighting Kraven and its back half given over to Doctor Doom. AA eventually became the Beast's solo title and was then cancelled; AT eventually spawned Killraven and Deathlok, who are admittedly less like superheroes. The original idea for the two anthologies was explicitly to replicate Marvel's superhero double features of years past.

Adventure Into Fear was, similarly, a sort of horror title set in the Marvel Universe. After the Man-Thing's rather brief run in AiF run spawned a solo title, it became a Morbius book featuring a supervillain from Amazing Spider-Man.


      2) That aforementioned issue of distribution: I'm not sure when the shift happened, nut it couldn't have been much earlier than the 1970s that Marvel really had full distribution parity with National/DC. Having more access to more sales points for so long, DC could create both brand loyalty and a track record of sales in all sorts of genres. Marvel, until at least 1968 and I would suspect a few years beyond it, not only lacked that track record but also couldn't produce non-superhero titles that would have looked riskier for the business model Stan Lee's distinctly superheroic creations of the 1960s helped generate.

      DC distributed Marvel comics from 1957 to 1968, the same years Tales of Suspense and Tales of Astonish stopped.

Yes, but even after Marvel got its new distribution deal, it didn't have the market penetration of the better-established National line. Of necessity, Marvel's early 1970s distributor was smaller than National's, as is easily shown by Marvel's production of fewer total separate titles ubntil the middle 1970s, when Marvel's total sales finally eclipsed National/DC's and many of the books you're listing finally did launch. But by then, of course, Marvel had basically pensioned off its earlier non-superhero titles as reprint books and was focusing entirely on new launches. And Edda's asking why the earlier non-superhero stuff didn't stick around at Marvel.

    Another major factor was the creation of the direct market, which resulted in more hardcore readers, and less non-hardcore readers. These nonhardcore readers were the primary buyers of these nonsuperhero comics, like the romance ones. Comics didn't have to be that diverse any longer because that diverse market was no longer there.

That's well after the period in question, though -- it doesn't explain why early 60s Marvel didn't have, say, DC's multiple war titles. Sgt. Rock was countered with Sgt. Fury, sure, but where was Marvel's Army At War and various other titles in the same period? Aside from the abortive War Is Hell, Marvel didn't really try many war books at a time when DC was trying lots of them. And frankly, Marvel never really did have anything along the lines of DC's ongoing launches of new Western characters like Jonah Hex and Bat Lash, or its . The horror anthologies of the mid-1970s, which both companies were launching to capitalize on the ban Stan eventually got lifted via Morbius in Amazing Spider-Man, were when things changed at Marvel in these sorts of directions.

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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