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The Buzzard swoops! – Wham Comics #2, 1940

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There is a commonly held belief amongst today’s comic book fans that the “Big Two” (DC and Marvel) outlasted their myriad 1940’s competitors (and became the two major comic companies) by providing a superior product: better characters, better stories, better art, better ideas, better business management. That belief is in no small measure fueled by the P.R. machines of the two companies in question. But the truth is that these two companies became the top dogs simply because they never stopped publishing comics. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman became the iconic “trinity” simply by virtue of the fact that they were the only superhero characters whose adventures were published continuously throughout the 1950’s. DC dropped their other superhero books completely in 1951 and, although the first of their revamped characters (Barry Allen replacing Jay Garrick as The Flash) appeared just five years later, that half-decade saw only the three aforementioned superheroes hitting the stands under the DC imprint. Marvel (then Timely) had for the most part stopped publishing superheroes by 1950 (although Marvel Boy lasted into 1951). The company attempted a superhero resurgence in the mid-1950’s by reintroducing their own “Big Three” (Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and Human Torch), but the effort lasted only two years. The company published westerns, romances, and monster comics through the Fifties before starting a new line of (successful) superhero titles in the early Sixties. But the relative quality of DC and Marvel’s comics had little to do with the publishers’ longevity; they’re still around simply because they just didn’t quit. More

Good girl art, down on the farm – The Farmer’s Daughter #1, 1954

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Q: What do you get when you cross a dirty joke with a comic book?

A: Today’s post in The Big Blog o’Fun! More

Free Comic Book Day, Forties style – C-M-O Comics #1, 1942

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Today is Free Comic Book Day, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in May. A relatively recent creation (it’s a 21st century invention), the day was created by comic book distributors to help drive business into local brick and mortar stores. Comic publishers print special FCBD titles which local stores can purchase to give away to their customers; the middlemen distributors provide the advertising materials and drive the online presence. Opinions vary as to the promotion’s success; it’s been a mixed bag over the life of the project. In my small town, in which we have three (!) comic shops (one of which, to be fair, is a 2nd & Charles store, part of a chain which seems hell-bent on being “Hot Topic for the geek crowd”), FCBD used to be a far bigger deal ten years ago. Back then, the free comic offerings from the “Big Two” and the indies were better: “How to Draw” books, preview “Issue 0” books for forthcoming titles, “extra” books for existing titles featuring stories not featured later in the main books (Death-Defying Devil from Project Superpowers, I’m looking at you here). Online photos from big-city comic shops (like Collectors Corner just outside Baltimore) showed lines going around the block the night before the event. In the last few years, however, FCBD has become much more of a “meh” event. The indie publishers have recently started offering “preview” books which are just issue #1 reprints of failed titles cancelled years before, while the Big Two offer titles which feature “concept art” from their next big mega-event (“Alex Ross’ preliminary character sketch designs for the upcoming Ultra-Secret Invasion Heroes Rebirth Flashpoint United event — after which the D’Carvel Universe will never be the same!!!” [until we reboot again just before the next mega-event]). More