Comic Fandom Monthly, No. 2 (October 1971), page 22-23

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Dublin Core

Title

Comic Fandom Monthly, No. 2 (October 1971), page 22-23

Description

An editorial rant about Marvel products.

Creator

Joe Brancatelli

Source

Comic Fandom Monthly, No. 2 (October 1971)

Date

1971-10

Contributor

Stan Clish

Scripto

Transcription

SOUNDING BOARD BY STAN CLISH

"There is a terrible sameness about Marvel products except
Where Roy Thomas is involved."

COMICS-WHERE THEY’RE AT AND WHY.

Over 200 million comic books are
sold each year, produced by less than
200 people, including writers, ar-
tists, and letterers working for six
companies. Most are poorly compensa-
ted. Most are free-lancers paid on
the average of $15 a page. In con-
trast, Bill Everett was getting $14 a
page for pencilling and inking The
Submariner and other strips in 1940.
Bill Finger scripting Batman in the
late thirties was getting $12 a page.
Super artist/editor/writer Jack Kirby
earns well over $35,000 a year-a true
exception to the rule.
National sells about 70 million an-
nually, Marvel 40 million, Archie 35
million,, Charlton, Gold Key and Har-
vey each sell about 25 million.
Spidey is the top seller of ;the
Marvel line. At National the all-time
world champ was, and still is Super-
ma.
The index of profit and loss for a
comic book is not in sales. It is the
percentage of published copies retur-
ned from the sales stands unsold. A
comic that suffers returns of more
than 50% is in trouble. You'll notice
in the publisher's regular statements
of ownership so many thousands of co-
pies listed under office use, lefto-
ver, damaged.... They're the unsold,
returned books. By studying the vari-
ous statements of ownership you can
gauge the future of any comic.
That's what happened to Marvel's M
rated fifty-centers. Savage Tales #1
was going to be followed by a Dracula
and Marvel Premiere. Due to very poor
distribution, poor shelf display (who
would look for a comic in the Life or
Mc Call's magazine section?) And poor
response, it is doubtful that there
will ever be another one. This is al-
so a problem with Jack Kirby's In The
Days of The Meb. Have y'all seen his
second Ififty-center, Spirit World?
Fantastic! And Skywald's HellRider, a
worthy publication, is also suffering
labor pains.
Total volume of sold comix is defi-
nitely on the downside and getting
worse. The Green Lantern just barely
missed oblivion a few months ago. Not
at the hands of some extra-galactic
fiend, but because he kept returning
to the D.C. dust bins. Relevancy, the
Green Arrow team-up and twenty-eight
year old Denny O'Neil rescued the old
Green Gladiator. Superman may save
this tired, old planet on a daily ba-
sis, but he can't bail out a fellow
super-hero who doesn't sell. I
The publishers are hurting but are
scraping by on the strength(?) of re-
prints.
Marvel recently issued Cbnan #10
with all new comics emblazoned on the
cover. Inside it there was a pedantic
Black Knight reprint from the fatuous
fifties. Stan apologized editorially
saying the cover was prepared before
the contents. Then somebody became
indisposed so they had to substitute
the good Knight. I originally felt I
had been had. After reading Stan's
apologia I knew I had been had. Mar-
vel's switchover to the 25¢ format is
indicative of haste, money-grubbing ,
and overall sloppiness.
What are we getting for our cash?A
month ago I could purchase a 36 page
comic with all new stories and art
from D.C. or Marvel. Today I pay 25¢,
a 66% increase, for a book consisting
of the same or less amount of pages
devoted to all new material. S0 we're
paying l0¢ more for sixteen or more
pages of r-p's. That's no bargain.
The reprints are too much with us
not because of reader demand, nor be-
cause their staffs can't fill the
pages of the enlarged books as Marvel
suggests. DC gets a little closer to
the truth blaming it on inflation.
Inflation does play a part. But again
the fundamental reason is that comics
just aren't selling. what businessman
wants to explain he's cheapening his
product because it is not selling?
Girls and guys, it's 1946 all over
again.

“Comics, like any other life function have become
too compartmentalized.”


These explanations,especially Mar-
vel's are as gossamer in a tornado.
There is no groundswell in reader de-
mands for r-p's. Note the letters to
the editor columns. The editor, of
course, wants to run letters impres-
sing fandom with the great response
to its r-p's. It just isn't there.
Except with the Jack Kirby quadrology
classics. Marvel would do better to
publish their golden age backlog. Re-
member Fantasy Masterpieces of five
years ago? In its early issues it re-
printed some of Timely's finest gol-
den oldies.
If Marvel's staff can't fill the
pages, how about enlarging the staff
or reducing the pages? 0r even better
quit kidding your audience with fac-
ile self-serving explanations.
Comix blasted off once more in the
early sixties with an appreciation of
the reader's intelligence. Now there
is an undertow of cheapness, and dis-
regard for the buyer's acuity. Espe-
cially from Marvel.
The impression fostered by Marvel,
is that Kirby left the bullpen lea-
ving a bad taste in the collective
Marvel mouth. But his loss won't be
felt. It's onward and upward, no-pri-
zers! Yet I find nearly every Marvel
r-p is Kirby, wholly or partly. Cer-
tainly he's the featured artist; not
Colan, Trimpe, Severin et.al. Many of
the Marvel newies have Kirby oriented
art.
Stan Lee, as quoted in The New York
Times of May 2, l97l described Kirby
(then with Marvel) as follows: "He is
one of the giants, a real titan. He
has had tremendous influence in the-
field. His artwork has great power
and drama and tells a story beauti-
fully. No matter what he draws it
looks exciting and that's the name of
the game."
White man speaks with forked tongue
and cross-ciruited semantics.
There is a terrible sameness about
Marvel products except where Roy Tho-
mas is involved. Because they are all
edited by Stan Lee.
The cosmic villain versus super-
hero who has hang-ups and a retarded
fifteen year old's relationship with
girls.
I respectfully submit that two or
three other editors (or writers gran-
ted license) with fresh concepts be
hired by Marvel, that r-p's feature
more golden age material, and that
sufficient funds be found and artis-
tic freedom granted to retain the
bullpen boys. It would be cheaper
than losing the likes of Neal Adams,
Jim Steranko, and Jack Kirby (twice).
Incidently, when Kirby first left
Timely(marvel) in l94l to join Natio-
nal, it was Stan Lee who took over as
editor. How the lives of Lee and Kir-
by have interwined.
I'm fully aware that Stan is Martin
Goodman's wife's cousin. Mr. Goodman
is president of Magazine Management
Co.(Marvel) which is owned by Cadence
Industries (DC is owned by Kinney,the
rent-a-car folks who also own Warner
Bros.). I'm cognizant that Stan, age
IS IT LEE'S TIME?
forty-eight years has two years of a
five-year contract to work out and
makes over $75,000 per annum. I'm al-
so aware of Stan's thirty years of
experience in the trade, but I wonder
if it's one year times thirty.
We in fandom owe much to Stan Lee.
when in l96l he began to metamorphose
the Marvel line with superheroes as
everyman,he may well have saved comix
from being flushed down the porcelain
convenience.
He is a devoted family man with a
beautiful 2l year old daughter.
But each man has his own time in
this life. And then the more fleet of
foot (and mind) prevail. A
without question, comix are under-
going a major revolution. Revolution?
Perhaps degenerating is more apt. The
25, 50 and 60 cent mags, the use of
black and white and reprints.
Comics run roughly in ten year cy-
cles. ~l93l: The adventure hero (Tar-
zan, Buck Rogers) is established. In
1941: The golden age is in full flo-
wer. Kirby leaves Timely.
l95l: EC and the new wave is upon us.
God! Those were and are the most bea-
utiful comix ever to roll off a prin-
ting press.
I961: The bleak, grey chill of Novem-

BUT ARE COMIC BOOKS FACING THE FRONT?