Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Return of The Comic Reader

After numerous alterations in title, numbering and publishers, On The Drawing Board reverted back to The Comic Reader with issue # 69, July 1968, as publisher Mark Hanerfeld explains:

"There's been some changes made. To begin with, since Bob Schoenfeld is no longer publishing a fanzine using the TCR title, this zine will revert to its old title."

                                    And it will remain least for THIS post!   

The news section of TCR notes that Charlton will publish the titles and material left over from the defunct King Comics, including some Wally Wood drawn Jungle Jim's. DC news included reports on Steve Ditko continuing to have health issues (as noted in the previous issue -and blog post - Ditko had recently been hospitalized, but was expected to recuperate soon). Gil Kane substituted for him on Hawk and Dove and while Ditko was able to pencil the Creeper story in issue 5, an inker might be needed to complete the work. 

Mike Peppe stepped in to ink The Creeper #5 (Feb 1969), although Ditko's sense of design shines through on the above page. Hanerfeld had close ties to DC and much of his news concerning their activities was usually correct. In the letters page of this issue editor Dick Giordano explained: 

"I'm not now and haven't ever thought of replacing Steve on THE CREEPER. However, Steve has been ailing lately and his assignments have had to be handled by others. As far as I'm concerned, the Creeper is Steve's book."  

Neal Adams was apparently slated to sub for Steve, but the title was cancelled with the sixth issue. Ditko drew 11 penciled pages for issue #6, with Jack Sparling completing the rest and Mike Peppe inking. Hawk and the Dove continued with Gil Kane artwork for four issues until that title was cancelled. Ditko soon returned to comics, although working primarily for Charlton, along with his independent characters and stories appearing in fanzines. He would not produce any work for DC again until 1975.     

Another interesting tid-bit was how Iris West was almost killed off in the Flash. In later years wholesale killing of characters became standard operating procedure, but this was not the case at DC in 1968.


The Flash story that wasn't so tragic! Ross Andru/Mike Esposito cover to Flash # 184, December 1968

An attractive sketch of Mary Perkins by Leonard Starr, from the comic strip On Stage. 

A terrific John Romita sketch of Daredevil, one of Romita's favorite characters. Incidentally, Hanerfeld explained that most of the illos were from the collections of Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. 

 The Comic Reader # 70, (Oct 1968) includes an array of goings-on at National, including the departure of Irwin Donenefeld and the return of Alex Toth and John Broome. 

The distinctive art of Kurt Schaffenberger, drawing a character he was long associated with, Lois Lane, from TCR # 70.

Newcomer Herb Trimpe furnishes an excellent drawing of Kid Colt, from The Comic Reader # 71, Dec '68

Along with news of Gold Key management changes, a Pete Costanza drawing of ACG's Magicman enlivens the 71st issue of The Comic Reader (December 1968)  

A traumatic event for many fans was the raise in price from 12 to 15 cents. I was there, kids, and those three extra pennies was a big deal. Little did we know how often prices would rise in the following decades. Hannerfeld's thoughts on the future of comics packaging and pricing was interesting, but the haphazard attempts by publishers leaned less towards experimentation and more with the status quo.

Joe Orlando based the visual design of the character Abel, host of the revived mystery title House of Secrets, on publisher Mark Hanerfeld. From TCR # 73, May 1969. A particularly interesting item is the proposed line of slick 75 cent color magazines that Jerry DeFuccio was attempting to publish. It sounded like it would have been an interesting endeavor, although DC apparently bought some of the stories.  

The winners of the 1968 Alley Awards, from TCR # 74, October 1969. At this point the superhero output of Marvel and DC dominated the awards, although war and westerns still had a decent showing. Less so with romance - Millie the Model received a total of 28 votes. Steranko was a big winner in a number of categories and newspaper strips remained popular among fans. 

After a six month gap, The Comic Reader #'s 74 and 75 came out simultaneously. Issue 74 contained the Alley Awards and an ongoing fanzine index, while # 75 featured all news. TCR didn't just handle news of the comics industry, it also included information on comic related books, novels based on TV shows such as Star Trek and the Prisoner, and science fiction and sword and sorcery paperbacks. Along with news of comic cons, articles on comics appearing in newspapers and magazines and ephemera such as toys and games, TCR had a varied and interesting  approach.  

TCR often carried reproductions of upcoming DC comics since Hanerfeld had access to the editorial staff. Marvel was less accommodating and would not supply any advance art or previews in this period. Aquaman #50 cover art by Nick Cardy; Hot Wheels # 1, art by Alex Toth and Dick Giordano. From The Comic Reader #76, December 1970.

    News of the debut of the Friday Foster comic strip by creator Jim Lawrence and artist Jorge Longaron. This stylish strip featured the first African-American woman in a continuing series. I recall enjoying the strip as a child when it appeared in the New York Daily News. With all the wonderful collections of comic strips appearing, I hope some publisher will collect the series into book form one day soon. From The Comic Reader # 77, January 1970.

Next Up: Another change in title, publisher and format.         


Robert Beerbohm said...

Hi Nick, I have a complete run of TCR/OTDB/etc but am still in resorting process since moving to a new warehouse otherwise would look em up myself for obtain confirmation answer to this what you wrote:

"...DC news included reports on a still ailing Steve Ditko (the previous issue stated he was hospitalized but should be well soon)...."

OK, you begin with #68 here, looked back on previous blog but you seem to lack a 67, or am I just missing it you making comment on it, on Ditko's illness

I had been seeking off & on to date out when Ditko has his relapse with TB.

Do you NEED FCR #67 yet?

bob aka

Nick Caputo said...

Hi Bob,

I do have the issue. I inadvertently omitted the news item from TCR 68, but I went back and added the info to the previous post. Thanks for noticing the error.

SangorShop said...

DC printed all the stories that Jerry DeFuccio bought for his "Chevrons", but Jerry kept the copyrights and reprinted the stories later in various semi-pro stories.

Kid said...

Nick, you must be having yourself a ball going through these issues and re-reading them. Thanks for sharing the fun (and info) with us.

Nick Caputo said...

SangorShop -

Thanks for sharing the info. I'm glad to know all the stories were printed.

Nick Caputo said...

Thanks Kid, it is great to dig through those old fanzines, a treasure trove of information and a sense of fun and enthusiasm runs through many of them.