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Old March 21st, 2012, 04:03 PM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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Five Colors for a Dime: A Comic Book Timeline (Redux)

This is my second go a comic book timeline. My first try was an epistolic timeline, but I felt it wasn't working. So now, I'm trying something different. This timeline will be presented as if was taken from a fan's web page. Footnotes will come in two types: numeric will represent information the article author thought was important, alphabetic will represent notes from me.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The History of Superhero Comic Books

The Forgotten Age[1]

The evolution of the modern comic book began in 1933 with publication of the Funnies on Parade by Eastern Color Publishing. This was the first book to have the standard dimensional format that would be recognizable by modern fans. It consisted entirely of reprinted comic strips. The next step occurred in 1934 when M.C. Gaines put a 10-cent sticker on the cover of Famous Funnies. While it contained reprints, it did show a market existed. In 1935, National Allied Publishing (which would become DC Comics) published New Fun. This was the first book with all-original material.


Max Gaines, Harry Donenfeld, and Jack Liebowitz (1940)


The Golden Age

The course of comic book (and American pop culture) would change irrevocably in 1938 with the publication of National's Action Comics. On the cover was a caped figure in red and blue circus tights smashing an automobile against a boulder. Superman's debut would mark the birth of the Golden Age of Comics. He would become the base template for all the other superheroes to come. Once it became apparent that Action Comics were a hit, other superheroes began to appear. Among the first was Wonderman produced the notorious Victor Fox. A direct copy of Superman, National quickly sued Fox. Wonderman was no more. In 1939, DC added a new superhero archetype with the introduction of the Batman. Soon, more heroes and archetypes began to burst on the scene. 1940 brought forth the first patriotic hero in MLJ's the Shield, but Atlas's Captain America would become better known. All-American would present the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Justice Society of America. Atlas would have the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner join Captain America. Quality would give us Plastic Man. Fox would rebound from the Wonderman disaster with the Blue Beetle. While inspired by the Man of Steel, Captain Marvel by Fawcett would take the archetype in an original direction.


Action Comics #1 (June 1938)


With the U.S. entry into the Second World War, superheroes became the dominant genre in comic books. Once the war ended, interest in superheroes would decline dramatically. In 1946, MLJ would be the first to drop superheroes. Others would soon follow suit. However, DC's superhero comics, primarily Superman and Batman, were not affected by this trend. It allowed them to ride out the lack of interest. Other publishers were not so lucky and began to look for new genres to exploit. MLJ would have success with their teen humor icon. They would even rename the company after him, becoming Archie Comics. The Disney characters would drive Dell's fortunes. Others would continue with western, science fiction, and romance. Lev Gleason would hit the jackpot with true crime. All-American, fresh from their separation from DC, started "New Direction" books, horror/sf/fantasy stories with twist endings.[A] However, their success would lead other companies to jump on the bandwagon. These companies' output would provide fuel for the upcoming firestorm.


The All-American Publications logo (1945)


In 1946, Siegel and Shuster's contract to produce Superman stories was coming to an end. Conflict arose between DC (then known as National Periodicals) and Siegel and Shuster over compensation. Attorney Albert Zugsmith whom Siegel had met during service in the army convinced them to sue. Initially, they had the support of Charlie Gaines and Bob Kane. Kane would sandbag Siegel and Schuster by using to lawsuit to negotiate a new more profitable deal. Gaines withdrew his support after meeting with Zugsmith. According to son, Bill, - 'he found Zugsmith a bit suspicious'. The case proceeded to trial in early 1947. A week in the trial, the proceeding halted and both parties went into mediation.[B] The records on the trial and mediation were sealed. What is known is DC retained all rights to Superman and Superboy. Siegel and Schuster received an undisclosed sum. Rumor has the amount as high as $10 million. But more importantly, each received a small percentage of the company.[2] Siegel continued to write Superman until he retired in 1959. He and Shuster also created Funnyman. After the Funnyman title ended in 1956, Schuster retired to Cleveland.


Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (date unknown)


Critics of comic strips and books dated back to their creation, but a new wave attacks started with the arrival of successful crime and horror books. The backlash gained steam when at a 1948 New York symposium entitled "The Psychopathology of Comic Books". In response, Lev Gleason and other publishers formed the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers (ACMP). This did little to quite the critics as both big and little publishers generally ignored ACMP. 1950 would be the high point in the anti-comic crusade. By 1951, the ACMP issued a revised code in conjunction with better enforcement. Bans on comic books that various cities had enacted such as Los Angeles were being found to be unconstitutional. Dr. Fredic Wertham, one of the early crusaders, had grown disenchanted with the anti-comic movement and withdrew his support.[3] McCarthyism had begun to divert the attention of America away from the movement. During the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings in 1953, comics were barely mentioned. The hysteria had subsided, but the damage was done.


Crime Does Not Pay #79, first Gleason book with a ACMP logo (Sept. 1949)


Lev Gleason tired of the battles over his comics, ceased production in 1954. Other minor publishers followed suit. In 1952, DC settled their lawsuit against Fawcett Comics for $300,000 and ownership of Fawcett's comic properties. Charlton absorbed Standard Comics (formally Nedor) in 1952. Quality Comics were sold to DC in 1955. Fox Comics ended in 1951 when Victor Fox disappeared. Iger Studios would claim the Fox characters in lue of payment owed. When Iger closed shop in 1952, he would take these characters to the newly formed Magazine Enterprises. In 1953, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon started S&K Publications colloquially known as Escape Comics. All-American's "New Direction" titles would undergo a change in 1953. In an agreement to keep Harvey Kurtzman happy, Mad would transition from a comic book to a humor magazine.[C] Not wanting to devote resources to a department for a single magazine, Gaines created SuspenStories ("True" Crime stories), Valor (war/action stories), and Impact (Horror tales) magazines. However, only Mad and Impact would survive past 1957.


Mad #24, the first magazine sized issue (July 1955)


The Golden Age Superheroes In Other Media

The popularity of superheroes during the Golden Age allowed them to spread into other media. Not surprising, Superman made the first move by joining the funny pages. The Superman comic strip ran from 1939 to 1966. From 1943 to 1946, Batman would also appear in newspapers. Soon Superman moved to the airwaves. The Superman radio program began in 1940. It would last until 1951. The other superheroes that would join Superman on the radio were that the Blue Beetle, the Black Hood, and the Flash. The Blue Beetle (1940) and Black Hood (1942) programs would only last six months, while the Flash (1946) would be on the air for two years. In addition to the radio program, Superman appeared in two sets of cartoons (1941 and 1942) produced by Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios respectively.


Ad for the Blue Beetle Radio program (1940)


As expected, movie serials would be the next destination for superheroes. However, the first superhero movie serial wasn't Superman, but his competition.[4] The "Adventures of Captain Marvel" premiered in 1941. It was followed by "Spy Smasher" (1942), "Batman" (1943), "Captain America" (1944), "The Flash" (1946), "Superman" (1947), "The Power of the Green Lantern" (1948), "Superman Returns" (1948), "Batman & Robin" (1949), and "Superman vs. Doctor Atom" (1950).
In 1951, the first superhero feature film was released, "Superman and the Moon Menace". Using the film as a springboard, Superman would move to television. Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill would reprise their roles as Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane. "The Adventures of Superman" would run from 1952 to 1958.[5]


Kirk Alyn as Superman in "Superman Returns" (1948)


--------------------------------

[1] The term was first in the article, "The Forgotten Age: Comics before Superman" by Jerry Bails. The article was printed in fourth edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The term most likely stuck due to Jerry's position as the "father of comic book fandom".

[2] Speculation on why DC conceded part of company tends to focus on Zugsmith. He did not represent Siegel and Schuster during the mediation. He voluntarily gave up his New York law license indefinitely. A month later, he moved to Los Angeles. According Mark Evanier, an unnamed source at DC told him that there collusion between Zugsmith and DC publisher Harry Donenfeld. Somehow word found its way to Judge Armstrong. The judge halted the trial and oversaw the mediation to ensure fairness.

[3] Wertham's disenchantment began to manifest publicly in August 1949. An apocryphal story has the root of this due to a chance meeting with Max Gaines on the train ride back to New York from a Baltimore conference.

[4] While the Green Hornet serial came out 1940, he is considered more a pulp/crime hero than superhero.

[5] The show ran in syndication from 1952 until 1954. These episodes were b&w. The show moved to CBS in 1954. The episodes would be filmed in color, but broadcast in b&w. The villains moved from generic gangsters and thugs to more colorful supervillains.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

[A] This is the POD. In OTL, Donnefeld bought out Gaines and DC absorbed All-American. Gaines used this money to form EC. Here, he decided to buy out Donnefeld and continue All-American on his own.

[B] Siegel and Schuster lost the lawsuit in OTL.

[C] This is what happened in OTL. The story of Mad moving from comic to magazine to escape the Comics Code Authority is incorrect.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 07:32 PM
krinsbez krinsbez is offline
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This is super-cool. I am especially pleased that you eliminated Wertham's anti-comic crusade without trying to demonize him.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 08:19 PM
Kalvan Kalvan is offline
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I thought that Quality's Minuteman predated both Shield and Cap.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 08:26 PM
statichaos statichaos is offline
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This looks like fun. Enjoying the corporate machinations driving this rather than personal conflicts and artistic demands/issues.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 01:11 AM
Brainbin Brainbin is offline
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A Golden Age of Comics timeline! Delightful! Consider me subscribed!
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 10:13 PM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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Originally Posted by krinsbez View Post
This is super-cool. I am especially pleased that you eliminated Wertham's anti-comic crusade without trying to demonize him.
After some research, I found him more sympathetic than I would have thought. He made some valid points, such as the ads. In some ways, he reminded me of Fred Rogers. Someone who really cared about children and effect of violence on them. Besides, anyone is part of landmark Brown vs. Board of Education can't be all bad.

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I thought that Quality's Minuteman predated both Shield and Cap.
According to my research Minuteman didn't appear until February 1941. The Shield and Captain America appeared in 1940 (January and December respectively).

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Originally Posted by statichaos View Post
This looks like fun. Enjoying the corporate machinations driving this rather than personal conflicts and artistic demands/issues.
The funny thing in this era, the companies are more reflective of their owners in personality. I am trying to keep my personal views out of the narrative, but I am not a fan of Harry Donnenfeld or Victor Fox.

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A Golden Age of Comics timeline! Delightful! Consider me subscribed!
Thanks. I hope to take this up to the modern era.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 11:59 PM
Brady Kj Brady Kj is offline
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I like how the Golden Age ended much more strongly than IRL. I'm looking forward to your Silver Age.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 11:39 PM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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The Silver Age: Part One

The Silver Age[1]

With the popularity of their "New Direction" books fading, All-American began looking towards other genres. It was early 1956 during an editorial meeting, when Julius Schwartz said, "I want to bring back the Flash". That sentence would cause lightning to strike. Bill Gaines[2] told Schwartz to use Extra!.[3] That September, Extra! #38 premiered the renovated[A] Flash. As sales figures rolled in, it slowly became apparent to All-American that they had something.[4] After the Flash's third tryout, it was decided to re-launch his original title, Flash Comics (continuing the original numbering). Extra! would continue to function as tryout title. A renovated Green Lantern appeared next, followed by Wonder Woman, and Hawkman and Hawkgirl.[B]


Extra! #38, first appearance of the Flash and the start of the Silver Age (September 1956)


While All-American was enjoying some new success, Atlas was not. Owner Martin Goodman had reached a crossroads, but he would be blindsided by events out of his control. Some publishers, such as All-American, Archie, Dell(Western)[5], and Escape, had self-built networks. Most others outsourced their distribution service to the American News Company or the DC-owned Independent News. In an effort to save money, Goodman shut down his distribution network and signed up with American News.


Martin Goodman, owner and founder of Atlas Comics (date unknown)


Without warning in the fall of 1957, the American New Company closed its doors.[6] This left many comic book and magazine companies scrambling. Some of the smaller ones, such as New Orange Publishing and Tricorner Comics, simply went out of business. Others were forced to change their size/format in order secure distribution deals. Often, the end result was a disaster for the company. Magazine Enterprises owner Vin Sullivan was able arrange the absorption of his company by Escape. Atlas did receive a distribution offer from Independent News. However, it would have limited them to twelve titles a month instead of their normal fifty. In the end, Goodman decided to sell Atlas to All-American.[7]


Atlas Comics logo (circa 1950's)


Tales of Justice and Journey Into Mystery, two of three Atlas surviving anthology titles, became showcases for the new versions of Captain America and Sub-Mariner. The third, Uncanny Tales, was turned into showcase title similar to the Brave and the Bold. Most of the characters were not superheroes, but would eventually be incorporated into the All-American multitverse. These titles did introduce new Mr. Terrific, Atom, Human Torch, Wildcat, Black Canary, and the Justice League of America (JLA).[8] All-American's superhero trend did not go unnoticed. Escape began 1958 by releasing the Challengers of the Unknown and the Fighting American. They were followed by the Adventures of the Fly and Phantom Lady.


Challengers of the Unknown #4, first appearance of Immortus (November 1958)


Archie also entered the superhero genre, abet a different route. It was one that involved the demise of Atlas. Archie needed to someone to run their new superhero line, "Archie Action Series". Despite the purchase of Atlas by All-American, there were just not enough work keep the entire staff. All-American editor Julius Schwartz knew Stan Lee wanted to try his hand at superheroes, but as the newest member of the All-American staff there were other writers ahead him. So with a recommendation from Schwartz, Archie hired Lee and Steve Ditko. One of the first things Ditko and Lee did was to convince Archie to change the line name to "Mighty Comics".[9] Archie gave Ditko and Lee a free hand, but the major characters had to use Archie-owned names.[10] Ditko and Lee unleashed their first two titles, the "Amazing Web" and the "Incredible Shield", in fall of 1958. By the 1961, Mighty Comics had expanded to ten titles including the Avengers (Mighty's answer to the JLA).


Amazing Web #1, first Mighty Comics title (March 1959)


While All-American, Archie/Mighty, and Escape were expanding into the superhero genre, DC maintained their status quo. Since 1953, DC had only been publishing the adventures of the Superman and Batman 'families' in five superhero titles: Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, Superman, and World's Finest. This was about to change. During a dinner party in the spring of 1960, Donenfeld came across Schwartz and Lee were having a friendly argument about which of their respective superhero titles sold better. The next day, Donenfeld ordered his staff to expand.[11] Seemingly overnight, Adventure Comics, My Greatest Adventure, and Tales of the Unexpected were transformed from anthology titles to superhero titles. Among the first characters resurrected were Aquaman, Green Arrow, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Robotman, Starman, and X-Man[12]. DC would place these characters into their new superteam, the Legion of Superheroes.


Legion of Superheroes #4 (August 1960)


As the "Swinging Sixties" dawned, comic books saw an increase in the sales. However, inflation had caused the profit margins on comics to shrink. Most of the companies wanted to increase the price of a book, but no one wanted to be first. Dell used a series of specials to test a variety of prices. Dell settled on fifteen cents. DC tried to undercut them by only going up to twelve cents. In a surprise move, the other companies followed Dell and fifteen cents became the standard. DC quickly followed suit.[C]

--------------------------------

[1] "The Silver Age" was first applied to this era in September 1962. The term appeared in both a letter column in Uncanny Tales #112 (All-American) and on the cover of Invincible Comet Annual #3 (Mighty). Considering the time it took to produce a book back then, it is unlikely that one stole from the other.

[2] Bill Gaines had taken over All-American that spring when his father Max was in the hospital after being struck by taxi. Upon recovery, Max retired and relocated to Miami Beach.

[3] Extra! was never a big success. Starting February 1953, it was a monthly title that focused on reporter driven adventure stories. Two years later, it became a bi-monthly anthology title. By spring of 1956, it was on the verge on being cancelled.

[4] At that time, it could take up to four months to get the sales figures and determine if a title was a success.

[5] Most publishers provided their own financing and content, while outsourcing distribution. Dell provided financing and outsourced content and distribution to Western Publishing. So, despite having Dell on the cover, the rights to all licensed characters such as Disney were held by Western.

[6] Most people believe its closure is due to fallout from being found guilty of restraint of trade in federal court. However, historian/author Gerry Jones thinks it was value of their real estate holdings.

[7] DC had put in offer. But after the Independent News incident, Goodman made it known he rather close shop than sell to DC.

[8] The original JLA lineup was Captain America, Flash, Green Lantern, Mr. Terrific, Sub-Mariner, and Wonder Woman.

[9] Archie rejected Lee's suggestion of "Magnum Comics".

[10] Ever since the Superman case, comic companies established stricter control on being "works for hire" and trademarks.

[11] By all accounts, this story is apocryphal.

[12] X-Man had first appeared in Batman #92. The character was a Martian policeman who traveled to Earth to learn from the world's greatest detective.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

[A] ITTL, the term "renovated" is preferred over "reimaged".

[B] Max Gaines purchased the character outright in 1947.

[C] IOTL, the settled price was twelve cents.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 12:03 AM
Brady Kj Brady Kj is offline
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Could you explain the difference between DC and All-American in this timeline, and the historical difference between National and All-Americanin our timeline? I never had the knack for keeping them straight in the first place.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 03:46 AM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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Could you explain the difference between DC and All-American in this timeline, and the historical difference between National and All-Americanin our timeline? I never had the knack for keeping them straight in the first place.
National, DC, and All-American are the three companies that eventually formed the core of what is now DC Entertainment.

Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson founded national Allied Publications (NAP) in 1935. When Wheeler-Nicholson wanted to publish |Detective Comics||, he lacked the money to do. So, he was forced to take Harry Donenfeld as partner. Donenfeld also coerced Wheeler-Nicholson into forming a second company, Detective Comics, Inc., to publish |Detective Comics|| with Wheeler-Nicholson and Jack Liebowitz (Donenfeld's accountant). Detective Comics, Inc. became to called "DC". Shortly thereafter, NAP went under. So, DC bought NAP at a bankruptcy auction. DC merged with the remains of NAP to form National Comics. However, DC was kept as the company nickname.
Meanwhile in 1938, Max Gaines wanted to publish comics, but didn't have the money. Donenfeld lent him the money, provided he partner with Jack Liebowitz. This company was called All-American Publications. The relationship between Liebowitz/Donenfeld and Gaines was extremely unstable. It finally came to a head in 1945. DC bought out Gaines and merged All-American into DC.

After I finished typing all that, I'm not sure if I made it any clearer. So, here is a simplified timeline.

1935
National Allied Publications (NAP) founded by Wheeler-Nicholson.

1937
Donenfeld becomes partner in NAP.
Detective Comics, Inc. (DC) founded by Wheeler-Nicholson and Liebowitz.

1938
NAP goes bankrupt/DC buys NAP.
"Detective Comics, Inc." becomes "National Comics", but keeps calling itself DC.
All-American Publications founded by Gaines and Liebowitz.

1945
DC buys out Gaines. Merges All-American into DC.
"National Comics" is renamed "National Periodical Publications".


My POD is 1945. I have Gaines buys out Liebowitz. So, All-American will never become part of DC. And with Liebowitz gone, DC can no longer interfere with Gaines ability to run All-American his way. It also means that the ATL All-American and ATL DC split OTL DC's characters. To show you what I means, I will the Super Friends as an example. ATL DC gets Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and Robin. ATL All-American gets Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkman, and Green Lantern.
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Old March 27th, 2012, 12:29 PM
Brady Kj Brady Kj is offline
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I see, so All-American has everyone in the Justice Society, and now has the golden age Marvel characters, and Superman's Big Three are Supes, Bats, and Aquaman. Archie has Lee and Ditko, so it has characters like the Silver Age Marvel characters. Kirby started a company that bought a few other golden age characters. I always thought All-American had half the JSA and National had the other half, and they were merged right before that was published.

Will we see the Quality characters in the DC universe?

Last edited by Brady Kj; March 27th, 2012 at 12:43 PM..
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Old March 30th, 2012, 08:37 PM
Kalvan Kalvan is offline
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Basically, Lee at this point only has Steve Ditko. While Ditko does good work, he doesn't work all that fast, and I don't see him sustaining nearly the workload Kirby did in the 60s OTL. Unless he can lure the likes of Don Hetch, Gene Colon, Bill Everett, and John Romita Sr. over to bring up the slack, Mighty will become this ATL's version of OTL's Charlton.

With Kirby and Simon at Escape (assuming someone doesn't buy them out), I see the concepts behind OTL Thor, X-Men, Inhumans, Tommorow People/Fourth World/Apokolips, Hulk, and Etrigan the Demon coming up there.

Let's see now, the Comics companies (and flagship superteams) are, respectively:

All American: Justice League of America

DC(National Periodical Publications): Legion of Superheroes

Escape: Challengers of the Unknown

Mighty(Archie's Superhero Inprint): Avengers

Charlton: None so far...
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Old April 6th, 2012, 02:30 PM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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Originally Posted by Brady Kj View Post
I always thought All-American had half the JSA and National had the other half, and they were merged right before that was published.
They did. The Justice Society was essentially the first inter-company crossover published.

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Will we see the Quality characters in the DC universe?
Yes.

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Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
Basically, Lee at this point only has Steve Ditko. While Ditko does good work, he doesn't work all that fast, and I don't see him sustaining nearly the workload Kirby did in the 60s OTL. Unless he can lure the likes of Don Hetch, Gene Colon, Bill Everett, and John Romita Sr. over to bring up the slack, Mighty will become this ATL's version of OTL's Charlton.
Lee recruited help once Mighty began to move beyond its initial two titles (Shield and Web). However, Everett wasn't one of them.

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With Kirby and Simon at Escape (assuming someone doesn't buy them out), I see the concepts behind OTL Thor, X-Men, Inhumans, Tommorow People/Fourth World/Apokolips, Hulk, and Etrigan the Demon coming up there.
Most of those do appear one form or another at Escape. The companies ranked by size/sales are Dell/Western (due to the Disney properties), DC, All-American, Escape, and Mighty.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 02:42 PM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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The Silver Age, part 2

When the Legion of Superheroes first appeared, many fans wondered why Superman and Batman were not part of the team. The reason could be summed up in two words, Mort Weisinger. During the 1950's, Weisinger brought the best-selling titles (i.e. the Superman and Batman titles) under his control. When the superhero genre revitalized, he deflected any attempt to take the Superman/Batman families out of his direct control. When the Legion was first suggested, he used the idea of over-saturation to keep Superman and Batman out. As the Legion gained in popularity, Weisinger converted World's Finest into a team book for his new team, the Crusaders. The Crusaders consisted of Superman, Batman, and a supporting cast of four to five Quality Comics characters. The usual characters were Doll Man, the Ray, Uncle Sam, and the Human Bomb[1]. There was some grumbling at DC. But as long Weisinger's books sold, Irwin Donenfeld[2] kept the status quo.


World's Finest Comics #147, first appearance of the Crusaders (May 1963)


In July of 1963, Dell and Western had three months to go in their contract. However, negations had stalled. As an attempt to play hardball, Dell brought in Joe Gill to establish a comic book division. According the comic historian Gerry Jones, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Western decided that when the contract expired, they would use their properties to create Gold Key Comics. Dell was now behind the eight ball. It would take a herculean effort to get the comic division up and running, but Gill had a solution. He convinced Dell to purchase Crestwood Publications.[3] Crestwood had established characters, a working staff, and most importantly its own distribution network. In November, the new Dell and Gold Key comics arrived. In addition to Gold Key's licensed properties, they began to publish new superheroes. However, their superheroes resembled the pulp heroes of 1940's rather than modern superheroes.[4]


Doctor Solor #1 (December 1963)


In 1962, "Doctor No", the first movie in the James Bond series, was released. By 1964, spy fever was in full bloom. On television, series such as "I Spy", "Danger Man", and "Ian Fleming's Solo" were major hits. "Moonraker", "My Name is Modesty", and "The Wrecking Crew" were burning up the silver screen.[5] Spy organizations with acronyms for names (e.g. WASP, UNCLE, SPECTRE, and RAVEN) were on everybody's lips. Of course, the comic book companies followed suit. Among the organizations that popped up were SWORD (DC), CHESS (All-American), EAGLE (Escape), and TRIUMPH (Dell). The most popular would be Mighty's THUNDER. Under Wally Wood's guidance, THUNDER (The Higher United Network Defense Emergency Reserves) had it all.[6] By the end of the 1960's with the exception of THUNDER, these spy organizations eventually faded into their respective universe's background.


THUNDER Agents #1 (November 1964)


In fall of 1965, superheroes would return to forefront of pop culture. This return would start from an unlikely place, Chicago. In 1964, Chicago was home to the Playboy Mansion. That summer, Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner was holding Saturday film parties. At one such party, the Captain America serial was the film of choice. In attendance was ABC executive Harve Bennett and writers Buck Henry and Mel Brooks. Henry and Brooks had previously pitched "A Man Called Smart" to ABC. The series was intended to be a satire of the spy genre. Bennett agreed to green-light the series, but only if the lead character was Captain America. While Henry and Brooks were initially reluctant, they eventually acquiesced. "Captain America" premiered on September 18, 1965. It became an instant hit for ABC. The series would run five years. The original lead character, Maxwell Smart, would get a three-year spin-off in 1967. In the fall of 1966, NBC and CBS responded with superhero shows of their own. The "Fighting American" would appear on NBC. David Victor helmed NBC's entry, "The Fighting American”. Victor would produce an overly campy series that would only last one year.[7] Meanwhile, CBS had show runner Edgar Scherick go the more serious route with "Batman". It would last for two years.


Title card for the Captain America series (1965)


With the popularity of superheroes on television, some comic companies would jump on the bandwagon. Harvey Comics[8], tried to use superheroes to reinvigorate its "Harvey Thriller" imprint. Instead, the uninspired offerings hastened the imprint's demise. American Comics Group was able to stave off closing their doors for a few years with Herbie[9]. Only Charlton would have any long-term success. Roy Thomas would transform the old Nedor properties into a small superhero line. Even though the number of titles never exceeded eight, the line would remain successful and last well into the Bronze Age. While Thomas brought back a great number of the Nedor Characters, he concentrated on a dozen, most of whom were in team book the Defenders.[10]


Thrill-O-Rama #2, a prime example of bad superhero titles produced during this time period(September 1966)


In 1968, the Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation[11] was looking to diversify. They purchased DC from the Donenfeld family. The Batman tv show had raised the profile of DC and brought a surge in sales. Despite this surge, DC was still loosing market share to All-American, Mighty, and Escape. In the fall of 1969, the new DC management decided that it needed to shake things up. They would require almost every character to undergo an overhauls. These changes would be labeled "New Trend". When Weisinger, Jack Schiff, and other old-timers resisted, they found themselves promptly replaced. By the time DC's "New Trend" issues hit the stands in the spring of 1970, nearly half the staff had been replaced.


DC's "New Trend" house ad (1970)


Unlike the start of the Silver Age, there is no single point indicating the end of the Silver Age. However, 1970 is generally agreed upon transition year. Some key events occurred in this year. The price of comics rose from fifteen cents to twenty. DC's "New Trend" books were arriving at newsstands. That February, Escape began publishing Sixth World, a full-color glossy magazine quarterly.[12] Like Escape's early work, the material was aimed at an older audience. While only a quarterly, Sixth World marked the beginning of Jack Kirby movement away from the traditional comic book format.[A] While at Mighty, Steve Ditko left the company. Ditko and Stan Lee had been finding themselves increasingly at odds over the direction Mighty was taking. That summer, Mighty published the Amazing Web #145, in which the Web's long-time girlfriend Lynn Stacey was killed.[13] Towards the end of the year, Julius Schwartz was promoted to editor-in-chief for All-American. This would mark the first time since the dawn of the Silver Age that Schwartz would not have a direct hand in the guidance of All-American's superheroes.


Amazing Web #145, death of Lynn Stacey (August 1970)


--------------------------------

[1] The characters were changed as necessary. They were usually little more than a plot device. Other members of the Crusaders included Black Condor, Plastic Man, Doll Girl, and Kid Eternity. In the 1970's, it would be revealed that Jim Shooter ghost wrote most of the Crusaders stories.

[2] Irwin Donenfeld took over running DC from his father Harry in the spring of 1962.

[3] Dell's offer came at the right time. Crestwood's owners were in the planning stages of closing down.

[4] Examples include Magnus (a futuristic Tarzan) and Brain Boy (a telepathic Doc Savage).

[5] "Moonraker" was the third James Bond film. "My Name is Modesty" was the first Modesty Blaise film. "The Wrecking Crew" was the second Matt Helm film.

[6] Issues of THUNDER Agents would rotate stories between solo agent Robert Black, the THUNDER Squad (a Mission Impossible like team), and its superpowered agents (Lightning, NoMan, Dynamo, Raven, and Menthor).

[7] According to David Victor, he had read an article that called "Captain America" a spoof. So he assumed that was what NBC wanted.

[8] Harvey was primarily known as producer of children's/humor comics. Some of their major characters were Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, and Wendy the Good Little Witch.

[9] It should be noted that Herbie/Fat Fury was unaware that he was a superhero.

[10] This group was the American Crusader, American Eagle, Black Terror, Doc Strange, the Fighting Yank, the Ghost, Grim Reaper, Liberator, Miss Masque, Princess Pantha, Pyroman, the Scarab, and the Woman in Red. Thomas kept the characters secret identities and basic origin intact, but did tweak their superpowers.

[11] In 1972, the Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation would change its name to Cadence Industries.

[12] The initial issue of Sixth World contained the first stories of the "Kamandi", "In the Days of the Mob", and "Etrigan the Demon" series.

[13] While death in comic books is rarely permanent, Mighty editorial degree has her death as permanent.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

[A] In 1971, Kirby had advocated a "Heavy Metal" like magazine, only to have it torpedoed by DC. They did produce a b&w one-shot called "In the Days of the Mob".

Last edited by neamathla; April 23rd, 2012 at 04:55 PM..
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  #15  
Old April 6th, 2012, 04:07 PM
Kalvan Kalvan is offline
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Wonderful.

For the questions become:

1: Where do Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, Frank Miller, Tom DeFalco, Walt Simonson, Roger Stern, Jim Shooter, Doug Moench, Archie Goodwin, and Denny O'Niel end up?

2: Where do George Perez, Neal Adams, John Romitas Sr and Jr, Dave Cockrum, Jim Starlin, Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell, John Byrne, Lynn Varley, and David Mazuchelli end up?

3: Will Alan Moore still cross the Atlantic?

4: Kirby's got to pass the torch sometime. Who does he pass it to?

5: Who will get the Star Wars and Star Trek licenses, or will George Lucas' space opera opus bomb and/or Gene Roddenberry's Horatio Hornblower meets Gulliver's Travels in space have been butterflied away?

6: What will happen to the underground scene? Will Cerebus the Aardvark, Zippy the Pinhead, Fritz the Cat, or anything by R. Crumb go mainstream in this ATL?

7: Will Dark Horse Comics still happen? What about Valliant or Malibu? Mirage Studios? (I'm pretty sure that Image won't happen)

8: Unless Time-Life buys one half of OTL's DC, and Warner Brothers buys the other, we probably won't see the DC Implosion, or Crisis on Infinite Earths, but will we see someone do an analogue of Watchmen, or for that matter, Secret Wars?

9: Since the campy OTL Batman TV Show has been butterflied away, we probably won't see The Dark Knight Returns, but will we see some analogue of The Longbow Hunters?

10: Will New World Publishing still go shopping for a comics company?

11: Who will snag which toy comics license?

12: Will Conan still arrive in comics format?

13: Oh, and What's happening in Horror Comics?

Last edited by Kalvan; April 6th, 2012 at 04:15 PM..
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  #16  
Old April 7th, 2012, 08:16 PM
Brady Kj Brady Kj is offline
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I suppose Atlas would have gone belly-up if it weren't for that Captain America series. They sure were lucky there.
Am I correct in guessing your goal is to have as many companies as possible? Is National going to split in two at some point?
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  #17  
Old April 9th, 2012, 03:09 PM
neamathla neamathla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
1: Where do Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, Frank Miller, Tom DeFalco, Walt Simonson, Roger Stern, Jim Shooter, Doug Moench, Archie Goodwin, and Denny O'Niel end up?

2: Where do George Perez, Neal Adams, John Romitas Sr and Jr, Dave Cockrum, Jim Starlin, Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell, John Byrne, Lynn Varley, and David Mazuchelli end up?
Here is a rough chart covering the above (plus few extras) during the Bronze Age. I am using it as a general guide, but reserve the right to adjust it as needed.


Person ___________________ Circa 1970 _______________ Circa 1975 _______________ Circa 1980 _______________ Circa 1985
Len Wein _________________ Charlton _________________ Charlton _________________ Escape ___________________ Escape
Chris Clairmont __________ Charlton _________________ Charlton _________________ DC _______________________ DC
Marv Wolfman _____________ DC _______________________ DC _______________________ DC _______________________ DC
Tom DeFalco ______________ Archie (Not Mighty) ______ Mighty ___________________ Mighty ___________________ Mighty
Jim Shooter ______________ DC _______________________ DC _______________________ DC _______________________ DC
Archie Goodwin ___________ Fables Publishing* _______ All-American _____________ All-American _____________ Fables Publishing*
Denny O'Neil _____________ Charlton _________________ Charlton _________________ All-American _____________ All-American
Neal Adams _______________ All-American _____________ All-American _____________ All-American _____________ Escape
John Romita, Sr. _________ Mighty ___________________ Mighty ___________________ Mighty ___________________ RETIRED
Bernie Wrightson _________ Charlton _________________ Warren Publications ______ Fables Publishing* _______ Fables Publishing*
Dick Giordano ____________ Escape ___________________ DC _______________________ All-American _____________ Fables Publishing*
Mark Evanier _____________ Gold Key _________________ FREELANCER _______________ Escape ___________________ Escape
Frank Miller _____________ N/A ______________________ DC _______________________ DC _______________________ DC
Walt Simonson ____________ N/A ______________________ Charlton _________________ Escape ___________________ Escape
Roger Stern ______________ N/A ______________________ DC _______________________ DC _______________________ Mighty
Doug Moench ______________ N/A ______________________ Mainline Publishing** ____ Mainline Publishing** ____ Escape
George Perez _____________ N/A ______________________ All-American _____________ All-American _____________ All-American
Dave Cockrum _____________ N/A ______________________ Warren Publications ______ DC _______________________ DC
Jim Starlin ______________ N/A ______________________ Escape ___________________ Escape ___________________ Escape
Howard Chaykin ___________ N/A ______________________ All-American _____________ All-American _____________ DC
Mike Grell _______________ N/A ______________________ Escape ___________________ Escape ___________________ Escape
John Byrne _______________ N/A ______________________ Charlton _________________ Mighty ___________________ Mighty
Steve Gerber _____________ N/A ______________________ Charlton _________________ Mighty ___________________ Fables Publishing*
John Romita, Jr. _________ N/A ______________________ N/A ______________________ Mighty ___________________ Mighty
Lynn Varley ______________ N/A ______________________ N/A ______________________ N/A ______________________ DC
David Mazuchelli _________ N/A ______________________ N/A ______________________ N/A ______________________ All-American

*All-American Magazine Imprint
**Escape Magazine Imprint


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
3: Will Alan Moore still cross the Atlantic?
Yes. The British are coming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
4: Kirby's got to pass the torch sometime. Who does he pass it to?
Kirby was one-of-a-kind, so there is really no one to pass the torch to. As for Escape, the day-to-day running during the Silver and Bronze Ages was handled by Pat Masulli. Kirby and Simon split editorial and content control. Even after their "retirement", they remained involved with Escape.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
5: Who will get the Star Wars and Star Trek licenses, or will George Lucas' space opera opus bomb and/or Gene Roddenberry's Horatio Hornblower meets Gulliver's Travels in space have been butterflied away?
Gold Key has the rights to "Star Trek". It ran on CBS for five years. The question of "Star Wars" will be covered in "The Bronze Age, Part 2".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
6: What will happen to the underground scene? Will Cerebus the Aardvark, Zippy the Pinhead, Fritz the Cat, or anything by R. Crumb go mainstream in this ATL?

12: Will Conan still arrive in comics format?

13: Oh, and What's happening in Horror Comics?
All three of these will be addressed in the next update, "The Bronze Age, Part 1".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
7: Will Dark Horse Comics still happen? What about Valliant or Malibu? Mirage Studios? (I'm pretty sure that Image won't happen)
Without giving anything away, there will always be some upstart groups who try to battle the big boys. Some will win like "Image", others will lose like "Crossgen" or "Valliant". So there will be some sort of equivalent to those companies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
8: Unless Time-Life buys one half of OTL's DC, and Warner Brothers buys the other, we probably won't see the DC Implosion, or Crisis on Infinite Earths, but will we see someone do an analogue of Watchmen, or for that matter, Secret Wars?
There will not be an "Implosion", because the "DC vs. Marvel" atmosphere that allowed DC's bad management decisions to be executed will not exist.

Both mini-series and inter-company crossovers will exist, so I do not see why companywide crossover mini-series wouldn't exist. However, "Crisis"/"Secret Wars" will not be in the same form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post

9: Since the campy OTL Batman TV Show has been butterflied away, we probably won't see The Dark Knight Returns, but will we see some analogue of The Longbow Hunters?
Without the campy "Batman", the general public's impression is light-hearted adventure like the 1980's action shows (e.g. "Magnum, P.I.", "The A-Team", and "Simon and Simon"). However, a dark work (a la "Watchmen") will most likely be produced. As to what it will be, we'll see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
10: Will New World Publishing still go shopping for a comics company?
No. ITTL, Roger Corman sold New World to Metromedia, a television and communications concern, where it became just another production label.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalvan View Post
11: Who will snag which toy comics license?
I hadn't given this much thought, but I will include some information in the upcoming updates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brady Kj View Post
I suppose Atlas would have gone belly-up if it weren't for that Captain America series. They sure were lucky there.
Am I correct in guessing your goal is to have as many companies as possible? Is National going to split in two at some point?
Atlas was absorbed by All-American in 1958. The series was a boon for All-American. My only goal is a vibrant comic industry. DC (National) will remain intact.
As of 1970, ITTL we have eight major companies instead of seven as IOTL.
ITTL: All-American, Archie (includes Mighty imprint), Charlton, DC, Dell, Escape, Gold Key, Harvey
IOTL: Archie, Charlton, DC, Dell, Gold Key, Harvey, Marvel
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  #18  
Old April 10th, 2012, 12:21 AM
Kalvan Kalvan is offline
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Spoilers, Highlight to read!

Why do I suddenly have this vision of Batman studying martial arts in Japan under Osensei with his cousin Kathy and her boyfriend Richard Dragunowski? Why do I suddenly see the changes made to Blockbuster and Penguin in the 90's by Chuck Dixon happen 15-20 years earlier? Why do I suddenly see fights between Bats and Deadshot (and/or Deathstroke) suddenly getting that much more personal? Why do I sudenly see DC doing Secret Wars? How is it that I see Tony Isabella actually handing off the reins of Black Lightning to someone else at DC?

Why do i have this image of Hard Travelling Heroes featuring Fighting Yank, American Eagle, or American Crusader in the Hal Jordan role and Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt in the Oliver Queen role?

Why do I see Moon Knight even crazier than OTL?
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  #19  
Old April 10th, 2012, 11:21 PM
Brady Kj Brady Kj is offline
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Atlas belongs to All-American. I missed the footnote about the JLA's lineup. I'm glad to see Mr. Terrific's doing well for himself. What's the Silver Age Green Lantern like? Are there equivalents to the Hulk and the X-Men somewhere? Will a Wolverine equivalent appear somewhere? And what I'm most anxious to know is, will DC be okay under new management? Based on the spoilers, I'm guessing yes, but I'm anxious to know for sure.
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  #20  
Old April 11th, 2012, 12:11 PM
Kalvan Kalvan is offline
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More Spoilers:

Based on Neamathla's preliminary career table, I believe we will see:

1. A Marv Wolfman/Frank Miller run on a Bat book, followed by Miller going solo on it, then followed by Miller/Bill Sinkiewicz or Miller/Chaykin, before handing the reins to Roger Stern

2. All New, All Different {X-Men} written by Len Wein, drawn by Jim Starlin

3. New Teen Titans, written by Chris Claremont, drawn by Dave Cockrum

4. Batman and the Outsiders, written by Marv Wolfman, drawn by Todd MacFarlane

5. Warlord, Starslayer, and Jon Sable, Freelance going mainstream.

6. Walt Simonson still doing {Thor}.

7. Tom DeFalco/John Romita Jr. runs on {Iron Man} and {Amazing Web}, but this time he doesn't have to stop the Juggernaut.
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