DC in '76

cover to Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47

DC Comics turned 75 last year. As I've noted — like you needed me to tell you, if you follow the industry at all — it's celebrating the first anniversary of that big anniversary by relaunching its entire main line of superhero titles. On this Fourth of July, however, Blam's Blog is less concerned about what DC's doing at 76 than with what it did in '76.

My personal Golden Age of comic-book consumption was about 6 years old, or more broadly from ages 5 to 8 — younger than some thanks to early facility with reading, supported especially by parents who also encouraged the writing and drawing I was doing based on what I read. (I also had a vibrant "Silver Age" of comic-book collecting from about 12 to 16, full of exciting projects from DC, Marvel, and the new independents — not that I ever stopped buying them until I had to almost a decade ago for health-related financial reasons.) And just about nothing makes me as gleefully nostalgic as the batch of issues published by DC in April 1976, cover-dated July — or, if they were bimonthly, August, with "July-August 1976" in the indicia — to commemorate the 200th birthday of the great, sloppy, ongoing experiment in diversity and freedom that is The United States of America. No fewer than 33 covers sporting a banner that proclaimed "DC Comics Salutes the Bicentennial" hit spinner racks just as your humble correspondent's nascent comic-book craze was taking off — and were followed by a few more acknowledgements of the occasion, including the one above and a couple more mentioned at the end of this post.

covers to Our Army at War #294 and Ghosts #48

covers to Batman #277 
and Plop! #22

covers to Four-Star Spectacular #3 
and Karate Kid #3

Of course the banner was as much a marketing gimmick as a pure-hearted patriotic tribute. You can see from the house advertisement, top-left below, that sending in at least 25 of the 33 banners would get you a metal Superman belt buckle. For those readers of any age who considered themselves collectors, the numbering was probably also an impetus to collect the entire DC output that month; I was too young at the time to afford or otherwise realistically accumulate all 33 issues, and frankly most of the non-superhero offerings didn't interest me much, but today amassing the whole set is a definite if somewhat laid-back, long-term goal even as I look to divest myself of the majority of my hoard.

"DC Comics Salutes the Bicentennial" ad; cover to All-Star Comics #3

covers to Claw the Unconquered #8 
and The Brave and the Bold #128

covers to Blitzkrieg #4 
and Secret Society of Super-Villains #2

covers to Superboy #218 
and The Tarzan Family #64

covers to Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #10
 and Blackhawk #247

covers to World's Finest Comics #239 
and GI Combat #192

covers to The Unexpected #174 
and Detective Comics #461

covers to Action Comics #461 
and Adventure Comics #446

covers to Tarzan #251 and DC Super-Stars #5

DC Comics also released the tabloid-sized Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47 the first week in May with the logo Superman Salutes the Bicentennial, whose cover is atop this post. The interior content was something of a bait-and-switch since the treasury 
mostly contained reprints of Tomahawk, DC's long-running frontier adventure feature, and informative short pieces — there was just a smidgen of framing material starring Superman. Action Comics #462 & #463, the latter seen below left and unlike everything else displayed here actually released in July 1976, are on the other hand new stories that find Superman tossed back in time 200 years where he encounters the freshly inked Declaration of Independence itself. Joe Kubert's cover to Our Army at War #295, seen below right, was published the first week in May and also commemorated the Revolution.

The Grand Comics Database is source of all the cover scans in this post save for a couple cribbed from the DC Indexes website, alias Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics. Since the websites — both incredible resources — in some cases focus on different sets of data and structure their information in different ways, I've linked the captions of each cover displayed here to the issue's GCD record as well as to the relevant page at DC Indexes for those of you interested in further exploration. [Update: Links to individual pages at DC Indexes no longer work and have been removed.]

covers to Action Comics #463 and Our Army at War #295

All covers © 1976, featuring logos and characters TM/®, DC Comics. 
No infringement intended or implied. Covers used as historical exhibition.

1 comment:

Arben said...

I heart this so bad.

Y'know, when you told me about Stefan's call for proposals that led to your "52 Geek-Out" posts, I thought of coming up with a roster of titles straight from my/our DC golden age — and I realized immediately that 33 of the 52, at least, were easily identifiable because of exactly this; a quick visit to Mike's AWODCC would help me flesh out the rest my skipping a month or so in either direction.

I find it really interesting that covers for basically the entire Line of DC Super-Stars were provided by Ernie Chua/Chan, Joe Kubert, Luis Dominguez, and Dick Giordano, with a little Jim Aparo, Bob Oksner, and Mike Grell.