Friday, February 21, 2014

Batman! A Look at the 1974 DC Comics Tabloid! Joker! Penguin! Neal Adams!

It's 1974. Sure, cheeky Marvel Comics is pulling ahead with their lively, loopy and "realistic" superheroes, but there is one thing long-lived DC Comics did first. The venerable firm was first to produce an oversized "tabloid" edition of their comics, in an attempt to find new and alternative comic book formats. It took a few issues (featuring SHAZAM! and, of all things, RUDOLPH), but DC soon got around to spotlighting one of their biggest fan-favorite characters, Batman! This huge "limited collector's edition" not only contained reprints from Batman's storied past, but puzzle pages, pin-ups, special features and...aw, just look below to find out for yourself! Click each image to enlarge!

Above: The 1974 ad that started it all! Once I saw this, I made my poor Dad
hop right into his truck, and off we went looking for this book! We tracked it
down at a local tiny indoor newstand, one run by a blind senior citizen (like
a character out of an old detective movie!), happy to make a sale
that weeknight!

Above: Who could resist this power-packed cover? Drawn by Neal Adams, the artist
who was taking Batman back to his urban "roots!" This image (based on an earlier comics
panel) was so popular, it was used on many other products throughout the 70s! 

Above: The book begins with this reprint of a 1941 BATMAN tale, giving us
younger fans a look at the early Joker! Tho plentiful now (in a wide variety of
reprint editions), such peeks at older stories was very rare, in those days before
comic shop access and the internet!

Above: The tome also included this Golden Age story, giving rabid fans a
look at the work of artist Jerry Robinson, who toiled on the strip for a
relatively short time!

Above: Of course, the mid-60s Silver Age Bat-tales had to be addressed, and you couldn't
do much better than this classic, drawn by Batman's main artist of the day, Carmine Infantino!
Even tho this story was only seven years old when reprinted, to an eight-year-old me, it
was a distant classic then!

Above: This tale was only three years old then, but it was a valued reprint for us
young fans, since it was drawn by Neal Adams (with inks by Dick Giordano), and,
once those older comic went off-sale, they were gone! That final panel includes
another Batman pose that would be seen on many products in the coming years! 

Above: As if that wasn't enough, dig these included posters! Sure, this image of the
Joker (by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson) came from a 1966 set that was
whomped up during the height of the TV-spurred "Batmania," but I was grateful to
have it, since getting my young mitts on any seven-year-old Bat-merchandise
was next to impossible then!

Above: And they included this poster pull-out page of the pernicious Penguin!
Unlike today, with carefully-created style guides and corporate-think ruling the day,
DC and their licensees were not afraid to use these years-old images in their
current comics, and on products!

Above: But wait, there's more! Between the above two panic-packed posters
was this double-sized and double-sided image of a leaping, looming Batman!
This seems to be a custom drawing of the Caped Crusader, with some possible
touch-ups by a staff artist! My Mom allowed me to proudly display this pin-up
in our den! Our den!

Above: As an aspiring young artist (even then), one crazed over Batman,
you can imagine the most favored part of this bombastic book! The
above "how to draw Batman" feature, by Carmine Infantino, had appeared
years earlier in the regular comics, but, to me, it was a very rare peek
into "how it was done!" Of course, these are really only model sheets
for the 1968 Filmation BATMAN cartoon, but how I endlessly examined
these images, copying and studying for hours!

Above: Inside the back cover, this titanic tome ran pics of the 1966 BATMAN
cast! Tho the show had been cancelled for five years by the time of this 1974
publication, afternoon reruns of the camp classic had just started in my
area, further fanning the feverish flames of my own Batmania! Sure,
now it's easy to find such pictures online, or in reference books, but
back then, I was thrilled to have any images of the BATMAN TV cast!

Above: As if all of that wasn't enough for ya, the back cover featured a
custom-made "table top diorama," as drawn by Neal Adams! I recall having to
ask my parents what the heck a "diorama" was, and if I even wanted to cut
up my treasured tome! I also loved how this, and the front cover, reflected
Batman's then-current darker and more "realistic" look, as contrasted
with his TV and mainstream persona! Even this image was used on
other Bat-merch of the time! Print the above, and make your own
3-D prize! Just wanna see this little gem assembled? Click here!

Above: Lest you think this decades-old comic magazine is an ill-remembered
thing of the past, click below to see yours truly sporting a new tee that celebrates
this blockbusting book!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've got a few of these DC Treasury Editions, or whatever you wanna call 'em, including a Batman and a Justice League, but I don't have this one. Wish I did! Looks cool. Especially the Neal Adams stuff.

christan said...

Hi
Hi, what a great web blog. I usually spend hours on the net reading blogs on various subjects. And, I really would like to praise you for writing such a fabulous article

Al Bigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Al Bigley said...

Thank you very much!

Al Bigley

from32d said...

My father thought it was outrageous for a comic to cost a dollar. "But, Dad, look at the size of it." I talked him into buying it for me. He should see what you pay for a modest size comic now.

chris said...

Al,
Thanks for the blog. I still remember buying my big Batman issue when they first came out. I bought Tarzan too and a couple others. Great article and yes, it was tough finding pics from the tv series back then. I was thrilled when I saw the tv pics in the back of the issue (which I still have)...also see you are a monkees fan...do you remember watching them on saturday late morning/early afternoons way back? I do. Love the Monkees.

Chris

Al Bigley said...

Chris-

Thanks for the comments!

The early-70s Saturday morning MONKEES reruns were where I discovered the group!

Best!

Al Bigley