Discussion on another thread that mentioned Mike's Amazing World of Comics prompted me to take a look to see if I could pinpoint exactly when my comic book addiction began in the 1960s. Sure enough, I was able to narrow it down to May and June of 1963. The first three comics I remember buying were Action Comics # 303, Detective Comics #317 and Superman #163.

I had seen some comics in the children's ward when I was hospitalized in second grade and began looking to buy my own when I got out. I remember staying exclusively with Superman and Batman titles, which came to include Justice League of America. From there I sampled some of the individual titles of the JLA membership, but none of them clicked with me for more than a few issues. I did like the Brave and the Bold team-ups and Metamorpho was a favorite, but the Schwartz titles seemed too "mature" for my young tastes.

A couple of years later, when I was home sick with chickenpox, my wonderful mother brought me a stack of used comics she had found at a second-hand store. They were all Marvel comics. I didn't know the characters and wasn't much interested, but, having nothing else to do, I read them. I became a Marvel fan and abandoned DC until sometime in the 1970s.

Fortunately, I've been able to catch up with a lot of what I missed with the DC Showcase Presents reprints. I also was fortunate to discover the Ask Mr. Silver Age column in CBG that helped me "interpret" those stories in an entertaining manner. I still miss that monthly dose of mirth.

So, what's your Silver Age beginnings story?

Hoy

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Fred, it sounds like we're about the same age, but grew up with different viewpoints. I was a quiet, studious, unathletic kid. I didn't play sports, and I never, ever got into fights. I found extended fight scenes boring in comics, which is one of several reasons I preferred DC. I liked reading about the wonders of Krypton or the alien races in the Green Lantern Corps and the Legion of Super-Heroes more than I was interested in seeing heroes beating on one another. In Marvel, almost every hero (who had his own series in the sixties, that is) had super-strength as his primary attribute, and his first reaction was to clobber someone. (The few Marvel characters I did like were exceptions -- Human Torch, Iceman, Silver Surfer; and I did like Spider-Man, but more because of his cleverness than his muscle.) At DC, muscles were not emphasized as much as brains. Superman almost never threw a punch at anyone back then, and most stories were of the mystery/puzzle variety, which I never found boring or juvenile.


One of my all-time favorite stories, even today, was Hawk & Dove #2, in which the Dove managed to capture a violent escaped convict without throwing a single punch -- though he did get beaten up pretty badly in the process. It's telling that Green Lantern was always my favorite Justice Leaguer, though I was never very fond of him in his own comic -- because Gil Kane loved to draw fight scenes, but if there's one hero who should never have to get into a fist fight, it's GL.

I also wasn't too fond of Golden Age reprints back then, but I grew to appreciate them (especially after I read All in Color for a Dime and Steranko's History of the Comics in the early '70s), and am still building up my collection of DC Archives. The artists and writers were unpolished and raw, but they were creating the infrastructure that everything that came later was built upon. Just knowing and feeling the history behind them, and that they were creating the tropes that we take for granted today, makes them exciting to me.

I grew up with the occasional Silver Agre reprint from various DC Giants (the earliest ones I remember are a Legion giant with the death of Lightning Lad on the cover, and a Wonder Woman giant with her and Superman going to a funhouse together). I started buying comics in 76, but a few books like these crossed my path. 

And, of course, there was that giant Tabloid Legion reprint of the first Mordru story! One of the best comics ever, and HUGE.

And I'm sure I'd read my fair share of silver age books by the time I turned 10. but that was also around when we got cable, and the fledgling Nickelodeon channel was broadcasting a show called Video Comics -- basically panel-by-panel shots of comic books, with actors doing the voices. I remember a number of Flash and Green Lantern stories, a bunch of Sugar & Spike, and the occasional oddball DC property like Ultra the Multi-Alien or Space Ranger. Fun stuff!

Hi, Bob, I was born in June 1962, and my dad was in the Navy (for 27 years) and so my family moved around a lot and I was the eldest of 3 sons.  I was actually very introverted and very bookish myself -- mostly I enjoyed reading history, science, and mythology.  Oh, and I was terrible at sports -- the sort of kid who'd be among the last picked for any team and arguments would break out over who had to take me (I really hated team sports, although I wasn't too bad at tennis).  I preferred Marvel over DC for a number of reasons -- for one, I was won over by Stan's friendly uncle persona from his soap box and his editorial comments -- it just seemed a lot friendlier to me than the typical DC editorial persona of the time; but also I found most Marvel heroes, with their foibles and problems a lot easier to relate to than most of the DC heroes, although I did like the Metal Men, which had a bit of the Marvel formula to it.  The fight scenes themselves didn't appeal to me that much, and actually I enjoyed the stories that didn't have any fight scenes at all and focused more on the personal lives of the characters -- much more than most of the stories that were nothing but fight scenes.  I liked reading Spider-Man as much for the scenes with Peter Parker or his other supporting cast as for Spider-Man's heroics, maybe even a bit more.  And as a teen in the mid-70s, I came to really love Steve Gerber's writing in Howard the Duck, Defenders, Omega the Unknown, etc., for his focus on the personalities of his characters and the weird situations they got into.  

But, hey, different strokes for different folks.  At least there was some variety in the types of stories available on the racks back then.  One of my brothers, just 10 months younger than me, preferred Harvey Comics and Kirby's Komandi to the stuff I typically spent my allowance on and he was more into disco-era Bee Gees while I was into the Beatles in the late '70s.

Bob Buethe said:

Fred, it sounds like we're about the same age, but grew up with different viewpoints. I was a quiet, studious, unathletic kid. I didn't play sports, and I never, ever got into fights. I found extended fight scenes boring in comics, which is one of several reasons I preferred DC. I liked reading about the wonders of Krypton or the alien races in the Green Lantern Corps and the Legion of Super-Heroes more than I was interested in seeing heroes beating on one another. In Marvel, almost every hero (who had his own series in the sixties, that is) had super-strength as his primary attribute, and his first reaction was to clobber someone. (The few Marvel characters I did like were exceptions -- Human Torch, Iceman, Silver Surfer; and I did like Spider-Man, but more because of his cleverness than his muscle.) At DC, muscles were not emphasized as much as brains. Superman almost never threw a punch at anyone back then, and most stories were of the mystery/puzzle variety, which I never found boring or juvenile.



Sounds like we're not too different. I'm a couple years older (Hal Jordan and I debuted in the same month), an only child, and have never lived more than ten miles from the house that I grew up in. Other than that, our backgrounds are pretty similar; though I identified more with Clark Kent (especially in Superboy), Barry Allen, and Robby Reed than any Marvel character. Stan's '60s persona felt more like a used car salesman to me than a "friendly uncle." But it was Howard the Duck (as well as What If? and Claremont and Byrne's X-Men) that slowly drew me back to Marvel after a hiatus of several years.

I had a friend in high school who was as huge a Marvel fan as I was of DC (maybe even more; I remember him buying 50 copies of FF #176 because he liked the Impossible Man, and he grabbed up every copy in town of HTD #1), and we had many friendly arguments over which was better -- and got to read each other's comics in the process.

He bought all my Silver Age Marvels and Charltons from me in '75, and looking back, I should have held on to them. He paid a good price for them, but nothing close to what they'd be worth now.

I still have most of what I collected between 1972 to 1986, including first appearances by Blade the Punisher and Wolverine, although I missed HTD #1 and Giant-Size X-Men #1, although I did get X-Men #94 (but missed the Giant-Size issue of Marvel Triple Action that had the conclusion of the reprint in #93 that ended on a clffhanger).  I enjoyed FF #176 too but I was never the sort of fan inclined to buy multiple issues of anything and even if I was so inclined I barely had enough money to get a single issue of the comics I wanted, never mind buying multiple copies of any of them!  Many times there might have been 10 comics on the racks that i would have liked to get but I could only afford 8 so I had to make a choice of which 2 to leave behind.  Of course, much later I was able to fill quite a few holes in my collection, mostly inexpensively.  The most I've ever spent on one issue was $25 for Avengers #93, back in 1985 or so.  I also picked up the Englehart/Marshall run on Detective Comics from the late '70s, and got quite a few Batman comics in the '80s, along with other DC titles.  By the late '80s, in my estimation, the writing on many DC titles had significantly improved but that on too many Marvel titles had gotten worse.

The late 80s was when Tony Isabella said in CBG that buying comics you no longer enjoy in hopes they'll eventually get better will have the opposite result because the publisher just sees the sales and assumes what they're doing is popular.  

Ronald Morgan said:

The late 80s was when Tony Isabella said in CBG that buying comics you no longer enjoy in hopes they'll eventually get better will have the opposite result because the publisher just sees the sales and assumes what they're doing is popular.  

Wasn't that the case before the eighties, too?

In 1989, I had gotten pretty burnt out, and dropped all comics after Invasion. That lasted about a year, and the boom in Green Lantern spinoffs a year later brought me back. For a few years, pretty much all I was buying were GL, Flash, and Superman titles (my personal "trinity") and occasionally anything else that caught my eye. The 1999-2001 Hourman series was a favorite. Other than Archives, Showcase Presents, and Essentials, though, not much has interested me in the past ten years or so: mostly fun or offbeat stuff like Batman '66, Thom Zahler's Love and Capes, The Unwritten, and Dial H. Just last week I picked up a first issue that looks interesting: The Skeptics from Black Mask Comics. I may stick with it a while if I don't have to go out of my way to find it.

Yes, but it was about 1988-89 when Isabella discussed it. I think he said he'd been doing it and suddenly realized it was a mistake.  

I made it to just before The Crossing. That series and Heroes Reborn told me I'd jumped ship at the right time. Besides Essentials and Masterworks, I've also found myself mostly looking into the oddball stuff in recent years, like Afterlife with Archie.

The spinoffs at Marvel were just starting to get wildly out of control just before I quit collecting and was another reason I quit as I really didn't want to have to purchase so many Spider-Man titles or X-Men titles or whatever to keep up, same thing with the massive cross-overs.  For a few years I actually stopped collecting altogether but in 1991 I came across Gaiman's Sandman series and really loved that so I got back into collecting for the remainder of that series and would occasionally pick up a few other titles, such as Too Much Coffee Man (before it morphed into a magazine).  Then I started getting the TPB collections  of stuff I had missed, such as the Invisibles, Doom Patrol, Animal Man (yeah, I got into a lot of Morrison stuff), and Starman, and Alan Moore's Promethea, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, Tom Strong, etc.

This was my first off the rack buy. I had read a couple of Justice League's my older cousin had and they got me interested in superheroes. According to GDC this issue went on sale Nov '62 but it would have been the following year while on holiday some time in June '63 I bought it. I should explain I guess that I live in the UK!

Comic distribution was very hit and miss in the early 60's.my local newsagent had a spinner rack they only seemed to restock when it was half full. There was an issue of Sea Devils that stayed on that rack for 5 or 6 years.

LL#30 was a good introduction to Superman, it had the Daily Planet staff, Fortress of Solitude, Superman robots and Krypto.

I think @MethodEng that there was no "sale or return" policy in the UK, in those early days of importing US comics. UK importer T & P would import all the SOR's from the US, approx 9 months after the cover date.  The vendors would purchase the comics at knock down prices from T & P (or via a wholesaler) but with no option to return them if they didn't sell. Some comics remained on the spinners for years and years. Eventually the retailer would bundle up all the "no sales" and sell them in bulk to 'residual' sellers who would offer them to fans in second-hand goods type shops at knock down prices. I once went to such a shop and bought about 30 comics for 2 pence each. I recall that there was a copy of FF#1 there, but I passed on it as I wasn't a big FF fan.  How stupid was that? That was a good way to ignore an opportunity to make $50,000!! 

When I started getting fanzines there was an FF #1 on sale for $100, which was way out of my price range back then. No idea what condition it was in.

You may be aware that returning comics and other magazines in the U.S. involves removing the covers and only returning the covers. Legally they aren't supposed to sell the coverless comics, since they don't own them. It sounds like what you purchased had covers, so maybe some retailers got more money by selling them for export than just returning them.

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