They were aimed at roughly the same age group, though some DC titles skewed younger than others. 

Yet Marvel in the 60s only occasionally indulged in really oddball villains or cover concepts. For every Paste-Pot Pete type at Marvel, DC must have turned out twenty goofballs like Egg Fu, the Mod Gorilla Boss, or the Eraser.

Julie Scwhartz used to get his jollies by mocking hardcore fans, talking about comics as things you read on the john. Did most DC editors and writers feel that their main job was to come up with goofy cover-concepts that would goose immature readers into buying books? In contrast, Marvel seemed to follow a strict pulp-magazine aesthetic with covers: don't promise goofy situations, but thrills and chills. 

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I think the answer to the question “Why isn’t Silver age Marvel as Wacky as Silver Age DC?” can be summed up in two words: Stan Lee. When Stan Lee ushered in the so-called “Marvel Age” of comics, he famously told the kind of stories he himself would like to read. I really think it’s as simple as that.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I think the answer to the question “Why isn’t Silver age Marvel as Wacky as Silver Age DC?” can be summed up in two words: Stan Lee. When Stan Lee ushered in the so-called “Marvel Age” of comics, he famously told the kind of stories he himself would like to read. I really think it’s as simple as that.

Agreed, although Kirby and Ditko were probably also factors in the overall sensibility.

In theory they were going for the same audience. The prevailing opinion of DC upper management was that only very young kids read the books and only did so for three or four years. I don't remember any quotes from Julie Schwartz making fun of the readers. I was there in real time. Like Stan Lee, Julie spent time answering fan letters and even printed fan's addresses, enabling early comics fandom to slowly come together. He and others had similarly come together to form Science Fiction Fandom years earlier.

Amazing Adult Fantasy, along with the early 60s hero books from Atlas/Marvel, were thoughtful and almost never silly. There might be a little playfulness after characters were established but it was in line with their personalities.

The DC editors method of cover first then create a story around it seems like a convoluted approach from the get go with the result being gimmicky/wacky stories. Great covers but major headaches for someone trying to write a sensible story. Another result of this approach was the last page wrap up with tons of dialogue as the hero stands there and explains away what happened in the previous pages.

Over at Marvel, I believe Stan realized early on due to letters he was receiving that there were older readers out there and began to actively cultivate that audience by emphasizing character development, sub-plots and longer story lengths.

Now that I think of it, Stan sought to emulate popular shows like TWILIGHT ZONE. I don't know where i heard it, but it's been said that Julie Schwartz liked the more gimmicky SF-stories he grew up on. Weisinger, the former editor of juvenile-oriented THRILLING WONDER STORIES, seemed to share the same tastes. Not sure about editors like Schiff or Kashdan, but maybe they just followed, or tried to follow, whatever trend seemed to work.

Richard Willis said:

In theory they were going for the same audience. The prevailing opinion of DC upper management was that only very young kids read the books and only did so for three or four years. I don't remember any quotes from Julie Schwartz making fun of the readers. I was there in real time. Like Stan Lee, Julie spent time answering fan letters and even printed fan's addresses, enabling early comics fandom to slowly come together. He and others had similarly come together to form Science Fiction Fandom years earlier.

Amazing Adult Fantasy, along with the early 60s hero books from Atlas/Marvel, were thoughtful and almost never silly. There might be a little playfulness after characters were established but it was in line with their personalities.

Stan, Julie and the other editors at Marvel and DC were employees, not owners. Whatever sold well had to be used again and again. When you consider that, it's amazing that they could write/edit high-quality stories as much as they did.

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