Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pocket Heroes!










Ranging in price from one dollar and ninety-five cents to two dollars and fifty cents, these sleek little paperbacks were handsome and highly useful additions to the collection in the late 70's. It was in these little beauties that I first read in their entirety the earliest adventures of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Hulk and the Fantastic Four. The adventures of Captain America I'd been able to read some years before in various reprints and annuals, but the others I had only in incomplete form. So these brightly colored tomes, printed on solid white stock were at once pretty and useful, a rare combination indeed.

These particular characters were all getting various levels of love in other media at the time. The Hulk leading the pack was still in the midst of a highly successful TV run, and Spidey had a show too. Cap had a couple of TV movies which Doc Strange getting one of those. Only the FF were not getting some prime time love, but if memory serves they did have a cartoon going about this time, the one with H.E.R.B.I.E.


The only one of these I did not buy was the one dedicated to Spider-Woman, which reprinted stories myself had recently purchased. I wonder if this is one of the earliest instances of what amounts to a bookshelf reprint which we find so common in these modern days of the trade.The issues here were in some instances less than a year old when this handy volume hit the stands, showing surprising confidence in the character, or at the least a strong desire to create demand.

Rip Off

10 comments:

  1. Spider-Woman had an animated series on the air at the time, so it wasn't just "suprising confidence" in the character, it was cross-promotion!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSXjBkIIvos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had forgotten that. You're right, but you have to admit giving her a show was demonstrating confidence in what her name could deliver.

      Rip Off

      Delete
  2. I bought the first Dr. Strange one in December 1978 (I can't remember the British price) and I loved all those early Lee/Ditko stories that I'd never read before - each story told in about seven pages. I'd completely forgotten about the FF one but I had that too. Marvel also reprinted their adaptation of Star Wars in this pocket-book form but that was only in black and white as I remember.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's something nifty about the tiny size of the reproduction. It looks different, but still good. These days I'm sure I'm too blind to appreciate them properly.

      Rip Off

      Delete
  3. I had the first Spider-man and the FF book. They were great, I never saw the other ones otherwise I would have got them too. They remind me of a time when American comics were so scarce in the UK that tracking them done was a big part of the joy of collecting.

    The same went for music as you had to search long and hard to rack down LPs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been lucky to live in places in which comics were always reasonably plentiful, much to the chagrin of my spouse.

      Rip Off

      Delete
  4. I still have mine! And the eyestrain that came with 'em! But boy, were they worth it. That first Doc Strange volume was my fave. Man, that Ditko art never looked better than when he had Doc traveling to those crazy other dimensions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is Ditko's epic as far as I'm concerned. It was really thrilling when I first ran across it reprinted in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics.

      Rip Off

      Delete
  5. Ditko's art in particular survived the reduction surprisingly well ( remember, the original art size on these was the earlier twice-up proportion, like the Steranko Artist Edition.) I thought the paper, color, and reproduction were top-notch, and the second Strange, with that long Eternity serial, was just beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bright white paper was still a new thing, quality in the Bronze Age.

      Rip Off

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...