Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Grooviest Paperbacks Ever!


 Marvel's earlier attempts to bridge the divide between the low-brow comic book community and a slightly more upscale and marginally more well-considered paperback market were some now unusual reprints from Lancer Books, a company most famous in these parts for their seminal Conan books. 


There were six volumes, one each featuring the Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, and Daredevil and two focused on the Fantastic Four. They appeared in 1966 and 1967.


For a mere fifty cents ( a pittance now it seems but admittedly over four times the price of a regular comic and twice the price of a typical comic reprint) you got black and white adventures of some the heroes who were taking college campuses by storm.


I  love the design of the first four, released in 1966. There bombast evident in the cover copy is right in tune with the over-the-top effusive verbage of Stan himself on the comics. These heroes are announced as "hip", "cool", and most importantly "groovy".


In 1967 two more packages hit the racks, somewhat more subdued in their cover design, particularly in the case of the Daredevil book which actually appears a little unfinished.


These are nifty little time capsules, which took the artwork of the original comics and manipulated it to fit the new format. In a way not at all dissimilar to what the Gantray-Lawrence people were doing with the animation in their Marvel Super-Heroes cartoons produced at about this same time.


Likewise the 1966 Donruss bubble gum cards sets.



The idea that not just the characters, but the physical artwork itself was something which could be manipulated so unstintingly is a remarkable feature of the comics industry which lacked the creator protections which guarded against such abuse in other mediums, at least not without remuneration.

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4 comments:

  1. Love the title of this post! ;D I was only 2-3 years old when these came out, so I've never owned one of them--I've looked on eBay, but had no luck in nabbing any. I did own the Archie/Mighty Comics High Camp Super-Heroes paperback in this same format. Found it in a remainders bin in the summer of 1972.

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    1. I've always wanted that "High Camp" one, never seen it in the real world. Tried a few times online but it got to rich for me.

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  2. Great covers, Rip - well, with the exception of the Daredevil one, which is nothing brilliant. I don't have any of them, but one of my pals has a complete set. Think I'll steal them.

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    1. I agree the DD cover has a definite last-minute feel to it. Shame. I cannot recommend theft, though I understand the impulse.

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