The Comic Reader #108 (1974)

It seems to be a theme in this blog lately that the ’70s weren’t a great era for comics. If you don’t believe me, look at this issue of The Comic Reader, the TV Guide of comics. In this summer month, when sales were highest, DC Comics released a grand total of 25 comics (twenty-five!) while Marvel released 53 – but as we’ll see in a minute, they weren’t the most exciting of titles.
Of DC’s comics, here’s the breakdown by genre (and yeah, I’m calling reprints a genre because they kind of stand alone to me.
Wonder Woman
The Brave and the Bold
The Superman Family
Detective Comics
Action Comics
Famous First Edition #F-4 (Whiz Comics)
Limited Collectors Edition #C-31 (Superman)
Black Magic
Secret Origins
The Phantom Stranger
House of Mystery
The Witching Hour
House of Secrets
Weird Mystery Tales
Our Army At War
Our Fighting Forces
Weird War Tales
Young Love
Rima, the Jungle Girl
The Shadow
Weird Worlds
Now, you can draw your own conclusions from this list, but it’s striking that there were only six super-hero comics published that month – three with Superman, two with Batman and one with Wonder Woman. No Flash, no Green Lantern or Hawkman or anything else. There were five adventure and five horror comics. Looks like 32 years ago, in the era of Watergate and the end of Vietnam, heroes didn’t resonate like they used to.
How about Marvel?
Amazing Spider-Man
Captain America
Doctor Strange
Giant-Size Defenders
The Avengers
The Defenders
Fantastic Four
Marvel Team-Up
Giant-Size Spider-Man
Kid Colt Outlaw
Marvel Tales
Marvel Spectacular
Marvel Super-Heroes
Where Monsters Dwell
Two-Gun Kid
Monsters On the Prowl
The Outlaw Kid
Weird Wonder Tales
Crypt of Shadows
Western Gunfighters
Marvel’s Greatest Comics
Marvel Triple Action
The X-Men
Dead of Night
Marvel Double Feature
Night Rider
The Mighty Marvel Western
Sgt. Fury
Our Love Story
Uncanny Tales
Tomb of Dracula
Dracula Lives
The Ghost Rider
Tales of the Zombie
Marvel Spotlight (Son of Satan)
Supernatural Thrillers
Giant-Size Werewolf
The Haunt of Horror
Werewolf by Night
Astonishing Tales (It! The Living Colossus)
Strange Tales (The Golem)
War Is Hell
Adventure/Kung Fu:
Master of Kung Fu
Conan the Barbarian
Marvel Premiere (Iron Fist)
Kung Fu Special
Savage Tales
Little Kid Stuff:
Spidey Super Stories
And again this is really interesting 12 new superhero titles, but 13 new horror titles and 21 reprint titles of all genres. There are a few really interesting trends here. First, again, heroes are out of fashion and monsters are in fashion. At the same time, Marvel was busy plumbing their archives for stories that could be reprinted. Even there, six reprints were of horror comics (if you include giant monster stories are horror stories) and seven were of superhero books.
What does that say about the era? Lots of moral uncertanty. Heroes out of fashion, perhaps feeling out of step with the times. Lots of horror predominating, perhaps a reflection of the fear that people felt. And a lot of signs that comic books weren’t the most popular artform around.

One Response to “The Comic Reader #108 (1974)”

  1. Ariel Says:

    Don\’t forget, the 70s were also the decade that the comics code relaxed their ban on vampires and other mosters, so Marvel went to town trying to corner that market and in so doing came up with some true classics like Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night

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