Event 2 is now underway!! The official naming of the teams is below.
I'm going to apologize to Prince Hal right out of the gate, this scenario was weighing on my mind and I even used a Red Sox cap in his honor for my wife to pull the names out of hoping it would give him good luck.
Team A - FOR: The 1960's was the best decade for comicdom
And here we go, folks. from the good team of MDG, driver1980, and myself:
In 1961, Dell was the king of comic books, producing more than a third of what was available on the stands, while Archie, Chalton, DC, Harvey, Marval/Atlas, and Prize fought for the remaining portion. Dell was producing such titles as The Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Beep Beep, Bonanza, Diver Dan, Leave it to Beaver, and Yogi Bear. Comicdom's #1 seller was peddling little more than second-rate adaptations of popular film and television characters, and this was what was dominating the market. Sure, other publishers also offered light sci-fi, teen romance, and war titles, but the quality was similarly absent. The few greats of the Golden Age were striding towards retirement, and the medium they were leaving behind had become complacent, Frederick Wertham's efforts having emaciated or utterly extinguished any publisher that wasn't playing it totally safe, and the advent of television having ensured that even those publishers' titles weren't selling well without a familiar licensed name attached to them.
Comicdom was in a dire place. And then Fantastic Four #1 arrived and changed everything.
Esteemed CCFers, you could make much of the argument that follows for us. You know the reasons why 1960s Marvel was innovative and amazing, challenging an entire medium to play catch up with it, and you know the criticisms against this era as well. But, before we go on to lay out the remainder of the argument, let us ask you this: what would have become of the comic industry if there had never been a Marvel Age? If Fantastic Four #1 had never hit stands, and then Amazing Fantasy #15, and Avengers #4, and so on--if Jack, and Stan, and Steve, and Jim, and maybe even Wally hadn't started a revolution with their outside-of-the-box, entirely not-playing-it-safe approach that caused fans to wake up and demand more of their comics--how much longer could an industry dominated by licensed television drivel have survived?
If you want to argue the 1970s had better quality output that was more mature and evolved, we heartily agree, but that isn't the question being debated. It isn't a question of which decade had the best comics, but rather which decade was the best decade FOR comics. Clearly, the answer would be the decade that saved comics from going down the tube; the decade that paved the way for all the classics and creators that we enjoy and discuss here on a daily basis.
We therefore lay the burden on our opponents to prove that the 1960s was not the most important, essential decade to the development of comics since their inception, and that a comic industry that skipped the events of the 1960s would be just as quality as the comic industry we celebrate today.
And while I'm sure anyone reading can finish the argument for us, here are some of the key things the 1960s gave us that comicdom did not enjoy previously:
1. Higher quality art on a consistent basis across companies.
2. More emphasis on characters/characterization, such as the family unit in the FF, a teenager being a superhero, mutants being anti-heroes, a monster as a ‘hero’, etc
3. Beginning of recognition of comics by wider, more mature audience (especially older teens and college students).
4. Transition of books over strips as most popular comics format
5. Demonstration of for-hire creators as auteurs: DItko and Kirby (at least), Steranko (grudgingly), possibly Glanzman, Morisi, Boyette
6. New formats: Giants (incl Tower), B&W (Warren, Fass)
7. The beginning of self and small-publishing, as well as the Underground Comix movement, born of creators seeking a platform whose visions would never align with the "playing-it-safe" approach that dominated the market at the time. As a parallel to Marvel attracting older teens and twenty-somethings, the small-publishing and Underground Comix movements both helped to establish an adult audience for comics seeking more mature themes.
But again, whether or not we can split hairs over any of these individual details, the larger point remains -- The 1960s saved the comic book industry from itself, and that inevitably makes this the Best Decade FOR comics.
Last Edit: Jun 10, 2022 23:40:13 GMT -5 by shaxper
Your opportunity to refute the thesis statement is now open!! Your window for posting is through end of day Tuesday, and after that, both teams will get one rebuttal period as well before voting begins.
"There’s a time and a place for some deep and profound social commentary - and there’s a time and a place for Condiment King" - driver1980
Post by M. W. Gallaher on Jun 12, 2022 11:57:14 GMT -5
Our team--"The Go-Go Checks"--is opting to deliver individual opening arguments, and here is mine:
Fellow Classic Comics Fans,
Regardless of the content produced in the 1960’s, limitations in the market presented obstacles that preclude the decade from being the best for comicdom, i.e., the readership itself.
How can a set of works constitute “the best” when the works are restricted to local production? From an American perspective, the 60’s provided little opportunity to sample great works from Japan, Europe, or the Phillipines, and those markets, while having some access to American exports, were themselves usually focused on the local styles. It would only be later decades when comicdom could become largely aware of the often-astounding work being produced beyond its shores, and of the talent operating there.
And can “the best” truly be confined to the boundaries of the few formats available, with artificially imposed page limits, poor reproduction, primitive color options? Surely “the best” decade must allow for quality in the product itself, and the 60’s were, no better, if not sometimes worse, no better in production, on the same pulpy paper with the same 4-color process. Decades both before and after offered longer stories, and later years offered grander formats, bringing the art form in proper competition with its more widely-respected creative media such as the novel, television, and the motion picture.
And can “the best” come almost exclusively from a small pool of mostly-white, mostly-male practitioners? Men who largely approached the work as dispensable, commercial product rather than genuine artistic expression? Surely “the best” must allow for a diversity of voices, talent influenced by more than what had gone before but by the full range of experience, talent free to express themselves limited only by their ambition and vision. It must provide for creators not burdened by a reactionary Comics Code or by perceived commercial appeal of their style or by pleasing an editor following conventional, proven standards.
Can “the best” truly be portioned out at dictated doses served on a rigid schedule? When the 60’s offered long-form storytelling, it was at the expense of the satisfaction of buying the complete package at once, and at the risk of changing creative teams, diversions for obligatory action sequences in every installment.
And even if “the best” content could be judged to occur within a given time frame, is it not “better than the best” for comicdom to have easy access to all the best content of that time while simultaneously having access to the best of every other era? Today we have digital access, massive collections of complete runs in bookstores, libraries, and online scans; it’s the Library of Alexandria today compared to the peephole in the ballfield that the 60’s could provide.
We may subjectively enjoy the 60’s as our personal best, and appreciate it for sustaining the medium, but “the best?” No, it is not.
Post by pinkfloydsound17 on Jun 13, 2022 11:02:46 GMT -5
Alright, so I have a handful of arguments against the 1960s. The first deals with arguably the number one reason comics were initially meant to be consumed and that was the stories. Granted, an appreciation for the artwork (and the artwork in conjunction with the story) is of great importance, but at their core, they are meant to be read.
I submit evidence piece number 1, which is the CBRs list of the top 100 comics storylines of all time. This spans all eras of comicdom. And was voted on by actual people like us, who read and enjoy and consumer comics past and present.
Of the list of 100, a mere 3 contain storylines from the 1960s- the Eternity Saga in Strange Tales, The Coming of Galactus storyline in FF and the highest ranked ASM 31-33 run, dubbed the “This Be My Destiny” arc. Granted, some great stuff here for sure for a multitude of reasons. However, the fact that only 3 comics from the 1960s made a list of 100 shows that the 60s really were not great at fulfilling a comics initial true purpose which was to tell a good story. And, from a company perspective, I should think the prospect of coming back for more is also a good selling feature. A cliffhanger ending, a story that spans several issues…something to get the reader to want to return. And, to this day, something that gets new readers invested into classic stories relating to the character they love. The 70’s and 80’s have the vast majority of these storylines. Hence why I am using this as my first point to debate that the 60s were NOT the best decade. The stories need to stand the test of time. You would be hard pressed to find a comic fan who does not enjoy one of these runs. You would be even harder pressed to find one that has not read such a run or has such a run as part of their collection (or even a single issue from within one of these storied runs). They are desired, read, enjoyed, loved, graded and collected. And mathematically put, 97% of them are NOT from the 1960s. So in that aspect to start, the 60s are severely lacking in terms of stories that fans deem some of the best that were ever produced.
None of you seem to understand...I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with ME!
Post by Prince Hal on Jun 13, 2022 11:23:08 GMT -5
The 1960s was NOT the best decade for comics.
Perhaps the only way to assert that the 1960s was the best decade for comics is to view those years through Benday-dotted glasses while lost in the haze of nostalgia.
That is, if you got to see even half of them on the newsstands, given the notorious distribution system that lasted until early 1968, essentially controlled by DC and therefore throttling the ability of Marvel, its major competitor, to reach the audience DC had successfully monopolized for years.
But DC was used to being the big kid on the block. Suing, ruining and eventually subsuming Quality Comics line had been one of the ways DC had limited competition in the 50s, thus enabling its white-bread, homogenized titles to be the only real choice on the newsstands for many comics fans. DC had carved out a very profitable, very safe niche in the market.
Yes, there were several other publishers, but look at their less than exciting material. Dell and Gold Key aimed their safe, non-threatening, Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval-style titles at two audiences: little kids and their worried parental units. Oh, you may say, but check out those covers; they were bright and beautiful. Yes, many of them were. But once past those attractive covers, you found that the interior art was flat, page after page in cookie-cutter layouts of nine-panel grids. Parents may well have been intrigued and reassured by the covers, but never did the interiors come close to matching the quality of the cover art. But who cared? It was classic bait-and-switch.
As for Charlton, with even more washed-out coloring than Marvel Comics (if there could be such a thing), with the muddiest printing that side of the plastic plates of the 70s and 80s, and with the worst aggregate art and writing of any comics anytime, anywhere, they fully admitted that they simply flooded the stands with schlock because it was less expensive than starting and stopping their printing machines. They owned their printing plant! They could actually have had the greatest control over the quality of their product, but, since most of their other publications were printed on paper that still had chunks of bark floating in it, why would Charlton care?
And besides, for whom were Dell, Gold Key and to a lesser extent, Charlton creating their comics? For the likes of movie studios, TV networks, the Warner Brothers animation unit, and the Disney corporation, none of whom, with the possible exception of Disney, seemed to care very much about quality control to judge by the absolute lack of work evident within those attractive (as in non-Charlton) covers.
There was some light in the darkness of the early 60s, of course. The Barks duck books at Dell, some of Julius Schwartz’s DC titles in the early 60s like Green Lantern, the Flash and Mystery in Space with Adam Strange, and Kubert’s war books often shone brightly, but that was partly because the rest of the comics world was so dark and gloomy, specifically within the titles of DC’s flagship characters, Batman and Superman.
Hopwever, silliness was more the rule at DC , especially in the books of Superman and Batman, DC's flagship heroes, edited by Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff.
Weisinger was convinced, probably rightly, that the average comics reader stuck around for five years and was gone by 12; thus coming up with new ideas wasn’t as important to Mort as rehashing old ones. Scan the covers of such titles as Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane if you don’t believe me.
Don’t take a drink for every time Lois marries some other super-hero from another planet to spite Superman or Jimmy transforms into Porcupine Olsen or Wolfman Olsen or Turtle-Guy Olsen, or you'll be kneless, snot-slinging drunk in about ten minutes. Argue that those titles were successful doing those kinds of stories, fine. But Weisinger never bothered to look for handwriting on the wall or anywhere else that should have told him that the same approach is not going to work for every book for very long, especially as DC's readers were both aging and (inexplicably) sticking around.
And Weisinger went even further, simply reprinting old stories to save money and effort, not just in “annuals,” but as the back-up stories in many of his titles, simply rebranding them to his naive readers as “Hall of Fame Classics” or as stories chosen by the “Editors’ Round Table.”
Schiff was the great imitator; he never saw a cheesy 50s monster or alien invasion movie he couldn’t clumsily graft onto the three-to-a-book eight-page Batman stories that were short on plot, character development and creativity, but long on imitative gimmickry and monotony.
That kind of “borrowing” always happens in the world of popular culture, but Schiff never knew when to get off the carousel. Batman and Detective readers were still seeing monsters and aliens until well into 1964, and the resulting low sales were the impetus for the so-called “New Look,” widely trumpeted as representing a big change in the character.
And it was, especially at first, with the dynamic art of Carmine Infantino replacing the staid, old-fashioned look of Shelly Moldoff and the other Bob Kane ghosts. However, as was so typical of the decade, the New Look was also a bait-and-switch. Exciting covers designed and drawn by Infantino and Anderson grabbed your attention, but inside? Moldoff was still penciling, and even when Infantino did do an art job, guess who inked it? Joe Giella, of course. Those attempts to reach the standards set by the covers looked like a Little Leaguer’s attempts to turn around a Koufax fastball.
What saved DC in the middle of the ‘60s was the sudden unexpected success of the Batman TV show, which proved to be DC's version of the infamous Plotnick Curse. The wave of new Batman fans, enchanted by the camp approach to the character, gave DC’s line a sugar-high: a brief burst of financial success that soon rebounded against DC and made it the laughing-stock of its loyal fans. Opting for gimmickry over excellence, DC dined on Batmania way past its shelf-life and further tattered its reputation among the very fans in the decade that others would say was the best decade for comics.
And we comics fans have continued to pay the price for DC’s sell-out to Batmania for decades… or have you never seen a condescending newspaper or magazine story about the price of collectible comics that didn’t begin with “POW! BAM! Holy Investments, Bat-Fans! Those old comics are worth a bundle!”
Meanwhile… over at Marvel, the “upstart” company, the self-dubbed House of Ideas, what we were getting despite the worst printing and most limited color scheme outside the Derby, Connecticut HQ of Charlton, was indeed a breath of fresh air: realistic heroes with the same problems as you and I. Truly revolutionary in many ways.
Like many readers, Spider-Man was a nerdy teenager bullied by just about everyone, and also, like most readers (?), just happened to have a genius-level mind that enabled him to sew a costume and create web-shooters for the web fluid he’d designed after he’d been bitten by a radioactive arachnid on a school trip.
The Fantastic Four fought like the close-knit family they were, surrendered to fits of jealousy, split up every so often, teased each other, and then, as families will, forgave, forgot and saved the world from threat after frequent threat from either Galactus or Dr. Doom – they took turns. (Marvel never could create enough intimidating villains.) But, come on, the FF was the Justice League with drama queens, and perhaps even closer to the Challengers (the FF’s more immediate inspiration), who argued, split up, even fought a “war” against each other, and always got back together in time to save the world.
Get the picture? Marvel did indeed turn the comics world on its head at first, but like the “Distinguished Competition” he taunted constantly, once Stan Lee realized that the formula worked, he milked it, mined it, rinsed it and repeated it to death.
Q. How many times was Thor exiled from Asgard? A. As many times as the Flash was caught in one of the Rogues' traps.
Q. How often did Aunt May nearly die? A. As often as Superman fell in love with an "LL" woman in another doomed romance.
Q. How often did Daredevil change identities? A. As often as Green Lantern changed jobs.
Yes, Marvel “burst” onto the comics scene with its allegedly more human heroes, like the angsty Spider-Man, the gruff and grumbly Ben Grimm, and Thor, the god with daddy issues.
Credit Stan Lee with doing something a bit different, sure. But for all its “realism,” the Marvel Universe very quickly became as stagnant and static as the DC Universe it was supposed to be upending. The realism became as mournfully melodramatic as any of the soap operas that cluttered the afternoon TV schedules.
And for that matter, just how original were all of Stan Lee’s self-attributed creations? Cite all the classic literature you want to give the Marvel line-up that “college cachet,” but Stan “borrowed” his characters from more immediate sources.
The Hulk was less the Monster of Frankenstein than he was The Heap and Solomon Grundy; Thor’s sniveling Don Blake persona and neurotic obsession with protecting his secret identity had much more to do with Mort Weisinger’s Superman than he did with the Elder Edda; the Fantastic Four were Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown… and Rip Hunter... and the Suicide Squad… and Cave Carson… and so on; the Howling Commandos were the Blackhawks, with ethnic stereotypes all 'round; and the Silver Age Captain America and Sub-Mariner were the Golden Age Captain America and Sub-Mariner. At least Gardner Fox and Julius Schwartz came up with the notion of another Earth for their older heroes.
Marvel soon became not the House of Ideas, but Stan Lee’s “House of I.” Steve Ditko left/was pushed out after establishing the Spider-Man character for a run that was interesting and idiosyncratic, and not yet plagued by the repetition we spoke of earlier. Why? A power struggle between Spider-Man’s creator and the man behind the curtain, Stan Lee.
And immediately upon Ditko’s exit, Spider-Man became the exemplar of the so-called Marvel style, established (perhaps unwittingly) by the fine artist John Romita, whose clean lines and clear storytelling, certainly more easily imitated than Ditko’s cramped, almost agonizingly neurotic style that was so perfect for depicting the plight of Peter Parker, soon became the go-to look for Marvel Comics.
Nothing wrong with Romita’s style, but stifling the varieties of other artists’ approaches in order to create a homogenized look for a supposedly iconoclastic company’s titles does nothing for the readers. The notable exceptions, like Gene Colan, disappeared from Marvel’s pages, and for years after the 60s, we saw the house style continue in the work of such artists as Sal Buscema, Keith Pollard, and Ron Wilson. It was steady work for the creators, sure, but hardly served the interest of the readers.
And why should the artists and writers at either company have given much of an effort given the disrespect with which they were treated by the editors, a disrespect reflected in the low rates they received for their work, work which they had to surrender as work for hire, work they had to surrender forever or not work again?
Even before the days that comics publishers were acquired by far more powerful corporations, they exercised dictatorial control over the very men and women who made them profitable. No need to go into detail over the indignities heaped upon Siegel and Shuster or upon Jack Kirby, is there? Whatever fine work emerged during the 60s – and of course, there was some – we can attribute to the pride and exhausting work ethics of the individual writers and artists.
But, with all the great art from the 60s we can cite, we must accept that the highlights were few in a decade marked by art that was almost always bland. For every penciller as dynamic as Gil Kane, there was an inker as flat as Joe Giella. At Marvel, Jack Kirby’s pencils not only suffered at the hands of the scratchy inks of Vince Colletta, they were actually eliminated by his refusing to ink backgrounds and figures.
Neal Adams languished in the bottom levels of DC’s titles until the 60s were nearly over, turning out covers for Bob Hope, a title that had run its course soon after “Son of Paleface” premiered in 1952. But Weisinger was threatened by Adams and only reluctantly had him do covers for his books.
It took the near demise of DC Comics as it lost ground to Marvel, which was perceived as “hipper,” to force Carmine Infantino to look – can you believe it? – to Charlton for new blood. It was only then, as the 60s were coming to an end, that DC brought in new breed creative types like O’Neil, Skeates, Giordano, Aparo and Boyette to try anything to keep the company off life-support.
And even then very late in the decade, the powers that were at DC had no patience with any of “the daring and the different” ideas that saw the smoky light of day in newsstands and candy stores. Inevitably new titles and characters were given little time to develop; the suits at DC cut them off before there was enough proof.
Instead of giving concepts three-issue runs in Showcase, as they had numerous other times, Bat Lash, the Creeper, Angel and the Ape, the Phantom Stranger and Anthro were summarily pushed into their own titles. Fine, if that’s how we’re going to do things now, but then give the titles room to breathe and grow. Of course DC didn’t, despite the acclaim each of those characters received in the fan press and anecdotally, anyway, in the letters pages.
Only the Phantom Stranger made it past six or seven issues and probably because of the rise in the interest of horror comics. Those other comics were given no time to find an audience even though each was head and shoulders above almost everything on the stands at the same time in freshness, creativity and quality of art and writing.
Of course much of the damage DC suffered as the 60s went on was self-inflicted, as we all know what happened to the nascent attempt by DC creators to get something as basic as health insurance from their employer.
As the 60s ended, DC was floundering, Marvel was riding on its reputation as the outsider and comics readers were looking for something new, which would soon arrive in the 1970s, with new talent, a newfound recognition that comics readers were sticking around for more than the five years between ages 7 and 12, the resignations of DC editors who’d been guarding the gates since the Second World War and, at Marvel, with Stan Lee’s loosening the reins of control a tad by adding assistant editors and eventually editors to handle the increasing numbers of titles.
The 60s was not the best decade for comics.
Last Edit: Jun 13, 2022 15:27:44 GMT -5 by Prince Hal: Changed "six" to "six or seven" issues. Transcription error.
"The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance." -- The Tempest, 5.1
Post by pinkfloydsound17 on Jun 14, 2022 8:26:25 GMT -5
I will add a quick point in here. The 60's were a time of tumultuous relationships, at least speaking from Marvel's perspective. They exploded into the superhero world in the early 60's and sales and success rocketed them to fame by year's end. However, relationships amongst Stan, Steve and Jack seemed to be rocky at best. As the 70's dawned, both moved away from Marvel and, while this is a speculative take, one has to wonder if that was for the better or worst. Sales after the 60's began to drop and to me, losing two great artists attributed to that. Initially, sales were solid but the fallout in years to come were affected by losing two giants in the industry.
In addition, from DC's perspective, sales were piddling all through the 60s. It was not until the start of the 70's when Neal Adams dropped by to bring Batman back to his darker, grittier roots, that you started to see sales move in a positive direction. It was also in the 60s that DC as a company fell below Marvel in sales and stayed that way, I believe, until this day. So in their eyes, financially speaking, the 60s were NOT the best decade in comics. Not at all.