On a rainy Monday morning in January, 1968, Dick Giordano entered the editorial offices of Charlton Publications and tendered his resignation, thus bringing the Silver Age of Comics to a close. OK – I’m not sure of all the facts, but hear me out.
Dick Giordano had been involved with Charlton Comics for more than 15 years when he was offered an editorial role at DC. He had helped the company survive the post-Code world and was responsible for its greatest success, namely the Action Hero line featuring The Question, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom. By the time the Action Heroes arrived, the revival of superheroes was already getting a bit stale, especially at DC. The Charlton books featured such talent as Steve Ditko, Jim Aparo, Steve Skeates and Denny O’Neil.
Giordano had put the comic book world on notice by giving these creators unparalleled freedom in writing and drawings comic books. He was a new kind of editor; one who had come up through the artistic ranks, he kind of editor that would rule comics for the next 40 years.
The powers that be at DC had obviously become aware that many of their title were spinning their wheels. They realized that the only way to salvage the company’s fortunes was to lure Giordano away from Charlton. There was also a bit of a money spat between DC and many of its long-time creators, but let’s not get buried in minutia. Apparently, Steve Ditko (who had begun producing for DC just months earlier) had recommended Giordano for the gig and apparently Irwin Donenfeld saw it as a great way to poach Charlton’s best talents.
While titles like Secret Six, Beware the Creeper and Aquaman did not exactly set sales records, they set the tone for what was to come in the 1970s. Aparo, Skeates and O’Neil all became important figures in the industry and helped shape the Bronze Age.
Giordano’s departure was a knockout punch to everybody’s favourite 2nd tier comic book company. Before long, the Action Heroes were gone and forgotten (except for by Alan Moore). It took a while for Charlton to regain its bearings, as it wasn’t until the early to mid-70s that it would really try to make waves again with a line of titles produced by a new generation of creators who would become big names by the 1980s.
The jump from Derby to Manhattan by Dick Giordano brought about the changing of the guard at two companies and lowered the curtain down on the Silver Age.
I hope you enjoyed these various arguments regarding the end of the Silver Age. I’m off for the weekend, but will be back next Tuesday with whatever new topic pops into my little head. If there’s enough interest I’ll eventually revisit the ‘Debate of the Ages’.
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