Scott's Classic Comics Corner: 1967 - A Year in Review

1967 is known as the year of the Summer of Love. While I do love many comics from that year, I wouldn’t say that it was truly a milestone year. I’ve sifted through the spinner rack selections from a variety of publishers in hopes of determining a theme, but found only that variety was the spice of life and that the reading public had become fickle, as many tiles (and even publishers) came and went.

1967 was a pretty quiet year over at DC, as there were not many milestone events. Most titles kept chugging along, seemingly unaware of the juggernaut that Marvel had become. Deadman made his first appearance in Strange Adventures #205, and the Spectre became the first and only of the re-introduced JSAers to get his own title. A few series were launched including Inferior Five and Bomba the Jungle Boy, but none found lasting success. Blackhawk tried to stay relevant in with the introduction of the three-issue arc converts the team members into the Junk Heap Heroes; which culminated in issue #230. Superman and Flash had their first of many races in Superman #199. This ‘stay the course’ philosophy would change at the beginning of ’68, when Dick Giordano came aboard to edit several titles.

After several years of cranking out one successful new character and/or title after another, Marvel had settled into a comfortable groove in 1967. John Romita was well entrenched at Amazing Spider-Man, John Buscema was aboard at Avengers and Gene Colan was at the beginning of a long run on Daredevil. A few titles were launched, most Not Brand Ecchand the revamped Marvel Super-Heroes, which included the first appearance of Captain Marvel. We saw the last of both Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish, as Marvel was making room for an expanded list of titles. Other notable events include the introduction of the Kingpin, the Abomination and Mike Murdock!

Charlton Comics had a pretty crazy year, but that was par for the course with everyone’s favourite Derby, CT based publisher. There was a lot of high quality output, as was the tail end of Dick Giordano’s tenure as Editor in Chief. Great titles like Captain Atom and Judo Master came to an end. Blue Beetle #1 introduced the world to Steve Ditko’s The Question, and Charlton Premiere premiered and gave the world the great ‘Children of Doom’ story with its 2nd or 3rd issue (depending on how you track crazy Charlton numbering). Sam Glanzman’s well regarded Hercules got started in 1967, as did oddballs such as Grand Prix and All-American Sports.

Dell was still in the picture in 1967, launching a variety of new TV tie in titles including the Monkees and Mission Impossible. They were also continuing their efforts to crack the superhero market with less than stellar titles such as Mighty Heroes and Neutro. For my money, the best title introduced by Dell in 1967 was Flying Saucers, a fun UFO title which only partly made up for the loss of Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle. The writing was on the wall for Dell’s demise.

Gold Key, on the other hand, had a strong 1967. They still had the Edgar Rice Burroughs properties, and Magnus, Robot Fighter and Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom were chugging along. They launched some duds that year, especially The Owl and Tiger Girl, both half hearted attempts to jump aboard the superhero bandwagon. They also had some success with new ventures, including Star Trek and Chip ‘n Dale. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to better appreciate the varied output from Gold Key during this period.

The saddest news of 1967 was surely the demise of American Comics Group (ACG). My guess is that almost no one noticed that it was gone at the time, but when you look at its long publishing history, it’s hard to see its final issues as an important chapter in comic book history. ACG was one of those second tier publishers that managed to stay alive through the 50s and well into the 60s through a strange combination of innovation and comfort food comics. If an ACG could fall, then it was only a matter of time before the Dells, Gold Keys and Charltons would go as well. I find it amusing that the final series launched by ACG was Gasp!; as in ‘last gasp’.

1967 also saw the year of the final flame outs of some short-lived publishers. King Comics emerged when the newspaper syndicate repatriated its properties and got into comic book publishing directly. It wasn’t long before the likes of Popeye and The Phantom were sent off to Charlton for career counseling. A couple of quick ‘fly by night’ operations folded as well. M.F. Enterprises learned that Captain ‘SPLIT!’ Marvel was neither a Superman nor a Spider-man. Lightning Comics, home to Fatman and Super Green Beret lasted only a few months.

Lots of other publishers continued to succeed in their genres, including Archie, Harvey and Warren. Tower Comics were still cranking out fun book, but they would not be in the race much longer. All in all, 1967 was a solid if unspectacular year in funnybooks. Although superhero books continued to dominate the marketplace, the luster of the craze had faded somewhat and the non-Big Two companies had a hard time convincing readers that their knock-offs were worth 12 cents.

For more comic book nonsense, stop by my blog at Seduction of the Indifferent

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