I tuned in last evening to watch The History Channel's Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked, Part 1
. The hour was extremely interesting, especially talking about the early days of comic books. Some of the trivial nuggets that leapt out at me..
--Back in the day, Timely Comics (which would later become Marvel) had two big heroes--Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. The creators decided that it would be great to have these two battle it out (something you didn't see much in D.C. Comics at the time--the heroes in an all-out slugfest against each other) as the ultimate battle of fire and water. The creators took the idea to the publisher on Thursday. He loved it and said, "Have it on my desk by Monday." Amazingly enough, a group of artists worked all weekend and churned out the 60 page epic issue by the Monday deadline. One of the artists even went so far as to put a board across the tub so he could work there!
--Wonder Woman was created by a pyschologist named Dr. William Molton Martin (he used the name Charles Molton on the comics), who also invented the lie detector (maybe part of the inspiration for the magic lasso?). He also serves as a consultant to D.C. at the time for the comics. Also of interest was how much subtle S&M stuff was slipped into the Wonder Woman comics. I didn't know that by binding her hands togther and making her braclets touch that she would loser her powers. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of Wonder Woman anyway--Linda Carter 70's TV series aside.
--Like all popular entertainment during World War II, comics encouraged patriotism. One thing they encouraged was recycling paper. Hence why there aren't as many of the golden age comics out there today and why the asking price is so huge--the first thing Mom made you get recycle was the comics.
--Marvel Comics came along as a result of the publisher of D.C. bragging to the publisher of Timely Comics that the sales for his superhero books were through the roof while the two were playing golf. (Comics had declined a bit at this point due to government hearing and the comic code authority). The publisher came back to Timely, called in Stan Lee and said, "Create me a team of superheroes." After talking to his wife, Joan, who advised him to write a book the "way he wanted to" Stan made history with the Fantastic Four.
--In 1965, Esquire
took a poll that found that Spider-Man and the Hulk were held in the same esteem as Bob Dylan and Malcolm X when it came to the rebellion of young people.
Part two of the special airs tonight at 11 p.m. EST.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/01/2004 09:39:00 AM