Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Flashback: The DC Explosion

As a young kid who had recently 'advanced'
into the more mature market of super-hero comics,
the 1970s were chock full of excitement and a plethora
of choices. (I still fondly partook of my prior faves,
all the Gold Key classics, Archies, Harveys, etc.,
but this was a new era, a new frontier.)

Even now, this is probably my favorite time of
comics creativity, in part because of my awestruck
whimsy as I scanned the spinner racks, pored over the
racks at the used book stores, and anxiously awaited
every week's new stockings at the drug store and
the various 7-11s.
No prior knowledge.
No cover art viewed a thousand times.
No creator interviews of what to expect.
No guarantee of what would be in stock.
Just pure discovery and chance!

So many great creators, characters, cover artists,
concepts, titles, and such a sense of fun and anticipation;
I felt truly a part of something, and was at that
magical place as a child where I was still
inexperienced and not yet (fully) jaded.
Comics were a wonderful oasis, and I still
came at them with complete abandon
and enmeshment of the fantasy.

The stories deeply imprinted on me, and the fact
that I knew (somewhere deep inside, anyhow!) that
these were fictional characters conceived of
and illustrated by writers and artists...well,
that was easily enough shuttled for the duration
of a trip to the store and the time it took to devour
the books.

(Which occurred in the back seat of the car, on the floor
of the living room, in a hammock in the back yard, on my
bed, scrunched up in a ball on the couch, in my hideyhole,
and a million other places. I devoured them over
and over again, as if discovering a new language and
needing the repetition.)

I was easily and willingly transported away from the mundane and
the horrible by the incredible series I was drawn to and
entertained by. There was something more accessible
and relateable about the DC Universe, to me at least,
back in the day. Maybe they just had a greater number
of titles I adored. Maybe my Earth-2 and and extra 20+
years of history had some influence.

Maybe the more realistic artwork of Chua, Buckler,
Adams, and others on the inviting covers fixed me with a
sense of a more possible, unified universe. I'm not
really big on the specifics of it, and maybe that's best.
I was a wide-eyed child, and this was a taste of
adventure and drama that was still palatable to me.

The characters were everywhere: TV, lunchboxes, Presto Magix,
Shrinky Dinx, Color forms, MEGO dolls, plushies, Slurpee cups,
posters, Dynamite magazine, stickers, and more.
I slept in a bed with a Wonder Woman sleeping bag
unzipped as a comforter. Pretty much everything I owned
showed joint ownership with DC licensing. It
seemed like an empire that would never crumble.

Then, without any warning, the news.
The Implosion occurred.
A large segment of DC's only recently expanded line
had been cut for cost savings.
Stories were stopped mid-stream (many that have never,
to this day been finished) and my weekly intake
was drastically altered.

This was probably the first invasion of the real
world into my private realm; there was no denying then
that this was still just a company, still manufacturing
product. It was a little bit devastating; those stories
interrupted mid-flow, no resolution was like
going to a friend's house and finding he'd moved with
no forwarding address.

Still, as I like to recall even now, although
things change, I will always have my fond memories.
Sometimes I wish I could transport back to a time
such as the late 1970s...when reality was still at
bay, and entertainment was cheap and easily available.

A time when complete immersion into escapist
tendencies--good, clean, mindless, zoning out
at the expense of all fears and worries--was still
a readily-achieved possibility.

I still get a thrill to look on the old favorites
and have a happy memory triggered.
Thanks, to all involved.


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