“Heroes, Villains, and Me” is a periodic article on Geeky KOOL by Larry Litle about the world of comic books and my reaction to it. “Heroes, Villains, and Me” is not a comic book review article. I will write about current events, speculation and rumors, or my own wacky thoughts about the world of comic books.
I was a kid during the 1970s and the 80’s. I love the technological advances since that time including my laptop and Droid phone. But I miss many things about that time frame. One of the things I miss is the way comics used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still love comics and there are some very KOOL things going on in comics currently.
Sit back and relax as I tell you about why I miss the 70’s and 80’s comics. This is will be part one of a multiple articles on this issue.
When I was a little kid, comics cost 25 cents. It gradually went up to 30, 35, 50, 75, and then even to a dollar. Yes, things did cost much less back then. Minimum wage was 3.35 an hour. If you consider that minimum wage is now just over $7 per hour nationally, then prices should have only doubled. $2.00 or $2.50 for a comic would be much better than $4.00 for a comic.
I grew up in a family of very modest means. Our family was considered impoverished. But I could afford to save my pennies and pick up a comic issue every week.
The price point may seem like a small thing but if you are picking up 20 comics a month, it makes a huge difference. $40 a month is way different from $80 a month for most of us.
This monetary difference is even larger for kids. I have discussed the challenges the comic industry faces by not making comics accessible for kids the way they were when I was a kid. Money is a big issue with this. Children have so many more entertainment choices now days. If a kid can use the same allowance money to go to the comic store and buy 5 comics or buy that used video game he or she has been wanting, usually the video game will win out.
The cost of comics is not the biggest thing that I miss from the 70s and 80s comics but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a factor.
2) The Paper
I remember the first time I saw the glossy “Deluxe” paper used in a comicbook. I thought it was the KOOLest thing. The images seemed to jump off of the page at me. My father, who still reads comics, was not impressed. He told me that the new paper was not worth it. I might be fun for special occasions but when you calculate the added cost of the paper (Deluxe comics did cost more), then it was not worth it.
The print in the 70’s and 80’s (and much further back) was a type of news print. The pages felt like paper. They could rip easily if you weren’t careful. Those qualities may sound like a negative but in my mind, they aren’t really. There is something nice about the feel of real paper between the fingers.
The glossy pages can still add something special for certain comics but most comics don’t need it. Some of the greatest comic art was created on the old paper.
We discussed the price point up above. Changing back to the old paper for some comics could bring the cost of reading and collecting comics back down.
I wish we would go back to the old paper for most of the comics I read.
3) The Ads
This point is a bit silly point but it is true. I miss the crazy comic book advertisements of the 70’s and 80’s comics. There used to be ads for Atlas Body Building where the puny kid gets the book and is able to beat up the bully. I miss the ads for Sea Moneys. I remember wanting to send off for the Batman utility belt in the advertisements.
The ads became very important in the August and early September comics. The 3 Networks would advertise their new fall Saturday Morning cartoon lineups in the comic. I have such fond memories of these ads. I would have great anticipation for the new Saturday morning lineup. I would make a schedule of what cartoons I wanted to watch and what network they were on. (You see back in the 70’s and 80’s- cartoons were only on Saturday Mornings and we only had 3 television Networks — well 4 with PBS but they didn’t show cartoons).
Yes I am being purely nostalgic. But I am always a bit disappointed when I finish reading a comic and realize that I didn’t stop to read one single ad for something silly. I never actually purchased anything in those ads but I always would read them. Some of the enjoyment of the comics was to check out the advertisements.
(Watch for part 2)
Stay Geeky My Friends!