Funnybook Babylon

March 8, 2011

Retro Linkblogging: The Comic Reader #157 and #168

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 12:35 am

Here’s the latest news from over thirty years ago!



  • Sparta Printers will begin “color striping” comics with a one-inch band in five rotating colors, to assist in newsstands rotating out books. It’s speculated this could lead to the elimination of “cover dates” which would “cause problems for consumers in states where sales tax is applied to “children’s books” but not to magazines”.
    • UPDATE FROM 2011: Cover dates stuck around, as did color-striping at least into the late 1980s. Anyone know when the practice was dropped?
  • The Comics Code Authority has begun to demand the submission of actual artwork, not photographic copies for their approval process. The Authority claims this is due to issues with publishers submitting copies of pencils that are “changed significantly” prior to publication. It’s speculated this will result in delays.
  • “The five-digit “bi-pad” numbers that used to appear underneath the date and price on the covers have been removed since they also appear in the Universal Product Code symbol at the bottom of the page.”
    • UPDATE FROM 2011: I had no idea what this meant, so I checked: bi-pad numbers were pre-UPC codes used to identify which distributor is due the money for the sale of a book or periodical. Or at leas that’s what the Internet told me. Looking at comics from the “bi pad” era (1971-1978) it seems like all Marvel and DC books shared the same two initial digits respectively, but each title had a different three digit suffix. Some examples:
Title Bi-Pad
Action Comics 30010
Amazing Spider-Man 02457
Avengers 02458
Batman 30050
Captain America 02453
Defenders 02152
Detective Comics 30465
Fantastic Four 02462
Incredible Hulk 02456
Iron Man 02454
Justice League of America 30555
Marvel Team-Up 02147
Superman 30675
Thor 02450
Wonder Woman 30725
World’s Finest 30730

Several DC titles jumped around with different bi-pad numbers, seemingly when they shifted from standard-size comics over to “100 Page Super Spectaculars” or “52 Big Pages” formats. I didn’t confirm that was the cause of all the jumps, but I’m guessing this is more thought than anyone has given bi-pad numbers in at least thirty years.


  • Veteran inker Dan Adkins weighs in on the recent “Implosion” of titles published, bemoans the difficulty of making a living doing comics. He states his going rate at Marvel is $22.00 a page, while Charlton pays only $12.50 a page. In order to cut costs, companies were reprinting many older works, for which the inkers receive no payment, meaning in 1975 over half of his printed work (229 reprinted pages vs. 217 newly commissioned pages) resulted in no income. No art was returned to the inkers in 1975. In 1976, Marvel increased his rate to $25.00 per page, and began paying $3.00 per reprinted page. Adkins blames these policies on creators like Barry Windsor-Smith, Jim Steranko, Neal Adams and Berni Wrightson leaving the comics industry.
  • Stan Lee appeared at MonCon II in Morgantown, WV and Hoy Murphy has a report:
    • “Jack Kirby has signed a new “long-term” contract with Marvel which calls him to draw only. Lee called Kirby’s writing style “imaginative but undisciplined” and expressed confidence that the quality of Kirby’s work would improved under more disciplined writers”. As Kirby is busy with animation storyboards, his titles Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man will be put on temporary hiatus.
      • UPDATE FROM 2011: To the best of my knowledge, Kirby never drew anything else for Marvel, making DD and MM #9 his final Marvel work.
    • “The Silver Surfer book has gone to printers and should be out by the fall… [Lee] characterized the art as better than Kirby’s recent stuff, though not his best.”


Here’s a 1979 ad for Polaris Comics, a shop in Milwaukee:


This is close to a decade prior to DC’s official “They’re Not Just For Kids Anymore” marketing slogan. How long has this been A Thing?


  • Along with the actually-released Shogun Warriors and ROM: Spaceknight series, Marvel announced a Sub-Mariner relaunch by David Michelinie and Pablo Marcos. I can’t find evidence that Michelinie has a published Namor story, so does anyone know what happened to this?
  • I can’t find any mention of this online at all:


Ax McCord! Captain Feedback! Neal Adams! Did this ever get published?


Recent hay has been made of the “casual racism” of various jokes and pin-ups floating around in the Marvel offices of the 1970s . Here’s the back cover to Comic Reader #168:


Could this be an example? At least we get a nice image of Godzilla jump-kicking a building along with the ridiculous “flied lice” stereotyping!

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