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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #377

Welcome to the three hundredth and seventy-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did DC Comics temporarily cancel Detective Comics in the late 1970s? Did Batman nearly crossover with Jon Sable during the 1980s? Finally, marvel at the bizarre tale of Batman writer Bill Finger’s granddaughter.

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and seventy-six.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: DC Comics canceled Detective Comics in the late 1970s.

STATUS: True

Beginning in 1975, DC Comics began expanding their line of comics. From 1975-1978, they launched an astonishing 57 new comic book series (some of them were re-launches of previously canceled series)!!

Much of this centered on diversifying their lines of comics (adding sword and sorcery and stuff like that)…

In addition, they began to expand the size of their comics with back-up stories (they raised the prices of the comics as they added more content).

This was called the “DC Explosion.”

However, by the end of 1978, for a variety of reasons (including a bad economy) DC ended up canceling almost all of these new comics plus a bunch of other books. They ended up canceling 65 different books by the end of 1978. This tended to be informally referred to as the “DC Implosion.”

The following titles were canceled in just 1978 alone

All Star Comics
Aquaman
Army At War
Battle Classics
Black Lightning
Claw the Unconquered
Doorway To Nightmare
Dynamic Classics
Firestorm
House of Secrets
Kamandi
Mister Miracle
Our Fighting Forces
Secret Society of Super Villains
Secrets of Haunted House
Shade, the Changing Man
Showcase
Star Hunters
Steel: The Indestructible Man
Witching Hour

Amazingly enough, initially one of the names on that list of canceled 1978 books was Detective Comics!

Sales on Detective Comics had been sluggish for some time. The book had already gone bi-monthly from monthly.

However, #480 was to be the last issue of DC’s titular comic book series…

After it was canceled, though, the book was saved in a rather ingeninous fashion. Someone at DC (most accounts I have seen credit then-DC PR director Mike Gold) suggested, “Hey, what about Batman Family?”

Batman Family had been launched in 1975…

It was a popular books spotlighting the various Batman supporting characters. With #17, it became one of DC’s “Dollar Comics,” giant-sized comics with lots of stories in them…

The theory was, then, since Batman Family was selling well, why not just make Detective Comics Batman Family?

And that is what happened.

Batman Family ended with #20…

and then essentially just became Detective Comics with #481…

So DC got to keep their popular Batman Family series and not have to cancel one of their longest-running titles (and the title that the company was named after!).

Within a few issues, Detective Comics took the title spotlight back…

And within a year, the Dollar Comic angle was dropped and the book was just Detective Comics again.

COMIC LEGEND: Batman and Jon Sable nearly had a crossover during the 1980s.

STATUS: True

Mike Grell drew a few issues of Batman around the same time that Detective Comics was nearing cancellation…

And, of course, he did plenty of other great DC Comics, including his own creation, Warlord…

But by the mid-1980s, Grell was working at First Comics doing his creator-owned series, Jon Sable, Freelance…

The series was quite popular. So popular that they almost managed to do a crossover with Batman, which would have been the first crossover ever with Batman and a character from an independent comic book company (that former DC employee, Mike Gold, was the editor over at First Comics likely helped, not to mention Grell’s history at DC Comics).

Mark Allen talked with Grell about the crossover a few years back over at Mark’s neat site, Four Color Commentary

Mark: I’d like to talk about a couple of old projects, first dealing with one planned in the early to mid-’80′s, which never saw the light of day: Jon Sable/Batman. Would you comment on how far this went, and why fans never saw it?

Mike: The plot was finished and approved, the editors and creative staff were all onboard and the publishers both wanted to do it. Then the lawyers got involved and the deal turned into a morass that sucked the life out of the project. I’d still love to do it.

Mark: What was the premise behind the story?

Mike: The plot was simple, but fun. A man suffering from amnesia comes to Sable wanting him to help discover his identity. It should be a simple matter of running the guy’s fingerprints. But there’s a slight complication…under his suit, he’s wearing a Batman costume! What if he really is?

Mark: If I’m not mistaken, it would have been the first crossover involving one of the Big Two publishers and an independent property. Did that have something to do with the project not seeing the light of day?

Mike: All I can tell you is that mostly it was a matter of approvals at the various stages. Time was short for production (something like 90 or 120 days), but the approval time was something like 15 working days at each stage (plot, script, pencils, inks, color), totaling more than half of the production schedule. We tried to get it cut to five working days, but ran into a brick wall. When it degenerated into an obvious chest-beating contest between the lawyers, we walked away. It just wasn’t worth the endless battle. Like I said, I’d still be interested.

Come on, DC! Let’s get this baby done!

I know that the promotional art Grell did for the crossover was auctioned off to raise money for John Ostrander awhile back. Anyone have a scan of the art I could post?

Thanks to Mark and Mike Grell for the great information! Thanks to Jon Weisblatt for suggesting I feature this one.

COMIC LEGEND: Bill Finger does not have a living heir.

STATUS: False

A few years back, Marc Tyler Nobleman came out with a great picture book (with art by Ross MacDonald) about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster called the Boys of Steel.

Just recently, Nobleman was at it again with a picture book about Bill Finger, the unsung co-creator of Batman.

This time, the great Ty Templeton delivers the artwork inside. And it looks GREAT. It is a well-written book that I would definitely recommend for parents to show their kids so that their kids can learn the true history of how Batman was created (you can buy it here).

However, on top of Bill The Boy Wonder being a good picture book, Nobleman has extras in the back of the book that are absolutely fascinating. Kids can read the book for the interesting story up front with the great Templeton artwork. Adults, though, can read the book for the extras at the end, which includes all the amazing research Nobleman did into Finger’s life.

One of these pieces of research was the amazing tale of how Nobleman discovered that Finger, despite what comic book historians had always said about the man, actually had a living heir!

Finger’s only son, Fred, passed away in 1992. Fred was gay and he never adopted, so Nobleman naturally assumed that that was the end of the line when it came to Finger’s heirs. However, Nobleman continued to search for information about Finger (one thing that Nobleman was especially interested in was pictures of Finger. There were very few known pictures of Finger – Nobleman found quite a few more) and that included searching for more information about Fred.

The only name mentioned at the time of Fred’s death was a man named Charles Shaheen, who the court noted to send Fred’s belongings to. Nobleman tracked Shaheen down to North Carolina and discovered that Shaheen, too, had passed away in 2002. Nobleman discovered that one of Shaheen’s co-workers recalled finding stubs from checks from DC Comics in Shaheen’s room when they cleaned it out after his death. Checks from DC Comics? Huh?! The money trail seemed to end there, but co-workers recalled that Shaheen spent a lot of time with a drifter named Jesse Maloney. Nobleman was unable to track Maloney down (that’s the trouble with drifters).

Eventually, Nobleman tracked down Finger’s nieces and nephews from his first wife. They told him that Shaheen was Fred’s partner and that Fred’s family disapproved of the relationship. Also, they dropped a bombshell – Fred had a daughter! Early in his life, Fred was married for a short period of time and he had a child. Her name was Athena. Nobleman tracked her down on MySpace and the two spoke.

In addition, it turned out that Maloney, claiming to be Fred’s brother, was still collecting the royalties from DC Comics for Bill Finger’s Batman stories!! With Nobleman’s help, Athena contacted DC Comics and after proving her identity and relation to Fred, she now receives Bill Finger’s royalties.

Isn’t that an awesome story?

There’s plenty more interesting information about Bill Finger in Nobleman’s book. Plus, all the photographs of Bill Finger that Nobleman was able to find. So go buy it and find out for yourself!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? It came out this week! The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Urban Legends Revealed, where I look into urban legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at urbanlegendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

67 Comments

I think I need to read “Man-Bat: Private Detective”.

Weird story about Bill Finger. So odd that everyone assumed he didn’t have a living heir and yet here she was, with a MySpace page and everything. I’m glad the author tracked her down so the right person is getting the royalties.

Love those DC explosion and fantasy ads

AverageJoeEveryman

July 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

I think I need to read “Man-Bat: Private Detective”.

Do you think that fellow with the large bat wings and fedora is following us?

“And within a year, the Dollar Comic angle was dropped and the book was just Detective Comics again.”

I believe Superman Family continued for a couple of years after Batman Family.

The thing with the Jon Sable crossover that you don’t get across is that there was a running joke throughtout Jon Sable that Sable was constantly being compared to Batman. In the crossover we were going to get the punchline of Sable MEETING Batman!

That post about Finger’s heir is just awesome. Good for her!

Damn, never know Detective Comics had such a sorted history there in the 70′s.

http://instituteofidletime.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/ghostmanns-the-dark-knight-rises-review/

The DC explosion was a name DC used to market their summer 1978 expansion to 44 pages for regular books. It’s not accurate to say that it started in 1975. Furthermore, the implosion was specifically the cancellation of the expansion and the widespread cancellation of books in the late summer/early fall of 1978. I believe at the time The Comic Reader indicated that involved 23 titles, not 65. Books cancelled in the 1975-1978 time period that weren’t part of that specific round of cuts really shouldn’t be included. What made the DC Implosion notable is that all those titles were gone in a one or two month period. It made quite an impression to my 14-year old self.

In the DC Explosion ad, who’s the multi-colored guy in the center and the lady in the toga?

The multi-colored guy is Steve Ditko’s Odd Man, scheduled to be the back-up in Shade the Changing Man. One story was completed, and wound up being published in Detective Comics about a year later. The woman in the toga is an Amazon. The Back -up in Wonder Woman was Tales of the Amazons.

“Do you think that fellow with the large bat wings and fedora is following us?”
“Maybe. Why don’t we… wait, no. No, he’s just sucking the blood out of that pigeon.”

Anyway, I’m glad to see Bill Finger getting his story told. Just last weekend, when I saw “Dark Knight Rises”, it really bothered me that Bob Kane is still the only credited creator.

Thanks for the info Mr. R!

The DC explosion was a name DC used to market their summer 1978 expansion to 44 pages for regular books. It’s not accurate to say that it started in 1975. Furthermore, the implosion was specifically the cancellation of the expansion and the widespread cancellation of books in the late summer/early fall of 1978. I believe at the time The Comic Reader indicated that involved 23 titles, not 65. Books cancelled in the 1975-1978 time period that weren’t part of that specific round of cuts really shouldn’t be included. What made the DC Implosion notable is that all those titles were gone in a one or two month period. It made quite an impression to my 14-year old self.

Yeah, that was just an errant sentence in the piece. I thought I was saying that the DC explosion was when they expanded the books, but I see that there was a sentence in the middle of the piece that made that unclear. Sorry! I edited it so it makes more sense now that the expansion of the books was the “DC Explosion.”

Yeah, it sucks that only Bob Kane gets credit for creating Batman, but I believe that DC/Warner Brothers is contractually obligated to do that…

If you’re looking for Jon Sable/Batman art, check with Maggie Thompson from Comics Buyer’s Guide. The cover of issue #600 featured a promo piece by Mike Grill of the team-up. I would imagine she would be able to provide a location where you might find it, if not provide a copy of it…

The cover to Detective #480, “Can anything stop this mountain of muscle now?”
I know it’s not but that pretty much looks like a Pre-Crisis Bane story.

How does Bill Finger get royalties? He died right about the time that DC instituted royalty programs in the mid ’70s. Is this part of Bob Kane’s agreement with DC? Did he get grandfathered in like Kirby’s New Gods stuff?

re: Scott, I read the Odd Man story and loved it. Speaking of Shade, I remember reading many years ago (forget where ) that at the time of the title’s cancellation, Steve Ditko had plotted Shade stories up to issue #17. I would have truly enjoyed seeing where he would have went with the title, had it not been cancelled.

No chance of that now unfortunately, since Steve doesn’t own the character and the only work he does nowadays is through Robin Snyder.

Man, there were a bunch of great little hidden gems published in Batman family, including a crapload of early Michael Golden art on a bunch of different characters (Batman, Man-Nat, Demon).

MarkAndrew: Bill Finger gets royalties when stories he wrote are reprinted. Maybe not for the earliest Batman stories, where he was working for Bob Kane directly instead of for DC, but certainly for the later ones, and for non-Batman stories

Batman Family #17 is one of my childhood favorites along with #18. That was when I really became a Batfan. :)

Relic I would have loved to see more Shade from Ditko. He had the few issues he did stuffed with concepts and ideas that could have paid off down the road.

The DC Explosion was actually a pretty good deal, leading to a lot of interesting back-up stories in many of the comics that otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Same with the Dollar Comics. I knew that Detective Comics had been slated for cancellation at one point, so I’m glad you were able to get the full story!

Wouldn’t you love to know how much in royalties Maloney improperly collected and what, if anything, DC did to get the money back and redirect it to Athena? I would.

44 pages for 50 cents. I miss those days. Now we pay $3.99 for barely 24. Sigh. Now I sound like the old man telling the kids to get off the lawn. hahaha. On-topic: I didn’t know that about Detective and Batman Family. Good stuff as always.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

If Mike Grell gets to write/draw his Batman/Jon Sable mini-series, I’d pick it up.
Definitely.
For sure.

Detective’s low sales seems to have come at a strange time. Detective 480 would have come right after the classic Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run – did this team really not improve sales the way changing the title to Batman Family for a short period seemingly did?

I hadn’t thought about that Chad, but you’re right about the timing. And yeah, who’d have thought that Robin and Batgirl would draw more people.

Detective’s low sales seems to have come at a strange time. Detective 480 would have come right after the classic Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run – did this team really not improve sales the way changing the title to Batman Family for a short period seemingly did?

It went bi-monthly with Englehart’s last issue, so I guess not. Yeah, that is surprising. Perhaps it is one of those things where the sales data was out of date? Like they decided to go bi-monthly before even getting in the numbers on Englehart’s issues? His run was pretty short, after all.

I believe the Bill Finger thing is collected in “Was Superman a Spy?”. By the way Brian, I found a copy and so far, it’s been amazing.

Glad you’re enjoying it, Acer!

I am sure I mentioned Bill Finger in the book, but I didn’t know the stuff Nobleman talked about yet. The granddaughter stuff is all brand new.

I’m not a lawyer so can someone explain to me how someone, even a living descendant, is automatically entitled to the reprint royalties? Not only did they have to prove the lineage, wouldn’t she have to have proof that 1) Finger gave all his assets and rights to Fred, and 2) Fred named Athena his full beneficiary as well?

And not that I would ever condone DC being able to back out of its (already meager) royalties system, but at what point will they be able to stop paying royalties to the descendants of its artists? Or will they have to, as long as they keep reprinting stories?

In the early ’80s, Detective‘s sales were still incredibly low. In order to try to boost sales, ‘Tec and Batman were tied together, the stories directly continuing into each book as if it were a bi-weekly Batman.

Batman still outsold Detective Comics by a huge degree (at least 2-to-1, if I’m remembering correctly), thus proving that a huge number of people were simply keeping up their collections and not reading the books (or at least not Batman). Remember, this is pre-Dark Knight Returns and pre-Keaton/Burton Batman, so the charactern had yet to return to powerhouse status. It was a looong slide from the ’50s and ’60s (briefly reignited by the TV series, then plummeting in flames) to the huge resurgence begun in the mid ’80s. Not that the stories weren’t good.

Batman Family did have the advantage of solo stories with Batgirl and Robin which was different and intriguing in concept (and other Batfam characters, and a few reprints in the early days), so yes, there was definitely a lot more interest in it than in Batman for a while, in spite of things like the classic Engelhart/Rogers run.

The 80 and 100 page giants were fantastic! The lead stories were usually good, and often with great art, but the best thing was that that was where I first discovered and was able to read about the Golden Age heroes.

What’s up, DC? You have tons of inventory sitting in your vaults.

If DC published a monthly comic reprinting Justice Society from the Golden Age, wouldn’t everybody reading this buy it?

@Arvin – I don’t know the specifics, but anything within copyright would be eligible for royalty payments, and DC seemingly does the right thing (morally) in pursuing those payments for the estates of their creators as if the estate had the copyrights. Marvel on the other hand…

Seriously, DC. How about a monthly called Action Comics: Golden Age.

Reprint Action Comics starting with #1, page for page, with the original stories and the comic strips and the text stories and even the ads if you can. How many forgotten characters might catch the public eye?

I started reading Spider-Man in the late sixties. I missed a lot of issues because I was buying them at the 7-11. I was able to catch up on the early issues thanks to Marvel Tales. I continued to buy Marvel Tales even after it had caught up to the Spider-Man comics I remembered.

Dammit, I should be the boss.

Cool stuff this week, fella.
Could someone tell me who the artist is on #17 Batman Family’s cover? It’s rather sweet.
Also, when I was very young, my dad bought a UK reprint annual of Batman, with a story called something like “The Man Who Walked Backwards”. Anyone know what US title this tale was from..?
Love & Light,
Pez.

Could someone tell me who the artist is on #17 Batman Family’s cover? It’s rather sweet.

Michael Kaluta. It IS pretty damn sweet.

Has DC taken legal action against Jesse Maloney for Fraud yet?

The work Kaluta did on The Shadow blew my fragile little mind.

Travis Pelkie

July 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Pez-La, looking up on the Grand Comics Database over at comics.org, there is a story called the “Riddle of the Man who Walked Backwards” in Batman 277.

http://www.comics.org/issue/29972/#191240

Hope that’s the one you meant!

@Mutt: I’d like a reprint like that, but I’d guess it’s not cost effective for a company. DC is a bit better about reprinting some old stuff, as they do have the “Chronicles” series of books with chronological reprints of all the stories of certain characters for fairly cheap. But they are just the stories, and the odd little stories aren’t getting reprinted. I’d love to see what else was in Action early on.

Marvel just reprint, for the movie, Amazing Spider-Man from AF 15 and ASM 1, but I was hoping they’d just reprint AF 15 in its entirety. That would’ve been cool!

It took me years to figure out that many of the acclaimed runs that were reprinted in deluxe “special editions” in the ’80s had actually gotten their books cancelled (Thomas and Adams on X-Men, O’Neil and Adams on Green Lantern / Green Arrow, Starlin on Warlock, etc.) so it’s not surprising to me that the Englehart / Rogers Detectives fall into the same category.

Two possible explanations come to mind:
A: The work was too far ahead of its time and turned off set-in-their-ways readers.
B: These books were already on a downward slide and doomed to fail, so the editors gave the creators carte blanche to try new things as the ship went down, resulting in great work that came too late.

I’d imagine that the correct answer is often some combination of the two.

Dammit, I think The Mutt should be the boss too. I like the way he thinks.
Great post, by the way, esp. that information on Finger’s heir. Also, I just have to say, I always loved that DC Explosion house ad drawn by Staton. Wouldn’t mind having a giant-size poster with that picture…

I would love to see them get rid of one of the extraneous Batman titles right now and bring back something like Batman Family or Shadow of the Bat – stories that are directly tied to the the Batman world but have a little more room for experimentation.

Edo Bosnar is my first henchman. We shall rule rule the world!

J Jonah Jameson

July 28, 2012 at 7:31 am

Did I read somewhere (perhaps here?) that Jennette Kahn considered getting rid of Adventure Comics until she was informed it was DC’s longest lasting title and therefore historically significant? I suppose when you look at it from a cold-hearted business point of view the DC anthology books are awkwardly titled. Why have a Detective Comics at all if it’s just another Batman book? Why have a Brave & the Bold book if it’s really ‘Batman Team-Up’. Simpler to copy the Spider-Man titles with Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, etc if you need more books.

I remember looking at the list of new titles of DC book of the DC Explosion and thinking none of them grabbed me and I wouldn’t be buying them. I think DC made the same mistake the Atlas line did a few years before – swamping the market with too many books.

Good point Jonah. DC never transformed its titles the way Journey into Mystery, Tales of Astonish etc. changed.

Enthusiastic Yes! to Kaluta’s Shadow art.

Wow, cheers, guys!
Wish I could remember it as well as its explained on here ;-)
Was born in 72, so pretty young when I read it…
Thanks again
Pez

Here’s Mike Gold, writing re Shade The Changing Man on the Ditko-L mailing list a few years ago:

“It was the DC Implosion, and for almost a week we didn’t know what we were publishing. This hit list changed daily
– for a time, Detective Comics had been canceled (I saved that one: since Batman Family was on the
keepers list, I suggested we change the numbering over to Detective Comics’ numbering and put the
Detective logo over the Batman Family title, then slowly squeeze BatFam off the cover).”

I’ve also seen it said that the people in charge of accounts at that time didn’t know what “DC” stood for.

Pete Woodhouse

July 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

It just goes to show how moribund DC had become by that point! They had 2 titles starring one of their flagship characters; plus they were using talent working on it during the 70s like O’Neil/Adams/Giordano, Aparo, Novick, Englehart/Rogers/Austin (with Newton, Colan etc around the corner) – - – yet ‘Batman’ and ‘Detective Comics’ were such poor sellers!
I can only think that they were haemorraging sales to Marvel so much by then, that no matter what they tried (100pg formats; classic runs like Englehart/Rogers) it was just peeing into the wind…

Although to be fair, most mid-70s DC WAS crap (just look at that uninspiring list Brian put up above: poor man’s Conan swords’n’sandals stuff, plus some underwhelming new titles)!

Have to disagree on the sword and sorcery. Beowulf, Claw and Stalker were all good and the Beowulf art was awesome. Claw was actually much more Michael Moorcock than Robert E. Howard but I agree, the Conanesque looking hero was a bad idea.

There seems to be pretty strong evidence that the horrible blizzard in the winter of 77-78 kept many of the books from even making it to the newsstands. The distributors didn’t care since they got full credit for returns, whether the books went out or not. However, the bean-counters at Warners (fairly new owners of DC at that time) only saw the horrible, horrible sales numbers and woudn’t/didn’t take the circumstances into account.

as for the Englehart/Rogers run – newsstand numbers took a long time to come in – 3 months for preliminary numbers, 6 months for anything remotely reliable and up to 12 months for truly solid numbers that were audited for circulation. Since the Englehart/Rogers run was so short, the decision to make ‘Tec bi-monthly was most likely made based on the issues prior to theirs, and any bump from their run would have just barely begun to show at the time the cancellation decision was being made. Plus, it took time back then for people to learn that something good was happening in a previously weak book – no internet folks!!

Prior to the Dollar Comics version, Batman Family was like most DC “Family” reprint books and had ONE new story and the rest reprints. Readers knew that going in, and it was the DC equivalent of Marvel Tales, etc.

as for reprinting books like Action Comics in their entirety from #1 – that’s a great idea until you read some of the older Golden Age books. I remember reading the Famous First Edition over-sized reprints of books like Action #1 and Detective #27 and being pretty disappointed in most of the rest of the stories. Now Flash #1 and Sensation #1 (technically All-American publications, not National Periodical publications) were almost all very good, fun stories. But today’s audience is going to have a very limited tolerance for all the cowboy and police and reporter and private detective strips that filled out those anthologies.

I remember earlier in the decade there was some sort of paper problem–strike or a shortage, I don’t remember–that kept me without comics for several weeks.

So DC released 57 new titles over 4 years. Now they release 52 new titles in a month. Progress?

@IAM FeAR – I thought the same thing when I saw the cover, so you’re not alone.

The DC Implosion didn’t cancel 65 titles. The DC Explosion was supposed to introduce new titles and some existing titles were cancelled to make way for those. Because of the timeframe, fans falsely remember those cancellations as part of the DC Implosion when they really weren’t. The biggest clue that a title wasn’t cancelled as part of the Implosion is that the end of the title was known ahead of time–if the title had an ending story published, or if the end was announced in the title or in ads, it couldn’t have been part of the Implosion.

Wikipedia lists 20 titles as cancelled during the Implosion and 10 titles as cancelled shortly before, mostly as part of the Explosion. While some of those are questionable, Wikipedia’s list is a lot closer to the truth than claiming 65 titles.

Sorry, make that 11 titles cancelled shortly before.

Dammit, I loved Beowulf! Other than The Haunted Tank, it was the cancellation that truly made me rage.

Glorious art and an insane but thoroughly entertaining mix of plot element.

Travis Pelkie

July 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm

As to the DC Implosion and what titles fell under that definition, my impression was always that the books that were included in the “Cancelled Comic Cavalcade”, of which I believe there were 2 “issues”, were the titles that “imploded”.

When I was younger, I pored over Overstreet Guides, and it was fascinating to read about CCC, a xeroxed collection of comics that were cancelled in this time period, and how there were only 30 some copies made up for people at the office, or something. Plus, it was like, 500 pages each. Very drool worthy for a young comic geek.

If this comment gets hidden later, I won’t be surprised :)

[...] COMIC BOOK LEGENDS REVEALED #377 from Comic Book Resources [...]

I had an issue of Stalker. I have no clue where it came from.

Anthony Durrant

August 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Not only were stories bowdlerized during the time of the Comics Code, a Marvel Comics story about a living brain was written and drawn so that the brain looked exactly like its Nazi owner’s disembodied head! The story involved the Nazi Rudolph von Aubrecker approaching a scientist and asking him to extract his brain and preserve it permanently. Unfortunately, when someone finds the brain later on, it possesses them and uses them to carry out its fiendish plans. During a scuffle with the hero, the brain’s finder is killed and the maniacal organ rolled down the stairs and out the door, all ready for the sequel story.

Darn, does this hit close to home! The summer of ’78 was when I got into comic books big time, and the 13-year-old me bought many of those last issues, and wondered what the heck happened when next issues never came out for them. Eventually, of course, I found out, but it was certainly an exciting and confusing time for me, discovering a wide variety of characters and styles just as many of them were disappearing.

DC Implosion guy

August 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Cancelled Comics Cavalcade also burned off material which had been in DC’s drawers for quite a while before the Implosion, such as two Green Team stories. I tried to detail CCC as much as possible at the GCD.

You can try and get an accurate number of titles cancelled from this:

Cancelled in the Implosion: All-Star Comics with #75; Army at War with #1; Batman Family with #20; Battle Classics with #1; Black Lightning with #11; Claw the Unconquered with #12; Doorway to Nightmare with #5; Dynamic Classics with #1; Firestorm with #5; House of Secrets with #154; Kamandi with #59; Our Fighting Forces with #181; Secrets of Haunted House with #15; Showcase with #104; Star Hunters with #7; Steel with #5; Witching Hour with #85.

Some of the other titles on Brian’s list had been cancelled in the months leading up to the Implosion, such as Aquaman and Secret Society (though people have debated that).

Cancelled after being announced, but pulled at the last minute were Claw #13, Demand Classics #1, Showcase #105, Weird Mystery Tales #25, and Western Classics #1.

Not yet officially announced with specific dates, but coming soon: The Deserter, the dollar-sized Strange Adventures, Swamp Thing, and The Vixen were indefinitely postponed.

There was also a digest line is preparation that was delayed.

All surviving former bi-monthlies were made monthlies.

The Unexpected also joined the Dollar Comics, absorbing the material from the cancelled mystery titles.

(Taken from an old post of mine based on The Comic Reader)

[...] One thing that I do have to applaud DC for is the conscious attempt to broader the scope of their DC Universe line in the wake of their reboot. Whether it has lived up to expectations or they’ve really given it the attention it needs to succeed is a mater of perspective but they are making an attempt, which is especially admirable when you consider that the last time I can think of that either of the big two made a push like this was the “DC Explosion”. [...]

[...] during that era the leadership at DC was so fractured that they almost cancelled Detective Comics. (http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/07/27/comic-book-legends-revealed-377/) The reasoning then, as now, was that sales were so low. Someone finally realized that the name DC [...]

[...] during that era the leadership at DC was so fractured that they almost cancelled Detective Comics. (http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/07/27/comic-book-legends-revealed-377/) The reasoning then, as now, was that sales were so low. Someone finally realized that the name DC [...]

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