Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Old Comics Wednesday- Waiting for the Trades

Kids today, they've got it so easy.  When they want a comic book, they can just mosey on down to their comic book stores and know that every Wednesday, the new books will be on the shelves, and if they don't want to collect a box full of single comics, they can wait for the collected edition, a trade paperback with four, six, or even twelve issues worth of story.

Back in the seventies, however, trade paperbacks, or even hardcover collections were rarities, but a delight to find.

The classic, grandfather of them all was Jules Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes, a collection of origin stories from the Golden Age- featuring The Sub-Mariner, Captain America, The Human Torch, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Plastic Man, among others.  What's curious about this presence of both Marvel and DC superheroes in the same book, mostly because when Feiffer put the project together neither company had any real interest in doing books.  That would change.

DC Comics, National Periodical Publications at the time, was always dipping into their old files  and reprinting classic stories in their monthly comics, but in the seventies, they made the leap into books in several collections, Superman, Batman, and Shazam (Captain Marvel) from the 30's to the 70's, while there was a collection of Wonder Woman edited by Gloria Steinem.

Marvel had Stan Lee doing collections of his early sixties comics, Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins, Bring on the Bad Guys were some of the first volumes- with a standard format.  They'd reprint the first appearance/origin stories and follow that up with a later appearance after the character had become more established.   These were done through Simon and Schuster and later followed up with collections spot lighting the female heroes (The Superhero Women), big fights (The Great Superhero Battles) and several collections spotlighting The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, The Hulk, and others.

Of course, as cool as the trade paperbacks were... the mass market collections were even cooler... but that's for another week.