Monday, April 5, 2010

Comix 101, 1971

Two stories excerpted from COMIX A HISTORY OF COMIC BOOKS IN AMERICA by Les Daniels, published by Outerbridge & Dienstfry, 1971.

This was an early book which attempted to bring comic book history to the mainstream. The design is lacking. Page after page of type is only broken up by groups of stories, told two pages to a book page, which requires the book to be turned on its side. For these examples I've rotated them into a horizontal position. With the exception of some color in the center of the book, the stories reproduced are shot from the original comic books and printed in black and white.

If you're interested in this book, I have seen several reasonably priced copies available used through and other internet used book outlets.

"Lois Lane--Superwoman!" is from ACTION COMICS #60, May 1943. Drawn by George Roussos, ghosting for Joe Shuster.

"Karlovna Had A True Underworld" is from BLACKHAWK #14, Spring 1943. Drawn by Bill Ward.

Art credits are from the Grand Comics Database

COMIX A HISTORY OF COMIC BOOKS IN AMERICA Copyright © 1971 Les Daniels and Mad Peck Studios.

"Superman" and "Blackhawk" and distinctive characters therein are Copyright © 1971 DC Comics.


  1. I have this oldie but a goodie!

  2. I have this book as well. It was my first introduction to the history of comics. Certainly, by today's standards it's lacking a bit in depth and presentation. But in the early 70's it was a tresaure-trove of information that really helped me understand the backstory of the comics industry. Another book from that era which was a great introduction to comics history was "All in Color for a Dime" by Dick Lupoff.

  3. HGE: Great post! Very pretty stuff from Roussos in that first Superman, and a very sexy Lois into the bargain! I have the Golden Age Superman Archives from DC (first 2 volumes only), and I didn't know the artwork had become so detailed and "sophisticated" in Action Comics by 1943. I really enjoyed this. -- Mykal

  4. My memories of this book are a bit hazy — my copy has been boxed-up for decades, and was last read in the '70s. But if I remember correctly, its dogma was that “underground” comix were the culmination of the comic book. And I believe that this is the book with absolutely the worst coloring job that I have ever seen, on a Batman story.

  5. I too owned (and still own) this book. Les Daniels did a great job of making the reader feel the flow of comics history. The particular copy I owned came from the remainder area of a B.Dalton location in a local mall. Before I bought it, I noticed that certain sections were bound out of sequence. I assume that's why Dalton had it for a low, low price. It didn't matter to me. Comics were it for me at the time, and seeing the history laid out from Kirby and Eisner to EC and Carl Barks to Crumb and Warren gave me a real appreciation for the achievement of the form's creators.

  6. When this book was published in 1971 some of us fans (maybe I was the only one) wondered what would come of the newsstand comic book in the era of independently published and distributed underground comix? The mainstream distribution system was failing and the comic book shop system wasn't yet up and running. Nostalgia for the past of comics was selling, so maybe comics were heading backwards!

    As it turned out, my scenario was only 50% correct; nostalgia for old comics was there, but the modern comic book found a way to survive.

    As for this book itself, looking at it with a more experienced and critical eye, I see where it could have been much improved with good art direction; with more (and better) visual material. But it was what it was, and despite my criticisms it was an important book of its era.


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