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Superman in The Sixties - DC Comics Message Boards
Author Topic:   Superman in The Sixties
bizarro brainiac zero
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posted March 25, 2002 03:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
I've been reading thru the Superman in the 70s topic, and I thought I'd start a topic for the 60s era Superman.

To start off, I'm copying my list from page 3 of the 70s topic with my Favorite Superman Stories of the 60s (posted under my prior user name The Time Trapper.)

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Top Ten Superman Stories of the 1960s (in no particular order)

SM 141 - Return to Krypton - probably my fave, truly ahead of it's time (FYI for collectors, I believe it was reprinted in Superman #232.)

149 - Death of Superman - the classic, a real sense of loss at the end, even though it's an imaginary story. (Reprinted in #193)

156 - Virus X - Swan/Klein at their best, don't know why (maybe the superior coloring?) but the art just stands out more so in this issue

158 - The Kandor story - great intrigue, Swan Kryptonscapes at their best

162 - Superman Red & Blue - just a fun wish fullfillment (Ever wonder what happened to Superman Yellow? Daredevil probably knows.)

164 - Superman Vs. Luthor - mano y mano, the best "personal" battle between them, really felt the long time rivalry come to loggerheads.

167 - Luthor & Brainiac - their first team-up, great characterization and origin story, DC silver age at it's best

Action 300 - Superman Under A Red Sun - almost a wistful sci-fi tale (I recall there was a big goof at the ending; switched in midstream deus ex machinas.)

292 & 294 - Luthor kills a robot - an interesting morality tale, loved the covers

Superman Ann 4 - Villains of Space & Time - Okay, not original material, but the best 60s DC Annual by far for my money, and it also has the great eyecatching Legion feature (which I feel was decisive in establishing the Legion as a "real" group in the DC universe.)

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Most of these stories involved Lex Luthor, truly the #2 character in Superman comics during the 60s.

Post your list!

I'll post later my top ten things I loved about Krypton.

If Swan and Boring are the top two supes artists of 60s, who's #3? Is there a #3?

.

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S.P.I.D.E.R. Agent: "Get away with it? I think we will! There is no good, no evil, only strength and cunning, and we have those! Ha ha!"

Dynamo: "FOO to you and your bunk philosophy!"

- T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents # 9, October, 1966

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Aldous
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posted March 25, 2002 04:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
Superman in the Sixties

A great idea.

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bizarro brainiac zero
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posted March 26, 2002 03:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
Some of my Favorite Things about Krypton

  • The Scarlet Jungle Is this a cool locale or what? Action 310 allowed Swan to realize his vision for Krypton's exotic tropical forest, providing some nice glimpses of it's classic red and purple flora. I believe some "patches" of the Jungle were shown in Kandor stories. Scarlet Jungle Fever was mentioned a few times in stories.

  • The Jewel Mountains Equally as fascinating as The Scarlet Jungle, The Jewel Mountains were even more realized in Action 310 with the scenes at Jax-ur's hideout in the mountains. The Jewel Mountains allowed DC's colorists to utilize the light pastel screens that so simply and convincingly conveyed the gigantic gemlike nature of the of the jagged peaks and trails of The
    Jewel Mountains.

  • Lyla Lerrol[/l] Lyla only had one real appearance, the classic Superman 141, "Superman's Return to Krypton," and yet she actually has some websites devoted to her! [She did have an faux appearance in SM 192, I believe, when a second Krypton appears; can't remember if the inhabitants were actually robots, aliens, or whatever.] She was the first blond that Kal got hot for, and it really seemed like they fell for each other. He always would pine after her in his daydreams for years to come. He should of married her on Krypton!

  • [i]The Bottle City of Kandor Next to the Phantom Zone, this is the most enduring
    Kryptonian lore in the mythos. The Kandor stories allowed the reader and Superman to return to Krypton without encountering all those pesky DC time travel problems. Three big Kandor Stories were the Nightwing/Flamebird stories - SM 158, JO 69, and WF 143. (Were there any other N/F stories in the sixties?)

    There was several recurring characters in Kandor, like Van-Zee (Kal's cousin,) Sylvia, Nor-Kan, and N/F's cool telepathic hound (name?,) and of course the Superman Emergency Squad, which I came to feel was used a little too often.

    Of the different depicted versions of the Bottle itself, I always enjoyed the earlier big and wide "bell" jar that I think was shown a few times in Action. You really had a sense with that very wide jar that there could be a miniature city inside.

    And then there was the whole deal about the cork and getting in and out of the bottle! DC went through several ideas trying to find something didn't sound too goody or present to many problems. There always had to be a few panels explaining the "new way."

  • The Winged OnesThese were the rarely seen but beautifully designed and drawn gentle white flying dragons of Krypton. I'm sure they were shown in Krypton Chronicles (last app?,) and in an issue of World's Finest (143?) and also I believe one issue of Superman.

    They just looked so majestic, graceful, and powerful. Too bad these weren't the version that came to Earth rather than those green "Flame-Dragons" from a couple of Superman apps (151? and one in the 140s.) I think there was a couple left alive in Kandor.[/list]

    Well, I left off the real biggies in case someone wants to reminisce about them - Jor-el & Lara, and The Phantom Zone. What other major Krypton Lore is left? Fire Falls. Gold Mountain. Kryptonopolis. The Science Council.
    Just some off the top of my head.

    Take your pick!

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  • bizarro brainiac zero
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    posted March 26, 2002 03:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
    Typo correction:

    Re: the cork: "DC went through several ideas trying to find something didn't sound too goofy or present to many problems."

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    India Ink
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    posted March 26, 2002 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
    I'm slowly, slowly filling out my sixties collection.

    I've discovered that good reading copies can be found at swap meets--for some of the less in demand issues that is. Fat chance ever finding a good copy of Superman 199.

    Luckily, even though torn and tattered, I do have a copy of 199 with cover. That's the ish with the first Superman & Flash race, and it's a nice issue, but I can't fathom why it is so far beyond the price of the issues surrounding it. Even well beyond the usual price for 200, which I got for a nice price in near mint condition on sale for not much cash back in January--my original copy is in pretty poor condition with a detached torn cover.

    So mostly in the last few months I've been getting better copies of the comics I already have or had from the sixties. Last weekend I managed to get Action 351, and 353 in good condition to go with my copy of 352 I got a couple of months. Now I bought and read 351 and 352 back in the sixties (my original copies of those are both missing covers now and in pretty poor condition), but I never did find 353.

    So I read all three this morning. This is the story of ZHA-VAM, and I never did know his origin until I read 353 this morning and all was revealed. Interesting that he's yet another one of those golem kind of characters--this time fashioned from the clay provided by Prometheus and given the powers of six gods and heroes on ancient Mount Olympus and sent forward through time to do battle with the upstart Superman.

    Not that I would put these issues forward as the best of Superman. I feel that the early sixties Superman is the best, but try finding good reading copies of those...prices are high on most books prior to 1966.

    I also recently got a so so copy of Superman 207 (I still have my original, but it's missing a cover) and this is a Giant. One of my favorite stories is reprinted in there. The story of Van-Zee and Sylvia in three parts. I gather this was first published in Lois Lane--but was it published over three issues? and in what issue or issues? Anyone with the info I need?

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    Osgood Peabody
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    posted March 26, 2002 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Osgood Peabody   Click Here to Email Osgood Peabody
    "The Super-Family of Steel" was originally published in Lois Lane #15 (Feb. 1960) and is credited to Edmond Hamilton and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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    India Ink
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    posted March 26, 2002 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
    Oh thank you Osgood. Now I know what issue to look for--though I suspect it's out of my price range.

    And Edmond Hamilton you say. Wow. I would have thought Jerry Siegel, Otto Binder, or Leo Dorfman. It's amazing how many great stories Hamilton wrote during this time period!

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    India Ink
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    posted March 26, 2002 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
    On the matter of artists, I think Al Plastino is worth a mention simply because he was always there providing art.

    He's sort of like what Irv Novick or Bob Brown were to the late sixties/early seventies Batman.

    Then, from an objective standpoint, although I never liked his version, you have to consider Ross Andru as really the artist of the late sixties Superman--doing work both in Superman/Action and in World's Finest.

    On the other hand, one should probably consider the whole Superman Family. For the whole Superman Family you have Kurt Schaffenberger. But you've also got John Forte, Jim Mooney, Pete Costanza...

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    bizarro brainiac zero
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    posted March 26, 2002 10:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
    Inky, Plastino was the only real candidate that came to my mind regarding a possible #3 Supes artist in the sixties. He wasn't as talented as Swan or as stylish as Boring, and he did a fair amount of swiping, but still Plastino did a few key stories in the mythos, most in Action, IIRC.

    I.E., Action 292 & 294, the great Luthor Kills A Robot two-parter than reads like it was written by Hamilton and really provides a novel take on death and responsibilty. Also the classic Action 300, Superman Under A Red Sun. He was able to convey the desolation of the distant ravaged Earth.

    Can't recall others now, but there were a few more that weren't generic plots.

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    India Ink
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    posted March 27, 2002 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
    What I like about Plastino (other than his name--he should have been a superhero) is the way his art is neither Swan nor Boring yet fits in between both. And while I prefer Swan, I remember being sucked in by the emotion of the stories that Plastino drew. He seemed especially good at doing the romance kind of stories--the emotion of lost love.

    I have Action 294 but not 292--I'll have to give that story another look when I get home tonight.

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    Aldous
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    posted March 27, 2002 11:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
    Will you blokes knock it off? You're just making me wish I could get some of those 60s comics you're talking about.

    One story I do have is the Super-Menace one from 1960, drawn by the great Swan-Klein team, and written by Siegel.

    Yet another bit of tinkering with Kal-El's Earthward journey sees him have an encounter with an alien device which accidentally creates a duplicate of the baby, spaceship and all. We know where Kal the original landed, but the duplicate baby lands elsewhere and falls into the hands of gangsters Wolf & Bonnie.

    While Clark Kent is being raised to be law-abiding and generous, the duplicate Kal-El, seemingly possessing all the powers of the original, is raised by Wolf & Bonnie to be a super-crook. All the while, the kid thinks his gangster parents love him and are proud of him, but they secretly care nothing for him and are just manipulating him.

    As the Kal-El we know grows to adulthood, and becomes famous, his super-duplicate (who is immune to the effects of Kryptonite) grows up in secret, his "parents" fostering in him an intense hatred of, first, Superboy, then Superman. The adult duplicate can hardly contain himself, but Wolf insists he wait till Wolf himself gives the OK to attack Superman and reveal Super-Menace's existence.

    Wolf eventually makes a deal with a syndicate of crime lords to become their president if he has his Super-Menace son destroy Superman. They give the OK, and Wolf sends his "son" to attack Superman. For Super-Menace, it is the realisation of his life's ambition, to kill Superman for his "proud father".

    Once Super-Menace has left, Wolf boasts that he and Bonnie "pretended to love that freak" for their own selfish ends. The super-criminal, however, has looked back with his super senses and heard every word.

    Knowing his parents never loved him, but just used him, Super-Menace flies into an even greater rage, partly fuelled by intense jealousy at Clark's loving upbringing.

    Superman meets his super-duplicate and they do battle. At one point Superman notices, with x-ray vision, that his duplicate is not human, but a "force manifestation" -- an unearthly force manifested in human form. This bit of news devastates Super-Menace and intensifies his jealousy. He uses Kryptonite to bring Superman to death's door, but he can't bring himself to finish off the Man of Steel. Super-Menace is surprised to find he takes no pleasure from watching Superman die. "Maybe Wolf and Bonnie Derek didn't extinguish the last spark of decency in me..."

    In a stunning piece of reasoning, Super-Menace decides that if his parents lied about loving him, they could have lied about everything, including their justification for Superman's murder. He releases Superman from the Kryptonite trap and confronts his parents.

    "My life could've been a blessing, but you, with your rotten cunning, twisted it into... something terrible..."

    Superman, recovering from the Kryptonite, arrives in time to see Super-Menace abandon his human form and become pure energy -- the blast of force killing Wolf & Bonnie.

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    Aldous
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    posted March 27, 2002 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
    quote:
    Originally posted by India Ink:
    On the matter of artists, I think Al Plastino is worth a mention simply because he was always there providing art.

    He's sort of like what Irv Novick or Bob Brown were to the late sixties/early seventies Batman.

    Then, from an objective standpoint, although I never liked his version, you have to consider Ross Andru as really the artist of the late sixties Superman--doing work both in Superman/Action and in World's Finest.

    On the other hand, one should probably consider the whole Superman Family. For the whole Superman Family you have Kurt Schaffenberger. But you've also got John Forte, Jim Mooney, Pete Costanza...


    Ross Andru -- yeahhh!

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    GernotCarl
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    posted March 27, 2002 11:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GernotCarl   Click Here to Email GernotCarl
    Some favorite 1960s Superman stories:

    Virus X:
    I'd read a few issues of this serial as a younster, and I LOVED the final chapter when all the world thought Superman dead, and the JLA's solution.

    "100 Years: Missing, Lost, Or Stolen!"
    I finally found this issue of Action after having read it years ago. Fun story, but DC ignored it right after its publication.

    "Exile"
    A group of alien robots get rid of all evil and natural disasters on Earth. Superman, feeling he is no longer needed, leaves Earth and settles on a red sun planet, presumably forever. I've always loved this 2-parter.

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    ********************

    Robin: "Holy Oleo!"

    Catwoman: "I didn't know you could yodel."

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    "When Polly's in trouble, I am not slow! It's hip, hip, hip, and awaaaaay I go!"

    ********************

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    Aldous
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    posted March 27, 2002 11:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
    Superman vs. Super-Menace

    I forgot to make a point of mentioning one of the most bizarre props in any Superman story ever -- the little Lone Ranger-type burglar mask worn by Superman's duplicate.

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    Aldous
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    posted March 27, 2002 11:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
    On p. 4 of the story, Ma Kent is teaching baby Clark how to cross the street in a lawful manner.

    Narrative: "Off in Smallville, the real Kal-El is taught a proper respect for the rules of society."

    Ah, those were the days.

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    Aldous
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    posted March 27, 2002 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
    GernotCarl,

    I like your Superman page.

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    India Ink
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    posted March 28, 2002 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
    So I looked through Action 294 again last night, and I can see why bbz likes this story. Apparently Edmond Hamilton wrote this one, too! and I am struck by the absolute glee that comes through from the writer through the story and the character of Lex Luthor.

    Since the death of Leo Dorfman (in the mid-seventies) it doesn't seem to me like any writers have really felt happy about writing Lex Luthor. They've come at the character as a problem to be solved, and they've done this by side-stepping the Luthor character entirely and writing Lex as Victor von Doom, Ra's al Ghul, Professor Zoom, or the Kingpin. All of those are great characters but they're NOT Lex Luthor. And Lex Luthor should not be a rip-off of them.

    But in the sixties, when getting an assignment to write a Lex Luthor story, it's like the writers walked out of Mort's office with a spring in their step thinking to themselves--yahoo, I get to write about Lex Luthor!

    And they attack the character with absolute delight, dwelling upon his devious cleverness, showing off his evil brilliance. Maybe this is because most of them were science fiction writers. They were used to writing about characters with a brain in their head! Their Lex Luthor may be evil, but that doesn't stop him from being utterly charismatic in his machiavellian malevolence.

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    bizarro brainiac zero
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    posted March 28, 2002 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
    quote:
    Originally posted by Aldous:
    Superman vs. Super-Menace

    I forgot to make a point of mentioning one of the most bizarre props in any Superman story ever -- the little Lone Ranger-type burglar mask worn by Superman's duplicate.


    Gotta agree that domino mask was kinda strange, yet it remains as the "identifying icon" of the story.

    I never really considered if it was Klein who inked the book, but I guess he did. The line work is close enough and perhaps he used the brush a little more than in the middle years of 63 & 64. When I visualize Klein's work, I think of stories with more precise linework, like Virus X and the Luthor stories of those years.

    Now that I consider it, the brighter colorist's palette from those years is linked in mind with Klein's cleaner lines, so the darker hues of the earlier Super-Menace story (at least in the original) probably obstructed my recognition of Klein's work.

    I guess I just don't associate Klein with this earlier period. Anybody know of his earliest collaboration with Swan? Any examples of Klein collaborations with other DC artists?

    ------------------
    S.P.I.D.E.R. Agent: "Get away with it? I think we will! There is no good, no evil, only strength and cunning, and we have those! Ha ha!"

    Dynamo: "FOO to you and your bunk philosophy!"

    - T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents # 9, October, 1966

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    GernotCarl
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    posted March 28, 2002 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GernotCarl   Click Here to Email GernotCarl
    Thanks, Aldous!

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    Aldous
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    posted March 28, 2002 05:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
    quote:
    India Ink wrote:
    Then, from an objective standpoint, although I never liked his version, you have to consider Ross Andru as really the artist of the late sixties Superman--doing work both in Superman/Action and in World's Finest.

    Hmm, yes. I'm enthusiastic about the work of Ross Andru, but I don't really have all that many stories of Superman where he's the artist.

    I seem to recall he did a few Rose and the Thorn stories. I'd have to check back through my collection to find the stuff. You can correct me if I'm wrong.

    Anyway, I posted this to say, after re-reading your post, India, that my regard for Ross Andru does not come from his work on Superman. When I was a youngster, I started to get The Amazing Spider-Man, which I absolutely loved -- and, at the time, Len Wein was the editor and writer, and the artist was Ross Andru. (The inker was Mike Esposito.)

    So I'll always have a soft spot for this artist....

    So...

    This leads me to say, I find it very hard to be objective about the abilities of an artist. If I loved the comic books as a kid, I tend to always view that artist's work through rose-coloured glasses. I guess I don't analyse and evaluate the pros and cons of artists' technical abilities the way a lot of you guys do.

    quote:
    bbzero wrote:
    The line work is close enough and perhaps he used the brush a little more than in the middle years of 63 & 64. When I visualize Klein's work, I think of stories with more precise linework, like Virus X and the Luthor stories of those years.

    Now that I consider it, the brighter colorist's palette from those years is linked in mind with Klein's cleaner lines, so the darker hues of the earlier Super-Menace story (at least in the original) probably obstructed my recognition of Klein's work.


    This is an excellent analysis of the "technical" aspects of the art. All I can say about the art in "Super-Menace" is that it's a little sloppy, perhaps. Maybe I'd call it a bit "rushed". But an opinion concerning technique (like, 'here he used a brush more') is beyond me.

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    bizarro brainiac zero
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    posted March 28, 2002 07:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
    Aldous, having been an artist for many years in my callow youth, I can speak with some pomposity on it!

    Basically the visual difference between pen and brush inking is the variable width of the line. Pens maintain an even linework, with the same width throughout, while a brush, being tapered, allows the artist to play with the stroke pressure creating a range of line width from thin to heavy, including all the possible tapered lines between them.

    [Most inkers use both pen and brush, but examples of strong skilled pen inkers are Terry Austin and Barry Windsor-Smith, with strong skilled brush inkers being Russ Manning and Steve Rude.]

    This is the usual orientation of pen & brush work in commercial art. However as you move into fine arts or experimental commercial work, that distinction loses validity. Examples: 1) Asian and other brushes with long thin hairs can produce very thin yet long, even sweeping lines with little width change. 2) There are a large variety of pen nibs and quills that allow the user to adjust pressure on their short strokes to get small precise tapering, often used in comics to achieve "feathering."

    This is an ancient drawing technique and what artists like Jerry Ordway, Murphy Anderson, and actually nearly everybody use somewhat to give depth to primarily human forms, but other shapes as well. It's done with tiny tapering strokes along the edge of limbs, etc, to suggest small shadows falling away on curved forms.

    Klein used it moderately, not as much as contemporaries Anderson or Wood, but he went to it more when it appears he set aside some brushes in mid-60s. Trying to recall his brief later period at Marvel in '68, '69?, after DC booted a lot of artists, it seems to me that he switched to mostly brushwork on the Avengers, and didn't use pens that much, but I'm kinda guessin here long after the fact, as I no longer have those issues.

    There are several fans who have devoted much more time than I to analyzing Swan and his inkers and may be able to offer greater details on Klein's "inking-periods." I'd like to hear their views, deductions, and any facts found.

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    bizarro brainiac zero
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    posted March 29, 2002 07:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
    Well, enough of my inside-baseball stuff on inking! Let's get back to Supes in ths '60s!

    What are other posters' fave '60s Supes Tales?

    Did everybody else hate when a great Supes story was split into two issues in Action when they should have just put it into one issue of Superman?! Three come to mind. Aforementioned 292 & 294 (Luthor kills a robot,) 311 & 312 (# ?, Superman, King of Earth,) and 318 & 319 (again # ?, Superman kills Luthor.) Any notable others?

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    GernotCarl
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    posted March 29, 2002 10:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GernotCarl   Click Here to Email GernotCarl
    When I was a little boy, I'd noticed that trend in DC Comics. Superman USUALLY had self-contained stories, and Action had the continued stories. Was that some sort of editorial edict, or was it just coincidence?

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    bizarro brainiac zero
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    posted March 29, 2002 11:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bizarro brainiac zero
    GC, probably because stories were moved around with Superman family titles (i.e. a Superman story might end up eventually in Jimmy Olsen, like I believe was the case with the Kandor story in JO 69,) it's likely the two-parters in Action were originally slotted as one story for Superman (which wasn't anthological and therefore could feature longer stories,) and were split into two Action issues in last minute scheduling changes. Sometimes that may have entailed adding or deleting some pages to match the alotted space.

    Speaking of the whole Superman family of titles, I just compiled an brief index of the issue numbers range of these titles for the 1960s.

    The first issues range is the actual chronological match: Jan or Feb 1960 issue to Nov or Dec 1969 issue. The second issues range is my subjective "thematic" range of the 1960s for the Superman family titles.

    Your mileage may disagree.

    ACTION - 260-383 - 242 (1st Brainiac) - 392 (Last Legion)

    ADVENTURE - 268-387 - 247 (1st Legion) - 380 (Last Legion; Supergirl's feature doesn't end till 424, too far into 70s.)

    JIMMY OLSEN - 42-125 - 31 (1st Elastic Lad) - 132 (Last Pre-Kirby issue)

    LOIS LANE - 14-97 - 1 (might as well make it #1) - 103 (Last Pre-Rose & Thorn issue)

    SUPERBOY - 78-161 - 68 (1st Bizarro) - 171 (Last Pre-Legion transfer issue)

    SUPERMAN - 134-221 - 123 (Pre-Supergirl Tryout) - 232 (Last Pre-Kryptonite "No More")

    WORLD'S FINEST 107-190 - 100 (Kandor story) - 197 (Last Superman/Batman team-up)

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    U2
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    posted March 30, 2002 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for U2   Click Here to Email U2
    I just read a bunch of stories from Superman in the Sixties while I was at Borders a few days ago, and man, I have to get me this. I loved the original Return to Krypton (the one with the experimental Supergirl, and Superman has to "mate" his parents instead of meet them), but this one was soo much better. BBZ was right, this story was very much ahead of its time.

    But the thing that really struck me was Luthor in it. I think the name of the story is something like "Superman and Luthor's Super-Duel" or something like that. Luthor and Superman fight on an alien planet, but Luthor decides to throw the fight to help out an alien culture. This got me thinking about why I don't like the current Luthor. The old Luthor if things had gone differently in Smallville might have ended up being one of the good guys. On occasion he even was a good guy, not because it benefited him, but because it helped others. The current Luthor only does things out of greed, and never has to actually sacrifice or think about any of his decisions (remember, he didn't even care that he sold his daughter to Brainiac 13).

    Anyway, I really liked this volume, especially the Giant Turtle Boy.

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