The “were 70s comics crap or complete total crap” meme continues to go around. [email protected] sums up all the blogospheric pressure with a post entitled If loving Killkraven is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Not surprisingly, hate-fueled Dirk hates all 70s comics except HOWARD THE DUCK. Tom also jumps into the melee, but he, to us, deflects the point, by reducing the argument to this:

I find the first notion odd, because obviously the decade of the 1970s was important to modern superhero comics

We didn’t say the 70s were important to modern superhero comics, we said they were important to COMICS. The Marvel comics most under discussion WEREN’T superhero comics, necessarily. In the 70s, Marvel published lots of none-superhero things — horror, humor, SF, Westerns, even the last dregs of romance. Not all of them were great of course. But to say HOWARD THE DUCK was superhero is to miss the point — it was satire. KILLRAVEN was SF. MASTER OF KUNG FU was … kung fu. We’ve heard it argued that these books are superhero books because the characters wore costumes, but do do Tintin and Charlie Brown. We prefer to call them “hero” books.

Anyway, that still isn’t why the 70s mattered. It was the birth of true creator ownership. Gil Kane’s early graphic novel BLACK MARK was published in 1971. A CONTRACT WITH GOD. The Comics Journal. CEREBUS. ELFQUEST. This was something that mainstream creators like Neal Adams had been fighting for throughout the decade, and it continued to fuel the business, especially as underground comics proved that complete creative freedom could work.

If the argument is about comics quality, we think a strong one can be made for the 70s, perhaps not as the GREATEST decade ever, but not as a complete cultural wasteland. In terms of historical significance, it was as important as any other, and definitely planted the seeds of today’s industry in sometimes oblique ways.

And if you don’t believe us, here’s the definite PROOF 70s comics rocked:

Funnycomic Cagedoommoney
and of course:


  1. And lets not forget Warren Comic magazines with CREEPY, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA…

    Atlas had two or three bright spots in their limited publishing history – one being the fact they paid royalties before anyone else…

  2. Hmmmm… I finally bought a replacement copy of the Muhammed Ali book not long ago, but at the moment I cannot recall where and thus cannot check the guide inside the book that showed who was where on the cover.
    HOWEVER, if my obviously faulty memory serves… it was Sonny Bono.

    (Michael Jackson is elsewhere on the cover.)

  3. And what about Kaluta/O’Neil’s The Shadow or Bernie Wrightson/Len Wein’s Swamp Thing?

    Craig Russell’s opera adaptations started in Star Reach in that decade.

    Or Siminson/Goodwin’s Manhunter or various Howard Chaykin efforts.

    Those ARE classics as far as I’m concerned.


  4. Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary! Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth! Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are given recognition, and some bucks! Green Lantern/Green Arrow #89! Lady Cop (uhh, maybe not)! Shade the Changing Man! The DC Explosion and the DC Implosion (which made for a pretty wild Summer of ’78)! DC and Marvel collaborate on a comics adaptation of The Wizard of Oz! Air Pirate Funnies!

    The ’70s ruled!

    Jim K.

  5. 70’s comics rule..they formed mycomic storytelling brain and look what happened. master of kung fu, swamp thing, conan, killraven…the list goes on.

    80 comics….another story. lol…


  6. “Superman VS. Muhammad Ali? Who won?”

    Ali, of course.

    After all, Superman’s just the Last Son of Krypton, but Muhammad Ali is THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME.

    Ali! Bombaye! Ali! Bombaye!

  7. I don’t see the 70s as being where creator ownership began. The underground artists in the 60s certainly didn’t sign any work for hire agreements. And I would further add that people like Milton Caniff and Walt Kelly, both of whom had long toiled in the work for hire groves, declared their own emancipation much earlier. Creator ownership was always available for those who in the right circumstances or who had enough clout. I don’t see Cerebus and Elfquest as being more important than the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Steve Canyon in that regard.

    This is not to suggest that the 70s weren’t an important decade for comics in other ways. One way, I think, is that it is the decade where a lot of fans start writing mainstream comics. In other words, it’s when comics culture starts folding in on itself. I think this had (and continues to have) pretty bad results later on.

  8. Not really. For a short time, he had to wear a paper bag on his head, and everyone called him, “Sack.”

    Sack was popular. Sack was the BMOC at summer camp. When he took the bag off, he was back to Good Ol’ Charlie Brown. Sack was his alter-ego.

    (Yes, I know the point was that Charlie Brown’s “costume” was his black shorts and zig-zag striped shirt. That, and for all I know, Sack was a 60s Peanuts storyline. Still … )

  9. Uh… wasn’t the Direct Market created in the 1970s?

    And what about Superman, the first blockbuster comicbook movie?

    The 1970s also saw the first bookstore editions from DC and Marvel.

    The 1970s also saw the first revamping of the Comics Code, which created an explosion of new titles and themes.

    Ali won the fight on a TKO (Superman was fighting under a red sun), then goes on to defeat the alien champion. Meanwhile, Superman, disguised as Ali’s trainer, pilots the ship away from the sun, regains his powers, and gets medieval on their honky alien asses.

    And for you eagle-eyed readers, that’s Christopher Reeve next to Johnny Carson in the background, pretending to be Clark Kent.

  10. How can anyone overlook Marvel’s expansion into the b & w magazine craze: Savage Sword of Conan, Dracula Lives! and most fondly: grabbing every issue of Planet of The Apes everytime the ribbon was cut on a stack of magazines by the Foodtown store clerk with a pair of sisscors.

    Oh, and easy to fit in your pocket digest comics like the ones that used to be released by Gold Key. Got my quarterly Twilight Zone fix right there.