L.A. Weekly Says I Shook the World

Last night, I received this comment from reader KShane:

Just a comment from another fan of your work that enjoys your blog.

Thought you might want to see this Howard-related news article. Right comic, wrong cover. …

That’s some heavy company.

Thanks, K.

Aside: I’m always flabbergasted when an article refers to me as a “Silver Age” comics writer. To me, “Silver Age” means people like Gardner Fox, John Broome, Bob Haney, Arnold Drake, and, just barely, early-’60s Stan Lee. As I reckon time, another “age” altogether started when the Fantastic Four first put on costumes (or with the publication of Amazing Fantasy #15; take your pick), and yet another era began when my generation of artists and writers swarmed over the medium in the early ’70s.

There’s a chasm of sixteen years between Showcase #4 and my first published comic book story. Comic book “ages” don’t last that long.

18 Responses to “L.A. Weekly Says I Shook the World”

  1. Tom Walker Says:

    I thihnk it is entirely fair to suggest that you were a an influential contributed the the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. Second wave, reflected glory of the trailblazers before you but equally creative and inspiring to the readers.

    I feel these ages are carved in our hearts, not in our minds.. your stuff was often ahead of its time. I really think you spoke to your audience too – I certainly found my gerber fix to be quite irresistable at the time.

  2. Nat Gertler Says:

    I’m with Steve. Well, mostly with Steve. There is not a true consensus about where to divide the ages, but even the everything-is-part-of-an-age folks (which I am not among) would put Steve’s influential work outside of the Silver Age and into the Bronze. Kirby’s last issue of FF (a common end-of-the-Silver mark) came out in 1970. I’m not one of those guys who can reel off all of the dates, but we’re talking years before Howard, Omega, or even Steve’s Man-Thing work.

  3. Bryan Headley Says:

    It’s nonsensical that the definitions of these eras keep changing. For the guy reading in the 70s, Silver Age covered the 50s, and Bronze the 60s. That works out to roughly one metal per decade (with the 30s and 40s sharing Golden designation). Fine. Then give the 70s, 80s, 90s their own designations. Or if you decide that its 20 years to an “Age”, that’s fine too. Just be consistent…

  4. Bryan Headley Says:

    Dirty Plotte and Kramer’s Ergot shook the world? I at least am familiar with Dirty Plotte.. I’d think I’d add Doom Patrol. Maybe one of BWS’ Conans…

  5. A.L. Baroza Says:

    History always becomes clear through the prism of time and distance. I’m not surprised that the boundary lines between ages continue to shift. What’s the current wisdom now, that the death of Gwen Stacy marks the end of the Silver Age?

    Personally, I think there’s some overlap. But certainly, the period of the 70s, with writers like Steve trying to synthesize mainstream comics with elements of the undergrounds, is a wholly different animal than both what came before it and the “grim ‘n gritty” era of the 80s. I’d probably place the second wave of Marvel with Moore and Miller’s mainstream 80s stuff as Bronze Age, though.

    But the concept of ages falls apart after the rise of the undergrounds anyway, because from that point you’ve got two divergent threads of American comics: mainstream and underground/indy/art…

    I don’t think anything from the last 10-15 years can be accurately placed in any kind of historical context. It’s just too soon.

  6. Bob Kennedy Says:

    I’d break “Silver Age” into two parts, 1956-1965 (a resurgence of superhero comics, mostly by writers and artists who were active in the 1940s and ’50s) and 1966-1977 (when the young fans of Golden Age/EC-era comics grew up and became the most prominent writers and artists of mainstream comics).

    1977 was a watershed year for several reasons. NEW X-MEN went monthly and became insanely popular; STAR WARS showed that superhero comics were not the only genre that could sell to comics fans; Jim Shooter ascended to the EIC position at Marvel. I’m not gonna dump on the guy, I have no personal experience with him, but his distaste for pretty much everything that was cutting-edge about 70s comics indisputably impacted the comics landscape. Gerber, Englehart, McGregor, Wolfman and Moench all drifted away from Marvel about this time, did their groundbreaking thang at DC and Eclipse (causing Eclipse to be a major player for the next 13 years), and their exodus from Marvel led to the sudden prominence of Claremont, Byrne and Miller at that company. This all happened in a short time, and it marks a definite end of some kind of Era shift. 1977-91 could be called the “Mutant Age” and its end was marked by Image Comics’ sudden appearance. 1991-on is the “shlocky Variant Cover” age.

  7. Micah Says:

    If you look at the 1980’s in terms of what Marvel was doing it comes across as a pretty crappy time for comics.
    If you look at it as the time of Alan Moore, Los Bros Hernandez and Dave Sim it comes across as a ground breaking decade.
    Is an age defined by what is popular or by what is innovative?

  8. Spence Says:

    Why do we even have ‘ages’? I can see a ‘golden age’ when comics outsold everything, and ruled the world. But after that, I’d just call it the dark ages. When comics were only for nerds and geeks. I think we’re coming upon a better golden age, myself. Now that comics are accepted by adults, ‘cool’ kids, whatever, there’s a new era of comics respectability.

    We’re too close to the time period to even put a name on this sort of thing. Time will make it clearer.

  9. Bob Kennedy Says:

    Micah: It’s defined by what comic readers can find. There are more Moore- and Hernandez-level really good comics being produced right now than at any other point in history, but Diamond (the sole distributor to comic book stores) won’t touch them unless they’re ordered in sufficient quantity. Hard to say what comics historians of the future will make of 2005, but they’ll likely base it on the artifacts they can find as opposed to what was actually produced.

  10. A.L. Baroza Says:

    Seeing as how the entire nomenclature of ages was created for the purpose of determining the cash value of back issues, I’d say there’s a huge “comics as commodities” aspect of it all that you can’t get away from. It’s the comics enthusiasts who are forced to reconcile that with any aesthetic factors in creating a history.

  11. A.L. Baroza Says:

    Which is why I find it funny that the LA Weekly found it funny to leave out Steve’s HTD#1 cover because having Spidey on it would undercut their thesis…

  12. A.L. Baroza Says:

    Whoops. Make that “the LA Weekly left out Steve’s HTD #1 cover”. Sorry.

  13. Art Says:

    At least they didn’t use this cover:


  14. Brian Christgau Says:

    Not to make you feel old or anything Steve, but my first memory of reading a comic book was one of yours (a “Man-Thing” book and record, FYI).

    And I’m in my late 30’s. 😉

    I think the thing about the article (which is otherwise pretty swell) that irritates me is the use of issue #1 of the Howard b&w magazine. Is it just me, or does Howard look more like Fritz the Cat in that one?

  15. Bob Kennedy Says:

    Pshaw! I’m in my mid-40s, and one of the first comics I ever bought was Marvel Two-in-One #4 or 5 (The one with the Guardians of the Galaxy).

    As for the poorly-chosen cover, my guess is that the art director isn’t comics people and just googled up “HTD #1” and took what he was fed. That B&W magazine sucked beyond words, but it did have the distinction of one Jack Davis-drawn cover. Just, um, not that first issue.

  16. A.L. Baroza Says:

    Tried Googling it, as a lark.

    The first link takes me to the right cover, in all its chainmail bikini, web-slinging glory. In fact, none of the referrals on the first page links to the B&W magazine. The Essential edition and the MAX mini would have been likelier choices for an accidental cover substitution. Based on Google hits, at least.

    It’s just the Weekly being art snobs.

  17. gordon kent Says:

    Steve, “last night” was Dec. 1st, not Nov. 25th… what’s happening? Stay in touch — even if it’s to just say, “Campers, I have nothing to say.”

  18. Christian McDonald Says:

    All this talk of “ages” of comic books is ridiculous.

    Proof: there is no room in the “Golden Age” / “Silver Age” paradigm for EC COMICS. Some comic scholars have noted this, trying to call the period of 1950-1955 the “Atom Age.”

    Regardless, William Gaines and the EC Crew have had more influence upon the arts than Stan and Jack combined.

    And so has Mr. Gerber and Mr. Gaiman and Mr. Moore… these three people have done more to elavate the form of comics to literature than anyone else.

    Forget the fact that “LA Weekly” published the wrong cover – they recognized what “Howard the Duck” did. It changed comics, paved the way for “Sandman” and “V For Vendetta,” and “Hate” and “Transmetropolitan,” and everything else.

    Mr. Gerber, please get better and look after your health. You still have stories left to tell, and you OWE it to us in these sad and troubled times to TELL THEM. You have inspired more storytellers than you know.

    I wouldn’t be a writer if it wasn’t for you. And I owe you so many thanks for that.