Where can I find a chronology of Batman comics published by Walt Whitman (not DC)?
— Lee Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Though a poet, journalist and publisher, the esteemed Mr. Whitman predeceased the publication of the first Batman story by a good number of years. (You can read an extensive biography of Whitman at http://www.iath.virginia.edu/whitman/biography/.) The “Whitman Publishing” Batman comic books (and all the other titles) that appeared in the 60s and 70s were actually produced by DC for special sales packages. Other than the logo on the cover, they are no different than the DC editions.
Was the 1939 DETECTIVE COMICS #1 Batman reprinted as a large version in 1975?
— Daniel Leggett (email@example.com)
Actually, it was DETECTIVE #27 in which Batman debuted and it was one of the tabloid-sized FAMOUS FIRST EDITIONS released. For the record, BATMAN #1 was also part of the series.
And while we’re on the topic of tabloid editions, here’s my official unofficial researcher John Wells with everything you ever wanted to know about them:
What were the titles of the Treasury-sized books did Marvel put out in the ’70s (and/or ’80s)? What were the titles of the Treasury editions that DC put out? Any help/input would be appreciated!
— Kurt Roithinger [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The treasury editions — roughly 10 x 14 inch comics reprint collections with cardboard covers — made their debut on October 24, 1972 when DC released RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. It was a visually striking package and the durability of the covers was undoubtedly a selling point to parents more accustomed to buying Little Golden Books than comics. The Limited Collectors’ Editions would also allow DC access to various chain stores and smaller retailers that didn’t normally carry periodicals. Indeed, some of these stores, failing to recognize the collections as a returnable comic book, stocked them with children’s books and never returned unsold stock for credit. I recall finding 1973’s second issue (Shazam!) still on sale at one such store in 1976.
DC’s second tabloid edition (slightly larger than the regular editions and published in black and white) was 1973’s THE AMAZING WORLD OF SUPERMAN, a special issue filled with comics and articles that was meant to be sold during Superman-related activities in Metropolis, Illinois.
Meanwhile, sales on RUDOLPH had convinced DC to launch an ongoing series of tabloids under the LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION title. DC’s second newsstand tabloid, a collection of Marvel Family-related stories, was inexplicably numbered C-21. RUDOLPH, which hadn’t been numbered at all, was retroactively declared to have been C-20. Complicating matters further was FAMOUS FIRST EDITION, a series of replica editions of historic comics that used the same numbering as LCE. With the fourth issue, the series acquired its own numbering code but counted the three issues that had gone before.
DC had hopes of eventually publishing new material in the tabloids but their only ongoing success in that area was a series of Rudolph collections (#s 33, 42, 50, 53, 60) and a volume devoted to the Bible (# 36). In 1976, plans were afoot for two all-new Easter editions (“The Story of Jesus” and “Rudolph’s Easter Parade”), Sheldon Mayer’s adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” and an ambitious four-part series devoted to The Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.” None ever came to be but, in late 1978, the dream was finally realized when LCE became ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION with #53’s Rudolph outing and # 54’s Superman-Wonder Woman adventure. And, just to keep everyone on their toes, the series became LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION for two subsequent reprint issues (# 57, 59).
In the wake of 1978’s “DC Implosion,” the contents of LCE’s second “Best of DC” collection and future ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITIONs were shelved and the series was discontinued. A Justice League 72-pager was broken apart in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 210-212 (1982) while “Superman’s Life Story” finally saw print in ACTION COMICS #500 in mid-1979. Material intended for 1978’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tabloid (including “Will a Stitch In Time Save Christmas ?” and “The Secret of the Lucky Dragon’s Egg”) appeared one year later in the digest, BEST OF DC #4.
The tabloids returned for a last hurrah under the DC SPECIAL SERIES title with two issues published to coincide with the theatrical release of “Superman II” in 1981 and a last in 1982 as part of the DC-Marvel team-up series.
These are the contents of the tabloids, confusing numbering and all:
LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION # C-20 (“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”), C-21 (“Shazam!”), C-22 (“Tarzan of the Apes”), C-23 (“House of Mystery”), C-24 (“Rudolph”), C-25 (“Batman”), C-27 (“Shazam!”), C-29 (“The Return of Tarzan”), C-31 (“Superman”), C-32 (“Ghosts”), C-33 (“Rudolph”), C-34 (“Christmas With the Super-Heroes”), C-35 (“Shazam!”), C-36 (“The Bible”), C-37 (“Batman”), C-38 (“Superman”), C-39 (“Secret Origins of Super-Villains”), C-40 (“Dick Tracy”), C-41 (“Super Friends”), C-42 (“Rudolph”), C-43 (“Christmas With the Super-Heroes”), C-44 (“Batman”), C-45 (“More Secret Origins of Super-Villains”), C-46 (“Justice League of America”), C-47 (“Superman Salutes the Bicentennial”), C-48 (“Superman vs. the Flash”), C-49 (“Legion of Super-Heroes”), C-50 (“Rudolph”), C-51 (“Batman”), C-52 (“The Best of DC”), C-57 (“Welcome Back, Kotter”) and C-59 (“Batman’s Strangest Cases”).
FAMOUS FIRST EDITION # C-26 (“Action Comics # 1”), C-28 (“Detective Comics # 27”), C-30 (“Sensation Comics # 1”), F-4 (“Whiz Comics # 2”), F-5 (“Batman # 1”), F-6 (“Wonder Woman # 1”), F-7 (“All-Star Comics # 3”), F-8 (“Flash Comics # 1”) and C-61 (“Superman # 1”).
ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION # C-53 (“Rudolph”), C-54(“Superman Vs. Wonder Woman”), C-55 (“Legion of Super-Heroes”), C-56(“Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali”), C-58 (“Superman Vs. Shazam!”), C-60 (“Rudolph”) and C-62 (“Superman the Movie”).
DC SPECIAL SERIES # 25 (“Superman II”), 26 (“Superman and His Incredible Fortress of Solitude”) and 27 (“Batman Vs. the Incredible Hulk”).
Marvel wasn’t about to ignore this potentially lucrative format and dived in with MARVEL TREASURY EDITION in June of 1974 (between issues # 30 and 31 of LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION), hoping to capitalize on the increased accessibility to kids during summer vacation with a Spider-Man tabloid. The most notable distinguishing factor from the competition was that fact that Marvel’s tabloids had square spines while DC’s were stapled. MARVEL TREASURY EDITION soon had several spin-off one-shots like MARVEL TREASURY SPECIAL (late 1974), SPECIAL COLLECTORS’ EDITION (1975) and MARVEL SPECIAL EDITION (1975).
Over at DC, Sheldon Mayer was working on an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, which he would write and illustrate. Carmine Infantino mentioned the project to Marvel’s Stan Lee, who revealed that they were also working on such an adaptation. As related in 1985’s THE OZ-WONDERLAND WARS #1, the two companies decided to jointly publish the venture. The project underwent a further metamorphosis and, with Marvel’s creative team (Roy Thomas and John Buscema) at the helm, it appeared in August of 1975 as MGM’S MARVELOUS WIZARD OF OZ. The tabloid-size DC-Marvel collaborations continued with the monumental SUPERMAN VS. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (released on January 2, 1976) and the sequel in MARVEL TREASURY EDITION # 28 (1981).
Like DC, Marvel had hopes of doing all-new tabloids. MTE # 25’s Spider-Man/Hulk skirmish at the 1980 Winter Olympics was meant to be followed by another new volume, Marvel Super-Heroes at the Summer Olympics. Unfortunately, Marvel hadn’t foreseen the fact that the United States would boycott the Olympics. With the entire story completed, Marvel eventually had the material reworked — minus the Olympic angle — into a regular-sized three-issue mini-series called MARVEL SUPER-HEROES CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS that was released in 1982.
Here’s the line-up for Marvel’s treasury editions:
MARVEL TREASURY EDITION # 1 (“Spider-Man”), 2 (“Fantastic Four”), 3 (“Thor”), 4 (“Conan”), 5 (“The Hulk”), 6 (“Dr. Strange”), 7 (“Avengers”), 8 (“Giant Super-Hero Holiday Grab-Bag”), 9 (“Super-Hero Team-Up”), 10 (“Thor”), 11 (“Fantastic Four”), 12 (“Howard the Duck”), 13 (“Giant Super-Hero Holiday Grab-Bag”), 14 (“Spider-Man”), 15 (“Conan”), 16 (“Defenders”), 17 (“The Hulk”), 18 (“Marvel Team-Up”), 19 (“Conan”), 20 (“The Hulk”), 21 (“Fantastic Four”), 22 (“Spider-Man”), 23 (“Conan”), 24 (“The Hulk”), 25 (“Spider-Man vs. The Hulk at the Winter Olympics”), 26 (“The Hulk”), 27 (“Spider-Man”) and 28 (“Superman/Spider-Man II”).
Other volumes included:
MARVEL TREASURY SPECIAL: GIANT SUPER-HERO HOLIDAY GRAB-BAG #1
MARVEL SPECIAL EDITION #1 (“Spider-Man”)
SPECIAL COLLECTORS’ EDITION #1 (“Savage Fists of Kung Fu”)
MGM’S MARVELOUS WIZARD OF OZ (co-published with DC)
MARVEL TREASURY OF OZ FEATURING THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ
SUPERMAN VS. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (co-published with DC)
MARVEL TREASURY SPECIAL: CAPTAIN AMERICA’S BICENTENNIAL BATTLES #1
MARVEL SPECIAL EDITION, featuring STAR WARS #1 (reprinting STAR WARS # 1-3)
MARVEL SPECIAL EDITION, featuring STAR WARS #2 (reprinting STAR WARS # 4-6)
MARVEL SPECIAL EDITION, featuring CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND #1.
The tabloid format still lives in the form of Paul Dini and Alex Ross’ annual iconic collections for DC as well as Dan Jurgens’ 1999 SUPERMAN/FANTASTIC FOUR team-up. The paper and production values are a wee bit fancier than they were in the good old days, though.
Does John Wells, compiler of comics characters database, have a homepage?
— J. Ferola (PuzzleABC2000@aol.com)
Sadly, I don’t. The comics research is something I do on Saturdays and Sundays so I’ve yet to get far enough ahead on my projects to even think about a web-site. The research firm of Wells & Schaum (see Busiek & Grummett’s POWER COMPANY) is working around the clock to figure out how to create a longer weekend but, unfortunately, folks in the know like the Linear Men and the new Chronos don’t have web pages, either.
Thanks once again for the exhaustive amount of information, John.
While you’re all waiting for next week’s column to appear here, don’t forget my daily Anything Goes trivia at http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/trivia. See you there – and here!
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