Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Rank and File: My Favorite Year...

Redartz:  Greetings all! For this week's discussion; we're going to update / expand upon a post I did several years ago at Doug and Karen's fondly remembered Bronze Age Babies. That post was dedicated to choosing a favorite summer, and sharing the reasons why. Here's a link to that original post (with thanks again to Doug and Karen):  http://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/2016/06/open-forum-your-favorite-summer.html#links

As our title above indicates, today we are tweaking that subject to select a favorite year. The characteristics of your favorite year will, of course, be subjective; it's your year, you pick the reasons why. Maybe it was the comics, maybe the television, perhaps it was something more personal. Whatever your reasons, what year do you look back upon with the most warmth?

In that previous BAB post, I named 1975 as my favorite summer. For favorite year, I'm sliding back a year to 1974. My reasons: 

Primarily, that was the year I 'returned' to comics.  I say 'returned' because in one sense, I never left- but 1974 was when my junior high pal convinced me to pick up some Marvel (and later DC) books after several years of Archie and Charlton reading. And that reunion with comics lasted, in one form or another, to this very day. 

But 1974 has more to offer than just that personal milestone. Man, what a year to start reading:


Marvel brought out the Giant-Size books, and the Treasury Editions,DC had the 100 page giants.  Gerry Conway and Ross Andru had Spidey fighting Molten Man, Jackal and Mysterio. Thomas and Buckler had the Fantastic Four tackling Sub-Mariner, Dr. Doom, Frightful Four and the Silver Surfer. The Avengers were dealing with the Celestial Madonna and Kang (repeatedly). Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog were doing Man-Thing. There were Marvel Value Stamps (yes, I was one of those who clipped them out; mea culpa). Just so much comics fun; it was mind-shattering. 

Ah, but 1974 also knocked me out musically. That was also the year I started following pop music, specifically Casey Kasem and American Top 40; and learned there was something called a "Billboard Hot 100". Some of my all-time favorite singles emanated from that halcyon year. Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown". 

Hues Corporation's "Rock the Boat". Wings' "Band on the Run". MFSB's "TSOP".

 Ray Steven's "The Streak". Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number". Carole King's "Jazzman". 

And that merely scratches the surface. Every week tuning in to AT40 was like magic that year.

So there it is, my testament to 1974. What year gets your vote?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hi Red and BitBA fandom!

Great question.

I'll go with 1971 which was the 4th grade. This year worked out quite well for me at school. But I also recall walking to the beach with my dad and brother (we lived near Lake Michigan in Gary, Indiana) on a Sunday morning.

Not sure why but we detoured by the small grocery store, but I bought Amazing Spider Man 100 off the spinner! Still have it.

AND (!) I was immediately impressed that Peter loved Gwen so much he wanted to ditch his spidey powers forever!!! What an act of love was that??? And for his trouble he grows 4 more arms and runs into Moebius and the Lizard!!!

Read every issue subsequent until that fateful day...

Disneymarvel said...

For much the same reasons, I'd pick either 1974, too. I had rediscovered the Fantastic Four (knew them from the '67 H-B cartoon; not the comic book). Through the FF, the Avengers and Marvel-Two-in-One's team ups, I quickly learned much about the Marvel Universe. At 25 cents each, I could afford to buy numerous titles and be immersed in this new hobby. Plus, with a few comic shops and used book stores not too far away, I was able to pick up most titles back to their beginnings for less than a dollar each. It was a great time to collect!

Anonymous said...

Redartz, I think we might be clones or twins that were separated at birth or something, because your reasons for picking 1974 are so similar to my own — Giant-Size books, American Top 40, “Jazzman”, etc — it’s spooky. I could just say, “Yeah, what Redartz said” and walk away, but of course I‘m not gonna...

I had actually begun deliberately buying and collecting comics (as opposed to just buying a single issue maybe once or twice a year) in late August of ‘73, and that was also the year that I got my first radio / alarm clock combo, and started listening to Top 40 stations. But it was in ‘74 that my appreciation of both music and comics really coalesced, and became permanent fixtures in my life.

And on top of that, I also began dating my first girlfriend that year, so certain songs and comics are indelibly linked with memories of that first romance. I can actually chart the course of it with songs and comics — from my first crushing on her in February (‘Show and Tell’ by Al Wilson / MARVEL TEAM-UP #21) to when she dumped me in September (‘Clap for the Wolfman’ by The Guess Who / KAMANDI #24) and even to the start of dating my first Rebound GF (‘When Will I See You Again” by The Three Degrees / DESTRUCTOR #1).

It was also the year I first started buying Black and White comics mags. EERIE, VAMPIRELLA, THE SPIRIT, PLANET OF THE APES, and DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU were the ones that seemed to get the best distribution in my neck of the woods; I never saw a single issue of Marvel’s Monster Mags on any newsstand.

And in the fall came that first wave of Atlas comics. I remember how exciting it was, being in on the ground floor of an entirely new line of comics! It was like that thrill you’d get when you were lucky enough to snag a first issue of a new title, only times ten. Of course, they were short-lived and were mostly crap, but I still love ‘em.

1974 even went out with a bang for me — for Christmas I got Les Daniels’ excellent COMIX, Vol. 2 of Steranko’s HISTORY OF COMICS and that first magical Marvel Calendar.

So yeah, pretty damn good year!


Edo Bosnar said...

As I commented in that post at the BAB, I have a hard time picking just one, if we're speaking in general terms. However, if we restrict it to comics memories, I can easily pick the greatest year for comics ever: 1979.
That was the year I became a *serious* comics fan - not just plucking random titles from the spinner racks, including Archies and the Disney ducks. Early in the year, I picked up my first issue of X-men, #120, and became an instant fan. Same thing happened with Iron Man (#121) and, not long afterward, Daredevil #158 - yep, I was there for Miller's debut on the title. All of sudden, there were comics that I simply *had* to get every month. And it wasn't restricted to just those three titles. I also discovered Micronauts a bit later (a few issues into the first arc by Mantlo with spectacular art by Golden), and there were so many good stories in other series, like the Project Pegasus saga in Marvel 2-in-1, the Black Widow-with-amnesia four-parter in Marvel Team-up, the excellent run of issues in Avengers by Michelinie, with Byrne doing most of the art, an excellent crop of annuals that summer, and the beginning of DC line of digests, which also began in the summer. Yep, just a great year for comics.

Mike Wilson said...

You keep picking years I'm too young to remember :) I was only two in 1974, so no actual memories, though I've read some of the comics. (Was Amazing 141 the one with the spider-Mobile getting wrecked in the river?)

Nice to see Canadian Gordon Lightfoot on the charts; I love the song The Streak ... I had that on one of those K-Tel compilation records of offbeat songs, either Looney Tunes or Goofy Greats. Not a big Steely Dan fan, although I really like My Old School.

As for my own favourite year, I'd probably pick something in the 80s; 1982-1984 were good years for comics, music, and TV. 1986 or 1987 had some great comics too, plus a lot of good music and some of my favourite movies (like Princess Bride). Basically the entire run from 1982-88 was pretty good overall :)

Redartz said...

Charlie- very cool that you still have that ASM 100. What an issue to start off with! Comics and the beach, now that's a team up.

Disneymarvel- so you too were one of the lucky ones with a comic shop nearby. Sure made it easier to avoid missing issues. And yes, at 25 cents you could afford to 'take home a stack'.

B.t.- Great story! First girlfriend on top of all that other 1974 goodness. Wow. Also, you illustrate perfectly the ability of music (and comics) to evoke specific memories.

Yes, we may be clones (along with a few others among us, HB?). You mentioned the Daniel's book "Comix". Didn't get it for Christmas, but did acquire it that same year. Great for learning comics history...

Edo- you make a dynamite case for 79. That was a Fantastic year for comics fans (and pretty good for music aficionados, too).

Anonymous said...

Hey, clone-brother, stop reading my mind! I was gonna say the same thing about Edo's picks from '79. By then, I'd cut back on my weekly comics consumption quite a bit, but those are all titles that I still bought and enjoyed every month. Plus, Dave Sim was just hitting his stride on CEREBUS, DC's big-ass Dollar Comics were consistently interesting (DETECTIVE and WORLD'S FINEST especially) and the Marvelcolor HULK mag was usually worth a look (the MOON KNIGHT back-up strips stealing Ol' Greenskin's thunder more often than not). And HEAVY METAL was still swinging for the fences every month, with Corben, Moebius, Druillet, Breccia, Bilal and Chaland in their prime, and with the occasional stunner by Gray Morrow, Frank Brunner and Howard Chaykin. Nope, not bad at all...!

Music-wise, there was a WHOLE lotta disco -- even KISS, ELO and the Stones were grabbing a slice of that funky polyester pie. Not that i hate disco or anything. And anyway, there was also "Sultans of Swing", "Rock Lobster", Pink Floyd's THE WALL, Bad Co's DESOLATION ANGELS, The Cars' CANDY-O, Tom Petty's DAMN THE TORPEDOES, Cheap Trick's DREAM POLICE, Elvis Costello's ARMED FORCES, etc. Some pretty kickass music that year, for sure.

Like that old saying, "The Golden Age is Twelve" , I think everyone's First Year of Comics Fandom is likely to be their favorite. And everyone probably also has that "cut off" year where the comics just don't seem to have the same impact anymore, or seem to be going downhill in general, as favorite creators move on to other books, or whatever.

- b.t.

Redartz said...

Mike W- Sorry; I'm from the older end our our Bronze age spectrum! But you're quite justified in sending some love to the 80's. Top notch comics, the rise of Indies, excellent music, what's not to love? Indeed, my second choice for a favorite year would probably be 1983.
Oh, and ASM 141 did, in fact, feature the soggy fate of the Spider-Mobile. Courtesy of Mysterio, and Spidey's lack of driving experience...

b.t.- Oh yeah, the DC dollar books! Adventure Comics were a blast, with a great lineup including Deadman and the JSA. And you named some great musical highlights, too. The Cars truly ROCKED. And may I add Talking Heads' "Fear of Music" ? Played that one to death. As for disco, it seemed tiresome at the time, but it sounds much better now (to these ears). Bee Gees and "Tragedy" topped the charts in 79, iirc...

Colin Jones said...

1974 is special to me too because on November 16th of that year I discovered Marvel comics - Marvel UK's Planet Of The Apes #5 to be precise which also featured Ka-Zar and Gulliver Jones, Warrior of Mars. And inside the comic there were ads for Marvel's other four weeklies (Mighty World Of Marvel, Spider-Man Comics Weekly, The Avengers and Dracula Lives) so the door to a whole new world had opened.
But I had very little interest in music, only being aware of a tiny handful of hits such as 'Chirpy, Chirpy Cheep Cheep' by Middle Of The Road (1971 - we sang it in school, all us little kids sitting cross-legged on the floor), 'Save Your Kisses For Me' by Brotherhood Of Man (1976 - it was the British winner of the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest) or 'You're The One That I Want' and 'Summer Nights' from GREASE (those two songs stayed at #1 in the UK singles chart for 9 weeks and 7 weeks respectively so were kind of inescapable even to someone like me who didn't really follow music). But in late 1979 I started listening to the BBC Top 40 on a regular basis which I continued to do until 1999 when I lost interest again.
And 1980 was important too because on Easter Saturday, April 5th, I started buying imported American Marvel comics regularly every month rather than just sporadically as I'd been doing since 1976. I stopped buying comics completely in 1983 and then started again in 2007 so 2007 is another important year :)

Humanbelly said...

I might be an outlier, here, but I have a heck of a time when it comes to thinking "Oh yeah, 1977--THAT was a great year 'cause it was when I first got all of Robert E Howard's Conan collection in paperback!" I don't fault that type of association at all, it's just that, man, my mind doesn't seem to catalog by year-first at all. I end up thinking of the appropriate events, and then have to do chrono/mathematical calculations to determine what year it was. Hunh.

I probably have any number of "favorite" comics, music, television, and pop-culture related years, really. 1968 (for Marvel Comics) is sort of the bar I measure all others by-- even though it was probably 1969 when I was reading a lot of those issues. The above-cited '73/'74 era (with the Giant-Size boom that sorta heralded the end of the Monster Craze) was fantastic as well-- wasn't that around the time of the Avengers/Defenders War, IIRC?

Here's a different take on the topic, though. One of the WORST years of my life would have been Christmas of '83 through August of '84, when I'd graduated from college and was trying (w/out any capable guidance at all) to get into a graduate program, was staying at home with my Mom, who herself was not going through a great life-patch, and I was working three jobs to scrape dollars together for theoretical grad school-- with no free time, no nearby friends, no girl-friend (or prospects), no diversions, and the jobs were factory full-time/McDonald's part-time/ice cream parlor on weekends. What did happen, though, is that I found a little used book store in Elkhart, IN that had tons of recent back-issue comics at generally BELOW COVER PRICE (where I picked up most of John Byrne's run to that point), AND there was a tiny comic convention in Mishawaka where I picked up most of the New Mutants early run, as well as a bunch of those early, solid 4-issue Marvel mini-series-- which put me back into high-gear comics-acquisition. To the detriment of School Dollars? Oh, no doubt. But I'm not sure if I ever in my life needed that refuge from life-grind more than then. I would be churning away at the miter-box, musing on the character developments of the kids in New Mutants, or how the X-Men were going to defeat the Brood, etc. It was almost a Walter Mitty-esque existence. . .

So in a way, a very tough year in my life also became an incredibly dear-to-me year in comics.


(PS-- I did get into the MFA-Acting program at the Catholic University of America, as it turned out. Very, very flukey and touch-&-go. . . and yet every aspect of my largely happy life since then has hinged on that one opportunity presenting itself when all seemed darkest!)

Humanbelly said...

*sigh* John Byrne's FF run, that is.
Also, Alpha Flight, IIRC?
And lots of X-Men.

HB again

Redartz said...

Colin J- yes, "Grease" and it's repertoire were EVERYWHERE in the summer of 78. Fun summer ( my girlfriend at the time convinced me to enter a 50s dance contest with her- let's just say she impressed the judges, I didnt).
You also experienced the pattern of 'coming, going, and returning' to comics. Not uncommon, it seems...

HB- that's a mighty challenging year you describe. Working one job is time consuming enough. Working 2 is mind-and-body wrecking (I've been there). Can't imagine juggling 3. Whew.
But as you noted, that little break (any little break, really) during such a tough time becomes truly precious. Maybe that scarcity is what makes those diversions so important, and so prominent in retrospect...

And glad it all worked out!

Killraven said...

Well, '75 was my first year with comics so I'll always have memories of getting those first couple dozen held near to my heart. Yes Marvel Giant-Size and Atlas was a big part of it. But truly my favorite year, was '78.
Avengers' Korvac saga, the Defenders had that crazy Defender for a day story, my favorite Annual in Hulk #7, Thor Asgard stories, heck I even bought Aquaman which I had not got before or after, and there was Machine Man which I was determined to start from #1 and kept the run in tact until I left comics.

Non comic related it seems '84 comes back a lot!
The Detroit Tigers won the series, which I followed game by game thru the radio and going to Tiger stadium. I even kept score from home while listening to Harwell and Carey.
I must have went to the movies weekly looking at the releases that year; Terminator, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Natural and on and on. Probably my favorite though was Buckaroo Bonzai!

Steve Does Comics said...

I would have to go for 1975. I read my first ever Savage Sword of Conan. The charts were filled with music that I loved at the time, even if I'm not so keen on much of it now. Doctor Who gave us Genesis of the Daleks, my favourite ever Doctor Who serial. The summer holiday was spent scooping up massive numbers of American comics in Blackpool, including mountains of Atlas Comics. I got to see Concorde flying low overhead. I had my first ever trip abroad, to Belgium. I left primary school and started secondary school. Space: 1999 made its senses-shattering debut. Thunderbirds was repeated on TV.

What was there not to love?

Redartz said...

Killraven- 78 was a spectacular year. Hulk on tv was just one highlight.
And 84 ? Also had plenty to offer. Not least of which were so many great musical offerings...

Steve DC- seeing the Concorde would have been cool indeed. And Space:1999 was a must-see over here, at least at my house. Picked up the Charlton comics too. Were those available in the UK?

Steve Does Comics said...

Red, Charlton comics in general were very available but I never saw any of their Space 1999 issues.

Killraven said...

Oh, that's too bad Steve re: Space 1999 comics. You missed out on some early Byrne.

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