Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Superman's Sealed Section Revealed

You can say what you want about the physical quality of the 1970s and '80s Australian reprint comics, but jeez, this issue of Superman The Comic is what they were all about. Everything that was cool about these reprints is perfectly summed up in this one, gigantic reprint. And it has a sealed section as well, just like a filthy porn section in an otherwise decent magazine.

According to the essential Australian DC reprint site, this book came out in December 1979, meaning that I more than likely wouldn't have been able to afford to buy it from the newsagents. We grew up poor and in 1979 $1 was a decent chunk of change. It could get me about 10 to 20 American comics, usually without covers, although I did manage to buy the entire run of Iron Fist once for roughly $2 the lot, from a second hand store that I used to ride 30 minutes to reach, or walk about 90 minutes. Or it would buy me 20 books from the local library when they'd do their book sales. They sold books for 5 cents each, any book, but only in the winter months. The trick was getting them home dry, meaning I'd buy about $1.50 worth and ride my bike home, one handed, looking like I'd either swallowed a sheep or was heavily pregnant. That's where I got my copy of All In Colour For A Dime - which I still have - and a pile of 1960s Alter Egos, which the dog promptly ate, barring one which the cat pissed on. Sorry Roy. Oh yeah, they're long gone. Faced with such stiff opposition buying a new comic off the racks was virtually a no-no, unless it was something special. I expect I'd have seen it and passed - the little digest sized Marvel reprints (which I'll start writing about soon) could be bought for about 40 to 50 cents each back then.

The book's contents are nothing short of amazing. Talk about bang for your buck! The Americans never got books this great. This comic reprinted material from the following American originals:
Superman Family #190 (the entire contents)
All-New Collector's Edition C-62
DC Special Series #5 (Two Great Superman Classics intro)
Superman #13
Superman #300
Superman Annual #1 (Map of Krypton)
Superman Annual #2 (How the Super-Family Came from Krypton; With Best Wishes from your Super-Pal, Superman)
the 1955 Kellogg’s Premium Superman Giveaway
Superman #245 (Superman Presents a Collection of Special Features)
Superman Family #172 (The Superman Family Album)
Superman #197 (Clark Kent’s Other Jobs)
Action Comics #334 (The Origin of Super-Horse)
Action Comics #347 (Supergirl's Boy Friends)
80 Page Giant Magazine #3 (When Superman Kissed Lois Lane)
Superboy #175 (The Superboy Legend)
Superman #45
Action Comics #395 (The Secrets of Superman's Fortress) and a handful of material that hasn't been sourced yet.

Better still, as if it could get any better, there was a sealed section. Sealed sections only appeared in magazines like Cleo, Playgirl and the like - centerfolds with mild nudity, but nudity all the same. Did it show if Kal-El indeed was a super man? Certainly the cover of the sealed section would suggest so - that's as racy an image as you're likely to see on a sealed section. Talk about phallic! Does this mean that this comic broke the final taboo?

Of course not. The sealed section had oodles and oodles of super facts, ya dirty person you! Details about Superman's life and origins. Krypto! Comet! Supergirl! All clothed! Ummmm...Maps! You name it and it was probably in there. This is what comics were all about.

I doubt that anything in America came close to delivering this kind of material at such a low price. Granted a good 2/3 of the book was printed in glorious black and white, but the 64 page reprint from Superman Family #190 was printed in colour, albeit on cheap quality newsprint (as was the wont of the time) and hey - 128 pages of classic art from the likes of Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Bob Brown, Jim Mooney, John Forte, Pete Costanza, Kurt Schaffenberger and Al Plastino plus stories by Jerry Siegel and Gerry Conway (amongst others), a competition for both a three-in-one stereo and a state of the art cassette player, photos from the Superman movie and the sealed section - well what more could you want from your $1.

Other than 20 ex-library books.

These reprints are gems. Remind me to talk about those brilliant Batman reprints one day. Those I would buy, but how could you go past a 100 page book that would feature reprints from the likes of Neal Adams, Michael Golden, Michael Netzer, Gene Colan and the very underrated and very, very good Don Newton all in the same book? Easy answer - you'd not leave it, you'd buy it, and indeed I did.

1 comment:

Robert Thomas said...

I agree that Superman:The Comic is indeed a rare gem in the KG Murray staple and certainly lives up to the word "special." Obviously produced to cash in on Superman:The Movie, it was put together with a lot of thought and care, with a great selection of writers and artists from Superman's then 40 year history.

I picked one up a year or so ago, not knowing what to expect, only knowing that it coincided with the movie. What a pleasant surprise to see it contain movie reports and reprints from some of the best eras in Superman's history.

It would be great to find out who commissioned this special or who was involved in producing it.