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February 13, 1972 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1972-02-13

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, February 13, 197E

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday, February 13, 1 97L

Socially conscious comics! Zap! Pow! Barn.

II II - U

By MARTIN STERN
Suffering Suns of Krypton!
The comics - they are 'a
changing.
Yes, it appears that comic
books have progressed greatly
from the days when super her-
oes fought against an odd as-
sortment of wierdly dressed vil-
lians with bizarre weapons.
Comic heroes were once almost
indestructible, with few, if any,
weaknesses. They had no prob-
lems, except of course, shielding
their secret identities from pry-
ing eyes.
True or false? Superman's al-
ter ego, Clark Kent, works as a
reporter for the Daily Planet.
Wonder Woman fights crime
with her magic lasso and super
strength, dressed in her scanty
red, white, and blue suit. The
industry's comics code forbids
stories dealing with monsters

or drugs. Superhero comics cost
fifteen cents.
The above statements are all
false. Clark Kent is now a tele-
vision newsman. Wonder Wo-
man no longer has super
strength and iow fights crime
in her civilian identity of Diana
Prince, using karate as her
weapon. A revision of the com-
ics code last year now allows
regulated usage of monstor or
drug stories. And, finally, in-
flation has hit the comics. A 32
page Marvel comic now costs 20
cents, while National (DC)
comic now has 52 pages and
costs a quarter.
The change in comics goes
Jeyond all of this Social aware-
ness is now the key theme of
most of the current comics on
the market. Marvel has been
very successful in getting mes-
sages across on the pages of

their comics. DC, on the other
hand, is failing to reach their
readers.
Green Lantern is DC's lead-
ing comic in this trend. Past
issues have dealt with indian
rights, women's lib, courtroom
injustice, overpopulation, and
racism. Just a few months ago,
a story dealth with a young
superhero, Speedy, who had be-
come a junkie. All worked out
well, though, as he went
through heroin withdrawal cold
turkey.
Besides dealing with contem-
porary issues, Green Lantern is
noted for its highly literate
scripts (by writer D e n n i s
O'Neil) and dramatic artwork
(by artist Neal Adams.) At the
first annual awards banquet
held last year by the Academy
of Comic Book Arts, a newly
founded organization of comic
professionals, G r e e n Lantern
was named as the best contin-
uing feature in the comics mar-
ket.'
ButGreen Lantern will be dis-
continued with the next issue.
DC's audience, made up mostly
of youngsters eight to twelve,
would not buy the book.
According to Julius Schwartz,
editor of this and several other
DCs, the book's sales were
never impressive. "We had
hoped it would catch on. It did-
n't. It is just not a profit mak-
ing thing. Kids told us if they
wanted to read about these
things, they could read Time
magazine."
Marvel comics' story of suc-
cess, as explained by one of
its top writers, Roy Thomas, is
that their comics do not come
on too strong. Thomas notes
how last season's TV shows,
which had debuted heavily lac-
ed with relevance, had bombed.
Marvel comics exist for en-
tertainment. "S o i a 1 topics,
combined with fantasy, are an
added something to the com-
ics," Thomas states.
Marvel's number one comic
hero, both in terms of popular-
ity 'ahd sales figures, is the
amazing Spiderman. A frustrat-
ed hero beset with many prob-
lems, Spiderman, as Peter Park-
er, his true identity, cannot
tell his elderly Aunt May of
his super hero role for fear that
the shock would be too much
for her weak heart. He can't re-
veal his secret to his girlfriend
either, for she has a hatred for
the costumed webslinger. Also, a
major newspaper editor is al-
ways p u b 1 i c a ll y harrassing
Spiderman, and turning public
opinion against him.
Spiderman recently tackled
the drug issue when he had to
fight the neighborhood pusher
who had messed up Spider-
man's roommate by getting him
hooked on dope. This issue was
notable in that the Comics Code
Authority, prior to its revision
last year, wouldn't approve this
story due to it's drug topic.
However, it was printed anyway
in defiance of the Authority.
Super villians are on the way
out. The major evils in recent
comics have included race riots,
campus rebellions, prison up-
risings, and poliution violators.
Joe Orlando, editor of many of
DC's gothic comics, makes this
observation: "There's been an
increasing interest in the oc-

cult within the last six years.
Our comics will deal with the
mystic and the occult."
"We don't plaii on going to
the extremes of the EC Group,"
- publisher of extremely gory
horror comics in the early fif-
ties. "We're going to stay away
from rotting corpses. We shall
exercise a certain amount of
taste."
War comics are also gaining
popularity. Schwartz at DC
notes that their sales are begin-
ning to pick up. He believes
that as the Vietnam war fades
out, kids find war comics easier
to read. He explains that those
youngsters with brothers or
other relatives in Vietnam
would shun war comics as be-
ing "too close to home." The
end to the war brings a sigh of
relief, and war comics become
merely another mode of fantasy.
Another new trend is sword
and socery. Marvel is printing
adaptations of three of novel-
ist' Robert E. Howard's charac-
ters; Conan, King Kull, and
Solomon Kane. DC this month
unveils is new adaptation of
Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan.
More adaptations will be intro-
duced this year by both com-
panies.
DC's page and price increase
was another change for them
which didn't work. The extra
pages are filled with 11 or 12
pages of reprinted stories from
the forties through the early
sixties. DC also publishes a
monthly Spectacular for 50
cents, which has 100 pages, no
advertising, and all reprints.
But kids don't want to pay
extra for stories they consider
inferior in both story and art-
work. Therefore, DC, following
Marvel's lead, will go to 32
pages at 20 cents. The Spectac-
ular may be discontinued.
The art work in comic books
has seen major improvements
over the years. Some of the new
artists, such as Neal Adams.
Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta,
and Jeff Jones employ color
splashes, shading techniques,
and imaginative mystical ef-
fects to give special beauty to
their work. Also, several of the
better comic artists from the
fifties, such as Al Williamson,
Gray Morrow, Reed Crandall,
and Wally Wood have returned
in the seventies to once again
grace the comics with their fine
art.
One person who feels that the
comics are a legitimate artform
is Mike Uslan, of Bloomington,
Indiana. According to Uslan,
who has just started teaching a
new experimental course on
comics at Indiana University,
comics are beginning to gain
respectability.
Uslan explains that the comic
book industry suffered a major
setback in the mid-fifties when
an anti-comics crusade convinc-
ed many Americans that comic
books were very harmful to the
easily influenced minds of
youngsters.
One crusader, Frederic Wert-
ham, labeled Batmon and Robin
as homosexuals. Wonder Wo-
man was deemed a lesbian. The
implication was made that
youngsters idolizing these her-
oes would themselves turn to
homosexuality.
The Comics Code Authority

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-Michigan Daily,

1
(
_k

SATURDAY and SUNDAY
CHILDREN,
OF
PARADISE
Dir. by MARCEL CARNE,
1945. One of the most
moving love stories takes
place in old Paris. This
film was made in France
during the German occu-
pation.
"I LOVE YOU, GIRON."
NOTE
SPECIAL
TIMES!
7 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.

4

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-Copyright National Periodical Publications. All rights reserved. ,I

ARCH ITECTURE

-Copyright Marvel Comics Group. All rights reserved.

Simple folksinging
marks Macithur

By PAULA THOMAS
Margaret MacArthur, a gen-
uinely warm and friendly lady,
drove all the way from her
country home in Marlboro, Ver-
mont to sing at the Ark this
weekend.'
Perhaps the most well-known,
unknown collector of traditional
American and British folk-
songs; Margaret told me that
she picked up her first song
when she was eleven. (She also
unhesitantly told me, with a
laugh, that she is now forty-
three.))
Years before the "folk-boom",
MacArthur was already well in-
to pushing traditional music.
She had a radio show in Brat-
tieboro, Vermont in 1950, which,
basically consisted of friends
and relatives sitting around the
studio picking and having a
good time.
Although she is foremostly a
collector and performs for fun,
she is also one of the finest Ap-
palachians Dulcimer players I
have ever seen. She has an un-
usual technique ,that of finger-
picking rather than flatpick-
ing, and accents harmonies
rather than drones. This, along
with her disarming charm,
makes her a very interesting
person to listen to.
Although I have heard the
word "unpretentious" applied to
other performers, it seems to
fit Margaret MacArthur best of
all. She has a refreshingly sim-
ple and uncomplicated ap-
proach to music; which, along

with her enthusiasm, (which is
,as infectious ds laughter) makes
for a truly rewarding evening.
Margaret MacArthur a n d
Family have an album out on
Living Folk Records which con-
tains a choice selection of some
of the songs she has collected.
Inside is a biography of Mar-
garet and Family, and also a
detailed list of places and peo-
ple who have contributed to
Margaret's collection.
If you missed seeing Margar-
et MacArthur this weekend, I
(obviously) recommend that
you get ahold of this album;
which is a collectors item in it-
self.

r ..rte

SEMINAR SERIES
DR. JOHN TODD-
Director of the New Alchemy Institute
DESIGN OF ENVIRONMENTALLY
ADAPTING COMMUNITIES
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 16, 7:30 P.M.
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sponsored by ECOLOGY CENTER & COMMUNITY ORGANIC GARDEN

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U ~~~~Ueo, whne-neaci, tugene '.i i,em irouuunaiuu' *I

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