In 1978, DC Comics announced a massive expansion of its line, dubbed “DC Explosion”. Unfortunately, such an expansion did not reach its conclusion. Instead, the proposed “explosion” was a narrowing of the entire lineup with mass cancellations of titles.
People are calling this abrupt narrowing of the line “the DC implosion”, mocking DC’s marketing campaign that preceded it. To make matters worse, DC editor Jenette Kahn touted the expansion weeks before the ax began to fall. An effort to compete with the growth of Marvel Comics resulted in a legendary failure, but some comic book readers may not know how and why this failure happened and what the ramifications were.
ten DC raised comic book prices
Marvel Comics expanded its market share in the mid-1970s. Coming out of a recession, the price of comic books would top 35 cents. DC raised its prices to 50 cents, marking a dramatic response to inflation.
In her “publication”, Jenette Kahn defended the price change. She noted the extra eight pages of story in each DC comic as value for the higher price. Marvel responded to this by putting a star on their covers reading “Still only 35 cents”. DC’s 50 cent prize only lasted two months. Marvel wouldn’t raise prices for another six months.
9 Bucky O’Hare, Starslayer and Ms. Mystic were going to be DC Comics
When DC canceled unreleased series, some of them remained in the hands of their creators. Of course, these creators took them to other publishers. The best-known comics of this group were Bucky O’Hare by Larry Hama star killer by Mike Grell, and Mrs mystical by Neal Adams.
These comics did not reach the hands of readers for a few years. In 1982, Pacific Comics published Mike Grell’s star killer #1 with coloring by Steve Oliff. Similarly, Pacific published Mrs mystical #1 by Neal Adams, Michael Netzer and Cory Adams in the same year. Neal Adams’ Continuity comic book published Bucky O’Hare by Larry Hama, Michael Golden and Cory Adams in 1986.
8 Al Milgrom and Larry Hama were fired
One of the often overlooked facets of the implosion is the number of people DC has laid off. At the request of Warner Bros., DC laid off 40% of its employees. Among those layoffs were two very talented designers, Al Milgrom and Larry Hama.
Both found their way to Marvel Comics. Al Milgrom became a renowned publisher but also provided pencils for Peter Parker, the spectacular Spider-Man, avengersand Avengers West Coast. Larry Hama arrived at Marvel in 1980 and continued to write G.I. Joe and modify Mad and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
seven The Canceled Comic Book Cavalcade Was Never Distributed
Some readers know that DC printed canceled and never-released material from the implosion. What many fans don’t realize is that Canceled comic book cavalcade was never distributed. DC only made 35 copies for the creators and to establish ownership. Both issues featured photocopies under a plain blue cover.
The first issue showed a “cover price” of 10 cents and featured previously unseen artwork copies of six comic books. only two, Fire storm #6 and Door to nightmare #6 was printed later. The second issue had slightly more content and a “cover price” of $1. The dozens of copies remain prized collector’s items, fetching thousands of dollars.
6 DC’s implosion was partly caused by a blizzard
The significance of the 1977 and 1978 blizzards to DC’s implosion is overstated. It is easy to reduce a complex economic system to simple causes, but the implosion is the result of many factors. Despite this, the blizzards suffocated all distribution systems, affecting the entire comic book industry.
After a recession, a gas crisis and rising inflation, two blizzards didn’t help. This stifled the newsstand distribution system and reduced the demand for comics. Comics were an unnecessary expense for most families, struggling to dig out feet of snow. Blizzards also claimed lives, making the comic book industry’s woes pale in comparison.
5 Detective Comics was almost canceled
When the ax fell, DC Comics had to figure out which titles to cancel. Looking at the sales figures, one problem was clear. Detective comicsthe comic book that gave DC Comics its name, was on the chopping block.
The executive’s decision was to merge Detective comics with best selling Batman Family. The first three issues after the implosion did the Batman Family dominating logo on the cover. The series was even part of the Dollar Comics line for almost two years. Fortunately, Detective comics regained its place and reached number 1000 in 2019.
4 Characters of color were particularly affected
People of color were not well represented in DC comics during the Bronze Age. Even so, breakthroughs were made with Tony Isabella hired to replicate the success he had with Luke Cage. Isabel launched Black Lightningbut it was a victim of the DC implosion after 11 issues.
DC also planned to launch a new series starring Vixen, created by Gerry and Carla Conway, Bob Oksner and Vince Colletta. This was to be DC’s first comic to feature a woman of color as the main character. Unfortunately, it never launched thanks to the Implosion, and Vixen didn’t appear until 1981.
3 DC hoped Superman: The Movie would save the company
superman: the movie broke box office records. It premiered on December 10, 1978, six months after Superman’s 50th birthday. DC Comics hoped the film would raise the publisher’s profile. Unfortunately, he debuted too late to prevent the implosion.
The film’s original release date was to coincide with Superman’s birthday. Principal photography didn’t end until October 1978, just as the ax fell at DC Comics. The delay stemmed in part from the decision to film the film and its sequel, Superman II, at the same time. The few links produced by DC failed to capitalize on a blockbuster movie.
2 The corporate overlords of Warner Bros. demanded the cuts
In late 1978, executives at Warner Bros. demanded a permanent disconnection of the DC line. It was a drastic reduction in the line, wiping out 17 titles in one fell swoop. They demanded a line-wide reduction based on sales, but DC offices’ arguments were saved Detective comics.
The parent company’s demands didn’t stop at the cancellation of books. Cover price increased to 40 cents per issue and page count increased from 44 pages to 36. Surviving Dollar Comics remained at 68 pages. As a combination of two titles, Detective comics survived as one of the Dollar Comics.
There were cancellations in 1978 that had nothing to do with DC’s implosion. freedom fighters and Karate Kid makes room for the DC explosion. Many titles canceled in early and mid-1978 continued in adventure comics and other titles.
Without TV shows supporting them, Welcome to Kotter and Shazam! lay among the rubble in 1978. Long-running headlines Aquaman, the metal men, Challengers of the unknown, and Teen Titans completed their ongoing storylines. Finally, Steve Ditko’s new hero, The Odd Man, found his story out of place in Detective comics of the cancellation Shade the Changing Man.
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