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Today was not the day I expected to be reminded of Sonic Disrupters. (Finish it, DC! "Of 12" is an implicit contract!)

Another excellent episode. Kangiher isn't exactly my cup of tea but he really was a strong journeyman writer with a very crisp sense of story. A volume of the Best of Bob Kanigher would be a strong collection. He had a longstanding interest in racism (as early as 1943 in his book How to Make Money Writing Comics he decried stereotypes, although he did use some regrettable Japanese caricatures in his work). And as I mentioned on twitter his Louis Lane version of "Black Like Me" is of interest. The thing is that DC in someways had much stronger writing than 1960s/1970s Marvel because the books were heavily carefully edited and there was a real emphasis on scripting. So the DC comics of this era often have very tight stories, different from the ramshackle stuff you got when Stan Lee tried to put his dialogue on top of whatever Kirby drew.

I think the economic stuff Chris talked about at the end could be expanded on a bit. 1971/1972 was a particularly bad period for DC because the traditional magazine distribution system was going down the tube (there was an organized crime element to this.The mafia traditionally ran magazine distribution and did a good job of it but was in the process of being broken down by a combination of the FBI and anti-trust laws). But also Vietnam driven inflation (ultimately augmented by the oil shock & collapse of the dollar) meant newsprint was getting much more expensive. The kids comics market was dying once you got past 10 cents (the price any kid is comfortable with) and during this period DC tried to get around this by jumping from 15 cents to 25 cents with a page increase -- which didn't work and really cost them. That's one reason they had the reprints of Firewater in the back.

The same tightening of the economic grip also hurt Kirby's 4th world books, which did well early on but couldn't handle the price increase.

Ultimately the problem was the old market was dying but the new one had yet to be born. Phil Seuling and the head shops were just starting to create the proto-direct market.

In that context DC did some brave experiments that failed.

I'd also add that DC was far from alone in offering a variety of genres. The thing is comics emerged from the pulps and it was a standard thing for the old pulp pulishers to do books across genres (sci-fi, western, hard boiled detective, romance, nurse, air fighters, war). What happened over time was only the genres with hardy fan cultures (super-heroes and sci-fi) survived.

Frank Thorne, who died two days ago at the grand old age of 90, did fine work (as ever) with Tomahawk and Hawk. Rest In Peace.

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