Stan, Jack, and Steve - The 1960's (1961) The Castaway Strikes Back
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ON NEWSSTANDS AUGUST 1961

Amongst so much finally happening at Marvel, Ditko also had a few books fro Charlton Comics come out that month...

Konga #3 would feature a MR. Giordano cover and a 20 page Ditko pencil and ink feature of the big gorilla (Joe Gill story), as well as a short secondary feature on dinosaurs by Gill/Ditko.

Part ONE: 

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ON NEWSSTANDS AUGUST 1961

Amongst so much finally happening at Marvel, Ditko also had a few books fro Charlton Comics come out that month...

Konga #3 would feature a MR. Giordano cover and a 20 page Ditko pencil and ink feature of the big gorilla (Joe Gill story), as well as a short secondary feature on dinosaurs by Gill/Ditko.

Part TWO: 

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ON NEWSSTANDS AUGUST 1961

Amongst so much finally happening at Marvel, Ditko also had a few books fro Charlton Comics come out that month...

Konga #3 would feature a MR. Giordano cover and a 20 page Ditko pencil and ink feature of the big gorilla (Joe Gill story), as well as a short secondary feature on dinosaurs by Gill/Ditko.

Part THREE: 

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ON NEWSSTANDS AUGUST 1961

Amongst so much finally happening at Marvel, Ditko also had a few books fro Charlton Comics come out that month...

Konga #3 would feature a MR. Giordano cover and a 20 page Ditko pencil and ink feature of the big gorilla (Joe Gill story), as well as a short secondary 3 page feature on dinosaurs by Gill/Ditko.

Short Feature: 

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ON NEWSSTANDS AUGUST 1961

Amongst so much finally happening at Marvel, Ditko also had a few books fro Charlton Comics come out that month...

Space Adventures #42 would feature a 5 page Ditko pencil and ink Captain Atom story, written by Joe Gill and featuring the return of the female Venutian. 

That would be the last of Captain Atom for a couple of years, as Marvel would keep Ditko pretty busy during that time. He would do one more Gorgo story the following month, and keep doing Konga for Charlton, but any other work for the publisher would dry up for a few years... he had bigger and better things ahead...

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On 12/6/2022 at 1:08 AM, Prince Namor said:

ON NEWSSTANDS AUGUST 1961

Also on 08/31/1961. Amazing Adventures is no more, and in it's place is Amazing Adult Fantasy #7 - 'The Magazine that Respects Your Intelligence!' it says right there on the cover, along with a list of five stories inside. '5 Fantastic Thrillers For the More Mature Reader', it promises.

The cover is signed Stan Lee & S. Ditko

Stan has eliminated one of Kirby's monster books, and in it's place created a show piece for HIMSELF (with Ditko as the artist) - a 'writer'/artist team, creating those popular twist ending stories that have sold so well over the last three years...

The problem is... a) Right off the bat, they'll waste two pages on a table of contents and another on, basically, a preview of next months table of contents. Talk about immediately kicking things off by NOT respecting the audiences intelligence. 

b) Each of the 5 stories has a one page splash that doesn't TELL the story. It's like it's own mini cover. So in actuality there are only 18 pages of actual story...

and 

c) most of the stories again all seem to be one sentence synopsis' that Ditko tries to flesh out as best he can. He REALLY begins to use that 9 panel grid... the great thing about the series (and none of it is anywhere near Ditko's best work), is that Sturdy Steve really gets to learn how to WRITE, and expand upon Lee's minimal ideas. It would benefit him tremendously in just a few short months...

Ultimately though, knowing what we know now, it feels like a showcase for Lee to put his name out there.

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Being on a comic book collector along with a bunch of other kids in my neighborhood, AF#7 was a game changer also. Stan at  his best marketing, every kid wanted that "adult" book thinking that it was somehow better and forbidden......and at a early age those short stories took hold in your mind easily. I do not think that "Adult" and respect your intelligence was ever marketed that way...EC was superior and began 10 years prior, but those books were just not available until the EC paperbacks came out, I think in 1964 which I bought them too as released. So the format of a preview page, table of contents, and the genius move of making it Steve Ditko gives me opportunity to bow to Stan the man...its rare but this book with "Adult" commanded a trade of 3 to 1 minimum among collectors. The connection between the reader and the comic book was the key here. Creating giants among the collectors was a key marking tool. Why Did AF fail after 15....and yet FF went on to become a superstar....it was the same reason why the TV networks ran their business of continuity of characters...each week, or in this instance every 60 days early on. In contrast FF 3-1 trade did not occur until after issue 6 or just about that time.

 Still I think this is one of the most overlooked events in marvel history...again on ground level this was game changer which I feel let to more attention to their  entire  comic book line and benefited FF, Hulk, Thor and of course SM.

Edited by Mmehdy
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On 12/7/2022 at 12:07 PM, Mmehdy said:

Being on a comic book collector along with a bunch of other kids in my neighborhood, AF#7 was a game changer also. Stan at  his best marketing, every kid wanted that "adult" book thinking that it was somehow better and forbidden......and at a early age those short stories took hold in your mind easily. I do not think that "Adult" and respect your intelligence was ever marketed that way...EC was superior and began 10 years prior, but those books were just not available until the EC paperbacks came out, I think in 1964 which I bought them too as released. So the format of a preview page, table of contents, and the genius move of making it Steve Ditko gives me opportunity to bow to Stan the man...its rare but this book with "Adult" commanded a trade of 3 to 1 minimum among collectors. The connection between the reader and the comic book was the key here. Creating giants among the collectors was a key marking tool. Why Did AF fail after 15....and yet FF went on to become a superstar....it was the same reason why the TV networks ran their business of continuity of characters...each week, or in this instance every 60 days early on. In contrast FF 3-1 trade did not occur until after issue 6 or just about that time.

 Still I think this is one of the most overlooked events in marvel history...again on ground level this was game changer which I feel let to more attention to their  entire  comic book line and benefited FF, Hulk, Thor and of course SM.

Much the same way as FF #1 might not have been an immediate SELLER (Marvel wouldn't report its sales on Statement of Ownership documents for the book until January of 1967's issue #61!!!), its IMPACT was felt far and wide. I don't have any reason to believe that the hype surrounding AAF #7 was big as well. It's promise, it's cover hype, the focus on Ditko... I would've been excited too...

However in hindsight, its hard for me to praise the content in the same way as FF #1... and granted, I'm referring to it as an overall series, and not necessarily THAT issue... even the covers - who knows, maybe some of that stark, minimalist look for some of them was seen as unique and eye catching for the day... I really would have a hard time ranking them anywhere in my Top Ten Ditko favorite covers, just in terms of non-superhero books even. Maybe #13 ranks close... and stories... I certainly understand, reading and/or discovering something for the first time and the impact it can have on a hobbyists love of material - I can't argue with that; we ALL have those books - but from a more detached, critical hindsight, most Ditko readers - one's who've followed his work throughout his career and are familiar with all phases of it, see most of this work on the series as... not exactly his best. Subjective, I get that... but speaking from that position. 

And yes, there's also the cancelled series aspect of it...

However... it DID serve a purpose - it was Stan Lee staking his claim within the genre that was actually selling, and feeling the need to use his position of power to make his name known and show that Marvel Comics wasn't JUST Jack Kirby. Whether it was allowing the 'Stan Lee & Steve Ditko' signature on the cover of #11 or the 'Also...another off-beat little classic by Lee and Ditko' as a cover blurb on Strange Tales #95 (and #96) or 'The Latest Lee-Ditko Gem! on the cover of Tales to Astonish #32 (something he didn't allow for Kirby during that time...) it probably DID create hype that made people want to follow and get excited and be a part of things. 

And as you say, it most certainly played a part in laying the groundwork for the excitement going into the NEXT Marvel concept... Ant-Man, Thor, Hulk, etc... and THAT, in and of itself, is important to their growth as a publisher.

THIS is a seminal moment... WOULD it have grown organically, relying just on Kirby to do what he did? Or was it necessary for Lee to... over hype it? get more involved?

The hype was pretty standard on Challengers of the Unknown... it still was successful for DC. The ANTI-hype to discredit it over the decades probably had more work put into it. But no hype in the world by Stan would've made Homer the Happy Ghost successful. 

What we DO know is - Stan DID get involved and DID overhype and Marvel went on to be the biggest publisher in comics...

So bringing it back to this... If I believed the content was worthy... and I'm going to try and keep an open mind, objectively, in re-examing it again as we go on (and I'm all FOR hearing others views of ANY of this material - it's all SUBJECTIVE for sure - which is OK!)  - none of it would bother me as much if I knew it wasn't so... self servingly egotistical on Stan's part. 

Ditko would GROW as an outstanding writer through this process - but rather than embrace that as a great leader would - Stan would fight Ditko over credit eventually - and then use his passive aggressive nonsense and shielding of power to drive him away... 

Also... my biggest complaint as a kid reading Marvel Comics starting in the early 70's, was the disappointment, that came with the 'immense hype' vs 'the actual content' of the comic. Ugh. If anything drove me away from comics the most, it was Marvel's very bad habit of that. Did the over-hype create more readers or more zombies?

Hope you don't think of this as critical of your post - it's NOT - I appreciate the input and perspective, because it comes from a place I can't EVER be - as someone who bought these issues off the stands!!! That's a powerful perspective and I love to hear about it and how it was perceived! It's always easy to look at something in hindsight (from 61 years ago!) and view it through today's eyes, but it's equally, if not more important to understand it's place AT THAT TIME!

So by all means, please keep the conversation alive!

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Great insight from someone who was there at the time.  (thumbsu

After the advent of the Comics Code and before the launch of the Warren B&W mags, there may not have been a comics publisher consciously trying to sell to an older crowd of kids.  It wouldn't matter if the Stan & Steve stories in Amazing Adult Fantasy were any better (or any more "adult") than the Kirby monster books, if the kids could be sold on the idea that these were the forbidden fruit, that would indeed be a bit of marketing genius.  

We know now that Marvel occupied an almost empty swim lane in the 1960s, that of the older kids who would continue reading comics into their college years and beyond.  But it hasn't always been clear how much of that was by design, versus just the way it played out. 

Having the chutzpah to slap the word "Adult" on a Comics Code approved funny book in 1961?  hm

Edited by Zonker
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On 12/7/2022 at 5:42 PM, Zonker said:

Great insight from someone who was there at the time.  (thumbsu

Never occurred to me that after the advent of the Comics Code and before the launch of the Warren B&W mags, there may not have been a comics publisher consciously trying to sell to an older crowd of kids.  It wouldn't matter if the Stan & Steve stories in Amazing Adult Fantasy were any better (or any more "adult") than the Kirby monster books, if the kids could be sold on the idea that these were the forbidden fruit, that would indeed be a bit of marketing genius.  

Well and that's what it was - a marketing thing.

Read those stories, there's nothing really all that 'adult' about them. In fact, they're pretty simple. 

The belief, and a lot of this was created by Stan Lee and/or Marvel Zombies, is that it was Lee's 'marketing genius' that brought the college crowd and 'adults' to comic books. It's a nice story, and certainly one that inflates the legacy of Lee, but the truth is, that crowd was already there. 

How do we know?

In 1961, Roy Thomas was a 21 year old college student who had just graduated. Jerry Bails was 28 - an adult. And through Alter Ego, they began to connect with many of the other older readers of comics around the country.

I've had Marvel Zombie's tell me, "Stan Lee and Marvel Comics are responsible for Comic Fandom!" The release date of Alter Ego #1 says otherwise. 

Who'd DC's Bob Hope appeal to? Russ Heath or Joe Kubert's war comics? There's a great story on race in a DC War comic coming up that I'll post... that wasn't written for a KID.  

But Stan WAS the first Silver Age publisher to promote these ideas and use them to... take your pick a) grow the company or b) grow HIS reputation... important point - just because Stan says it, doesn't mean it's true. 

He'd tell a story of how the Twilight Zone was ripping off HIS ideas in these stories... of course he'd say it in a non-threatening way that absolved HIM of blame: 'I used to get letters from some of our readers. “Hey, I just saw The Twilight Zone, and they used one of your stories from issue so-and-so.” You’d always hear that stuff.' (Twilight Zone had already been running for 3 years - One Step Beyond ran from 1959 until July of 1961 - just as AAF started)...

So yeah... marketing. And it created a buzz. But it fizzled out pretty quick as a comic, as we'll see - Stan concedes it in writing...

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On 12/7/2022 at 7:12 PM, Prince Namor said:

 

So yeah... marketing. And it created a buzz. But it fizzled out pretty quick as a comic, as we'll see - Stan concedes it in writing...

I remembered reading this reprinted in the Omnibus.  But given Mitch's first-hand recollection about the appeal of Amazing Adult Fantasy, I wonder if an alternative explanation might be offered:  Given the Seduction of the Innocent and associated 1950s moral panic about comic books, what if distributors or the mom & pops were reluctant to display a funny book apparently devoted to Fantasies that Adults might have? Even with the Comics Code Approval stamp, it sounds somewhat pornographic.

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On 12/7/2022 at 7:44 PM, Zonker said:

I remembered reading this reprinted in the Omnibus.  But given Mitch's first-hand recollection about the appeal of Amazing Adult Fantasy, I wonder if an alternative explanation might be offered:  Given the Seduction of the Innocent and associated 1950s moral panic about comic books, what if distributors or the mom & pops were reluctant to display a funny book apparently devoted to Fantasies that Adults might have? Even with the Comics Code Approval stamp, it sounds somewhat pornographic.

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It's very possible. Then again if we follow the logic that Stan laid out at various times... The word Adult alienated readers, so what he did was get rid of the word and then do a superhero based on a SPIDER, that the publisher warned everyone would hate... hm

I'm going to do, what I started out here with - read the stories... mixed with various clues like above, my instincts will tell me what happened...

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ON NEWSSTANDS SEPTEMBER 1961

For September, Marvel would release another 17 titles to the newsstand (Now averaging 11.2 titles per month). According to the information available they release books on THREE (3) different days: Tuesday September 5th, Tuesday September 26th, and Thursday September 28th. Why twice in one week I don't know, unless maybe something was late?

Stan Lee would write 10 of the titles for the month.

 

Kathy #14  - with art by Stan Goldberg. 

Life With Millie #14  - with art by Stan Goldberg. Includes Stan Lee's signature on the splash and Goldberg's elsewhere.

Patsy Walker #98  -  with Al Hartley art. Includes Stan's signature and Al Hartley's signature on the splash. 

Patsy & Hedy #79  -  with Al Hartley art. Includes Stan's signature and Al Hartley's signature on the splash. 

Kid Colt Outlaw #102  - 3 stories with Jack Keller and 1 with D. Ayers. All include Stan's signature and both artists on the splash. 

Millie the Model #106  - with art by Stan Goldberg.  Includes Stan Lee's signature on the splash and Goldberg's elsewhere.

Linda Carter, Student Nurse #3  -  with Al Hartley art.  Includes Stan's signature and Al Hartley's signature on the splash. 

Fantastic Four #2 - with art by Jack Kirby.  Includes Stan's signature and Jack Kirby's signature on the splash. 

Amazing Adult Fantasy #8 - 5 stories with Steve Ditko.  Includes Stan's signature and Steve Ditko's signature on each splash. 

Rawhide Kid #25 - 3 stories with Jack Kirby featuring Ayers inks (meaning only Stan Lee's signature), and one Ayers penciled story featuring 'by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers'.

 

The other 7 are:

Journey Into Mystery #75

Tales to Astonish #26

Tales to Astonish #27

Tales of Suspense #24

Tales of Suspense #25

Strange Tales #91   

Strange Tales #92

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Edited by Prince Namor
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ON NEWSSTANDS SEPTEMBER 1961

 

Somewhat in order of how jobs were assigned (with newsstand release dates).

The highlighted books (mostly Stan's dumb blonde books) are bi-monthly. Linda Carter and Fantastic Four, receiving similar priority (???) each have back to back monthly release dates, but 51 days in-between issues. Amazing Adult Fantasy is given HIGHER priority, with only 27 days between issues... Patsy Walker with only 35 days between issues, wtf?

 

Rawhide Kid #25 (V-406-408+434)————— ——  — - 09/05/1961 (55 days in between issues)

Strange Tales #91 (V-381-V-384)————————  ———— 09/05/1961 (28 days in between issues)

Tales of Suspense #24 (V-390, V-397-399)———  —  —— 09/05/1961 (28 days in between issues)

Tales to Astonish #26 (V-402-403, V-405, V-380)———— 09/05/1961 (28 days in between issues)

Patsy & Hedy #79 (V-418-419, V-426-428) ———————  09/05/1961 (55 days in between issues)

Patsy Walker #98 - (V-449, 469, 470, 486)——— -—  —— 09/05/1961 (35 days in between issues)

Journey Into Mystery #75 (V-377-V-379)(V-404)———  — 09/26/1961 (27 days in between issues)

Amazing Adult Fantasy #8 (V-435-439)—————-——   — 09/26/1961 (27 days in between issues)

Kathy #14 (V-409, 420, 425, 429, 441)——————-—      09/26/1961 (56 days in between issues)

Life with Millie #14 (V-446-447, 463) ——————————   09/26/1961 (56 days in between issues)

Tales to Astonish #27 (V-430-433)———————————— 09/28/1961 (23 days in between issues)

Tales of Suspense #25 (V-442,-445)————   ——  —  —— 09/28/1961 (23 days in between issues)

Millie the Model #106 (V-448)(V-484)(V-501) —————— 09/28/1961 (51 days in between issues)

Kid Colt Outlaw #102 (V-450-4521+477)———————— - 09/28/1961 (51 days in between issues)

Strange Tales #92 (V-453-456)—————————  ———— 09/28/1961 (23 days in between issues)

Fantastic Four #2 (V-457)————————  —— ———-— 09/28/1961 (51 days in between issues)

Linda Carter, Student Nurse #3 (V-503-504)(V-507-508) 09/28/1961 (51 days in between issues)

Edited by Prince Namor
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