Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of fanboys who think they know it all about Charlton, Dell, Gold Key, ACG and Harvey comic books but won’t until they actually read the complete set of the American Comic Book Chronicles… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
I can trace my love of the form — comics that is; women were a few years later — back to the mid-1960s when my grandfather and I were on our way to catch a Suburban Bus back to New Brunswick, New Jersey, from the Port Authority in Manhattan and we stopped at a newsstand. He wanted a New York Daily News and he pointed me toward the comic book section so I could read something on the ride home, too.
My eyes went right to the latest issue of The X-Men. I knew nothing about them — yet — but they looked so cool. And I remember that moment of discovery like no other.
There were other opportunities to read piles of comics in the years that followed; my cousin Fred Sirotkin lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and his entire basement was given over to his alphabetized collection of what I recall to be mostly Archies.
KEITH DALLAS podcast excerpt: “Think about the more recent uproar when DC and Marvel raised comic book prices from $2.99 to $3.99. It was essentially the same thing in the 1960s to go from a dime to 12 cents.”
And my older male cousins on my father’s side, Mark and Scott Shoham, always had a stack of Marvel and DC superheroes in the basement of their Bloomfield, Connecticut, house to divert me from their more mature teen pursuits whenever we visited.
In the 1970s, I built my own substantial collection of thousands of comics, less for their collectible value and more for the sheer joy of reading and re-reading.
My first paid writing assignment, at age 13, was about the growing popularity of comics, produced for a Midwest hobbyist newspaper. And I wrote dozens more stories, paid and unpaid, about comics throughout high school, developing a style and speed at a very young age.
All of which is my way of saying that when I heard about the first volume of TwoMorrows Publishing’s new series, American Comic Book Chronicles, I had to see it.
Curiously, the book starts off with the years 1960-64, skipping almost 30 years of history that came before. To be honest, that’s fine with me; I was born in 1960. Did anything really exist before me? I find that hard to believe.
Volume One, written by John Wells and edited by my guest today, Keith Dallas, is packed with industry anecdotes and behind-the-scenes tales of not just the birth of the Marvel Age and the rebirth of DC Comics, but it also tells many stories I hadn’t read before involving lesser publishers such as Charlton, Dell, Gold Key, Harvey and ACG. Those are important because they employed so many creators — such as Steve Ditko and Neal Adams — who went on to be huge influences on the decades to come.
Enough of me; let’s talk comics!