SUPERMAN 1980

Recently I had the pleasure of appearing as a guest on two episodes of Charlie Niemeyer’s Superman in the Bronze Age.  It was actually part of a crossover between Charlie’s show and one of my podcasts, Views From The Longbox where we teamed up to discuss Superman: From The ’30 To The ’80s, which featured the two-part Miraculous Return of Jonathan Kent story that originally appeared in Action Comics issues 507 and 508.  It was a win-win situation for the two of us because Charlie had been wanting to talk about the Jonathan Kent story and I wanted to talk about Superman: From The ’30s To The ’80s and after months of planning we finally got around to talking about both.  You should head over to both sites and download those episodes if you haven’t done so already.

Anyway, during the episode of Charlie’s show where we discussed Action Comics #507 we came across an ad that looked an awful lot like this.

Hodge Podge AdI call this sort of thing a hodge-podge page because of the varied and eclectic ads that were featured on them.  As Charlie listed off some of the more interesting ads this particular one caught our attention.

Superman 1980 AdAs Charlie talked about it I realized that I actually had this thing.  Back in 2008 my wife and I traveled to Metropolis, Illinois to attend the Superman Celebration that goes on there every year in June.  I bought a lot of neat bits of business while I was up there but this one caught my attention in the gift shop at the Super Museum.

Superman 1980 Cover A Superman 1980 Cover BIt was sealed in a bag so I couldn’t check it out in the store but the price was reasonable so I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  This was exactly what the ad described; an exhaustive index of the Superman comics from the seventies.  Think of this fanzine (which were really popular in the fan community in the sixties, seventies and up through the eighties) as a precursor to the websites and blogs we have today.  The front and back cover are shown above and I think it’s a pretty neat piece of art.  You can’t really go wrong with Superman fighting a dinosaur.  On the inside front cover you found this.

Superman 1980 ADean Ball, the editor of this fanzine and writer of this editorial, was very ambitious in his scope.  I liked that he was putting this out for old and new fans alike and since I have some first hand accounts of how Superman: The Movie drew a bunch of people to the comics it makes sense that such a volume would be necessary.  I also like that he intended this as a supplement to The Great Superman Book by Michael L. Fleisher.  This was a great way to introduce the audience to what they were in for and written to my mind in a very professional yet welcoming tone.

Next up is one of my favorite parts of the fanzine.

Superman 1980 BThe more I read about fan reaction to Superman: The Movie the more I realize that the differences between the movie and the comic were a much bigger deal than I first thought.  I guess it makes sense considering the fact that comic fans may have changed the way they are able to discuss their feelings about the comic books and the comic book movies and television series they read and watch there is very little separating us from our forebearers on a molecular.  Some of the Superman readers from the late seventies did indeed take issue with the liberties that the Salkinds and Richard Donner took with the Man of Steel.  I didn’t get that Dean had a problem with it but it was neat to see the differences laid out for the newcomer to see and learn.

This piece was followed by a handful of features including a two page list of Superman’s appearances in the comics, an article by Dean titled The Theology of Superman, a Superman scrapbook, the review for Superman: The Movie from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and this.

Superman 1980 CThen things shift gears and we move into the index portion of the fanzine.

Superman 1980 DWhen I first read through this fanzine I was under the impression that Dean indexed both Superman and Action Comics but this wasn’t the case.  This volume only has an index of Superman, which really is enough.  Sure the completist in me would have loved to see indexes of Action and World’s Finest and Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and so on but Dean did a fantastic job with the main Superman title.  He lists the cover date and credits of each book as well as a page count for the stories and then provides a very brief description.  Indexes like this would start to pop up as the eighties wore on and I would hold this up against the best of those indexes.  For what Dean had to work with this is extremely impressive.  One might argue that the fact that it looks like it was typed out on an old, manual typewriter should be held against it but I think that look gives the book a real fan feeling to it.  This was a labor of love and it shows.

So there you have it.  I thought of showing off more of Superman 1980 but to be honest it was kind of a pain to fit on the scanner.  It’s an odd sized magazine with a cardstock cover and if I had scanned any more of the book it probably would have damaged the spine.  I don’t need my books and comics and magazines in super mint condition but I do like them in one piece.  I hope what I did manage to scan gave you a good idea of what this book was all about and if you ever stumbled across this ad like Charlie and I did now you know what it was all about.

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