Monday, April 23, 2012

Batman in the 1970s Part 15: 1971 wrapup

by Peter Enfantino &
Jack Seabrook

The year of 1971 began with both Batman and Detective Comics at fifteen cents a copy and running 32 pages. Due to declining circulation, the price went up to twenty-five cents with issues dated August 1971 and the page count increased to 52 pages, though the added pages were filled with reprints from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Batman still published ten issues a year, with none in April or October. As in 1970, the January and July issues were Giant Batman, all-reprint issues, with cover dates of February and August but indicia dates of January-February and July-August. The Giant Batman issues were twenty-five cents and ran 64 pages. As a result of this schedule, Batman only published six issues with new stories, while Detective Comics continued to publish twelve monthly issues with new stories in the course of the year.

Important developments for the Caped Crusader in 1971 included:

*Batman: From the ‘30s to the ‘70s, a hardcover collection of Batman reprints, was published in October. It included three stories from 1970—“The Secret of the Waiting Graves” (Detective Comics 395, January 1970), “Man or Bat?” (Detective Comics 402, August 1970), and “The Demon of Gothos Mansion” (Batman 227, December 1970). Note that the first two stories were illustrated by Neal Adams.

*Man-Bat made two appearances, in Detective Comics 407 and Detective Comics 416.

*The Creeper appeared in Detective Comics 418.

*Ra’s Al Ghul appeared twice, in Batman 232 and Batman 235.

In Detective Comics, Batman appeared in 11 new stories by himself, ranging from 15 to 18 pages. He appeared in one 15-page story with Robin. Batgirl appeared in 12 solo stories, ranging from 7 to 8 pages each. Batman’s Hot Line was the letters column in Detective, running one or two pages in every issue.

In Batman, the Dark Knight appeared solo in eight new stories, ranging from 15 to 25 pages long, while Robin appeared in 7 solo stories of 7 pages each. New issues featured Letters to the Batman (one or two pages each in all new issues), while Giant Batman issues featured (what else) Giant Batmail.

Covers for all of the new issues of Batman and Detective Comics were drawn by Neal Adams solo or with Dick Giordano. The covers for the Giant Batman issues were drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson (228/G-79) or by Dick Giordano (233/G-85).

Frank Robbins wrote by far the most stories—22, counting Batman and Batgirl. Mike Friedrich wrote six Robin tales, Denny O’Neil wrote eight Batman adventures, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman wrote one Batman story, and Bob Kanigher wrote one as well.

Irv Novick was the champion penciller, drawing 13 stories in all, including Batman and Robin. Don Heck contributed eleven Batgirl stories, while Neal Adams drew six Batman stories—three in each title. Bob Brown drew six Batman stories, Gil Kane drew one Batgirl story, and Frank Robbins drew one Batman tale.

Inking was done mostly by Dick Giordano, who completed 27 stories in all. Don Heck inked his own pencils seven times, Frank Robbins did the same on one occasion, Frank Giacoia appeared twice and Vince Colletta appeared once.

Elsewhere in the DC universe in 1971, Neal Adams drew Batman on the covers of the following comics:

The Brave and the Bold 95 and 99

The Justice League of America 87-89, 91-92, 94-95

World’s Finest 202

Jack: The biggest news of the year was the price increase to 25 cents and the expanded page counts. The biggest disappointment was that Neal Adams only drew six stories.

PE: Having not been a DC fan growing up in the early 70s, I have no yardstick to measure exactly how good (or bad) 1971's Batman stories are compared to, say, Teen Titans or The Flash. I have no patience for Superman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, or any of the Distinguished Competitor's largely SF-based populace, so I'd not be able to stomach a Marvel University-style blog on DC. Having said that, characters like The Creeper, Man-Bat, and Ra's intrigue me even if they haven't been handled correctly yet. When it comes time for me to sum up my feelings towards the 1971 Batman, then, two words bring a smile to my face and an almost child-like glee (Neal Adams) and two words bring dread (Frank Robbins). 1972 will probably look quite a bit like 1971.

1 comment:

Greg M. said...

Two years down already. Time flies when you're discussing Batman.

You are so right about "Batman from the 30s to the 70s." It was an important development, at least for me personally. I can't stress how big an impact that book had on me and my comic collecting ways. It single-handedly got me obsessed with Batman. The Neal Adams covers it featured in particular.

See you in 1972, folks. Keep up the great work!