Monday, February 06, 2012

Alliterative and Amusing Attributions

For most of the Silver Age, DC did not include credits for their stories (although it was not uncommon for artists to sign their work). Indeed, probably the most common credit given was fictitious; the one that identified most Batman stories as being drawn by Bob Kane.

Marvel was different. From the very beginning, they included some credits for their stories. From Fantastic Four #1:
At first, as you can see, the credits were rudimentary. Here's something of interest, though, from Amazing Spiderman #1:
Even when DC did go to more commonly including credits later in the Silver Age, back then they never (to my knowledge) gave attribution for lettering. Still, the credits were more or less haphazard at that point at Marvel. For example, ASM #4 does not including lettering credit, and up to and including #9 the credits were pretty simple. In ASM #10, things changed:
This was the beginning of Stan's alliterative phase, which would continue for the rest of the Silver Age (and be continued by later editors at Marvel).  That same month, Fantastic Four #24's credits included another look at the future:
The following issue, Stan put both alliteration and braggadocio together:
But there was still one more element to be added: Humor.  That started to be added with #29:
Stan apparently (I assume he came up with the idea for these credits) delighted in tweaking his letterers; for the next few years this became the template.  Greatness was always implied for the script, pencils and inking; mere competence (or worse) was ascribed to putting the words on the paper.

 Although these amusing credits became a significant part of the difference between Marvel and DC, they did not last anywhere near as long as I remembered.  Indeed, by late 1966, Stan pretty much reverted to a more basic style:

After that the humorous and alliterative credits became more infrequent.  Indeed, Stan often saved that for the Bullpen Bulletin or the letters page.  I suspect that his workload by that point was getting too big; it was around this time that he turned the scriptwriting chores for the Avengers over to Rascally Roy Thomas.

The appeal of these credits was strong.  It gave readers the feeling that they were in for a fun time.  True, the self-promotion could get overbearing at times, but this was also the era where Mohamed Ali amused us all by proclaiming his greatness at the top of his lungs, rather than engage in the more common false modesty of most athletes before and after.


Anonymous said...

DC's Angel and the Ape (a comedy comic in the late 1960's) featured a character named Stan Bragg. He was a comic book editor and a bombastic egomaniac. The credits in his comics would say, e.g., "Superlative script by Stan Bragg! Powerful pencils by Stan Bragg!! Incredible inking by Stan Bragg!!! Excellent editing by Stan Bragg!!!!" Then he instructed the printer to make the letters bigger "so the fans won't get eyestrain."

Bill Scott said...

As well as Stan Bragg there is Funky Flashman with his stooge Houseroy (Roy Thomas). His portrayal in Mr Miracle as a dodgy con-artist only interested in himself tells you a lot about how Jack Kirby felt about Stan the Man grabbing the limelight for creations that were almost wholly Kirby's. I still think Stan was a good writer but he was also a bit of a blowhard.......

Anonymous said...

The credits were one of the great things about Marvel. We could associate a person with the style of artist or writer.

Have you ever done anything about Sammy Rosen or Artie Simek, the great letteres of Marvel? They were a big part of the Marvel style of the Silver Age.

Great post, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Charlton Comics' lettering appeared to have been typed, and their credits listed the letterer as "A. Machine."

Pat said...

Anonymous, I wouldn't know what to say about lettering. I'm sure it's an artform in itself, but beyond that it's mostly one of those things you don't notice unless there's something wrong.

Yes, the A. Machine lettering on Charlton's mags is well known, and would be pretty obvious even if they didn't give the "credit".

Martin Gray said...

Fun, thanks! Todd Klein's blog is good for insight into lettering.

How sad that by the time Marvel noticed they used colourists, the fun credits were gone.

Nick Caputo said...

An enjoyable post on Stan's credits, which were prepared with a sense of fun that fans picked up on. For thosse of you who want to read about Sam and Artie's lettering style you might find my blog post interesting:

Haydn said...

The lack of letterer credits in Spidey 4 are probably because there were multiple letterers. To my eyes, Sam Rosen did the first few pages, Artie Simek the next few, and a third letterer who I can't identify did the last half of the book.