Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fifty Years Ago Today! November 1961.

It's no secret that one of the most popular features on this blog is the one where I post the covers of various old comics, in order to find out what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to exactly forty years ago. So popular is it that people who've never even heard of comics - or even of me - bang on my door at night demanding, "Steve, what were our favourite heroes up to exactly forty years ago?"

But now that fateful moment has arrived when it's actually possible for me to do the same for our favourite heroes fifty years ago.

Granted, right now that doesn't take much doing as, in November 1961, Marvel had just one super-hero comic out but, as time goes by, such a feature will no doubt enable us to see how the company grew and developed as the 1960s progressed.

Fantastic Four #1, Jack Kirby, monster

The Mighty Marvel Age of Heroics kicks off with The Fantastic Four #1. And what a great cover it is. With just one image, Jack Kirby lets us see at a glance what our brand-new heroes are all about. Instantly we can see that Mr Fantastic can stretch like knicker elastic, the Human Torch can burst into flames and fly, the Thing is big and ugly and can crush cars, and that the Invisible Girl's completely useless.

One thing that's always baffled me about the cover though is that Reed Richards is shown stretching free of ropes whilst declaring, "It'll take more than ropes to keep Mr Fantastic out of action!" That may be true but who exactly has tried to tie him up? I assume it's not the monster - it's clearly only just arrived. And, besides, why would you waste time trying to tie people up if you were a giant monster?

I can only conclude that, the moment he saw a monster appear, Mr Fantastic tied himself up so he could demonstrate to it that ropes cannot hold him.

What a complete and total berk.


Britt Reid said...

Since comics were "post-dated" 3-4 months ahead during this period, didn't this issue actually come out in July, August or September of 1961?

Just askin'... :-)

Boston Bill said...

As a young FF fan, I was a bit bemused by the first issue (by the time I got my hands on a reprint). The Human Torch was much better refined in the later issues, as was the once-lumpy Thing. But it was Mr Fantastic that really looked odd to me. Rather than super-stretchy, he looks like a badly drawn escape artist! Marvel was clearly in the monster comics phase at that point, as the generic giant beast is the star of the cover (and he only appears in a few panels inside). Like the first episode of your favorite TV show, a comics first issue is rarely its best!

Steve W. said...

BrittReid, it would indeed have come out earlier than November, but for this blog to acknowledge such facts by trying to look at comics on the dates they were actually unleashed could cause a tear in the Space-Time Fabric that'd see the whole Internet sucked into a terrifying black hole from which there is no escape.

dbutler16 said...

Yes, this does look more like a monster mag, but I think the reason for this is that Marvel had to have their comics distributed through DC, and was trying to not make it look too obvious that they were about to horn in on DC's superhero market.

Steve W. said...

I believe you may be right. I also read somewhere that the section featuring the Mole Man and his monsters used art originally drawn for a monster story, that was then adapted to make up part of the Fantastic Four story.