Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday – Early Comic Book Memories

DC "Jam Poster"
Image from Heritage Auctions
Images from childhood can be hard to erase from the brain’s cache, especially when they are ones we remember providing us with intrigue and fuel for the imagination.

I've been thinking about the above image quite a lot lately. It is known as the DC “jam poster,” and was commissioned for The History of the DC Universe book in the late ‘80s. In it, many of the original artists depicted their own characters and signed their names at the bottom, including my grandfather. I never had the opportunity to see it, but a mural of it was even at the DC offices for years before it was replaced with an updated version. Over the past few months, I've been seeing the image pop up on my Facebook feed and in various articles, and it got me thinking -- was this the image that started my love affair with comic books?

Things are a bit hazy on this memory, but when I was about four years old, my grandparents received a copy of the poster. For whatever reason, it made its way over to our house. It was in a simple frame, and like many things in our home (a small house stuffed to the gills with five small children), it never quite made it up to a hanging position on the wall. But just because it wasn't displayed gallery-style is no indicator that it wasn't valued or loved.

Little me, one of my brothers,
and our maternal grandfather circa 1988.
I've asked some of my siblings if they remember the poster, and while they do, they don't really have any other memories of it besides it just being there. When I asked my oldest sister Shannon about the poster's place in the house, she remarked, “It's funny... I never felt like there was any sign of superhero stuff in my childhood at all. But I guess I just didn't really notice. Or it just blended in.”

I, on the other hand, will never forget its presence in our home and the impact it had on me.

Like I said before, perhaps this image is where my love of comic books started. I don't recollect doing it, but somehow, the framed poster would make its way down to the floor, just around the corner from the dining room table and next to the radiator. I would lie on my tummy (just as I would often do with my treasured Zoobooks), and for what seemed like hours, would go over the characters that were splayed out in front of me. I knew some of their names, especially Green Lantern, and Hawkman (who I was pretty sure was going to be my boyfriend someday), but others, I think I just made up. I remember being so filled with wonder at this poster. How could there be so many of these superheroes, and where did these people find such a big piece of paper to draw all of them on?!

When I started seeing the image of the poster online recently, I told my boyfriend, James, about my memories of it. He, knowing the way to this comic book-loving girl’s heart, found a copy for me as a gift. I'm looking forward to eventually getting it framed and up on our wall so I can soak it in for many years to come.

If this isn't where my love of comic books started, it is at least one of the first objects I encountered in my childhood that set me on the path to enjoying the various art styles by these dynamic artists. If you look closely at the signatures at the bottom of the poster, you'll see many of the artists who in addition to their better-known superhero work, contributed to the romance genre that we love so dearly here at Sequential Crush including Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Gray Morrow, Joe Orlando, Kurt Schaffenberger, Joe Staton, Jim Steranko, Dick Giordano, Murphy Anderson, and my grandfather, Mart Nodell.

There isn't much to this story, just a small memory that I wanted to share with you all. As always, thank you so much for reading.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Jacque,

    I hate to disagree with you but I believe there is a lot to this story, particularly to those of us who became enthralled with comic books at an early age. That poster enchanted the young Jacque Nodell and had an affect on you that grew and evolved in the years ahead.

    My early interest and memories of comics are jumbled because older brother John always had them in the house, but my six year old self was drawn to the newsstand where I can still see the bright yellow background of Marvel Tales # 4's cover and the brilliant color gradations from light blue to deep purple that shone on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man # 39. I was mesmerized by the vision of Steve Ditko and drawn into the world of Jack Kirby. I waited impatiently each month to read the adventures of FF, Spidey or Tales of Suspense, characters which Stan Lee dialogued and promoted with relish.

    Like you, my love of comics started early on, expanded and grew over the years, and my appreciation of the great variety of artists, writers and genres has grown, including romance, thanks to folks like you.

    Thanks for sharing these touching memories.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your memories, Nick! And thank you for the kind words. I can only imagine how cool it must have been to see comics on a newsstand; sadly, something I missed out on.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this, Jacque. I was also infected with the love of comics at an early age, about 5, when my older brother purchased two comic books during a family vacation (Marvel Tales #59 and one featuring Captain America) and gave them to me when he rather quickly got bored with them. Ever since then, I've always had an extreme fondness for the art form, and as Nick noted above, it grew to an appreciation of all the many variations that fit into the genre.

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    1. Thank goodness for those older siblings influencing us, right?! I know I owe my love for The Cure to my oldest sister. We were so lucky to get not only things they had once cherished, but as you mentioned, cast-offs!

      Thank you for reading, Edo!

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  3. Golden Apple Comics in LA had this up on their wall for years. A few years ago, it was included as a rarity in the DC Vault book. And last year, I used a gift card that my friends/co-workers gave me to purchase the History of the DC Universe hardcover where it was originally printed. It perfectly captures the DC heroes as I came to know and enjoy them.

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    1. It really does capture them well. I'm glad you were also able to get a copy to enjoy the magic of this piece of comic book history!

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  4. I was 20 in 1988. Thanks for making me feel old ;)

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    1. Lol, sorry about that, Delmo! Thank you for reading!!! :)

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