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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Golden Years

About three weeks ago, I went into unchartered territory, I boldly went where I had never gone before..I crossed a bridge I never thought I would cross...I went to the Golden Age of comic books.

Wikipedia describes the Golden Age of comic books as " a period in the history of American comic books, generally thought as lasting from the 1930s until the mid-1950s during which comic books enjoyed a surge of popularity, the archetype of the superhero was created and defined, and many of the most famous superheroes debuted."
It was also the period where a number of books sold over a million copies per issue, a feet never repeated during the last 50 years.Every kid was reading comic books, which is alas also the weak point of Golden Age comics.
You see, they really were a kid's medium...Most stories are very childish and simple, art is weak and static most of the time and they were simply regarded as throwaway literature to keep kids busy for a while.
As I'm nearing the completion of my Silver Age collection, I have often thought about going back even further in time and start collecting Golden Age books...despite of what I just wrote.
You see the covers of Golden Age books are generally the best of all ages. Most of them are wonderful, dynamic, colourful and show a real artistry. Then even more than now, the cover was everything as it was a means to get the punter to buy the book.
A lot of collectors I know agree with me about the quality of the stories and (interior) art of most GA books, but they persist in collecting GA because of those magnificent covers and hardly take any notice of the contents of the book. But I just couldn't do it, I've always been more partial to story than to art, so I needed something extra.

Of all the GA books I've read over the years (as reprints) two series stood out, Pre-Code EC (Horror) Comics and Batman comics. Both were just written a little better than their contemporaries, art was a little more dynamic and characterization was well thought out. So if I went Golden Age, it would have to be through one of these books.
As I've nearly completed Batman #200 - #400 it seems the more logical approach to go with that title. Trouble is that as a completionist I HAVE to get all the issues and most Silver Age Batman books (from #100 to around #200) just suck, which is the reason I decided to start my Batman run with #200, the tail-end of the Silver Age and continue into those wonderful Bronze Age Bat books.
The other drawback was money-wise. Even if I did bite the bullet and collect #100 - #200, I would also have to dig down and get Batman #1 - #99...
Granted most of those issues are better than the Silver Age run, but Batman #1 in VG is at least $10.000...which I don't see me handing over just yet.

So what to do, what to do ? In the end I came to a decision, I'm going to start collecting Golden Age books as well, Golden Age Batman books, but only the ones that have a Joker cover appearance. I feel it would make for a nice collection as well to have Batman #200 - #400 complete + all the preceding books that have Joker covers. The first Batman issue with a Joker cover is Batman #11 from 1942.
Still a lot of expensive books in that bunch, but feasible over time.
Concluding,here's a scan of the first Golden Age book I have ever bought, it's Batman #37 from 1945, the oldest book in my collection, a very cool Joker cover and hopefully the start of whole new adventure in comic collecting.

Oh and I haven't gone back on my word about not buying books for a while, this book and the ones in the upcoming blog entries were all bought during that week of madness I had a while ago.
I'm at day #10 of not-buying-comics-for-60-days and it hasn't been that hard to be honest. Let's see if I last the whole two months

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