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Super Tuesday: Direct Currents

Like Longbox Graveyard, these Super Tuesdays have showcased a lot of Marvel Comics material, but I don’t mean this as a slight to DC Comics.

It is true that I am more of a “Marvel Guy” than “DC,” but this mostly reflects the composition of the Accumulation I showcase here at the blog. For example, I’ve been reading a lot of the DC New 52 collections lately … but haven’t felt a need to write about them here. And since I started my Super Tuesday series, almost all of my scanning time has been devoted to support of older Marvel books, so there’s been little opportunity to discover and capture vintage DC ads.

This notice for the DC Direct Currents newsletter did catch my eye, though, and I’m especially interested if that “giant” 13 x 18 poster cover was really a poster or just the cover of a newsletter. It’s also interesting to see the characters DC chose to spotlight in this ad, with Black Lightning and Steve Ditko’s Shade The Changing Man stuck near the back of the lineup. Sgt. Rock brings up the rear, gun at the ready, like he’s marching the other heroes off to some grim, marketing-driven fate.

I assume Direct Currents was just marketing material, rather than a fanzine (reinforced by a look at these scans). In one form or another I recall the Direct Currents branding appearing on DC editorial pages through the 1980s.

Did anyone ever subscribe to Direct Currents? Let me know in comments, below … and someday I suppose I will have to further confirm my Marvel allegiance by writing about Marvel’s in-house fan mag, FOOM!

Join me tomorrow for another kind of direct current …

TOMORROW AT LONGBOX GRAVEYARD: Panel Gallery: Button Men

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Posted on November 20, 2012, in Super Tuesday and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. It’s funny how Marvel finally struck a balance with all of its efforts to develop a promitional “fan club” by producing the semi-regular Marvel Age magazine, having a much longer run than its previous fan clubs combined. I’m not sure how closely Marvel Adventures, its successor, fits into the promotional format. With so many outlets on the web that offer such information–including Marvel.com itself–perhaps that sort of newsstand equivalent is no longer necessary.

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    • Yes, the “official fan club” appears to be yet another casualty of the internet age.

      Another unfortunate victim of this new age are letters pages. They do still appear in some books but the “letter hack” culture of 1960s and 70s comics is all but vanished. Now fans blast off on message boards, but I think this form inferior — they have nothing on a well-curated letters page, and the nature of monthly print publication also kept flames to a minimum. Some of the Silver Age letters pages reprinted in the various Marvel Omnibuses are a hoot to read (and it is fun to spot future comics pros writing in to opine on the Fantastic Four or Spidey’s latest adventure, too).

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  2. DC never did as good a job as Marvel with the fan clubs but I give them points for trying. Interesting choice of characters by Joe Staton for the ad, the big three and the Flash I get but Shade, the Changing Man? Or Huntress, who was an Earth 2 only character at the time? Plus Sargent Rock looks like he might want to shoot Firestorm.

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    • I can only assume Shade was a new character at the time and getting the requisite push from editorial.

      I have the first couple issues of Shade in my Accumulation somewhere (in fact I think they are awaiting eBay sale). I never really got that character, but with my appreciation for Ditko coming later in life I should probably give them another chance. I liked the character when he popped up in Justice League Dark from New 52 but not enough to stick with that book past the first collection.

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  3. well, DC did have the Amazing World of DC Comics fanzine that lasted a while, but yes, DC never really did the fanclub thing. And actually, while there was the Supermen of America club, even going back to the Golden Age, National never really did get into the fanclub thing.

    This blog post shows pictures of several issues: http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2008/04/direct-currents.html

    the link that you have to the scans is for the later incarnation from the 80s that was provided to comic stores to give to customers. This was before there was a Previews catalog for customers to look through.

    I seem to remember a different promotion around the time of the time of the implosion that had more targeted newsletters – one for the war books, one for the more SF oriented books, etc. But that may just be age mis-remembering this offer and the characters presented in the image. However, I know that whatever it was, I did subscribe but only ever got one issue of whatever it was that I ordered. But I don’t remember it looking like the issues in the scan from the link that I posted above.

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    • Excellent commentary, Jim, thanks for filling in the blanks (and there are more blanks than anything else in my article). It does seem that these solicitation-based “fan magazines” were an eventual casualty of the direct market, as fans would increasingly come to find this stuff in Diamond’s solicitations or whatever …

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  4. A-ha – my Google Fu comes through. I am remembering the DC Super-Stars Society promotion from around the same time. You sent in a request with a SASE (remember those?) to “apply” for membership in various clubs for different characters. I know that I sent in for at least one, but I think the cost ended up being more than my allowance allowed at the time.

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    • I do well remember the Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope and while it was always a little disorienting to get an envelope in my own handwriting in the mail, that feeling quickly gave way to excitement as it meant something wonderful had just arrived. Given that i always made the return address and the man address the same thing on my SASE (taking no chances!) that also meant I couldn’t tell what was within the envelope by glancing at the return address, making the envelope that much more of a delightful surprise.

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