Here is the "Metropolis Mailbag" for Superman 171, which you'll recall is cover-dated August, 1964.
Here readers asked questions, pointed out errors, and otherwise interacted not only with the world of Superman, but the world of ADULTS.
Taking the letters in order ...
The first refers to Sally Selwyn, a beautiful heiress who had appears in Superman 165 and 169. Chalk up the editorial reply to "empty promise," because Sally didn't appear again. Of course, maybe a story was in the pipes but didn't make it into print.
Next we have the exposure of a prank letter, where a reader asks about somebody's previous request to have plastic surgery to copy Superboy's face. The reply admits as much and says, in effect, at least we got a story element from the affair.
The third letter proves editor Mort Weisinger's theory that the comic-book audience would rotate every few years. The writer -- probably about ten years old -- has never heard of the Superman radio show. So the editorial reply confirms that To Tell the Truth's TV host Bud Collier DID play the Man of Steel on the radio.
Next we have a smart-aleck who tries to tie up DC in a wrangling over tetanus/lockjaw, regarding Mr Mxyzptlk's recent appearance when he couldn't talk. In turnabout fashion, the smart-aleck editors reply that Mxy's docter in Zrfff made the mis-diagnosis, not DC.
The last letter also tries to catch the staff in a wrong-side-of-the-road snafu, which is easily slipped out of.
In between is a letter asking DC to reprint its stories featuring JFK. Besides the cover story, "Who Is the Mystery Masquerader?" which appeared in Action 309, there were several others, such as "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy!" which appeared in Superman 170, the issue immediately preceding this one. Also, JFK welcomed Supergirl to the White House in Action 252. (There are surely others.) The editors wisely reply that "it's too soon after Mr Kennedy's tragic death to reprint them."
Now, notice two things about this reply. First, the editors call him "Mr" not "President" Kennedy. I wonder if this were intentional. Secondly, the publishers of today would have rushed out a reprint "Special Memorial Edition" of those stories before the last assassin left Dallas city limits!
The bottom third of the page has an ad for the now-defunct "Tootsie Roll Fudge." Nowadays you can't buy the stuff. It was crowded from the marketplace by Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll Pops.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
In the first panel of this, the last page of "The Nightmare Ordeal of Superman" from Superman 171, a bearded, unkempt Superman peers out of his darkened cave at the reader, and also at his rescuers -- Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and Dr Luring.
When I came to see my Dad in the emergency room (after the VA nearly killed him) at Jane Phillips in Bartlesville, he looked similar to this. It's sad and scary when somebody you have known for your whole life as always neat and clean -- suddenly they're scruffy and unshaven and their hair is all messed up.
Unlike my wonderful Dad, Superman will recover from being laid low like this. He has recovered from his delerium and figures that it's a cinch that Lois and Jimmy will recognize his unpowered self as plain Clark Kent.
Obviously, there's no reflective surface in that cave! Because as we can tell from that selfsame first panel, our hero does NOT look like good ol' "CK."
It is kind of funny that supposedly "his hair and beard have grown tremendously!" but that same short Super-haircut has stayed, despite enough passage of time to allow a super-scruff.
Next, how to retrieve that costume from Krypton? Well, brash Jimmy Olsen volunteers to do that -- and is stuck for a way to do it, until inspiration arrives with a glance at that red sun.
Whether or not you believe it would work on these savages, Jimmy's method is a slick piece of psychology. Red hair = red sun!
Of course, Jimmy takes the opportunity to let Superman think that he beat up the troglodyte to get the costume back!
(Parenthetically, I get Supes was glad to get his old threads back on!)
In our last panel, we're on our way back to Earth. Superman's powers are restored as they exit the red sun's influence, and more adventures lie ahead.
Next -- Metropolis Mailbag!