13 COVERS: An Everyman’s Journey From the ’60s to the ’80s

Steven Thompson chronicles how he went from fan to superfan to writer in the span of 13 COVERS

A while back I invited writer Steve Thompson to contribute a piece to 13th Dimension. It was pretty much a carte blanche offer. If you don’t know Steve, you almost certainly know his work. He researches and writes about comics and provides transcripts for hundreds of interviews for people like Craig Yoe, Jon B. Cooke and publishers like TwoMorrows.

“I decided to try my hand at a 13 COVERS since I enjoy that feature on your blog so much,” Steve wrote me. “Man, this was TOUGH! I could easily have chosen a hundred more!”

Steve is a lot like you and me: A fan of passion. And his 13 COVERS are very likely to be parallel to your own experience. –Dan



Batman #180. May 1966. I had read comic books before this, but it was mostly Harvey stuff — Casper, Hot Stuff and Little Dot. The TV show had been on for a about a month and a half when I saw this genuinely creepy Gil Kane/Murphy Anderson cover on a trip to the drugstore with my dad. I was 7. I have counted this comic book ever since as the first comic I never gave, traded or threw away — the first comic book I ever actually collected. Mark Waid says it was his, too, and speculated that it was many people’s first comic book since it came out just as Batmania reached its early peak!



The Amazing Spider-Man #33. Feb. 1966. After I started collecting, I found out that the corner grocery had a rack of older comics for a nickel each. That’s where I found this classic issue, which I dragged with me everywhere for weeks, reading and re-reading it and enjoying Steve Ditko’s powerful message and artwork. In spite of his eccentricities, I immediately became a lifelong fan and was thrilled in 2012 when Craig Yoe dedicated his collection, The Creativity of Ditko, to me.



Justice League of America #46. Aug. 1966. I was out shopping one Sunday afternoon with my mother at a dime store in a strip mall when I saw this issue of JLA in a rack at the cash register. I recognized the nod to Batman’s TV popularity, naturally, but who were all these other people? Particularly the guy who looked like Batman, only with gray whiskers and no cape? I had to know, so I threw a fit in the line until my mom bought it for me and unwittingly introduced me to the Justice Society of America and one of my favorite DC rituals: the annual JLA/JSA crossover!



The Spirit #1. Oct. 1966. By this point, I was an old hand at collecting comics, having been at it a good six months. I never saw this one on the stands but my friend Greg had a copy. It didn’t make sense to me. He didn’t wear a costume. Why was he called the Spirit? Why were some of his stories silly and some serious? I thought it was dumb! But I couldn’t get it off my mind and a couple of years later I picked up Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes. From there, the Spirit reappeared soon afterwards in undergrounds, in bags, in Warren mags, in Kitchen Sink mags, etc., etc., etc., and eventually Will Eisner became one of my very favorite creators!



Daredevil #7. April 1965. Another one I picked up for a nickel at the corner store, I consider this one of the closest things to a perfect comic book ever! This was my first exposure to Wally Wood, whose style I would come to recognize all over the place, most notably on The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. I taught myself to draw by tracing and copying Wood’s art. Over time, he became my favorite comics creator and I was able to briefly correspond with him a couple of years prior to his 1981 suicide. In more recent years, I’ve maintained Hooray for Wally Wood—a blog about all things Wood—and worked with the late Bhob Stewart on a new chapter for his upcoming Wood retrospective book.



Adventure Comics #353. Feb. 1967. One of my early favorite series was The Legion of Super-Heroes, appearing in Adventure Comics. I knew from reading the letter columns that it was written by a teenage boy (Jim Shooter) and it had a different feel to it than most DC series. This issue, the second of an unusual (for DC) two-parter, presented the actual death of a character when Ferro Lad, introduced not that many issues earlier, sacrificed himself for the greater good. Unlike later on when comic-book character deaths became trivialized and temporary, this one meant something. R.I.P. Ferro Lad.



Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1. June 1968. I had been following Jim Steranko’s work on this superspy series in Strange Tales and I realized he was unlike most other comics artists, but I still wasn’t prepared for how much this particular story would blow me away with its unique storytelling and adult themes. I felt more grown up just reading it, which I did, over and over and over, savoring the still amazing artwork!



Not Brand ECHH #9. Aug. 1968. I was 9 by this point. My dad was going somewhere one night and I went with him and sat in the car, reading and guffawing at this new issue I had brought along for the ride. I had been a big fan of the series, which had been mostly parodying Marvel and DC characters, but with this issue’s larger size, it branched out to include movies, music, poetry, etc., much like the color Mad comic that it had emulated all along, although my pre-pubescent, history-challenged self would still be a couple years away from discovering Harvey Kurtzman.



The Forever People #1. February/March, 1971. When I was 12, I briefly considered giving up comic books and discovering girls. The comic that brought me to my senses was this one, found unread on our living-room couch under a bunch of old newspapers more than a week after I had purchased it. It blew me away. Jack Kirby’s late Marvel work had been nowhere near as good as his work of just a year or two before, so I certainly never expected much from his move to DC. But apparently he’d been saving up the good stuff! For the next couple of years, Kirby’s inventive, creative and somewhat wacko FourthWorld series maintained my attention and kept me reading other comics as well.



Vampirella # 19. Sept. 1972. At 13, I had to sneak Vampi into the house since there was frequent nudity! But hormones or no hormones, this was legitimately good stuff! This special issue reprinted some of the best from earlier ones with Wally Wood’s best artwork ever (IMHO), the great Jose Gonzales, and some genuinely creepy (and eerie) stories from, among others, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, and Don Glut and Reed Crandall. A few issues later, I would have a letter of mine published in Vampirella.


E-Man # 1, Oct. 1973. At this point I had never heard of Joe Staton or Nick Cuti because I had largely avoided Charlton Comics since Dick Giordano left in ’68 and the company stopped publishing superheroes. I was intrigued, though, at what was described as a Plastic Man-type character, so I picked it up and loved it. I’ve followed E-Man (and Nova) through every incarnation and revival since, and reconnecting with Charlton would lead many years later to my appearances in several issues of Charlton Arrow from Charlton-Neo.



Miracleman # 1, Aug. 1985. I wasn’t expecting much from this title offered up at only 75 cents and reprinting in color the Warrior series Marvelman that I had already been following by a quirky but astonishingly talented English chap named err… The Original Writer. There was just one new page… but it made all the difference. The book opens with a faux reprint of an ultra-simplistic story from the 1950s and then segues into the first Warrior story in a way that comes across, no matter how many times I read it, as the most cinematic segment ever done in a comic book. I enjoyed the ensuing series but I feel like it lost a lot as it went on and perhaps overreached its original goals. But this one, this single issue on its own, is the closest thing to a “perfect” comic book in my mind.



Fantastic Four #1, Nov. 1961. Fantastic Four is my all-time favorite comic book series and one of the first Marvels I discovered in ’66. Over several decades, I amassed a complete collection, with the Golden Records facsimile reprint of the seminal first issue sitting in for the unaffordable actual #1. Then one day my soon-to-be wife presented me with the best present anyone has ever gotten me—FF # 1! It had a taped spine, a tear across the front cover, a messed-up back cover, a clipped out ad, chipping, chewed-out corners, and the whole thing looked and smelled like it had been underwater for 20 years…and it might have been! In that condition, she had gotten it at an amazingly low price and I hung onto it for 15 years or so until the collapsed economy forced me to sell it to avoid having our electricity cut off. Luckily, the market being what it is, I got about 5 times what she paid for it originally! That said, it remains the best present I ever got! And we’ve lived happily ever after.

Steven Thompson aka Booksteve, has written for Comic Book Creator, ACE Magazine, Back Issue and Yoe Books, as well as worked behind the scenes on projects for TwoMorrows, Fantagraphics, Pure Imagination, Taschen, Bear Manor Media and even 13TH Dimension! He maintains a dozen blogs at any one time including Booksteve’s Library and the thrice Rondo Award-nominated Four Color Shadows. In 2011, a book he co-wrote—Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers — was nominated for an Eisner Award. Since 2007, he has written for or done behind-the-scenes work on more than 50 books. In 2015, he co-wrote, edited, designed and published Lost Girl, the harrowing autobiography of Land of the Lost star Kathy Coleman.







Author: 13th Dimension

Share This Post On


  1. Great article! The fun of the hobby is discovering something new and there were two of these I never read. Have to dig into them.

    Post a Reply
  2. I owned everyone of those comics except the Miracleman. Bought at the Magazine store new. I wish I still had them.

    Post a Reply


  1. 13 COVERS: A BATMAN Anniversary Celebration | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] do you do just 13 COVERS here? Well, I took a page from 13th Dimension contributor Steve Thompson (click…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: