From the rubble…
UPDATED 6/4/22: I’ve just completed a years-long Bronze Age re-read and now that it’s over, I’ve been going back through Keith Dallas and John Wells’ superb Comic Book Implosion, from TwoMorrows. We serialized the book in three parts in 2018, but I’m digging it so much, I wanted to re-present these installments for your reading pleasure. (Links to other installments below.) The book is out of print but is still available digitally from TwoMorrows. Click here to order. You’ll thank me. — Dan
In our final installment serializing excerpts from Comic Book Implosion — Keith Dallas and John Wells’ minutely detailed oral history of DC Comics’ ups and downs in the late ’70s — we take a look at the infamous Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, the irreverent collection of stories and covers that were left on the cutting-room floor…
John Morrow, future comic-book historian and Comic Book Implosion publisher, in a 2018 recollection:
A couple of days [after our first local comic book club meeting], the new issue of The Buyer’s Guide arrived, announcing the ‘DC Implosion’ cancellations. It was devastating, as I was really excited by DC’s new expanded comics, even with their increased cover price.
But I guess the budding publisher in me was equally enthused to get this hot news into print in (my fanzine) ‘The Comics Explosion.’ So I threw together the second issue for our upcoming meeting, with details of the Implosion. Sadly, only Matt and Ken showed up that week, and since I saw them all the time anyway at school, there didn’t seem much point in continuing the club. Thus, like DC’s books of that era, my first fan publication, and our comics club, imploded.
Kurt Busiek, future comic book writer in a 2018 recollection:
And then the Implosion hit. I mostly heard about it through The Comic Reader and through conversation at the comics shop. As a reader, it was disappointing, but I still had plenty to read, so I wasn’t devastated or anything. I did like the promise of all those backup series, and had been buying Kamandi just for the Starlin OMAC series, so it was sad to see that go away. Aside from that and Huntress, though — and Firestorm, when it shifted to Flash post-Implosion — I don’t remember being all that excited about the results. I liked the idea of it, though.
Tom Brevoort, future Marvel Comics editor in a 2018 recollection:
Where the crunch really hit me was in the DC Implosion. The whole thing was over so quickly that DC settled into its reduced line at the 40¢ price before the first Marvel 40¢ books started showing up. And in the reduction down to only 26 titles, DC cut a number of books that were favorites of mine. In particular, I still mourn the loss of All-Star Comics and Secret Society of Super-Villains. And the fact that Demand Classics #1 never came out meant that it would be close to another two decades before I’d get to read Flash of Two Worlds. I hunted all over for that non-existent Demand Classics #1 for months, hoping it would show up on the stands every week.
And there’s no question that the whole ordeal definitely benefited Marvel, at least as far as my readership was concerned. Fewer DC books meant that I could buy and read more Marvel titles, even when the prices stabilized at 40¢.
From the rubble emerged Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, two blank-covered volumes of the material consigned to the filing cabinets. Ostensibly created to protect the copyrights on all the material, CCC was also a way for the fanboys on staff to create something of a collectible for the people who worked on the axed features.”
Paul Kupperberg, then DC Comics public relations assistant in an interview posted online in 2007:
I did the grunt work on [Cancelled Comic Cavalcade], assembling all the material from the various editors, arranging it all, and dealing directly with the printing. The printing and binding itself was done in the Warner Bros. print shop, which was in the basement of 75 Rockefeller Center where DC then had its offices, by a gentleman named Neil (credited as “Neil of the Magic Finger” in CCC)…
[Cancelled Comic Cavalcade was composed of] Xerox copies between heavy blue paper covers, glued square spine held together by a strip of black binding tape. We went crazy and commissioned covers from Alex Saviuk and Al Milgrom… everybody gets hit by a truck, but they probably worked for free to be in on the joke or to get a copy! Like I said, we did this cheap. This wasn’t made to last. It was made to be sent to the copyright office.
One [copy of CCC was reserved] for the [DC] library, two for the Library of Congress, Sol got a copy, Jenette Kahn, myself, a few other staffers, then we counted up the freelancers—I don’t remember exactly who it went out to, but people like Gerry Conway and Dick Ayers whose work was run in it surely got copies. You can probably figure out who got one from the table of contents. And, one copy went to Bob Overstreet, of the Overstreet Price Guide, just to prove to the world that it actually existed. We counted 35 copies.
However, we printed 40. Yep, don’t know how many bootlegs there are out there of CCC, but there are actually 40 legitimate copies. The other five made their way through channels that I’ve since forgotten to names that I no longer recall…but the real number is 40.
Mike Gold, then DC Comics public relations representative in an interview printed in The Comic Book Artist Collection #2 (May 2002):
We put it in interstate distribution, you could argue it was efficient for copyright purposes, which DC wanted to protect, and copies were made up for the contributors, so the people who had done the work, had reference copies…
There was some really nice work, and a lot of stuff that really wasn’t so good. In point of fact, I put those books together, and Paul Levitz actually talked me out of running one or two stories that were really bad. You can only imagine what those stories must have looked
like! Because there were some books in there, some stories we reprinted for that purpose that should have never seen the light of day… Of course, the title was based upon the All-American Comics title of the 1940s, Comic Cavalcade.
Entry in Bob Rozakis’ “It’s the Answer Man!” feature in Action Comics #503 (January 1980):
Q: How can I get a copy of Cancelled Comic Cavalcade? —David A. Lofvers.
A: Unless you can find a DC staffer or freelancer who is willing to sell his copy, you can’t. (For the uninformed, CCC was a limited-publication—35 copies—which included such stories as Vixen #1, Firestorm #6, Secret Society of Super-Villains #s 16 and 17, and Claw #s 13 and 14. There were two volumes and it was distributed only to DC staffers and freelancers who had material printed therein.)
NOTE from Dan: Comic Book Implosion includes a full index of the stories preserved in CCC. Here’s the overview:
Published—all 40 copies of it—as a means of preserving stories killed by the DC Implosion, Cancelled Comic Cavalcade also curiously included the cover of the unpublished Ragman #6 from 1977 and a trio of oddball stories left over by editor Joe Simon circa 1973 (Green Team; Prez). The latter had been unearthed by Al Milgrom in 1977 at the same time he discovered an unpublished Jack Kirby story that he’d intended to use in Kamandi #61.
On the other hand, several stories that actually were derailed by the Implosion were absent in the photocopied behemoth. Some, like the cover of Battle Classics #2 (with Sgt. Rock), Dynamic Classics #2 (featuring Superman) or Wonder Woman #250’s “Tales of the Amazons” story were probably assumed to be viable enough to be used someday. Other omissions in CCC such as the covers for Claw the Unconquered #13 and Firestorm #6 just seem to be a case of things getting lost in the shuffle.
— BEFORE THE IMPLOSION: The Rise of DC’s Dollar Comics. Click here.
— THE DC IMPLOSION: When the Ax Fell. Click here.
Comic Book Implosion is a 136-page, oversized, illustrated trade paperback that lists for $21.95. It’s available in comics shops, online retailers and through publisher TwoMorrows directly. (Click here.)