George Khoury’s forthcoming Comic Book Fever taps into a rich vein…
For me, the Golden Age isn’t the Golden Age. I mean, it is in the grand scheme of things, but on a very personal level the Golden Age is really the Bronze Age. And really not all of the Bronze Age.
It’s that period of time from when I really began to appreciate (and collect) comics to the onset of adulthood. That is, the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s. And I’m not just talking about Bronze Age comics per se. I’m talking about what I discovered about comics: Sampling the Golden Age through DC 100-Page Super-Spectaculars, Famous 1st Editions and Limited Collectors’ Editions. I’m talking about building a backlog of Silver Age (though we didn’t call it that yet) comics through the largesse of friends’ parents and my first forays into comics shops and conventions at the Hotel Pennsylvania across the street from Madison Square Garden.
And then there were the toys, the Megos especially, but also my Ideal playsets, Corgis and Colorforms. There was watching Batman on Channel 11 after school, as well as Spider-Man cartoons and DC’s Filmation cartoons on Channel 5. Apes Week on The 4:30 Movie. There were Saturday mornings, childhood prime-time. Scanning loaves of Wonder Bread in the supermarket so I could complete my collection of Star Wars cards. Fantasizing about all the cool stuff in the Heroes World catalogues.
Eventually, I was old enough to ride my bike to the U.S. #1 Flea Market in New Brunswick, N.J., where I’d spend hours at a comics kiosk hanging out with like-minded fans.
Through my teens, I grew toward adulthood along with Dick Grayson, who led the New Teen Titans and then dropped his Robin identity, becoming Nightwing. I took classes at the Joe Kubert School and found out I had no talent (or determination) to become an artist. In my freshman year at Boston University, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns changed everything …
George Khoury knows what I’m talking about. I spend a lot of time writing about this stuff here at 13th Dimension and he’s written a book about it: Comic Book Fever, due this spring from TwoMorrows.
Khoury, who also grew up in New Jersey, has put together a full-color book that looks to be the Bible of the post-Baby Boom. It’s a full-color tribute to everything that made that period magical to anyone who lived through it.
I myself can’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to this year. So, I brought George in to talk about it — along with some preview pages so you can get as excited as I am:
Dan Greenfield: What’s your Secret Origin?
George Khoury: My first appearance took place in Jersey City, my hometown. Although there weren’t many comics at home during my early childhood, I was surrounded by it everywhere I went. In the middle- to late-1970s, comics weren’t just about superheroes, so I met boys and girls who had comics — Archie, Charlton, DC, Gold Key, Harvey, Marvel, take your pick — laying around their house or sneaking them into school. I was smitten with the medium and all its possibilities immediately.
Like everyone from my generation in the tri-state area, I became an admirer of superheroes from watching the old Batman and Superman reruns on WPIX-TV, and a steady diet of Super Friends (on Saturdays) and all those old episodes of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Filmation’s DC toons (on after-school afternoons).
As for writing about comics, that began after my Marvel internship ended in January of 1996. Despite not being able to land a job at Marvel, I still loved comics very much and didn’t want to let it go, so I decided to write about it. Originally, I only planned to do a few articles, and I never imagined I would still have something left to say about it after all this time.
Since 1997, I’ve done work for Newsarama, Comics Buyer’s Guide, Comic Book Resources, Wizard, Alter Ego, Comic Book Artist, and Marvel, among other places. 2001 saw the release of Kimota, my first book.
Dan: How did this project come together?
George: At its heart, Comic Book Fever is a love letter to the comics era of 1976 to 1986, the era that ultimately defined the comics industry that we see today. The book features all the people, characters, and memories that shaped those times into an unbelievable experience. Fever also shows the evolution of the medium. That’s the simple answer to your question, but there are also many more layers and stories to this fun book. I spent years working it. In some ways, you can say I just wanted to come home.
Dan: That period of 1976-86 is right in my wheelhouse as well. I find myself obsessively writing about it here at the site. It’s amazing what stays with you. What exactly are we going to see in the book?
George: Everything I’ve got. I wanted to capture the energy and joy of the era in the book before I get older and grayer. In Fever, we cover the best of the best of the era in every way. Every chapter, page, and sidebar in this book will tell a story.
Inside this full-color hardcover are new articles, interviews, and images about the people, places, characters, titles, moments, and good times that inspired and thrilled us in the Bronze Age: Neal Adams, John Romita, George Pérez, Marv Wolfman, Alan Moore, Denny O’Neil, Jim Starlin, José Luis García-López, the Hernandez brothers, the Buscema brothers, Stan Lee, Jack Davis, Jack Kirby, Kevin Eastman, Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Frank Miller—and that’s just for starters. It covers the phenoms that delighted Baby Boomers, Generation X and beyond: Uncanny X-Men, New Teen Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Love and Rockets, Crisis On Infinite Earths, Superman vs. Spider-Man, Archie Comics, Harvey Comics, Kiss, Star Wars, Rom, Hostess Cake ads, Grit (!), and other milestones.
It’s a book that true believers and non-believers of comics can enjoy. Seriously, if you have a significant someone in your life who doesn’t get comics, this book will do a great job explaining our unbreakable bond with this art form.
Page by page, this is very much a 240-page journey into the heart of comics. We start in 1976 and conclude in 1986.
Dan: That’s a pretty broad spectrum. How long have you been working on this? And what so far has been the best part for you?
George: I feel like this was the book that I was born to write. I had all these story ideas percolating in my head for some time until I finally had an epiphany that all these ideas were the making of a good book. I wrote the pitch for Fever on July Fourth of 2011, and it’s been on my mind each day since.
This book required more from me than all of my previous efforts. I just needed to think about it much more to make it more authentic for the reader. I also needed it to take shape because I wanted this book to have a nice flow from beginning to end. Beside a ton of research and preparation, I also had to do about 80 interviews for it.
The best part has been seeing this book come together. To me, it’s comic book heaven. I have been very fortunate to have everything fall into place. All my comic book heroes are in this book: John Romita, Neal Adams, Alan Moore, John Buscema, Jack Kirby and so many other great people who meant the world to me, now and then. I just can’t ask for anything more.
Comic Book Fever is due in June. For more info, hit up the TwoMorrows website, here.