RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1964!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 59 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Oct. 11, 1964.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Oct. 4, 1974. Click here to check it out.

(Keep in mind that comics came out on multiple days, so these are technically the comics that went on sale between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14.)

So, let’s set the scene: Cold War and Peace. Ever see the movie The Death of Stalin, an outlandishly funny black comedy about the jockeying to replace Josef Stalin as head of the USSR? Ultimately, after much back-stabbing, undercutting and sleazy brinksmanship, Nikita Khrushchev (played by a hilariously well-cast Steve Buscemi) ended up the leader of the Soviets. The bill would come due this week as Khrushchev, who launched his nation’s Space Race and was fond of banging his shoe on the table to make his point, was deposed Oct. 14 as leader of the USSR by his own Communist Party. He would, for all intents and purposes, be replaced by Leonid Brezhnev. The news wouldn’t hit the West for a couple days.

The New York Times, Page 1, Oct. 15, 1964

Conversely, and remarkably, on the same date, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for leading non-violent resistance to end racial bigotry in the United States. King was only 35.

Democrat Lyndon Johnson was in the final stretch of his presidential re-election campaign. He’d beat Barry Goldwater in November. It wasn’t close. Across the pond, the Labour Party was pushing hard to oust the Conservatives. They would prevail and Harold Wilson would become prime minister.

The Summer Olympics opened Oct. 10 in Tokyo. Among the highlights of the Games, sprinter Bullet Bob Hayes, who would go on to a Hall of Fame NFL career as a wide receiver for the Cowboys and 49ers, won Gold in the 100 meters, tying the world record, and set the record for fastest relay leg in the 4 x 100, scoring another Gold with his teammates. Meanwhile, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the future heavyweight champion of the world, won the Gold in heavyweight boxing — with a broken thumb. Damn. I skin my knee and I start crying like a baby.

The top movie at the box office was A Shot in the Dark, the second in the Pink Panther film series, starring Peter Sellers as inept Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Another film that gained attention was the newly released Cold War thriller Fail Safe. And, in all likelihood, the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, which came out in August in the U.S., was still on screens.

The Olympics commanded attention on TV, but the most popular regular shows at the time were Bonanza and the brand-new Bewitched. Other shows that premiered included The Man From UNCLE; The Addams Family; The Munsters; Gilligan’s Island; Gomer Pyle, USMC; Daniel Boone; Peyton Place; Flipper; Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; My Living Doll, starring Julie Newmar; Shindig! (which had the Beatles on Oct. 7); and Jonny Quest (in prime time!). Saturday mornings, meanwhile, got a heckuva lot funnier thanks to the new show Underdog.

When you think of music in 1964, you think of the Beatles, right? Of course you do. But it’s not like they always had a big hit going. This week, Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy Diddy led the Billboard 100, with Martha and the Vandellas’ magnificent Dancing in the Street at No. 2, and Oh, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison at No. 3. (Doesn’t it always feel like Roy Orbison was, like, 50 years older than the Fab Four? Well, Orbison was 28 and Ringo Starr, the oldest Beatle, was 24.)

On the other hand, the lads from Liverpool had a stranglehold on the albums chart, with A Hard Day’s Night at No. 1 and the North America-only release Something New at No. 2. (Dean Martin’s Everybody Loves Somebody was at No. 3.)

I’ll buy you a diamond ring, my friend, if it makes you feel all right…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Sgt. Fury #13, Marvel. Cap teams up with the Howling Commandos! Cue the Alan Silvestri!

Green Lantern #33, DC. Geez, I think Dr. Light broke GL’s back. Damn, Gil Kane. You’ve out-Gil Kaned yourself.

Tales of Suspense #61, Marvel. Spoiler: Tony Stark doesn’t really die. Also: Cap goes to Vietnam!

The Munsters #1, Gold Key. Ran a pretty decent 16 issues, outlasting the show by about a year-and-a-half. Not too shabby, Herman.

Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension

The Amazing Spider-Man #20, Marvel. Steve Ditko’s original design concept for the Scorpion is so simple but remains iconic.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #81, DC. It occurs to me that Superman’s days would be much easier if Jimmy Olsen would just stay home and not go around opening up mysterious mystical boxes.

The Avengers #11, Marvel. Spidey’s first run-in with the Avengers! It only took him another 25 years or so to join up.

Bonanza #11, Gold Key. Every comic should have a full plot synopsis on the cover.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Oct. 4 — in 1974! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Sept. 27 — in 1983! Click here.

Primary comics sources: Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the Grand Comics Database.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. That TOS cover design cracks me up; based on reading flow “letters page!” should be the main feature of this ish!

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  2. Great post ! That Jimmy Olsen comic looks nuts !

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  3. There’s a good reason for that 25-year gap…. Spider-Man doesn’t belong in the Avengers.

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  4. Bonanza cover for me was the best of this bunch. Love the show.

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