RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1969!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 54 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Nov. 29, 1969.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Nov. 22, 1963. 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 Nov. 26 and Dec. 2.)

So, let’s set the scene: The nation continued to grapple with the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration’s handling of it. On Nov. 26, President Nixon signed into law a “draft lottery” designed to address inequities in the system and to add more military personnel toward Vietnam. The first lottery was held Dec. 1.

The move only increased resistance to the war and came against the backdrop of Nixon earlier in the month announcing plans to end US involvement and reiterating his objective of “Vietnamization” on an orderly timetable. (In that Nov. 3 speech he coined the term “silent majority,” one of the defining colloquialisms of his presidency.) Further, the 1968 My Lai Massacre was revealed to the public Nov. 12 and on Nov. 15, more than 500,000 protesters held a massive antiwar march in Washington. Similar, though smaller-scale, protests were held in other cities.

On Nov. 30, Tex Watson, Charles Manson’s right-hand man, who carried out most of the shooting or killing in the Tate-La Bianca murders, was arrested in Texas after the LAPD ID’d his fingerprints from the crime scenes. Remarkably, Watson was able to fight extradition for almost a year.

The top movies in theaters included the Swedish erotic drama I Am Curious (Yellow), which was scandalous at the time but is actually mind-numbingly tedious. It was supplanted as the box-office leader by the forgettable Krakatoa, East of Java. Other movies on the silver screen included the Paul Newman-Robert Redford bromance Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, one of my all-time favorite films, and the Redford vehicle Downhill Racer.

Gunsmoke, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and My Three Sons were among the TV ratings leaders. New shows that fall included The Brady Bunch; The Bill Cosby Show (the one where he played gym teacher Chet Kincaid); Love, American Style; Marcus Welby, M.D.; The Courtship of Eddie’s Father; Room 222; and Medical Center. Most important of all? Sesame Street premiered earlier in November.

Music was highlighted — far and away — by the Beatles and the Stones. The Fab Four’s Come Together/Something double A-side single topped the Billboard 100. Come Together is groovy but Something, in my mind, is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt songs ever written. Good on ya, George! Other favorites on the chart include Someday We’ll Be Together at No. 11, credited to Diana Ross & the Supremes but which was really a Ross solo song; and Elvis’ magnificent Suspicious Minds, at No. 16.

The Beatles’ Abbey Road, which just might be the band’s greatest (I vacillate on this), topped the album charts, followed by the epochal Led Zeppelin II (at No. 2). The rest of the chart is pretty dang amazing, so check it out.

Now about the Stones: The band was on tour for the first time since 1966, with the highlight a two-day, three-show stint at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27-28. On the latter date, the Stones released one of rock’s all-time greatest LPs — Let It Bleed, a remarkable achievement, especially considering that it was recorded during a transitional period: Brian Jones was out, Mick Taylor was in, but Keith Richards did the heavy lifting, recording almost all the guitar parts.

The album opens with Gimme Shelter and closes with You Can’t Always Get What You Want, with monster cuts like Midnight Rambler, Let It Bleed, Live With Me, Monkey Man, and You Got the Silver, featuring Richards’ plaintive vocals, in between. There’s also the cover Love in Vain and Country Honk, a countrified version of Honky Tonk Women. The first time I read the track listing, decades ago, I thought it was a greatest-hits album. That’s how strong it is.

Up to that point, the tour was a major success, with the the Nov. 28 New York City shows providing the bulk of the following year’s tremendous live album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, including what might just be the Stones best-ever live cut: Sympathy for the Devil, featuring incredible dueling solos by Richards and Taylor, whose arrival substantially enhanced the band’s sound.

But it wasn’t all silver, gold and scented jasmine tea: Plans were under way for the Stones to headline a free concert near San Francisco the following week…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Detective Comics #395, DC. This is it. The beginning of a new era — the first Batman collaboration between Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, heralding a period of strange and gothic stories, as well as the creation of Ra’s al Ghul and the return of the maniacally murderous Joker, not to mention the revival of Two-Face. The general consensus is that this issue is the start of Batman’s Bronze Age, though I pinpoint that to the previous month’s Batman #217, when Robin left for college. Adams is widely credited for pushing Batman in this direction in The Brave and the Bold, and Bat-editor Julius Schwartz furthered things along, but this was where it all crystallized. A classic.

Scott adds: This comic was in the Batman: From the ’30s to the ’70s collection I had as a kid, and it scared the hell out of me.

Action Comics #384, DC. Meanwhile, over in Metropolis, the Silver Age was alive and well.

Sgt. Fury #74, Marvel. One of John Severin’s greatest covers. Captures Nick Fury in all his gritty glory. (No Marvels came out this week, so Scott and I are including a few from earlier in November, since they would still have been on sale.)

Reggie’s Wise Guy Jokes #10, Archie. I think anybody who likes Reggie — and would buy his comic — has some asshole in them.

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

Adventure Comics #388, DC Comics. I’ll say this for Brainiac: he knows how to dress his romance murderbots.

The Avengers #72, Marvel. This was a great time for the roster: Yellowjacket, Vision, Hawkeye in Hank Pym’s borrowed Goliath gear, plus Mar-Vell was always hanging around.

The Amazing Spider-Man #81, Marvel. Another comic I had as a kid, and as a result I thought the Kangaroo was a much bigger deal than he was.

The Phantom #36, Charlton. One of these days I gotta track down these Charlton Phantom issues with the Jim Aparo art.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Nov. 22 — in 1963! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Nov. 15 — in 1981! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Wow. What a set up ! Great music and comics. Maybe someday the Kangaroo can make a come back.

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  2. Betty and Veronica’s inclusion in the Archies was due in part to the decision that Filmation made to include the girls in the group. And while Dan DeCarlo drew The Archies iconic cover for the music LP, that didn’t stop him and other artists from drawing the Archies as a musical band “trio.” Great cover though!

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  3. Oh my gosh! I saw some of the Reggie issues when I was combing used stores in the 70s. Haven’t thought of them in years!

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