Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 44 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Sept. 13, 1979.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Sept. 6, 1989. 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 Sept. 10 and Sept. 16.)
So, let’s set the scene: Jimmy Carter was in his only presidential term. On Sept. 15, he collapsed from heat exhaustion while participating in a 10K run at Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland. He received an IV saline solution while lying on the ground, then was driven to Camp David to recover. Kind of a metaphor for his whole presidency, I hate to say.
One of the greatest sports movies of all time — North Dallas Forty, starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis, a roman a clef about the NFL in general and the Dallas Cowboys specifically — led the box office. Nolte’s opening wake-up scene is one for the ages and the trope would become his specialty. I highly recommend the book by the late Peter Gent, by the way. The iconoclastic Gent, who also wrote the screenplay, was a former Cowboys and Giants wide receiver, and his insights are stark, raw and wildly entertaining. The book is, amazingly, out of print but I’m gonna go track down a copy. Haven’t read it in far too long.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 14, Quadrophenia, based on the Who’s album, opened in theaters. The band was also on tour and this week it began its U.S. leg with performances at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J., and New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Other movies on the silver screen included Apocalypse Now, one of the greatest ever made, and Monty Python’s Life of Brian, one of the funniest ever made. (Though, I still far prefer Holy Grail.)
On television, ESPN was in its very first week. Programming was scarce and a light shadow of what it is today but it’s the place where I later discovered the offbeat and charming Canadian Football League. Go Alouettes!
Charlie’s Angels was the No. 1 show on TV, by the way. The cast this time around was Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd and Shelley Hack (with David Doyle and the voice of John Forsythe, natch). The fall season was just getting started and new shows that would make their mark included Benson, which debuted Sept. 13, The Facts of Life (with its initial, gigantic cast) and Hart to Hart, each of which had launched in August. (On Sept. 20, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century would make its much-hyped TV series debut after the pilot’s successful theatrical run back in March. This would also be the first season of Saturday Night Live without John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as cast members.)
The Knack’s eternally catchy (and ubiquitous) My Sharona was the best-selling single in the land, and the band’s album Get the Knack was at No. 2 on the albums chart, behind Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door, which deserves more credit than it generally gets.
But the world tipped on its axis Sept. 16, though few realized it yet: The Sugarhill Gang released Rapper’s Delight, which would eventually become rap’s first Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Music, and popular culture, would never be the same. I remember the first time I heard it: a Black girl brought it in to 7th grade music class and us white boys were completely befuddled and dismissive because we were close-minded, little assholes. She was right, we were wrong, and I’m ashamed that we acted like a bunch of boorish idiots.
I said-a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie, to the hip hip hop-a you don’t stop the rock…
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Batman #318, DC. Firebug was a compelling idea for a villain and he had a great costume. (His MO was arson, determined to burn down tenements that were fatal to his impoverished family.) He never caught on, though, and was ultimately overshadowed by the once-obscure Firefly, who predated him by decades but became more popular in the long run.
Detective Comics #487, DC. Ah, those heady days after Batman Family and Detective had merged. So much bang for your buck. The lead Batman story was a self-satire by Denny O’Neil with terrific art (of course) by Don Newton and Dan Adkins. Cool Batweek — it was uncommon for both Batman and Detective to be released at the same time.
Scott adds: Classic cover here by the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.
The Amazing Spider-Man #199, Marvel. Any time Mysterio shows up, it’s a party.
Walter Lantz Woody Woodpecker #184, Gold Key. Man, I loved watching Woody Woodpecker after school on NYC’s Channel 5. (Where’d my pie go? What happened to my pie?)
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Micronauts #12, Marvel. Prince Acroyear was this very cool mixture of Spock and Worf. Kind of the Wolverine of the team.
Superman #342, DC Comics. Better than when David Blaine did it, anyway.
Justice League of America #173, DC Comics. This month, Black Lightning refuses to join the Jive-turkey League of America.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Sept. 6 — in 1989! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 30 — in 1972! Click here.