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LETTERING, CONTINUED: THE 1970s

The late seventies, were a turbulent time for comics in general, and DC in particular. Comics had been traditionally sold on newsstands and mom-and-pop drugstores and soda shops, but these venues were disappearing, and the profit to be made from selling a comic book was shrinking compared to more expensive and popular magazines like TV GUIDE and TIME. In 1978 relatively new DC publisher Jenette Kahn ordered an expansion of the comics line, with a number of new titles and much longer 80-page "Dollar Comics" versions of some older, popular titles, hoping to help the bottom line with more sales dollars, and also to compete with Marvel Comics' continued expansion. This backfired in late 1978, when corporate bean-counters looked at the numbers and pulled the plug on the whole idea, creating what became known as the "DC Implosion." With most of the new product cancelled, DC was forced to cut staff considerably, down to about 25 people total. In the Production Department, where I worked, several long-time employees were let go. I survived the purge probably because, as a fairly new hire, my salary was low, and I like to think I was delivering a lot of work for that salary.

Cancelled Comics cover

Many of the DC Implosion's cancelled books were Xerox-published in two massive volumes for copyright purposes, the cover of the first shown above. I did the logo. ©DC Comics, Inc.

On the brighter side, a new big-budget Superman movie was in the works, and its release in late 1978 helped DC offset the losses of the Implosion. Several books were produced to tie into the movie. I did all the production work and much of the layout and design for this oversized one, getting to meet Christopher Reeve in the process.

Superman Movie book

©DC Comics, Inc.

How does all this relate to lettering? Well, the freelance market at DC tightened up considerably, with many long-time freelancers forced to look elsewhere for work. I was still getting lettering work to do at home, but not as much as I could have handled, and at this time began augmenting my income with some coloring, background inking, and writing for the company. But things were about to take a turn for the better as we entered the eighties.

More about lettering, comics and me: LETTERING CONTINUED.

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All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.

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