Favorite Quotes

"The fact that you think you are a person is a socially induced hallucination. There is not such thing as a person."
- D. Chopra, Playboy March 2011 interview

Sunday, January 29, 2012

DJ Art Roberts and Marvel Comics

Daredevil #12 (January 1966) [Olympia Publications Inc. (Marvel)]

Not sure when this story actually began, as it started sometime in mid 1965 in Chicago, IL.

But, it began in the pages of Marvel Comics with a Jan. 1966 cover date.  In the letters pages, a Merry Marvel Marching Society (MMMS) member writes about hearing a radio disk jockey mention that he'd also joined the club.  That DJ was Art Roberts of WLS in Chicago:

Now this was big news!  The media was beginning to pay attention to Marvel Comics.  Marvel had received a little attention from newspapers and other media, but this was a True Believer!  Not just someone reporting a story.  A real fan of comic books in the media.  Not the usual media drumbeat of how comic books were bad for children.  His show was from 9 to midnight, and he'd been on since 1963.

The MMMS had been introduced less than a year earlier in the February 1965 issues of Marvel comic books.  With the huge lead time for editorial material in comic books, Art must have been an early member.  Since Daredevil #12 was on the newsstands in November 1965 and Marvel's lead time for letters could easily have been four months, the letter could have been written in July 1965.  So Robert's mention of the MMMS was probably in the summer of 1965.

So, Marvel played it up BIG.  Three more fan letters were printed in other issues that same month that talked about hearing Art Robert's broadcast.

Amazing Spider-Man #32 (Jan. 1966)

Avengers #24 (Jan. 1966)

X-Men #16 (Jan. 1966)

Then again in Fantastic Four #47.  Though it was cover dated Feb., it was actually part of the previous months editorial group.  All four of the those issues had the same Bullpen Bulletins page which had another big news item.  Roy Thomas was starting to work for Marvel.  A fan had become a pro.

Fantastic Four #47 (Feb. 1966)

So Art Roberts got lots of attention from Marvel.  One cover month later, another letter in Amazing Spider-Man #34 again mentioned his broadcast.

Amazing Spider-Man #34 (Mar. 1966)

Note that these letter writers are from all over the country as WLS reached two-thirds of the US.

The following months Bullpen Bulletins page is talking about how much media attention Marvel is receiving. This is new for Marvel.

Amazing Spider-Man #35 (Apr. 1966)

Two months later, Stan Lee lists all the DJs and stations that are talking about Marvel on the Bullpen Bulletins page.  Of course including Roberts.

Amazing Spider-Man #37 (June 1966)

And in July's Amazing Spider-Man Bullpen Bulletins, Roberts gets mentioned again.

Amazing Spider-Man #38 (July 1966)

And the flood is on, as Stan's next Bullpen Bulletins talks about how 100 articles on Marvel had appeared across the nation.

Amazing Spider-Man #39 (Aug. 1966)

Then a month later in an unusual thank you, as Roberts gets put into an Amazing Spider-Man story.

Amazing Spider-Man #40 (Sept. 1966) pg 8

Over a 9 month period, Art Roberts gets his name in more than nine different comic books.

It appears that Art Roberts was one of the earliest media people to get the Marvel Silver Age media flood rolling.  And Stan Lee thanked him by putting him in an issue.

In an interview much later, he said:  "That was my debut in the comics. Truthfully, I got a big kick out of it. I believe it was meant to be a birthday present from Stan Lee. "  (Interview)

Roberts was on nights until 1968 and at WLS until 1970 when he went to San Francisco.  As typical of the radio business, he programed and managed in many cities in the US over the next 30 years.  He passed away in 2002.

This is my salute to another comics fan who made a difference.  He was at the forefront, maybe even one of the initiators of all the media attention Marvel started to receive.  It seems they are every where these days, in movies, TV, and even theatre.  But back then, he was the exception and helped turn back the negative view of comic books and made them be cool.

1 comment:

  1. Tks very much for your post.

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