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‘The Marvelous Bronze Age: Conversations with Marvel Comics Creators of the ‘70s and ‘80s’ (review)

Edited by Lothar Tuppan,
Chauncey Haworth,  Mark Slade
Published by Bearmanor Media


The Marvelous Bronze Age: Conversations with Marvel Comics Creators of the ‘70s and ‘80s is a new and insightful book edited by Lothar Tuppan, Chauncey Haworth, and Mark Slade.

As a comics fan whose main period of collecting was from 1966-1986, it’s hard for me not to like this book but I’m afraid its shortcomings are many.

The positive parts of the book are, of course, its contents.

Just as the title says, there are many interviews with writers and artists here—some new, others reprinted in whole or in part from various magazines and other sources.

As one should expect, you find in the book’s pages the likes of Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, Steve Englehart, Jim Starlin, Steve Gerber, Chris Claremont, and Marv Wolfman. All of those talented folks have been interviewed a lot.

Even better to my way of thinking are the talks with folks like Frank Brunner, Jim Salicrup, Don Perlin, Val Mayerik, Marie Severin, and Mike Friedrich. The latter, now a Deacon in the United Methodist Church, even provides the book’s Foreword.

Some surprising omissions include Neal Adams, Ross Andru, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Zeck, Paul Gulacy, Herb Trimpe, and John Romita, all folks who helped reshape Marvel and/or comics in general from the ‘70s to the ‘80s. Oddly, Sienkiewicz’s name isn’t even mentioned in the volume.

Nearly all of the sections in the book are of interest, though, with interviewees offering their personal looks into the minutia of how the Marvel comics of the ‘70s were created as well as also some behind-the-scenes thoughts on everything from office politics to petty rivalries.

Unfortunately, all of this is presented with so many typos and errors that the book is actually hard to read. The first error I spotted is on the Contents pages, wherein Gene COLAN is listed as Gene COLON, an incorrect spelling that later pops up elsewhere in the book as well. The most egregious mistake in my opinion is the one that says that Roy Thomas “introduced division” in The Avengers when it meant that Roy Thomas had, in fact, introduced “THE VISION.”

As an editor and proofreader for the past fifteen years now, I know for a fact not all errors can be caught in any project. One or two—sometimes big ones—will always slip by. After a while, though, as the offending words, names, phrases, and spellings compound, I can’t help but start screaming at my computer and begin to lose track of what I’m actually reading.

That said, I don’t think any book should be reviewed solely on its presentation, and in the case of The Marvelous Bronze Age, in the long run the book’s content—hard to read though it is at times—gets the upper hand. Back in the day, we fans longed for these types of conversations with creators. On occasion, we found one or two in The Comics Journal or other fanzines, or saw them done live at cons. Then came David Anthony Kraft’s Comics Interview which offered whole issues of comics creator conversations every single issue. The Marvelous Bronze Age is like a book-length version of Comics Interview, and that’s high praise indeed.

So, with a caveat, Booksteve recommends.


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