Summer of 1975 and it’s back to the shore—and back to comics. Again, the following haul (with one exception) was accumulated over a couple trips there that year:
Hot Stuff Creepy Caves #6 (Sept. 1975)
Casper’s Ghostland #87 (Nov. 1975)
The Joker #4 (Nov.-Dec. 1975)
Amazing Spider-Man #148 (Sept. 1975)
Madhouse Comics #98 (Aug. 1975)
Casper and the Cub Scouts [technically Harvey Collector Comics, though that’s not what it said on the cover] #2 (Nov. 1975)
Superman #292 (Oct. 1975)
Hong Kong Phooey #2 (Aug. 1975)
By this point, I could read at around the Dick and Jane level. Barely. But these reading skills would grow exponentially over the next few months, with my comics habit getting most of the credit for this.
Random thoughts: The year before, my first solo Spidey comic featured him in battle with his arch-foe, the Green Goblin. Now my first solo Superman comic featured him in battle with his arch-foe, Lex Luthor. Strangely enough, I bought a comic featuring the Joker before I ever bought a comic featuring Batman. By the way, this Joker issue had a December cover date, but the indicia says November-December. It was bi-monthly, but I think DC’s publishing schedule was generally weird in those days. One odd coincidence: that Joker cover and the ASM cover both featured characters on top of bridges.
Speaking of ASM, this issue came in near the end of the confusing-as-hell clone saga, but thankfully, most of these plot details went over my head anyway at the time. One thing I certainly did enjoy was Spidey’s duel in the dark with the Tarantula, where the only illumination came from Spidey’s spotlight, which was attached to his belt. Ross Andru’s choreography of this battle was simply superb. Honestly, looking back on this sequence, I am thoroughly convinced Andru could have been a great film director.
I should also note that this comic might have been my introduction (through the Tarantula’s dialogue) to the Spanish language. I say “might” because it’s possible Sesame Street may have beat ‘em to it. As good as my memory is, the timeframes are just too close to call.
If I were to pick an outlier from among this whole group, I guess it would have to be the issue of Madhouse. It was pretty funny, but I’ll be darned if I remember why I wanted it in the first place, as I was pretty much only into superheroes or cartoon characters I knew from TV at that point.
Which is what made Hot Stuff a real find for me. As intimated, Casper, Wendy & Spooky were all known to me via the Casper cartoons that had been running in syndication for quite a while by then. Hot Stuff, however, was this new and wondrous treasure. I loved Casper, but the character was defined by his friendliness, which made him feel a bit passive. Hot Stuff, on the other hand, was not passive. He went out and took care of business. Plus he was a devil, with just a touch of the sinister about him, which made him… interesting.
The Joker issue was pretty good as well. It featured fantastic penciling by José Luis García-López—pencils that were so great even Vince Colletta’s inks couldn’t obscure it. Again, like with the previous year’s Green Goblin, we get maniacally grinning clown that scared the bejeezus out of me:
In this issue, the Joker was pitted against Green Arrow and Black Canary (albeit in her civilian identity of Dinah Lance). It was a great one-issue story.
All of these comics were purchased at the shore with one exception: Hong Kong Phooey was purchased at Newark Airport when my parents departed for a trip to Hawaii in (I believe) September of that year. Let me just say that HKP should’ve been right up my alley, as I loved dogs and I loved karate fights. So a karate-fighting dog superhero should’ve been a homerun where I was concerned, but Phooey always disappointed me, both here and in his cartoon. Just once, I wanted to see him successfully karate chop somebody. But he never did.
Ah, well. That’s all she wrote for ’75.