Happy Halloween, (Super) Friends!

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Happy Halloween 2016! Today we’re taking it back to… 1979!

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Despite the January 1980 cover date, the issue above was indeed on the newsstands in October 1979. Cover by Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith.

Another childhood fave. I loved superheroes, natch, and had a particular thing for monsters as superheroes—a fetish perhaps born out of the old “Monster Squad” Saturday morning TV show I once watched. In any case, I really liked the Demon, Man-Bat, and Swamp Thing, and thus adored this issue, even though they’re technically the villains here. (More technically, they’re not even the same characters, just a bunch of partygoers transformed into their Halloween costumes by Felix Faust’s magic.) Regardless, nothing could take away from the visual thrill of seeing these characters on the comics pages with the world’s greatest superheroes. And what action!

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Art by Fradon and Vince Colletta.

This is part of why Super Friends the comic had it all over Super Friends the television show: fisticuffs. They could barely portray anything remotely violent on children’s television back then, but the comics did not share this limitation at all. Thus we get to see Aquaman plant one (no pun intended) right on Swamp Thing’s mush.

Now here’s the Demon in action against the Amazing Amazon:

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Pretty sure panel two up there is a swipe/homage to the cover of the first issue of the classic Kirby series.

Ramona Fradon’s art was a bit simplistic here—note the complete lack of background detail in nearly all the action sequences—but utterly beautiful in its style. There’s no extra linework, no unnecessary sweetening of detail, just the pure grace of straightforward illustration. Alex Toth would have been proud, I’m sure.

The same could be said of Bridwell’s writing. Over the course of five years and more than forty issues, nearly all of his stories were one-offs, and even with the few multi-parters, it was always straight-ahead storytelling, all plot with nary a subplot to be found. In the era that these comics were published, this was quite the breath of fresh air.

Bridwell passed away nearly thirty years ago at the too-young age of fifty-five. Thankfully, Ms. Fradon is still with us, having just celebrated her ninetieth birthday on the first of this month. Moreso, it appears she is still doing commission work!

So a belated “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Fradon and, once again, a Happy Halloween to all!

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