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High and Low (Brow) Holiday Special

Posted on Dec 18, 2015 by | 1 comment

high and low (brow)

And we’re only 18 months behind in posting this episode, which I think just might be a new record. Might. But here’s the thing, by waiting the long to post this very special episode of High and Low (Brow). We recorded this with the idea of being a fun surprise that we might post, and then it sort of gestated and I toyed with the idea of making it a premium episode or pay to play episode, and after enough time I kind of dismissed that idea and decided I’d post it for the new Star Wars film as a fun little surprise for all of you who’ve stuck around over the years. It’s my way of showing you I appreciate it.

As for the theme of this episode, we watched two TV specials from the late 1970’s. First up we review The Star Wars Holiday Special, a show neither of us had ever seen, and a show neither of us wishes to watch again. It is abysmal, and I’m a lesser man for having witnessed it.

Next up is the fairly unknown two-part TV Special, Legends of the Superheroes. A sort of live action Challenge of the Superfriends show, until it becomes a parody of a celebrity roast for a reason I couldn’t possibly explain, let alone understand. Or enjoy.With not much to talk about these terrible shows we soon delve into an inaccurate history of comics and then shifts into our TV watching habits of our youth and that’s just the start of this weird pop culture rabbit hole. All in all it’s a pretty solid episode of High and Low (Brow), from a certain point of view.

I hope you enjoy this belated gift, and as always, thanks for listening.

 

High and Low (Brow) Holiday SpecialĀ  [ 1:35:53 | 87.95 MB ] Download

 

 

Matt Gamble
I review movies. I run a movie theatre. I annoy people. I let my dogs lick my face whenever they want. Sometimes I'm even a halfway decent human.
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1 Comment

  1. Let it be known that Matt Gamble knows very little about the history of comic books and their sales.

    He’s right though that superhero comic books were primarily targeted at kids in the 1970s. I’d say DC aimed their books primarily at the 10 to 12 year olds and Marvel skewed a little older, maybe up to 15, for most of their superhero titles. There were exceptions though, Conan certainly seemed aimed at an older audience. Archie Goodwin’s and Walt Simonson’s Manhunter aimed a little higher. Howard the Duck was apparently popular with college students. Some of DC’s horror comics, like House of Mystery and House of Secrets (where Swamp Thing first appeared and then getting his own, exquisitely drawn comic) seemed to have a little older appeal. Then you had Gwen Stacy getting killed and Green Arrow’s sidekick getting hooked on heroin, but I would say it was mostly fits and starts. At least on the spinner rack.

    And, overall, sales were terrible. It’s hard to believe now, but apparently Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1977, saved by the lucky providence of being given the rights to publish a comic book based on Star Wars, a film everyone thought would bomb. DC canceled a third of their line in one day in 1978, the infamous DC Implosion. Getting their properties into other channels, the Shazam Saturday morning series, Captain America, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and The Incredible Hulk on television, and, of course, Superman: the Movie in 1978 seemed to be the only things keeping the superhero comic book market afloat.

    In my mind, it was the emergence of the direct market where the idea of a sustainable adult readership really took off (kind of emerging from head shops and underground comix). The direct market had two things that immediately elevated the medium. First, you could reliably find every comic book month after month, along with back issues, so that writers could tell more complex longer form stories and not have to recap everything of importance in each issue. Second, the comics code authority had no control over that market. It was an outlet for things like Heavy Metal which raised the bar on adult comic book content. And it allowed creators to tell stories that they were itching to tell, and own them too, without the risk of having to pay for returns on the newstand. Marvel took some advantage of that with their Epic imprint and it saw the emergence of things like Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!

    That raised the bar on content, and I think pressured the CCA to loosen up, Marvel certainly took full advantage in the early 1980s with DC slower to adjust. The New Teen Titans was a hit for DC and so was the teenage skewing Legion of Super-Heroes, particularly under Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen, but it was hard sledding for DC. Luckily, they launched Swamp Thing as a tie-in to the 1982 Wes Craven movie and then brought over Alan Moore from Britain in late 1983 when the book was terribly behind schedule, figuring that if nothing else Moore’s experience writing weekly books would help him meet deadlines.

    In 1985, DC cleaned decks with their Crisis on Infinite Earths, written and drawn by their New Teen Titans superstars. In 1986, DC may have had the greatest year in the history of the superhero genre with 1) The Dark Knight Returns, 2) Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow, 3) Watchmen, and 4) John Byrne’s Man of Steel and Superman relaunch. Their Legends event also directly led to launchs of the Wally West Flash series and Suicide Squad. Meanwhile, Moore’s successes led to DC bringing over guys like Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman, not to mention the spinoff of John Constantine into his own series.

    I’ll skip ahead, and say that I think comics overadjusted in the superhero target audience and now comics aren’t just for kids, comics aren’t for kids at all, but middle aged guys with money. DC and Marvel have also taken a page from the big macro brewers and have flooded the shelves with content effectively marginalizing the independent comics. There’s really no point in 100+ superhero comics a month, other than assuring that it’s hard for anyone new to get attention.

    Oh, and Weather Wizard is a totally fine supervillain. Nothing wrong with being able to control the weather to be able to commit crimes. Works pretty well on The Flash on the CW as well.

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