Book of the Day - 3/3/04

Spidey Super Stories #1 Oct 1974

- Overstreet 2006 (9.2) NM- Price: $50 -

This comic is an example of what's missing in today's comic stores.  A comic that targets young readers.  A joint effort between Marvel and the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), the same people that brought you Sesame Street, Spidey Super Stories teamed Spider-Man with the cast of the Electric Company television show.  The Electric Company started on PBS stations in 1971 and focused on teaching reading and grammar skills to 6 through 10 year olds.  The comic also catered to this crowd as evidenced by the simple word phrases and larger type face used in word balloons.  Typical issues would have a couple of short Spider-Man adventures mixed in with one page stories all starring Spider-Man and the Electric Company crew.  This collaboration seemed like a win win situation for both Marvel and CTW.  Marvel had the opportunity to hook new young comic readers they may not have reached normally and CTW could continue teaching readers through the medium of comics.  Marvel was also able to "team" Spider-Man up with other Marvel characters thus providing greater exposure.  It wasn't just a one-way deal either.  Spider-Man regularly appeared in skits on the TV show.  Great access for both companies.  The title continued for 57 issues before being canceled in 1982.  An achievement itself considering new Electric Company TV episodes ceased in 1977 and went into reruns afterwards.

If you look at the comics rack today, you'd be hard pressed to find a comic specifically geared towards younger kids.  Over the last 20 years, the vast majority of comics have grown more sophisticated in their writing and increasingly depict situations not suitable for teenagers much less youngsters.  Entry level comics for the pre-teen crowd are few and getting fewer as comic companies write their titles for an ever aging crowd.  This situation must be rectified if comics are to survive as a medium for the future.  Young people have a wide array of entertainment options available to them today.  Comics, sadly, doesn't seem to be one of them.  Unless the comic companies can figure out a way to hook kids at a young age, they will likely lose them completely.  Spidey Super Stories seemed liked a great venue to get "the word out" to young readers.  Maybe the powers that be need to relook at the success of this comic and find a way to replicate it for today's crowd.  If not, sliding comic sales will only grow worse and this hobby as we know it will slip with it....