11 April 2009

“Spend a Week at the ’39 World’s Fair”

I've been writing about how the British comic-book creators that DC hired to reinvigorate its line in the 1980s, such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and yesterday Dave Gibbons, found inspiration in the American comics of the 1960s that they had grown up reading.

Inspiration not just in the superheroics, but in what seemed mundane to the New Yorkers who had created those comics, such as pizzerias and apartment-house water tanks. Those details represented a different, more exciting way of life.

Where did the American comic-book artists who inspired those creators find similar inspiration in their youth? One major source comes up in Jon B. Cooke's interview with comics creator John Byrne, conducted for a volume in TwoMorrows Publishing's Modern Masters series:

Byrne: If they ever come up with commercial time travel,...I want to go and spend a week at the ’39 World's Fair. Because that was such an influence on comic book artists of that period.

Cooke: You're right! That whole Dick Sprang thing.

Byrne: Jack Kirby was drawing the ’39 World's Fair until the day he died.
Above is a magazine that DC Comics issued for the fair in 1940, showcasing the company's most popular characters. With the second issue, that magazine became World's Finest, and was published continuously until 1986. (In 1990 Dave Gibbons collaborated on a brief miniseries reviving the World's Finest name, bringing everything around again in one continuous loop of nostalgia for the future.)

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