Friday, February 22, 2013

VIXEN " a Lady Fox" Conclusion

...with one of the worst-rendered color schemes in comics history (she's supposed to be wearing silver and gold, not yellow and light blue)...
Fashion model Mari MaCabe's repressed memories of her father's death are re-awakened when she sees General Mantioba, President of D'Mulla, on TV.
(Manitoba killed her father, C'Mellu Dantogi, when the two struggled for leadership of their country, D'Mulla seventeen years earlier.
The trauma of seeing her father slain gave Mari, then an eight year-old child, amnesia.
Her father's friend, Reverend Peak, brought her to America, where he enabled a loving couple to adopt and raise her.)
Mari takes a talisman necklace left to her by her father with the proclamation "Wear it always and one day it will give you power!", researches it and discovers it's actually a totem of an ancient cult than can impart enhanced, animal-like abilities to it's wearer!
Successfuly performing a ritual to "activate" the totem, the now more-than-human woman, garbed in a costume to strike fear into Manitoba's heart, leaps into action...

(Note: Most of this tale was scanned from 2nd or 3rd generation photocopies of the original art, so it might be a bit muddy.)
You'll note the final page isn't lettered.
It's not known if the copy simply hadn't been pasted-down when the "kill" order was given or if it was still being scripted or re-written at the time.
Either way, you never saw this cover...
...staring out at you from the racks in the fall of 1978, because the "DC Implosion" occurred.
Let me explain..
In the spring of 1977, DC Comics, was losing newsstand marketshare to Marvel Comics due to a flood of titles (both new and reprint) from The House of Ideas.
DC planned to increase their volume of titles to retake the racks.
This was promoted as the "DC Explosion"!

At the same time, both companies raised their prices because of higher costs for paper and printing due to inflation.
Standard 32-page comics were 17-18 pages of story for 35 cents, and, while Marvel was going to just increase the cover price to 40 cents without adding pages, DC decided to increase their page count to 44 pages (adding 8 pages of story) with a 50 cent cover price!
DC hoped that, with the extra pages, the audience would view their books, though more expensive, as a better value.

Keep in mind the fact that comics were produced in a three-month cycle from concept to printed/distributed book.
So in June, the month the price changes went into effect, DC had two more months of 48-page, 50-cent books somewhere in the production cycle.
That same month, Warner Publishing execs saw the sales figures for DC's books from the previous winter (which was particularly harsh), resulting in lower-than-expected sales.
The execs did what management types usually do...they panicked!
They immediately ordered the entire DC line reduced to only 20 titles, and that those books be the same page count and price as Marvel's.
As a result, 20 titles were cancelled, some in the middle of ongoing plotlines (which were uncommon at DC in those days.)
Some had only 1 issue published before cancellation.
5 more books (including Vixen) never even made it to the stands.
The 44-page, 50 cent format ran for three months before DC's remaining titles shrank back to the same format as Marvel and everyone else.
The unpublished material (including letters pages) were photocopied from the original art and put into two "ashcan" issues made up of bound 8 1/2 x 11 one-sided pages (with new covers) to establish copyright.
Copies of this were distributed to creators and staff.
Vixen appeared in the second of those volumes...
Art by Alex Saviuk
...she's in the lower left, if you're looking.
Some of the material eventually was published in various DC books, but not Vixen #1.
Mari Macabe finally debuted three years later in Action Comics #521 (1981)...
Art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano
...which, ironically, was a 50-cent comic!
(Comics had raised their cover price again, from 40 to 50 cents, in the summer of 1980.
But the page count remained the same, at 32 pages [plus cover])
Be here next week, when we present another tale of classic comic grrl power!

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