Still Only 25¢: Recollecting 1970s Marvel Comic Books

My formative years stretched over the 1960s and 1970s. Even through the amber haze of nostalgia, many things from those decades are forgettable, even regrettable.

I wrapped up the end of the 70s in a body brace for scoliosis—nerdy, scrawny, and possessing of 7000 Marvel comic books.

I recently completed an entire run of Daredevil launched in 1964 and had completed the much smaller runs of Black Widow before that while I wrote a series of blogs addressing how the character has been underestimated and hypersexualized.

My recommitting to collecting comic books started out very targeted, but since I completed my Daredevil collection, I have floundered a bit where to turn next. I have been collecting Daredevil appearances in other titles and started working on Moon Knight volume 1 after finding issue 1 in an antique store.

Then, the other day, Nova issue 1 from the summer of 1976 popped up on my Instagram feed. As a beginning collector and a wanna-be comic book artist, I was immediately drawn to Nova as possibly the first #1 of a comic that occurred during my early collecting days. I also was drawing Nova by later that year:

This is, then, a sort of nostalgia post, about my turning to recollecting some of those comic books from my 1970s Marvel collection that still have a special place in my heart—Nova, the Ross Andru Amazing Spider-Man run, Conan the Barbarian, and Deathlok (premiering in Astonishing Tales and once in Marvel Spotlight).

Below are my scans of my newest nostalgia collecting including those titles and some wandering when an issue catches my eye.

Nova v1 was key for me as a Sal Buscema fan, although this title only ran 25 issues (at the writing I am about 2 issues from a full run):

Nova 1-25 [1976-1979]

It is a bit cliche, but my immediate love as a comic book collector was Amazing Spider-Man. My introduction to Spider-Man was during the Gil Kane and John Romita years, a truly wonderful era that may even rival Steve Ditko’s original run.

However, my purchasing years were mostly during the Ross Andru run on Amazing Spider-Man (issues 125-185) and that work still has a special place in my heart.

Here are a few older issues and some initial grabs of those Andru issues:

Amazing Spider-Man 86, 92, 147, 152-155 [1970, 1971, 1975, 1976]

One of my more embarrassing confessions is my delayed nostalgia for Conan the Barbarian. My dad and I made two large purchases of a collection early in my collecting; that included many (if not all) of the early 1970s Marvel titles.

One of which was the Barry Windsor-Smith Conan run. At the time, I wasn’t really all that engaged with BWS’s work, and during my main collecting days, John Buscema took over (often with wonderful Kane covers and Ernie Chau inking).

I purchased the The Barry Windsor-Smith Archives Conan (v1, v2), but haven’t quite fully committed to collecting, again, those excellent issues:

Here are scans of a few early Conan issues in my recollecting stack:

Conan the Barbarian 22, 50, 52 [1972, 1975]

When I began collecting again, I immediately searched for Deathlok, who first appeared in Astonishing Tales. I was actually a Rich Buckler fan, although I think his work was considered second-tier, and this character series fit perfectly into my science fiction obsession.

Recently, I completed this run, although I need to find a better quality AT 25:

[Astonishing Tales featuring Deathlok 25-28, 30-36, Marvel Spotlight 33 (1974-1977)]

Above are galleries of some of my favorite covers, but I am a huge fan of those 1970s covers and the gradual increase in issue prices. I collected many comics costing 12¢, 15¢, 20¢, and 25¢, and watched as they creeped into the 35-40¢ era.

I find the dramatic “Still only 25¢” endearing and miss that era of comic books. There is something we have lost since the basic coloring and newsprint from the 1960s and 1970s—although there is much to enjoy and praise in the current era of comic books.

Hope you enjoy the walk down memory lane that I am taking, recollecting the issues I held in my hands as a teen who fell in love with Marvel way before it was cool.