With comics sales falling rapidly in the early-1970s, DC publisher Carmine Infantino scrambled to try to find something — anything — that would prove a hit with the buying public. One gamble was over-sized comics, presumably on the notion that kids would fall in love with the large size. In addition the tabloids allowed for big pin-ups and “dioramas” on the back page, another selling point, and one that allowed for a certain degree of child-friendly interactivity (though I’ve yet to see a copy that actually has no back cover — did kids have no imagination?!). A Rudolph special was the first of these, and then a proper numbering scheme was devised starting with this Shazam! issue.

That it was chosen to lead the way is probably some indication of how big a hit DC thought Shazam! was going to be. Sadly, they were wrong. In his 1940s heyday Captain Marvel was regularly shifting over a million copies a month, but in the 1970s no one cared. CC Beck’s whimsical style of storytelling was old hat, and perhaps wunderkind Denny O’Neil was not the best choice to write. However, this tabloid’s contents predate these concerns, being prime reprints, and is worth a look to re-live a bygone era.

I doubt very much that it really was a “very limited edition”. But it sounds good — and there is some anecdotal evidence that there was a degree of “hoarding” going on around the launch of Shazam!, with some distributors and dealers keeping copies back in order to sell later at inflated prices. They’re probably still waiting.

Image ©2010 DC Comics