Friday, May 1, 2009

Insert Preview Here: DC Showcase, 80s Style

Trivia Question: What do the New Teen Titans, the new Dial "H" for Hero, All-Star Squadron, Arak, Wonder Woman, Captain Carrot, Night Force, Atari Force, Amethyst, Batman and the Outsiders, and Blue Devil have in common (besides, obviously, being 80s comics)? They were all introduced via free 16 page inserts in special issues of various DC comics. You read that right. DC would bind a brand new 16 page preview of an upcoming new comic into the center of an existing title.

The preview stories were brand new, written and drawn by the upcoming book's creative team. The tricky part of these previews was making the stories relevant without making them so integral to the first issue that a reader who hadn't read the preview would feel like they'd missed something. They usually consisted of a front cover, 14 pages of story, plus a back cover that usually featured the cover of the actual first issue, all on newsprint (or Mando paper, when DC moved to that in 1983).

Sometimes the comics the previews were inserted into seemed kind of random. I often wondered why the New Teen Titans and the "new" Wonder Woman made their debuts in DC Comics Presents rather than in Justice League of America. Sometimes the previews were made lots of sense, like Arak's debut in Warlord, All-Star Squadron in Justice League of America, and Night Force in New Teen Titans (since Marv Wolfman wrote both titles).

It was an experiment that lasted for about half a decade, giving fans a bit more bang for their buck. The idea of getting what amounts to an extra half comic with no cover price increase had to boost both sales and interest in the titles featuring the previews as well as the titles being previewed. It certainly showed that DC had a lot of faith in their new titles--and that they appreciated their faithful readers.

Now, I'm concentrating on the "free previews" that served as an intro to new DC series, not the toy advertisements that ran in almost all titles in a given month (like those for Masters of the Universe, Mask, and the rest). I've scoured my collection and the Internet, wracked my brain, and consulted about every source I can think of. I think the following list is pretty comprehensive. If I've left anything out, please leave a message or send me an e-mail, okay? Oh, and I'll be covering DC's Bonus Books, which used the same format but focused on showcasing new talent rather than new comics, in a future post. Got it? Good! Now, here's a listing of the previews and their creative teams, along with the title and issue number of the comics they appeared in. If you've never seen these, you might want to try to track 'em down. Good luck!

Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez (DC Comics Presents #26, July 1980)

Dial "H" for Hero by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino (Legion of Super-Heroes #272, November 1980)

All-Star Squadron by Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler (Justice League of America #193, May 1981)

Arak, Son of Thunder by Roy Thomas, Ernie Colon and Tony DeZuniga (Warlord #48, May 1981)

Wonder Woman by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan (DC Comics Presents #41, October 1981)

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! with Gerry Conway and Ross Andru (New Teen Titans #16, November 1981)

Night Force by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan (New Teen Titans #21, April 1982)

Atari Force by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru (DC Comics Presents #53, October 1982) is the exception to my "no toy ads" rule, because, although this preview led to the mini-comics Atari packaged with their game cartridges, a year after this preview an actual Atari Force comic was produced, picking up the threads of the mini-comics. Clear?

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, and Ernie Colon (Legion of Super-Heroes #298, January 1983)

Batman and the Outsiders by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo (Brave and the Bold #200, April 1983)

Blue Devil by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, and Paris Cullins (Fury of Firestorm #24, March 1984)


Daniel Graves said...

It was a marketing gimmick that seemed to work... at least on me. I do recall following most of these new series for at least a while. The ones I was most faithful to were All-Star Squadron & Batman and the Outsiders.

Fr. Dan

David Akers said...

They worked for me too. I ended up following most of them, with the exceptions being Arak and Night Force (I read the first couple but I had a hard time getting it in my area). Probably the main reason I didn't get into Arak was because I didn't get either it or Warlord in my area either.

As it is, I've since gone back and bought up all the series here, with the exception of Wonder Woman, which I just haven't been able to complete yet.

Great post! It brought back great memories.


Lizrdprnce said...

I loved those previews. I think I had most of the ones mentioned, and I did try out most of the previewed comics. All-Star Squadron and New Teen Titans were my favorites of the bunch.

BTW, the ASQ preview was in JLA 193, not #198.

Mike in Chicago, IL said...


This is an awesome blog you've put together. I've been thinking about these preview issues recently and viola(!) that's how I found your site. The "Atari Force" preview also appeared in New Teen Titans #27 (cover dated January 1983). It may have shown up in a few other DC books as well.

There was a preview story for "The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl" series. It appeared in Superman #376 (cover dated October 1982). It was not a 16 page pullout like the other previews but it did get a blurb on the front cover announcing its presence. Take a look for yourself at the CoverBrowser website:

Keep up the great work!

dbutler16 said...

This is an awesome post! I have probably at least half of these from back inthe day, and boy, does this bring back memories. This was a great idea by DC.

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1980s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!