Friday, February 1, 2008

George Rears - 1978

sg George Rears "World's Finest Contest!"--"You could be a winner in the second Superman movie contest!" Superman The Movie, released in December, 1978 spawned a neat little marketing campaign by DC Comics. All of the DC Comics released in October 1978 (cover dated January 1978) came with the aforementioned quote on the front cover.

I always loved comic book marketing stunts like this; however, usually they involved some form of mutilation to the poor comic books. Marvel Value Stamps required cutting items out of the letter pages--still annoying back issue buyers to this day. My previous favorite promotion was "DC Salutes the Bicentennial". This genius idea required you to buy twenty-five DC comics that month (out of a possible thirty-three--I hope you like Tarzan Family) and then cut of the cover masthead of each book and send it in. Then, 6-8 weeks later, you would receive...(wait for it)...a Superman Belt Buckle!

This one, however, was different. No mutilation. No scissors, no pen and ink. Instead, each book had a unique trivia question, all that was required of you was to buy enough books so that you could answer fifteen out of twenty-five trivia questions correctly. Piece of cake.

I answered my questions. I mailed it in. I waited. I forgot about it.

Months later I found out I won a third prize, which was a one year subscription to any DC comic. Pretty cool. Free comics. Much better than belt buckle. So--what to pick? Well, I'm no fool--I thought over the whole economics of the thing, and realized that a bi-monthly dollar comic would be a much better value than a monthly forty cent book (that's $6.00 vs. $4.80 for the mathematically impaired).

I was already buying Superman Family and Detective Comics, so I decided I'd buy something else. Time Warp was cool, but would it last? Then there was G.I. Combat and All Out War--but I wasn't into the war books. The Unexpected was neat, but I didn't want that coming in the mail. However, there was one dollar book left: World's Finest Comics.

World's Finest was the one DC super hero book I never really picked up. I liked Superman and Batman, but what was up with those crazy Super-Sons? The series always seemed to be a little off. So I never bought it. However, this time the price was right: free.

The thing I remember most about World's Finest Comics: Well to be honest, I don't remember much about it. The stories were ok. Lots of fun backups, Overall, I was happy with my selection. I was pretty much getting every DC super hero title, and I would now be ready for the next trivia contest when Superman II came out.

Fast forward three years. No trivial contest for Superman II. But that was OK--I was still getting World's Finest mailed to my door. And it kept coming. And coming. I wasn't even upset when it dropped down from the giant size to regular. Comics were now $.60, and it was like getting $7.20/year for free. I actually started getting into the book when it went to the smaller size. The creative teams focused on just the Superman/Batman stories, and they even did continued stories occasionally.

I thought I was going to get the book forever, but then one night a red sky was overhead, and the Monitor spotted me picking up the book from the Mailbox. With that came a great crisis. And the end of World's Finest.


Rick L. Phillips said...

Wow! A free one year subscription turned into free 3 years! I wish that would happen to me. I once had a subscription from DC comics I paid for and only got 3 books. I kept writing them months after I each issue had been published. Finally they sent me the back issues.

Grears said...

That's why I always shied away from subscriptions... it seemed like a crapshoot...

By the way, a one year subscription "All Star Batman" only gets you two issues!

George Rears

Anonymous said...

I must be the Bizarro George Rears because, even when I wasn't buying Superman, Action, Batman, or Detective, I always picked up World's Finest whenever I saw it on the stands. When it went to Dollar-Size it became an absolute must buy.

The Green Arrow / Black Canary strips with art by Nasser and Austin were awesome. And I, for one, loved Don Newton's take on Captain Marvel.

And, every once in a while, it sported a cover by Jim Aparo. An Aparo Superman was worth the price of admission all by itself.