Saturday, November 8, 2008

Defining The "Fifties Era"

Several times in the blog I've used the term "fifties era" or "fifties period", but I haven't exactly defined what I mean by that. When I refer to the "fifties era", I am referring to the Batman comics published from cover date January 1950 to May 1964. Now some are probably wondering why the timeframe doesn't end with December 1959. The reason is that the science fiction tone and expanded Batman family prevalent during the later half of the 1950s continued into the 1960s until cover date June 1964 when the "New Look" Batman was introduced. 

The "New Look" Batman was new Batman editor Julius Schwartz's effort to revitalize and modernize the Batman comics for the 1960s. In the space of one issue, Batwoman, Bat-Mite, and the rest of the Batman family introduced in the late 1950s were gone from the books. The stories shifted from science fiction to those that emphasized Batman's detective skills. The art of the stories was also modernized, with Carmine Infantino on Detective Comics and veteran Batman artist Sheldon Moldoff's pencils on Batman slicked up by Joe Giella. You can see clearly see the shift by comparing the covers of the Batman comics cover dated May 1964 with the covers of the Batman comics cover dated June 1964.

I tend to think of it as Batman having two Silver Ages. There's the Silver Age Batman from the late fifties to early sixties with the science fiction tone and expanded Batman family and then there's the Silver Age Batman from the late sixties with the "New Look" revamp and the stories that reflect the camp tone of the 1960s television show. So if I blog about a Batman story from the sixties, it will be one from the first Silver Age Batman had and not from his second, "New Look" Silver Age.

1 comment:

Pat said...

You could probably subdivide the 1960s into four parts: the Schiff monsters, strange transformations and aliens era, the early Schwartz years, the camp years, and then the post-TV show era, where Batman returned to being a creature of the night.

I agree that the Schiff 1960s has much more in common with the 1950s-era Batman.