Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spire Christian Comics: A few covers and some links

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

The internet's nice.

When you set about to do some research in preparation for posting things like this on your 'pop culture' blog, it's a treat to find that there's often somebody out there who's already done most of your work for you.

There's nothing new under the sun; Welcome to the World-Wide Web.

So if I don't have much that's new to bring to a piece about that line of Spire Christian Comics that started appearing in the 1970's, at least I can round up a bit of the info that's already floating out there and provide some pertinent links at the bottom for you to peruse.

As a kid, I don't think I ever encountered any of the book adaptations like the ones pictured here.

I do remember being mightily confused when running across some of the Christian 'Archie' titles.

At the time it felt like some kind of creepy betrayal, not that I ever imagined that the Riverdale gang were Jews and Hindus.

Just like in my quietly Godless suburban upbringing, the subject just never came up.

It was fine for Dennis The Menace to occasionally try to instruct me on kite safety or building campfires, and I was okay with the Peanuts crowd hawking snack cakes and life insurance.

But I suppose I felt Archie and his friends shouldn't stray too far from the malt shop.

Of course the Riverdale connection came easily, as it was simple enough for Archie comics artist Al Hartley to bring them along when he began doing the lion's share of the artwork at Spire.

Here's something that's confused me about the Spire comics, though: The cover price. When these were coming out in the seventies, most comic books were traveling through their 15¢ - 25¢ price range.

Was Spire really charging 35¢ - 39¢ each at *that* time? ('Cuz, umm, dude... Seems like they should have been priced to be LESS expensive than normal comics, y'know? I'm just sayin'... Maybe it's a Christian thing and I just wouldn't understand)

It's entirely possible that I'm mistaken, as many of the Spire line just stayed in print for several years.

I suppose just because it lists a copyright date of 1973 doesn't mean it's not a 1980's reprint, priced accordingly.

(Huh, the only other comics I can think of offhand that did that were the undergrounds. That might *almost * be an interesting connection...)

So here's some links, if you'd care to explore the subject a bit further - -

- A History of Christian Archie Comics, a great article with plenty to say about Al Hartley, appearing over at Generation Exploitation.

- Al Hartley: Christian Comics Pioneer, a bio page at Christian Comics International that gives a very detailed rundown of the artist's work.
(I shouldn't be surprised that there's a HUGE website devoted to Christian comics creators around the world, right? Okay, thought not.)

- Finally, the Spire Christian Comics Fan Site has high-quality pdf files presenting nice scans of *the entire contents* of many of the titles issued! You'll need an Adobe Acrobat Reader, and likely a pretty fast connection to view the files.

Hurray! Now I don't have to hunt down my own copies of 'The Gospel Blimp', or
'Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika', or
'Hello, I'm Johnny Cash'!

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)


Anonymous said...

Oh, these bring back lots of fun memories from my days as a psychedelic Christian. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that the Spire comics contain no advertising like most of your superhero books which likely explains the price difference.

Anonymous said...

hilarious. remember the turn or burn tracts, and the comic about the rapture! those scared the life out of me.

Unknown said...

Feeling nostalgic looking at these. Plenty of good memories reading them back in the day. I so love that line from Wilkerson on cover of cross and switchblade.

Freshly-stirred links