Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jenette Kahn and Dynamite

Dynamite magazine was published from the mid 70's into the early 80's. It was by Scholastic Books. You know the company where you placedyour orders at school for the books that you wanted and they were handed out by your teacher when they arrived. I don't remember ever getting Dynamite at school. I saw them for sale on the magazine stands at the mini- marts and drug stores in my area. I was never a big sports fan so if I saw the first issue I am not surprised that I don't remember Mark Fidrych of the Detroit Tigers on the cover. I remember flipping through it and noticing that they had 2 pages of Marvel comics characters in the magazine. Usually it would give something like the origin story of the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man etc. I bought the mag till they stoped running that feature. Dynamite has an even stronger link to comic books. As anyone who has been a comic book fan since the 70's now knows. For those who don't know that link is Jenette Kahn. She was the Editor of Kids, Dynamite and Smash magazines. I don't know anything about Smash but Kids was designed so that it was really produced for kids by kids. There was very little input by adults. Kids did well enough that when she started Dynamite it followed along the same lines and had better distribution. Distribution is a big part in how well a publication does as you will see soon. Her success caught the eye of DC comics. She joined in 1976 as publisher and later President and Editor in Chief. By 1976 the DC Explosion was well underway as it started in 1975. DC expanded it's line of comics over the space of 5 years as well as increasing the cover price of the books. 75 and 76 were pretty good to the DC Explosion. However, trouble was just around the corner in the winters of 1977 and 1978. The country was frozen over. In the Northeast it was at it's worst. In my area it was so cold that the Ohio River froze over solid. It was so solid that alot of, crazy in my opinion, people walked across the frozen waters to travel between Covington, Ky. and Cincinnati, Ohio. Transportation was nearly impossible. So getting the DC comics to the newstands was impossible too. With two bad years of distribution sales were down and the only way to break even or make a profit was to cut back on the titles they published. So the DC Explosion became the DC Implosion. Miss. Kahn was not with DC in 1975 when it started but since she was there at the end she has unfairly gotten the blame for it's failure. Well no publisher could have overcome those obsticles. DC must have understood this and stuck with her. Over the years between 1978 to 2002 she transformed DC Comics and the entire comic book industry. In 2000 she was awarded the Library of Congress Living Legends Award for her contributions to American culture. In 2002 she left DC to pursue other achievements and published her book "In Your Space."
The pictures for the above collage are from two different sites. The Neal Adams drawing of Miss. Kahn is from here. The cover of Dynamite #1 is from here. Also, here is a Dynamite magazine fan site.
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