| The January Bullpen Bulletin talks about how comic book specialty shops are starting to pop up around the country. Fans looking for back issues have been imploring Marvel to open its own chain of stores, but the Bullpen note suggests that fans check out these new outlets instead. This is the beginning of the direct market, which result in some major changes in the industry.
We also start seeing the two page ads from Mile High Comics. There's an interesting history behind those ads; it's the first time that ads for comics featured actual prices, which gave readers a sense of how much their comics were worth, and shifted perceptions a bit to make comics more of a collectible. Owner Chuck Rozanski was also a major force in the drive to the direct market, as the history makes clear.
The quality continues to improve. Roger Stern begins to write the Spectacular Spider-Man, sort of a precursor to his definitive Amazing Spider-Man a few years later. And Frank Miller writes and draws Daredevil, to critical acclaim (but due to the way my Daredevil issues are bundled, you'll actually find the entries in the 1979 and 1981 categories). Even on books where there isn't a hot writer or artist, the general level of professionalism is up quite a bit from the mid-70s. There's still a decent amount of junk in the line, but even the not-so-good stuff doesn't approach the sloppy nonsense that was put out in 70s. Things are definitely looking up.
Marvel runs an essay contest, offering cash for the best essay in three age groups. For the month that this contest is announced, there are messages on the covers that say "This Marvel Comic could be worth $2,500 to you!". They also promise to run the names of everyone who enters the contest in future issues. Fulfilling that promise takes many months due to the number of entries. Later in the year, Marvel runs ads for a Toys R Us shopping spree contest on the covers.
|New characters: A lot of significant new ones: Kitty Pryde, Dazzler, White Queen, Taskmaster, Sidewinder, Anaconda, Black Mamba, Death Adder, Roderick Kingsley (eventually revealed to be the Hobgoblin), Calypso, Marcus Immortus, the U-Foes, Madame Web, Hydroman|