Kid Stuff #5: Dynamite Remembered

Any child of the 1970's remembers the Scholastic Book Club. Once a month students could check boxes in a newsprint catalog of books and magazines to order. Most of the books were pretty awful like novelizations of movies and TV shows. I'm Learning to Share has a good gallery of Scholastic Book Club book covers.

Awful or not, the day the glossy new books and mags came in almost made school enjoyable. The poor saps who didn't order anything had to sit and watch enviously as you unveiled your treasures. By far the biggest hit, the one that made the no-orderers insanely jealous, was Dynamite magazine - the greatest magazine for 70s kids bar none. What made it so great? Let me count the ways.

The cover always featured a stark background with a pop icon dead center. One time it was Shaun Cassidy with Chewbacca, another time it was The Dukes of Hazzard, then Farrah Fawcett... you get the picture - stuff kids loved before the days of Nickelodeon and MTV. RetroCrush has a good gallery of Dynamite covers.

The issues were low on text and full of eye candy, and let's not forget there was a poster inside every issue. Here's a scan of a Dynamite mag I've managed to somehow not sell for a penny at a yard sale - the Fonz! Notice the wear and tear; these magazines were well loved indeed.

My favorite part of every issue were the Bummers. Here's a scan from the Fonz issue (click to enlarge). I guess my sense of humor has become more refined over the years - I used to double over laughing at these pathetic jokes. I was easily amused.

Other highlights in every issue were: "Count Morbida's Monthly Puzzle Pages", magic tricks, and let's not forget "And Now a Word from Our Sponsor".

And if that weren't enough to keep every 70s kid frothing at the mouth, there was a cool superhero comic segment in each issue! This Fonz issue has a full color two page Daredevil spread (in the days before Frank Miller retooled the blind superhero, making him edgy, of course, and less fun).

Doing a little research for this post, I learned that Jane Stine was the editor of the magazine from 1974 to 1977 - the wife of bestselling children's author RL Stine, who was then a Dynamite scribe. This interesting article points out that the Dynamite staff consisted of only three people who rotated duties!

Of course, you don't need a staff of a hundred people to reach an audience of 70s kids - you just need to know what these kids like to read... and Dynamite knew only too well. There were the imitators (i.e. Bananas), but Dynamite stood head and shoulders above the pack, and spoke to a generation of kids growing up in the 1970's. This snippet from an article called "Kids Through the Ages" in my Fonz issue says it all:

"... All the noise in the Sixties helped bring peace in the Seventies. And what else will the Seventies bring? That's up to you. You are a Seventies Kid. What you do today may be gone tomorrow, or it might just be remembered as one of the signs of your time."

Amen, Dynamite magazine. Thanks for the memories.


  1. You totally nailed all the coolness that was Dynamite! I still have a few of 'em lying around my pad. Bananas wasn't nearly as good, but SMASH (also developed by Jeneatte Kahn--who later became DC Comics' publisher) was definitely a good copy (only fitting since it was published by the Xerox company!).

  2. I don't remember SMASH - although, if I saw a cover it my jog my memory. Bananas I think was aimed at a slightly older set than Dynamite - unfortunately, by that age you were generally more interested in stuff like CREEM than Bananas.

  3. I certainly remember this stuff. Getting those books seemed so cool but looking back they were all corny. I do remember Dynamite. I never got it but it always got passed around.

    My son got RL Stine's Goosebumps series when he was in JR High and I remember him eating going through them quickly.

  4. Hey Gil. Such a cool post. Yeah, I can remember the days of the Book Club. I've always been somebody who loved to read. It started way back then. I always put in the biggest order every month. I was like a kid at Christmas when the orders came in.

  5. One of my biggest regrets is getting rid of most of my childhood comics and magazines. I managed to hold onto my Cracked and MAD magazines, but everything else was chunked for pennies at yard sales. My grandparents threw away my dad's baseball cards (including his 1952 Mantle) when he moved out, so you'd think he, of all people, would have stopped me from doing it... oh well, at least I still have my Dukes of Hazzard TV tray. (sigh)

  6. Oh man... We had this little newspaper-type publication called The Weekly Reader, and in the back was an order form for paperbacks, posters, etc. I don't know if that was the same (Scholastic) vendor, but I LOVED those books. Still have many of them, including "How to Eat Fried Worms." I'll have to scan a bunch of those classic book covers next time I'm home.

    You totally captured those magical days when our orders would come, though. Even a poor kid like me could scrape together a couple quarters and get at least one book or poster.

  7. Ah, I remember Dynamite quite well. I owe much of my knowledge of pop culture obscura to my subscription.

  8. See my post on Dynamite at http://www.retrohound.com/dynamite-magazine-from-the-1970s/

    I really like your accurate description of the day the Scholastic books arrived. Man do I remember that!

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  10. I too ,loved and remember Dynamite magazine !! I never got it for some reason from my school book orders , but I bought a few here and there . I do not know why I didn't order them , since I always ordered a stack of books each month !! I always liked the Count Morbidas Puzzle pages . I liked the snarky and annoyed attitude of the Count . I had never seen that before !! I have been reading this blog in order , so I do not know the upcoming columns , but I would like to suggest some topics if you do not mind .They are : Marvel's PIZZAZZ magazine , TV / Movie Tie - In books and comics , and more 1970's toys !! Thanks !!