Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 (10)

By: Joshua Glenn
July 11, 2019

For several years now, I’ve argued — here at HILOBROW, as well as in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored — that the Sixties (1964–1973) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. This post is one in a series of 10 identifying my favorites from 1972.

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Jack Kirby’s sci-fi comic series Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth (1972–1976 or so).

Kamandi is the last survivor of “Command D” (get it?), an underground shelter where a group of New Yorkers took refuge, at some point in the not-too-distant past, from a radiation-related disaster that made living on the surface untenable. He is an almost feral yet educated teenager, having known nothing of the outside world but what he’s seen on video screens — think of him as a precursor to today’s so-called Generation Z. Emerging at last, like one of the blinkered characters from Plato’s allegory of the cave, into a post-apocalyptic America, Kamandi discovers that the few humans who have survived have in most cases degenerated to a Stone Age level of existence. Many animal species, meanwhile — I won’t go into the back story, it’s a mashup of Planet of the Apes and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH — have become bipedal, humanoid, and sentient, and possess the power of speech. Equipped with weapons and technology salvaged from the ruins of human civilization, these lions, tigers, and bears have divided up the North American continent into warring kingdoms. Kamandi crosses this landscape, using his wits to survive a series of adventures; he befriends Dr. Canus, the canine scientist of Great Caesar (leader of the Tiger Empire), Caesar’s teenage son Tuftan, the mutated human Ben Boxer, not to mention various savage humans and even an alien. One of the great yarns from Kirby, then working at the peak of his powers; and the map of North America at the end of issue #1 is endlessly evocative.

Fun facts: Having failed to acquire the license to publish Planet of the Apes comics, DC editor Carmine Infantino asked Jack Kirby to develop a similar concept. Kirby combined the idea with a comic strip he’d dreamed up in 1956, Kamandi of the Caves. He stopped writing the comic in 1976, after 37 issues, though he drew a few more issues after that.

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Let me know if I’ve missed any adventures from this year that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists.

BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.

The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983). THE OUGHTS: 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS: 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES: 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES: 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES: 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES: 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES: 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES: 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. THE EIGHTIES: 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993. THE NINETIES: 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003. I’ve only recently started making notes toward a list of Best Adventures of the EIGHTIES, NINETIES, and TWENTY-OUGHTS.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

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