Saturday, February 18, 2017

Four one-shot Conan digests


Apart from the numbered digest-sized issues in the regular run of the Conan the Barbarian series, to the best of my knowledge, there were only four other digest-sized one-shot editions of Conan comics published by Yaffa/Page Publications:

King Conan #1 (cover price $0.70);


King Conan NN (cover price $0.75) - a reprint of King Conan #1;


Untamed World of Conan (cover price $0.75) - a retitled reprint of Conan the Barbarian #2;


The Legend of Conan NN (cover price $0.75) - a retitled reprint of Conan the Barbarian #3;


I confess I haven't physically crosschecked the contents of the last two digests with their respective parent issues, but given the covers and the track record of  Yaffa/Page inhouse reprints it's a safe assumption that the digests are direct reprints of the larger format issues of the original series.

Given that #2 and #3 of Conan the Barbarian earned retitled unnumbered digest editions one might assume that a similar reprint Conan the Barbarian #1 exists. However, Conan the Barbarian #1 was reprinted as Conan the Barbarian #11 of that series. In fact, the publication of Conan the Barbarian #11 as a regular-sized issue ended the run of digest-sized instalments of the Conan the Barbarian series. This is a pattern I've noticed in quite a few other Yaffa/Page series. There are exceptions, but it is nevertheless a quite well-established pattern, which I intend to return to in future blog posts.

The King Conan #1 issue listed above may be numbered but I don't believe there was a second issue, even thought it appears it was projected as a series.

Having said all that, there may indeed be more Conan digests, but I haven't come across any others to date.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blazing Western Stories #6 and Western Illustrated Stories #6


I've just had another look at Page Publications' Blazing Western Stories #4:


It turns out the contents of this issue are identical to Page Publications' Western Illustrated Stories #6:


Both covers are by Keith Chatto.

I assume Blazing Western Stories #6 was published in 1973, based on the cover price and advertisement date code on the rear cover. I also assume Western Illustrated Stories #6 was published in 1974 as per AusReprints. I don't see a cover price on this issue, but #'s 8 and 9 each have a $0.30 cover price, so I'll assume #6 was also $0.30.

I won't be surprised to find there's yet another reprint of this issue.


Monday, February 13, 2017

The 'problem' with Superman #1 solved!



This cover has always bugged me. It looks wrong. It's supposed to be Superman flying, but he looks like he's posing, and not in a charming Wayne Boring fashion. And the linework doesn't seem right - crude and thick in places, as if it was sourced from a small image and enlarged for the purposes of a cover image (ala the Mr. and Mrs. Superman cover a few years later.) It was clearly an inhouse Murray production, intended to promote and showcase the new line of color (sic) comics, and I always wondered where the hell they got the image from.

Well, answering the second question kind of answers the others. The image was copied and modified from the cover of Superman Supacomic #198:


The fact that it is copied from a statue explains the flying pose, and yes, it has been somewhat enlarged and adapted.

And you can imagine the thinking behind the editorial hand in this. Launching a new title in a new format, it makes sense to make a splash with an iconic image. The cover for the feature "Midas of Metropolis!" as published in Action Comics #394 wasn't really suitable if one was looking for a heroic image:


Planet Comics had a new logo to go with their new "All Color" comics, and the Superman masthead was relatively new too, having appeared for the first time around a year or so earlier on Giant Superman Album #26 or Superman Supacomic #196, just two issues before Superman Supacomic #198, which conveniently provided an authentic Superman image in a heroic pose - in black and white no less, all set for colouring in and resetting for a new cover.

Another option would have been to have used yet another rendition of the flying statue pose, courtesy of the first page to the story in Superman Supacomic #198, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Bob Oksner:


Well, maybe that would have presented its own problems when enlarged. I don't know. All I know is that the cover to Superman #1 was a blown opportunity, and as happy as I am to have solved the mystery of its source - the Junkyard is always chuffed to solve K.G. Murray mysteries - I wish greater care had been taken in this particular instance.

They redeemed themselves somewhat with cover to Superman #2:


For this issue they cropped the splash page to the story "Bus-ride to Nowhere1" as it appeared in Superman Supacomic #184 and had a suitable, ready-made iconic front cover image worthy of launching a new series.



No doubt it helped that this particular image was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Murphy Anderson, which to my mind was the quintessential Superman art team of the 1970's. No other inker in this period did for Swan what Anderson did. But I digress.

This image would find itself repurposed by Murray a short time later to advertise the Superman line of comics, long after the All Color Planet Comic had expired:


Which kind of confirms in my mind at least that this would have been the perfect cover image for Superman #1.

Due credit to AusReprints.com for the information on Superman #2 and the scan of the advertisement above.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scary Stories Annual revisited


Some time ago I noted my Scary Stories Annual contained a coverless rebound copy of Haunted Love NN, but at that stage I had not identified the other two issues in this volume. I can now confirm my copy includes the following issues in the following order:

Haunted Love NN:

Nightmare... or Reality:

I... The Cursed:

For some reason I... The Cursed is bound upside down and back to front.

While I'm on Scary Stories Annual, check out James' detective work on the cover image for a great range of international issues which have featured this cover image:


The unexpected Unexpected


Tales of the Unexpected/The Unexpected was a long-running mystery/horror/fantasy series published by DC Comics between 1956 and 1982. K.G. Murray published many of the stories from this series in titles such as Weird Mystery Tales, Haunted Tales and Doomsday to name just a few.

Murray/Federal published three one-off/unnumbered issues under this title under three different imprints:

Unexpected NN (cover price $0.95) was published under the Murray Comics imprint with a cover based on The Unexpected #209, April 1981:


Unexpected NN (cover price $0.99) was published under the transitional Federal Comics/Murray the Cat imprint with a cover based on The Unexpected #215, October 1981:


Unexpected NN (cover price $0.99) was published under the Federal Comics/Australian DC Edition imprint with a cover based on The Unexpected #222, May 1982:


It's a little odd that such a long-running DC series was not represented by a parallel Murray/Federal series, especially as there were a few one-off issues based on issues of The Unexpected, but published under new titles.

For example, the wraparound cover to The Unexpected #191, May-June 1979


was cropped and used as the cover on Tales of the Supernatural:


The cover to The Unexpected #212, July 1981


was modified for the one-off Murray Comics issue Nightmare... or Reality, providing its title:


Similarly, the following issue - The Unexpected #213, August 1981 -


provided the cover image to the one-off Murray Comics issue Beast of Darkness:


The cover to The Unexpected #221, April 1982


provided the cover image for the one-off Murray comics issue Shadows From Beyond:


Earlier 1970's covers from The Unexpected were used on various issues of ongoing series such as Weird Mystery Tales, but it's notable that so many The Unexpected covers were used in one-off Murray/Federal titles whether they were 'Unexpected' or not.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

World Famous Comic Annual: The 'Mammoth' Atlas comic


Australian reprint comics mavens are familiar with K.G. Murray's Mammoth Annual and Gigantic Annual series of blockbuster-sized comics which contained coverless rebound issues of their regular series issues.



Less well-known is World Famous Comic Annual - the Atlas Publications version of Mammoth and Gigantic, which predated the K.G. Murray titles, and ran for 11 issues between 1951 and 1955, according to Ausreprints.com.

There are three significant points of difference between the Atlas and Murray issues:

1. It appears World Famous Comic Annual was a mail-order item. As per AusrReprints.com "The advertising for this comic directed orders to "Beltern Merchandising Co. 282 Queen's Parade, Clifton Hill." This is Atlas' address." This may account for the relative scarcity of this series;

2. Issues of World Famous Comic Annual contained 9 rebound 24-page comics, compared to the regulation 3 issues of the K.G. Murray titles (which were  initially 100-page issues);

3. The rebound issues in World Famous Comic Annual retained their covers, unlike the K.G. Murray issues which were coverless.

My copy of World Famous Comic Annual #1/NN contains the following rebound issues:

The Katzenjammer Kids #16
Jane #5
Buck Ryan Detective #17
Garth #16
The Lone Wolf #20
Flynn of the FBI #9
G-Man #7
Sergeant Pat of the Radio Patrol #21
Captain Atom #51

I'm unsure of the date of this issue. AusReprints.com guesstimates 1951, yet some of these issues are from 1952 according to AusReprints.com.

I have previously discussed other such titles with rebound issues, for example Dell's Fantastic Adventure and Daring Adventure, and Gold Key's Amazing Adventure, not to mention K.G. Murray's other minor forays into this arena with horror and romance titles such as Young Love Romances, All Love Romantic Stories and Scary Stories Annual. I expect there are others - I don't think I've seen a Transport or Horwitz equivalent but would love to spot such an animal, especially with the covers included.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Following the trail: Young Love, Romance Time, Gift of Love, Destination Paradise



Young Love #28 was published by K.G. Murray circa 1977. The cover and opening story first appeared in Charlton's My Only Love #6, June 1976.

This cover was recycled a few years later  - without the inset - by Federal for their one-shot issue Romance Time:


Apart from the cover there does not appear to be any other connection between Young Love #28 and Romance Time.

Romance Time was one of many one-shot romance comics published by Federal towards circa 1983. I expect that just as the cover was recycled from an earlier Murray comic, so too the contents were published in a variety of earlier Murray romance comics, but I don't have enough information to confirm this.


What I can say is that a later Federal romance comic - Gift of Love - may have borrowed the title from a one-page story in Romance Time.


"The Gift of Love" stands out not only as a single-page story, but because it is a poem with spot illustrations, rather than a comics story per se.

As you can see, the art on the cover of Gift Of Love is not related to the art in the story, but many of the one-shot Federal romance comics did sport covers based on the interior art of the issue - typically the splash page - with titles completely unrelated to the story titles.


For example, the cover to Destination Paradise is from the splash page of "Heart of Stone", the first (untitled) story in this issue, which originally appeared in Charlton's I Love You #121.


However, there is no "Destination Paradise" story in this issue, even though it is the title of a story which appeared in Charlton's My Only Love #6 - which takes us back to Murray's Young Love #28 where we started.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Nightmare Suspense Library #2: The guessing game


Here's another Page Publications digest-size comic I snagged recently - Nightmare Suspense Library #2:


I've checked all my usual sources and I can't find a reference to the original appearance of the story "When Mountains Moved", but I'm going to take a punt and say it originally appeared in Nightmare Suspense Picture Library #10 from MV Features. I say this because the pages include a job number "n10" as a prefix to the page number, and i'm assuming "n" refers "Nightmare" and "10" to the issue number. As per the link, there are two issues missing from the GCD gallery - #'s 10 and 13 - and my guess is that #10 included this story. 

Furthermore I'm guessing that Keith Chatto's cover is based on the original cover, as per other instances of this pattern

Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised to find "When Mountains Moved" has been reprinted elsewhere by Page.

We shall see in due course.

Three Chatto covers for Night of the Blood Beast


"Night of the Beast" was originally published in Tales of Terror Picture Library #3 by the UK publisher M.V Features Limited/Famepress:


This was reprinted by Page Publications at least three times - firstly in Tales of Terror Picture Library #2:


Secondly in Tales of Terror Picture Library #4:


And thirdly in Horror Suspense Library #2:


So Keith Chatto produced three different covers for the same story.

The first one is obviously based on the original cover.

The next two appear to be original - that is, not based on the source material, as the images do not resemble any such panels in the story, apart from the green monster.

The cover to Tales of Terror Picture Library #4 has long been a favourite of mine.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Avengers #7: The curious case of The Swordsman's helmet


There was a time Page Publications' The Avengers #7 was a bit special. For some reason, this digest edition presented an alternate cover to the US edition of The Avengers #19.

The interesting difference is not so much the colouring as the line work, evident in the Swordsman's helmet. The original has a sharp fin, whereas the alternate has a broader, flatter top. See below for image courtesy GCD:


As I understand it, the sharper fin was a modification by Don Heck over Jack Kirby's original, but I'm happy to be corrected on this.

All well and good. Until I discovered, some months ago, courtesy of an overseas collector that the original version had been published many years before the Australian edition in the UK edition of Terrific! #28:


The colouring may be even poorer on this edition, but the linework is clearer for the purposes of comparison.

Again, all well and good. Until I happened to be browsing through my copy of Marvel Masterworks #19, and realised that the this original version is the one which has been included in this volume too:


So it would appear that as far as Marvel is concerned, this is the image which is part of the official Avengers canon. Probably not intentionally, but effectively, this is the image most readers will be familiar with.

Well. sort of... because, on further digging, courtesy of GCD, I've found more instances in which the original image was used, before the Masterworks edition was published. For example:



No doubt there will be more International editions with the original cover image. And I expect there are other Marvel editions with the correct image, the Masterworks edition notwithstanding.

But it does mean the little Australian edition is not quite as exclusive as it once appeared.