Saturday, April 22, 2017

Neal Adams, Batman and the Beatles - a Tip Top opportunity!

As a self-avowed - some may say unreconstructed - Beatles-nut, one of my enduring disappointments with my beloved K.G. Murray comics is that they didn't manage to publish this cover on an issue of Tip Top Comic Monthly:

Batman #222 featured the Batman and Robin story "Dead...till Proven Alive!" which referenced the Paul is Dead urban myth of the late 60's. Not only that but the cover was drawn by Neal Adams at the peak of his Batman stint. In other words, a perfect storm of personal obsessions. A K.G. Murray edition would have capped the quadrella!

Of course, the story did appear locally, albeit hidden in the back of Mighty Comic #89.

And there was some minor compensation - the cover was cropped and adapted in the service of an inhouse advertisement for Batman comics in the Planet Comics era:

Hmmm... moreso a tease and a reminder of a lost opportunity rather than compensation...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Mighty Thor Giant 100 Page Annual by Newton Comics

Newton Comics' The Mighty Thor Giant 100 Page Annual was published in 1975 and reprints the main Thor features - not the backups - from Journey into Mystery #'s 113, 117, 120-123.

The cover is a recoloured reprint of Journey into Mystery #120:

The first story reprinted in this issue is A World Gone Mad! from Journey into Mystery #113. However, instead of beginning with the splash page to this story...

...the Newton reprint begins with a black and white reprint of the cover to Journey into Mystery #113:

Newton Comics published quite a few Thor stories from the Journey into Mystery run, mainly as backups in their The Amazing Spider-Man title, and in the two issues of The Mighty Thor which were published in 1976. A few also appeared in various one-shots and specials.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #34: The Hart Amos cover

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #34 features a Hart Amos cover for the lead story The Luckiest Boy in the World!, which originally appeared in the U.S issue Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #24 cover-dated October-November 1957. In the original issue The Luckiest Boy in the World! was not the lead story as it would be in the Australian issue so Amos was charged with coming up with an appropriate cover image.

To do this he adapted a panel from the story:

As you can see, Amos closely reproduces the staging of the original image, including the model of the car, but I like how he modifies Jimmy's walk from a step to a strut, which emphasises his boldness in the context of the story. And I also like the annoyed expression on Superman's face as he arrives to save Jimmy - the inclusion of Superman serves as a synopsis of the story in a single image more fully than the original single panel. The urban background is omitted by Amos, but this also works for the cover, leaving room for the various text requirements, and making it suitably abstracted.

Even the modified text in the speech balloon works. In the original, Jimmy is overconfident that something will save him, and is surprised when Superman saves him, expecting some other magic or chance to intervene on his behalf. In the cover version we see that Superman knows Jimmy's lucky turban won't help him and appears annoyed and frustrated at Jimmy's blind faith. The reader senses that this has happened before.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Gredown's Sorcery #2: An Alex Toth starter pack

Some time ago I attempted to catalogue all the Alex Toth reprints which appeared in various K.G. Murray titles. If you do a search for "Alex Toth" on this blog you'll find a number of posts in this regard.

What I didn't do at the time is consider the Toth reprints in Gredown magazines. I still don't have a complete list but for the moment I'd like to flag Sorcery #2:

This issue contains two Toth reprints - ...If I Were King, and The Man Who Tried To Kill Death.

...If I Were King was later reprinted in Gredown's Claws of Horror, and I'm pretty sure The Man Who Tried To Kill Death appeared in Duel of Death.

And while I'm at it, A Job Well Done appears in Strange Experience #5, later reprinted in Skulls of Death.

Hardly a complete list, of course, but something of a starter pack if you're so inclined.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Three more Page Publications Western digests: Gunsmoke Western Picture Library #4; Gunshot Western Library #27; and Western Adventure Library #7

Page Publications' Gunsmoke Western Picture Library #4 has a $0.20 cover price with a Keith Chatto cover.

A Trap for a Killer! is the first story in the issue, featuring Kid Colt, Outlaw.

The advertiser's date code on the rear cover is PP 1.72, which suggests this issue was on the stands very late-1971/early-1972.

The issue was reprinted shortly afterwards by Page Publications as Gunshot Western Library #27:

This issue has a $0.25 cover price and a new Keith Chatto cover.

The "5" marked in texta may be a newsagent's marking referring to the month of May. I picked this issue up in a batch which included Western Adventure Library #7, which also has "5" marked in texta:

So whilst it's inconclusive, for the moment I'm going to run with the idea that both these issues were on the stands circa mid-1972, which approximates the guestimates on AusReprints.

Western Adventure Library #7 also features a Keith Chatto cover.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Frank Frazetta Buck Rogers poster in Newton Comics' Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #2

When Newton Comics published Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #2 (cover-dated February 1976) they promised a "Free Color Poster Inside".

As it turns out they did not deliver a colour poster but they did provide this gorgeous black and white specimen (my apologies for the cropped scan):

This is a black and white print of a Buck Rogers illustration by Frank Frazetta which originally appeared on the cover of Famous Funnies #214, cover-dated November 1954:

I don't know how Newton came to use this image as a poster in this issue. I've spent a bit of time indexing the Newton and Yaffa issues of this title, and have unearthed a few interesting things which I will detail in due course, but I wanted to throw this one out now in case anyone can shed light on where this image may have been published - presumably by Marvel - in the mid-1970's.

I've looked at scans of all six issues of the U.S Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction series (which provide the material for the Newtion and Yaffa issues) but have not come across this Frazetta illustration. I haven't seen a copy of the Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction Giant Size Special, so it's possible that it appears there, but given it has a 1976 cover date, and the Newton Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #2 is cover-dated February 1976, it doesn't fill me with confidence that I will find it there - but it's possible.

The GCD listing for Famous Funnies #214 notes two subsequent reprints of this image - one in Space Cowboy (3003), which is obviously not pertinent to our purposes - and another in The Rocket's Blast-Comicollector #110, cover-dated May 1974, which is much closer to the publication date of the Newton issue, but appears in itself to be an unlikely source for Newton.

A black and white version of Frazetta's illustration appears in a blog post concerning Frazetta's Famous funnies covers, but it does not reveal the source of the image.

For what it's worth, a parody appears on the cover of Normalman Funnies #8:

But that's it so far. As I say, I've been indexing the various Australian Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction issues, and would like to get some clarity on this before I blog the full details of those issues. Where else was this cover reprinted in the 1970's? My best guess is in an as yet unidentified Marvel magazine, but...

And my thanks to Mark Cannon and Mark Muller for helping out this afternoon - we had fun discovering what we know so far about this Newton poster!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Two Australian Captain Marvel variants

I know I get cheap giggles from colouring errors by Newton Comics and K.G. Murray and that these are generally attributed to errors to do with the colour plates, but check out this Newton variant:

And compare it to the Yaffa edition a few years later:

Which at least largely resembles the original:

And the joke is that if I was asked which one I would have been attracted to as a young kid, I'd take the Newton ahead of both the Yaffa and the original Marvel issue, without a second thought. And I'd do so now too.

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 the cover to Superman #2:

For this issue they cropped the splash page to the story "Bus-ride to Nowhere" 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 for the information on Superman #2 and the scan of the advertisement above.