Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake Part 9: Chilling Tales and Haunted Tales #19

If, like me, you’re keeping track of all the Alex Toth reprints in the Australian K.G. Murray comics, then like me, you’ll be interested to discover Chilling Tales, a one-off issue, reprints “Eternal Hour!”.

But don’t get too excited, because before too long, like me, you’ll stumble across one of the best-kept Toth secrets in the land of KGMania – Haunted Tales #19, which features no less than three Toth reprints:

Computerr from The Witching Hour #8, May 1970
The Turn of the Wheel! from The Witching Hour #3, July 1969
Eternal Hour! from The Witching Hour #1, February-March 1969

I’m not going to wax lyrical about the sheer beauty and inventiveness of Toth in some of these pieces. Suffice to say that if you’ve ever marvelled at Toth’s art, chances are you’ll find something else, something more, something new to appreciate in these samples.

But be aware in the middle of the three instalments is the underwhelming spectacle of Toth inked by the one and only Vince Colletta!

Villain of the Supernatural

Here’s a bit of an oddball issue which turned up unexpectedly in the junkyard – a collection of I, Vampire stories from House of Mystery #’s 305-310, bookended by “The Most Fearful Villain of the Supernatural” (obviously the source of the issue title) from DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #6, January-February 1981 (originally from Ghosts #50, November-December 1976), and “Vampire of the Apes” from The Unexpected #210, May 1981.

The cover is by Michael Kaluta from House of Mystery #310.

The Adventures of Supergirl: Is this the 'missing' Supergirl #37?

I'm expecting a couple of issues of K.G. Murray’s Supergirl series to arrive in the mail this week, which I expect will complete my run of this series.

I haven't really earned it. That is, I haven’t put much effort into collecting this series. It’s mainly been a matter of accumulating issues in my travels, picking up issues as they turned up, but never actively seeking them per se. Unlike the Giant Supergirl Album series, which I have sought keenly, I’ve been known to trade or sell my only copies of Supergirl if they would fetch me other K.G. Murray issues or provide emergency collection-funds.

Having said that, I’ve found myself upgrading the odd issue here and there – I think I’m enough of a Planet Comics Tragic to find flat clean sharp copies of almost anything irresistible.

But I’m getting sidetracked – the main thing I wanted to raise here was a question: Is the unnumbered one-shot The Adventures of Supergirl the unnumbered/’missing’ Supergirl #37?

The Superman Presents Supergirl Comic series ran for 34 issues. The series numbering continued for a few more issues, but the series title was in a bit of flux. The second Murray Publishers issue was Superman Presents Supergirl Comic Album #35, sporting a Richard Rae cover; the following issue morphed into Supergirl Album #36; and Superman Presents Supergirl #38 appears some time later as the last numbered issue of the series.

Supergirl was not the only series to experience title flux circa 1978-1980. Many K.G. Murray titles from this period present tracking challenges as they changed from the Planet Comics logo to Murray Publishers, Murray the Cat, Federal and related one-shots. And other series also seem to have missing issues in this period of instability (see previous blog on Super Heroes Album #18).

To the best of my knowledge, there is no Supergirl issue #37. I have checked with a number of collectors, and no one can recall ever seeing a copy.

James and I have discussed this issue a couple of times, and we believe it is likely that the unnumbered The Adventures of Supergirl issue above was intended as the 37th issue of the series, but was simply left unnumbered (to give credit where it’s due, I think James was first to mention the possibility).

Based on the cover price, logo and page count (Murray/$0.90/100 pages) it fits between #36 (Murray/$0.90/100 pages) and #38 (Murray/$0.95/100 pages); the title variation is of a piece with the other issues between #’s 35-38; and even the cover sources (Superman Family #’s 197 and 198) predate the image used for Supergirl #38 (Superman Family #199 – although there is a query on whether the left side image on the cover of Supergirl #38 is sourced from the rear cover from Superman Family #196…TBC).

All of which is not conclusive evidence, but it is nevertheless persuasive. I leave open the possibility that there is a numbered Supergirl #37 – but I think if one doesn’t turn up in the next year or so, I’m going to feel confident deeming The Adventures of Supergirl a proxy Supergirl #37, and my run of Supergirl ‘complete’.

Weird Mystery Tales #40: Children Overboard...?

Another example of K.G. Murray’s editing of horror cover images, this time from c. 1979. Compare to the original by Luis Dominguez for The Unexpected #165, June 1975. Can’t have “children overboard” now can we…?

Kudos to James for spotting this one.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Young Love #13: The almost-perfect sampler

Young Love #13, circa 1974-75

But He's Not The Boy For Me!
Stan Lee/John Buscema/Frank Giacoia
(Our Love Story #5, June 1970; Reprinted in My Love #23, May 1973 and My Love #33, March 1975)

Don't Let It Happen to You!
Jay Scott Pike
(My Own Romance #74, March 1960; Reprinted in My Love #12, July 1971)

The Girl Who Had Everything!
John Forte
(Love Romances #82, July 1959; Reprinted in My Love #12, July 1971; Our Love Story #8, December 1970; Our Love Story #25, October 1973; and My Love #30, September 1974)

How Do I Make Him Love Me?
Stan Lee/Gene Colan/Bill Everett
(My Love #13, September 1971; Reprinted in My Love #27, January 1974)

Plus the following unidentified Spanish material:

I Saw You Kissing
We'll Just Say Goodbye
The Best Dressed Scarecrow
What Now, Sandie?
Wild Man
Suddenly comes the moment

This is a great mix of material for a K.G. Murray romance comic – a bit of pre-1961 Atlas material, some Marvel stuff from the 1960s/70s, and some Spanish material to fill out the package.

Browsing through an issue like this one can’t help but be struck by both the range of art styles, and also the change in fashions. From this perspective the Spanish material doesn’t look so out of place alongside the Marvel material circa 1970.

It was the Gene Colan splash page that really struck me when I first flipped the pages (he really should have had a stint on Swamp Thing… what a shame that never came to pass…and based on some of the panels in this issue I think an issue with John Totleben inking would have been worth the cover price alone…I wonder whether they ever did work together... as usual, I digress...)

Of course the Atlas material is to the Australian romance comics as the pre-Code material is to the Australian horror comics – the jewel in the crown.

I note the US reprints of the Atlas/Marvel material, I expect it shouldn’t be too hard to track down some of this material in colour, but I also reckon that some of this art - eg. John Forte, and especially the Colan material - really is worth seeing in black and white.

Now if only this issue exchanged one or two of the Spanish reprints for a vintage DC reprint, say a few Jack Kirby pages, and maybe a Charlton reprint for completeness’ sake, it would just about qualify as the perfect K.G. Murray Romance Comics sampler. But it’s a good one regardless!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Superman Supacomic # 189: And the 'splash page covers' just keep on comin'...

Moving along through the last dozen or so Superman Supacomics, here’s another ‘splash page’ cover to add to the list, complete with speech balloons.

I’m not sure why the original cover image from Superman #278, August 1974 wasn’t used – some of the other elements from that cover were used on other K.G. Murray Superman covers, for example the “Superman Spectaculars” and “Clark Kent, Super-Coward” images appeared on the cover of Giant Superman Album #24. (Interestingly, “The Whale with Lois Lane’s Face” was not used on Giant Lois Lane Album #14, which in that instance also appears to have been sourced from the splash page… TBC!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Superman Supacomic # 170: Another 'splash page cover'

Here’s another cover like Superman Supacomic #97 which, for some reason, features a modified reprint of the splash page rather than opting for the image provided on the original US comic.

In this example it’s a doubly curious decision given this issue includes two of the instalments in the rather odd and rambling saga of Billy Anders (which I won’t bother trying to lay out here… there’s plenty of other sites which entangle themselves in this if you’re keen to google) and he happens to feature on the Superman #253 cover.

But I guess the image chosen looks a bit more action-oriented than the Superman #253 version.

And given the series had recently received a bit of a spruce-up with a slightly modified masthead effective from #166 (yes, you have to look closely!) to go with the new Planet Comics logo, well, maybe the sub-editors were just a bit keen to have some input into the presentation of the series.

And who would begrudge them wanting a bit of a say in how Superman Supacomic presented itself?. After all, it was the unofficial flagship title of the K.G. Murray stable!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Superman Supacomic # 202: The Bargearse Pedigree

Poor ol’ Lucky… looks like not even his Superman Supacomic #202 can help with that hangover or bad curry… reckon there’s a bit of VB-induced Bargearse farting going on in that scene… Hey, kid – wanna Bargearse Pedigree copy of Superman Supacomic #172…? And yes, as it turns out, it’s the final issue of the series… Coincidence or Providence?

Pic courtesy of Mark Cannon

Five-Score #48: The Only Big Town Cover?

DC’s 1950’s series Big Town was a licensed property based on a radio drama. It ran for an even 50 issues, the last issue cover-dated March-April 1958

Big Town was reprinted in Australia in issues of Mighty Comic, All Favourites Comic, Five-Score Comic Monthly and The Hundred Comic Monthly.

The last few issues of the US title were reprinted in various K.G. Murray titles in 1958, shortly after their US publication, as expected. However, what is curious is that the US series continued to be published in the Australian titles for quite a few years afterwards. That is, the US back issues provided the material for the series to continue in Australia long after it had ceased publication in the US.

I guess the timing is the reason why there are no DC Big Town covers on the K.G. Murray titles. It's a shame, given Alex Toth drew 6 consecutive covers for issue #'s 8-13 in 1951-52.

And I guess timing is also the reason why the only Big Town cover I can recall is the one above for Five-Score #48, circa April 1962, which as James points out, is an Australian adaptation of an interior panel, probably by Hart Amos.

It’s possible there are other Big Town covers, whether original DC covers or locally adapted images, but I just don’t recall seeing any.

I also don’t recall seeing any DC reprints of Big Town, not even in compilations such as The Greatest 1950’s Stories Ever Told. I wonder whether the licensing agreement is prohibiting this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blade of Fear #8

Blade of Fear #8, cover price $0.55

The Screaming Skulls!
Bob Forgione
(Out of the Night #13, March 1954)

The Street That Was
Sam Citron
(Forbidden Worlds #30, June 1954)

Death Mask!
Nicholas Alascia
(Adventures into the Unknown #51, January 1954)

Talent for Terror!
Kenneth Landau
(Adventures into the Unknown #49, November 1953)

Tree of Terror!
Bob Forgione
(Forbidden Worlds #26, February 1954)

Saxon Takes a Ride!
(Original unidentified, 4 pages – likely ACG)

Boomerang Backlash!
(Original unidentified, reprinted in Horror Tales Vol. 1 #7, June 1969)

The Bloody Guillotine
(Witches Tales Vol. 2 #2, April 1970 and reprinted in Witches Tales Vol. 5 #1, January 1973)

The Thing in the Cellar
(Horror Tales Vol. 1 #9, November 1969)
Note: This is an original story, not a reprinted nor a redrawn pre-Code story

Friday, November 16, 2007

Do Lost Excel Gredown Files Dream of Electric Pits of Evil?

The junkyard experienced a little accident this week involving a freezing iTunes program which, to cut a long story short, amongst other things, resulted in the loss of of an excel file. Much of the data on the file can be stitched together again, but the main loss was my master file on the confirmed and unconfirmed Gredown horror titles and issue numbers. It also contained updated notes on a few titles I had been advised of recently.

It’s not a completely tragic loss. I do have back-ups of older versions of this file which I can access. But it does mean that some recently confirmed titles or issue numbers will have to be sighted again before the file is updated, and it does mean I ask anyone who sent me data in the last two months or so (especially after the Grand Final!) to please resend it to me (especially Danny, when you’re back!).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Haunted Tales #6: Censoring "The Gossips!"

When I was a kid I loved the in-house K.G. Murray ads. Over the last few years it’s been a pleasure to identify the original sources for certain images which had, by increments usually reserved for water tortures, embedded themselves in my brain.

These days I still find them to be welcome, relatively unobtrusive space fillers which can occasionally and quite unexpectedly kick-start a short nostalgic revery.

They are, of course, not nearly as distracting as the full-colour full-page advertisements which pad out (pollute!) so much of the modern comics pamphlet. And I still think of them when I see trade paperbacks or other reprints of DC’s 1950’s and 1960’s material with logos or mastheads placed at the ends of chapters, mimicking the style of these old Australian editions.

Well, that was pretty much my take on them – unobtrusive and still charming – until I was alerted to the page above from Haunted Tales #6 by Dillon Naylor. As Dillon pointed out this was a conscious exercise in censoring a horrific end panel (is “punch-line panel” a suitable phrase…?).

The story “The Gossips!” originally appeared in Mister Mystery #13, 1953, and there is a complete scan of the story here, including the final panel.

So, apart from anything else, I will probably never be able to look at another advertisement for Superman Supacomic (or similar) in a K.G. Murray horror comic without wondering whether it might have been strategically placed for the purposes of censorship.

It begs further questions regarding the A and M classifications on the Australian horror reprints from the early 1970s. I understand there was some change circa 1969-1971 which led to the sudden surge in horror comics from K.G. Murray, Page and Gredown. I expect it’s somehow related to the relaxation of the Comics Code in this period, but I think there’s a story to be teased out about the Australian context.

And I must say that, gory as it is, it does surprise me that the panel omitted from Haunted Tales #6 didn’t qualify as suitable for a “Mature” book circa 1973.

Note also that at least two other stories (if not all of them) from Mister Mystery #13 have been reprinted in Australian editions – certainly “Vampire” appears in Haunted Tales #12 (and, I believe, in Chilling Tales of Horror NN (TBC)), and “Picnic” is reprinted at least once.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Colossal Comic #17: The Prototype of the Colossal Arc Cover

Colossal Comic #17, April c.1961
Cover artist: Hart Amos
Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Man Who Knew Superboy's Identity!Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Creig Flessel
(Superboy #36, October 1954)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Storm Over Gotham City!Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
(Batman #106, March 1957)

The Green Arrow: The Satellite Arrow
France Herron/George Papp
(Adventure Comics #221, February 1956)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Missile of Steel
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #9, December 1955)

Peter Fury: The Case of the Stolen Formula!Leonard Keith Lawson (as Keith Leonard)
(A Climax Color Comic 6, 1948)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Tree That Drove Smallville Wild!Curt Swan/Sy Barry
(Superboy #29, December 1953)

Aquaman: A Fish Out of Water!John Daly
(Adventure Comics #127, April 1948)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Third Alarm for Batman!Sheldon Moldoff/Stan Kaye
(Batman #96, December 1955)

The Green Arrow: The World's Worst Archer!George Papp
Adventure Comics #200, May 1954
Note: There is another Green Arrow story with the same title, originally published in Adventure Comics #262, July 1959.

Tommy Tomorrow: Destination Future!(Action Comics #206, July 1955)

Superman: Superman's Other Life!William Woolfolk/Al Plastino
(Superman #84, September-October 1953)
Note: There are two Superman stories with the same title. This is the "disc jockey" story. The other one is the famous "Futuro" 3-parter originally published in Superman #132, October 1959.

Aquaman: Treasures of the Sea!Jack Miller/Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #167, August 1951)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Wizard CityBill Finger/Curt Swan/George Klein
(Adventure Comics #216, September 1955)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: City of Fantasy!Bill Finger/Dick Sprang/Sheldon Moldoff
(Batman #90, March 1955)

Superman: Anti-Superman WeaponAl Plastino
(Action Comics 177, February 1953)
Note: Panels reduced in size on last couple of pages

Aquaman: The River Gang!Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #195, December 1953)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Jungle Jimmy Olsen!Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 10, February 1956)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Super-Dog from Krypton!Curt Swan/John Fischetti
(Adventure Comics 210, March 1955)

Plus a number of fillers: Varsity Vic, Chief Hot Foot, What's the Difference Between..., Casey the Cop, Professor Eureka and Jail Jests.

Colossal Comic Annual #1 may be the single most sought-after Colossal issue, but this one must surely rate as one of the scarcest. I certainly haven’t seen one before, and I don’t know anyone else who has a copy. So if you do come across a copy, my suggestion is you do what I did: pay the asking price without blinking, count yourself lucky, and run before they change their minds.

It’s an interesting issue contents-wise, not least because of the unexpected inclusion of a Climax Color Comic reprint. Also interesting to find the lesser-known versions of “The World's Worst Archer!” and “Superman's Other Life!”. And always good to top off Colossals with one or two rarely-reprinted Sprang Batman comics.

Also interesting to note some of these stories were later reprinted in the regular K.G. Murray titles between 1965-1967. Two of the stories (“A Fish Out of Water!” and “Destination Future!”) appeared in Wonder Comic Monthly #30, October 1967, whilst another (“The Missile of Steel”) was placed in World's Finest Comic Monthly #30, October 1967 in the same period, suggesting this Colossal issue (like others before it) was targeted and plundered for back-up material. I expect to find even more of the contents of this issue appear in other titles/issue from the 1965-1967 period.

Apart from the contents, the cover is a beauty! I’ve noted before that many of the Colossal covers after #30 incorporated a yellow arc in the layout (see for example Colossal Comic #32; Colossal Comic #35; Colossal Comic #36; and Colossal Comic #39). There were earlier instances of transitional or proxy arcs (for example, the yellow boxes on Colossal Comic #24; the yellow arc on the floor of Colossal Comic #25; the cloud formation on Colossal Comic #20 and Colossal Comic #21; and by extension, the white clouds on Colossal Comic #19).

In this schema, the white shimmering circle on the cover of Colossal Comic #17 is not just another transitional moment in the development of this visual motif, but it may be deemed the genuine prototype. Earlier covers such as Colossal Comic Annual #4 and Colossal Comic #8 do have prominent yellow backgrounds, and other covers may also incorporate white circles in the frame. But this appears to be the closest of the early forerunners to a bone fide simulation of the final established model in which a shimmering light, or a ‘spotlight’ yellow arc is contrasted with the black background on which the logo is set.

There are a few Colossal covers preceding #17 which I haven’t seen yet, so it will be interesting to see whether there are any earlier arc prototypes!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Superman Supacomic # 176: Hey Kid, Ya interested in a NM CGC Pedigree Mylar Band on the Run...?

If, like me, you spent (too) much of your teenage and early adult years trawling through second hand record shops, garages, markets and fairs, then you’ll understand what I mean when I say it is manifestly true that there are way too many vinyl copies of Band on the Run, Frampton Comes Alive and Slade Alive! on the planet.

You’ll also understand what I mean when I say Superman Supacomic #176 is the Band on the Run of K.G. Murray comics.

And, just like Band on the Run – I cannot speak for Frampton or Slade – the difficulty in finding a decent copy is inversely proportionate to the oversupply.

Not that my current copy is so terrible – it’s quite nice, apart from the previous owner’s name written across the top of the cover, and some strange discolouration along the spine. But considering this is probably the fifth or sixth copy to pass through the junkyard, you’d think a decent unmarked copy would have found its way onto the I-used-to-have-this-as-a-kid-and-now-my-life-is-complete pile. Minor blemishes maybe, yet the equivalent of the skip on Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five on my third copy of Band on the Run…

“Will search for ever more…” indeed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Gredown double-dipping

And yet another instance of Gredown double-dipping... Thanks to Dillon Naylor for pointing this one out and sending through some scans.

Vampirella #54 - The final issue?

Vampirella is one K.G. Murray series which has flown under my radar until very recently.

I don't have too much to say about it yet (other than there's some very good non-Vampirella back-up horror stories in the issues I've browsed through), but I would like to ask if anyone knows of any issues later than #54 in this series, or indeed of any other Australian editions or series.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Federal Daredevil # 9

There was a query a few months ago as to whether there were any Federal Daredevil issues after #8... well, there's at least one more... but it would seem only the first eight issues are in black and white.

By Request: A Splash of Delta 99

This is the splash page to the second feature in The Rats .

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pit of Evil #1: The First Gredown Horror Comic?

Since I began collating the Gredown Horror Comics List earlier in the year with the help of a number of collectors, we’ve been keeping an eye out for a Gredown issue with a date earlier than 1976. There were plenty of $0.40 covers with a 1976 date, but nothing earlier, so we assumed they started in 1976.

Well, Pit of Evil Vol. 1 No. 1 was printed in 1975, according to the indicia.

I suppose it’s possible it was printed in 1975 but ‘published’ ie: on the stands in 1976… but I’m happy to call it a 1975 publication! And based on a quick check it appears all the contents are from Charlton comics cover-dated mid-1975 or earlier.

With 13 issues to its name, Pit of Evil is the highest numbered and, it would appear, the longest running of the Gredown horror series – indeed Pit of Evil #1 could be the first of all the Gredown horror issues!

Speculation on the run... Maybe, maybe not... Who knows? The quest for answers continues.

PS I’ve collated a bit more more info on titles and issue numbers over the last month from various sources so I’ll be updating the list shortly, so if anyone has more data to send to me, by all means do so and I’ll endeavour to incorporate it in the next summary.

By Request: A Johnny Galaxy Page

Friday, October 19, 2007

Superman Supacomic #97: Giant Superman Super Library

Superman Supacomic typically featured covers sourced from the Superman family of books – predominantly Superman and Action Comics, and with a hefty contribution from World’s Finest Comics in the 1960’s. A couple of early issues (#’s 2 and 5) featured covers from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, which were usually reserved for Super Adventure Comic.

There were two prominent exceptions to the Superman family rule: #1 was an original Australian anthology-style cover; and #10 opted for a Batman and Robin cover from an issue of Detective Comics. Of course at this stage Superman Supacomic was the main forum for Batman and Detective Comics stories, but it is still anomalous in terms of a Superman Supacomic cover (and I don’t know what is on the cover of Superman Supacomic #7, so any of these exceptions could prove to be slightly less exceptional…)

Yet one of the most curious Supacomic covers is for issue #97. The lead story is “The Prisoner of DEMON!” from Superman #191, November 1966, but instead of printing the cover from that issue, the K.G. Murray editors decided to run with a copy of the splash page from the story!

Why did they do this? Maybe the original cover was earmarked for other duties, for example, as a Colossal Comic cover. Maybe they thought the splash was more user-friendly for the Superman Supacomic masthead. Maybe the US cover was lost or damaged. Maybe they just preferred a cover which included Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

Or maybe this story was being prepared for an issue of Superman Super Library, and reallocated at the last minute. The covers for Superman Super Library typically featured the splash page of the story for cover duties. They generally reprinted 1950s stories – I tend to associate the Super Library’s with Wayne Boring splash page covers – but contemporary reprints were not unheard of. I do know that every time I see this issue it looks to me like what a Giant Superman Super Library issue would look like.

Who knows?! As usual, we can only speculate.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol

I think the first time I came across Johnny Galaxy in a K.G. Murray comic was in an issue of Climax Adventure Comic. It wasn’t until much later that I was amazed to find there was a series of four issues preceding the Climax instalments (I think Mark Cannon first mentioned this to me). I don’t know much about the publishing history of Johnny Galaxy, but here’s a few tidbits I’ve come across.

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol was published in the UK as Space Ace by Atlas. I understand it also appeared as a back-up feature in various Marvelman-related titles published by L.Miller &Sons Limited

Many instalments are signed/credited to Jose Bea, a Spanish artist. According to various internet sites Bea co-created Johnny Galaxy (“Johnny Galaxia”) and worked for the Spanish agency Selecciones Ilustradas (SI). As we know this agency provided comics to English-speaking markets such as Australia.

I believe some of the chapters are illustrated by Fernando Fernandez (they appear to be signed “Fernando”). Ramon Escolano Metaute is another artist who also worked on Johnny Galaxy.

It’s curious that as early as 1968 K.G. Murray was publishing material which appears to have been sourced direct from SI, which we associate with the Gredown horror magazines of the 1970’s. I assume they dealt directly with SI because the series is not called Space Ace as it may have been had it been sourced via a UK publisher. It begs the question: Why would SI distribute the series under two different English names?

As Kevin Patrick says: “KG Murray, which used to rely almost solely on DC Comics material for its editorial content, began using European/Spanish material in its non-superhero titles, such as Super Giant, and their various Western comics including Bumper Western Comic and Fastest Gun Western…. While SI was by no means the only Spanish agency syndicating comic strips worldwide throughout the 1970s, they were arguably the largest - and could well have been responsible for the lion's share of translated Spanish/European comic strips appearing in Australian comic magazines during that decade, including those published by KG Murray and Gredown…”

Given Johnny Galaxy predates K.G. Murray titles such as Super Giant and the horror titles such as Creepy, it may be that Johnny Galaxy was K.G. Murray’s proverbial toe-in-the-water in dealing with SI. As far as I know neither Johnny Galaxy nor Space Ace nor Johnny Galaxia were published in the US, so presumably there was no conflict in dealing with a European agency at the same time as the agency which provided the DC material to K.G. Murray.

But again, this is all speculation. It’s just bits and pieces of information loosely held together by guesswork and deduction.

What I can confirm is that instalments of Johnny Galaxy appeared in Climax Adventure Comic #’s 7,8,9,10 and 13. (Something tells me that Johnny Galaxy may have also appeared in early issues of Super Giant, but file this under TBC for the moment).

In fact the cover for Climax #10 is a reprint of the first panel of the Johnny Galaxy story reprinted in that issue. It works quite fine, but it certainly doesn’t match the painted SF Pulp images on the covers of the self-titled issues. In my opinion if nothing else these covers warrant seeking out the issues - they are the main attraction for me, and I now have copies of all four issues, which is quite a feat really as they are not very common, especially in reasonable condition.

Which also says two things to me – 1. They were not big sellers, and 2. Those who bought them read them over and over.
Postscript August 2009: See James' article on Johnny Galaxy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Communication from Earth Brennert

I think it’s fair to say that when I first posted this splash page from the Australian edition Batman #2 I had no inkling I’d be upstaging myself by posting a signed copy from Brave and the Bold #182 within a few months - but then again, I also didn’t expect to receive an email with the subject heading “Communication From Earth Brennert” from none other Alan Brennert himself!

No doubt about it - the biggest fanboy moment of the year in the junkyard!

Alan happened across my blog and sent me a short note expressing thanks for the kind words, and that he was flattered to have his work compared favourably with Alan Moore, and that “Interlude on Earth-Two’ was due to be re-published in a new trade paperback (Batman: Secrets Of The Batcave, which has just been published a week or so ago). He also mentioned he’d keep an eye out for the Australian editions.

I was so chuffed to hear from Alan that I made a mental note to look out for a copy of Batman #2 as I did my usual rounds of scrapping through junkyards, defiling crypts and rummaging through dead letter offices - and sure enough I chanced upon a cheap copy soon afterwards. I was happy to pick it up and send it off to Alan, and he very kindly offered to send me a signed comic in return.

You never know what you’re going to get with a signature - I’ve seen plenty of neat and tidy dedications, but have also cringed at off-the-cuff scribbles and indecipherable smudges, or worse, thick texta marks indiscriminately placed over an image – in other words, I’ve seen plenty of covers disfigured by rushed and ill-considered signatures.

Of course, Alan was all class! As you can see above, signing the splash page (one of my favourite Jim Aparo splash pages!) on the panel border makes it a great piece of work to look at, and it now holds pride of place in my little burgeoning gallery of Fanboy Artifacts.

Compared to other collectors I have very few such pieces of signed or original comics-related mementoes – a couple of personally-signed comics by Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis; an original Batman page by Jim Aparo; a Love and Rockets lithograph signed by Gilbert Hernandez; a signed Sheldon Moldoff illustration of the Golden Age Batman; and a sketch from Michael Gilbert would be the highlights.

Naturally I wasted little time in emailing a scan to a few friends to bask in the glorious warmth of their envy… reckon I got sunburnt by a few of them…

Alan also sent me a hardcover UK Batman Annual which reprinted some of his work, and I’ll detail that one in a later blog.

Coda: A few evenings ago I met up with a local KGManiac for our semi-regular dinner and exchange of comics. On the back of my recommendation on the blog this fine fellow exercised good judgement and tracked down a copy of Brave and the Bold #182 for himself, and brought along his copy to show me. Unaware he was doing so, I had also brought along my newly-signed copy… Talk about one-upmanship! The irony was even more acute when we inspected his copy and found it came complete with indiscriminate pen scribbles in the margins of the first page…

Friday, September 7, 2007

Superman # 8

Superman #8, 1984
Cover artists: Ross Andru and Dick Giordano

Superman: A Mind-Switch In Time!
Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt
(Superman #380, February 1983)

Superboy: The Day That Lasted Forever!
Paul Kupperberg/Kurt Schaffenberger
(The New Adventures of Superboy #38, February 1983)

Superman: Whose Super-Life Is It Anyway?
Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt
(Superman #381, March 1983)

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane: Who Murdered Me?
Tamsyn O'Flynn/Bob Oksner
(The Superman Family #222, September 1982)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Caution: Physical Fitness can be Hazardous to Your Health!
Martin Pasko/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella
(The Superman Family #214, January 1982)

This is an example of how K.G. Murray would often ‘get it right’.

The first three stories are related – the plot of the first story involves a mind-switch between Superman and Superboy. The story continues in the following issue of Superman, but also spins off into a crossover with the Superboy series in which we see the mind-switch from the perspective of Superboy. By rights this Superboy story should have been scheduled for an issue of The New Adventures of Superboy, but by including it in this issue of Superman in between the two Superman chapters, the K.G. Murray editors presented the story in the order in which the US readers would have read the saga a year earlier.

It’s true that by the 1980’s continuing story arcs were being routinely presented in single issue form in the Australian editions, but including a crossover issue in an ongoing story arc was going beyond the call of duty. Not a bad compensatory move given the delayed presentation of the material!

And the final two back-up features are appropriate too – short self-contained Superman-related features culled from the back pages of a US Superman anthology series. (Now I can’t honestly say the art team of Jose Delbo and Joe Giella ever got my heart racing, but hey – it’s just a side dish after a good hearty meal. And as a friend of mine said last time I used that metaphor: “Nothing a good burp wouldn’t fix!”)

I’ll also just add that whilst I wouldn’t class this issue - nor this series for that matter - as especially scarce or sought after, it would still be quite a challenge to try and put together a full run of all 20 issues from scratch. Some of these 1980’s issues can appear to be quite common and readily available through the usual channels, but in reality can be infuriatingly and stubbornly elusive when actively sought.

The Justice Society in Australian Adventure Comics

All Star Adventure Comic ceased publication at the end of 1975, along with other long-running K.G. Murray titles such as Tip Top Comic Monthly, All Favourites Comic and Wonder Comic Monthly. They were replaced in 1976 by new titles based on their lead features, such as Superboy, Batman and Wonder Woman, all under a new Planet Comics logo. Continuity between the new and old titles was maintained by both the mix of contents, and the continuation of the previous series numbering.

However, Australian comics stands were soon carrying another ‘All Star’ title – the revived US All-Star Comics. This series was restarted with a cover date of January-February 1976, and picked up the numbering from its Golden Age incarnation. It also once again featured the Justice Society of America.

These stories were not reprinted by K.G. Murray, but I have it on good authority (the peerless memory of Mark Cannon!) that the series was distributed in Australia for much of its run – certainly after #67, cover-dated September-October 1977 (ok, so it’s possible that Australian stands didn’t actually carry an “All Star” comic in 1976, but it’s still an irresistibly neatly dovetailing coincidence that the end of All Star Adventure Comic circa December 1975 was followed by the revived All-Star Comics #58 coverdated January-February 1976 - right!?)

After the “DC Explosion” imploded, the Justice Society stories were relocated to Adventure Comics, in which they appeared for 6 issues between #’s 461-466, all cover-dated 1979. I understand (again courtesy of Mark) that these issues were not distributed in Australia, but each of these stories were reprinted in the K.G. Murray incarnation of Adventure Comics.

This is how they slice up:

Prologue/Only Legends Live Forever (Part 1)
Adventure Comics #461
Adventure Comics #2

Only Legends Live Forever (Part 2)
Adventure Comics #462
Adventure Comics #2

The Night of the Soul Thief!
Adventure Comics #463
Adventure Comics #2

To Everything There is a Season…
Adventure Comics #464
Adventure Comics #4

Countdown to Disaster
Adventure Comics #465
Adventure Comics #6

The Defeat of the Justice Society!
Adventure Comics 466
Adventure Comics #7

In other words, the 6 US Adventure Comics stories appeared in 4 Australian issues.

It’s a shame that the famous cover to Adventure Comics #462 was not reprinted. It’s understandable that the cover to Adventure Comics #461 was given the nod, especially as it heralds the new JSA series and also reflects the variety of contents in the issue and series. I note that the cover to Adventure Comics #462 is also left out of the recent Justice Society Vol. 2 TPB (for some reason the All-Star Comics covers are reprinted, but the Adventure Comics covers are omitted!)

As you can see above Adventure Comics #2 is a bumper JSA issue, carrying three of the JSA stories, including both parts of the death of E2 Batman storyline, but note that a couple of the splash pages are omitted. Again, I’m sure this was done to give the impression of a single uninterrupted long story, but I would have preferred to see the splash pages instead of two full-page advertisements for stamps making up the page count.

I have yet to fully review the contents of the other Adventure Comics issues, but I’m beginning to believe there was no #5 published. I’ve checked with a few collectors, and no one can recall ever having seen a copy. And given that all the relevant Justice Society stories are accounted for…

Admittedly it’s a bit more difficult to make a call on this one than it is for Super Heroes Album #18 because of the sheer variety of the contents in the 6 known issues – considering they feature everything from The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern from the US Adventure Comics issues, to reprints from series such as The Shadow, Detective Comics, Strange Adventures and Batman Family, it is difficult to gauge what could be deemed as ‘missing’… In fact, #7 includes a reprint of “A-Man--The Hero with Animal Powers” originally from Strange Adventures #190, July 1966 and later reprinted in Adventure Comics #415, February 1972, but given both of these US prints had Australian counterparts in (All Star Adventure Comic #44, April 1967 and World's Finest Comic Monthly #93, January 1973 respectively), it suggests that filler material was being brought in to fill page counts… So all things considered, let’s just say I’ll be pleasantly surprised to find #5 turning up.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Giant Batman Album # 19: A Colossal Compilation

Giant Batman Album #19, October 1969

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Death of Batman!
David Vern Reed/Bob Kane/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
(World's Finest Comics #58, May-June 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Masterminds of Crime!
David Vern Reed/Curt Swan/Charles Paris
(Batman #70, April-May 1952)

Superman and Batman: The Mightiest Team in the World!
Edmond Hamilton/Curt Swan/John Fischetti/Stan Kaye
(Superman #76, May-June 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Flying Bat-Cave!
Bob Kane/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #186, August 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Joker's Millions!
David Vern Reed/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
Detective Comics #180, February 1952

Plus the following fillers: The Batman Whirly-Word Game (1 page); Little Pete (2 pages); Jerry the Jitterbug (1 page)

Giant Batman Album #19 is one of the earliest wholly Australian compiled issues in the series. Previous Giant Batman Album’s were effectively facsimiles of US Batman Annuals or 80-Page Giants with modified covers and contents (#14 is the notable early exception). However, this issue was conspicuously not compiled from contemporary US sources.

The cover is an Australian original based on the Irv Novick cover for Batman #201, May 1968. My guess is this cover image was originally mooted for an issue of Colossal Comic, which had been routinely featuring cover images based on US Batman and Detective Comics covers for a couple of years by the time this issue appeared on the stands (I’ll cover the latter Batman Colossal Comic covers in a forthcoming blog entry).

Also similarly to Colossal Comic, the main contents were drawn from a cluster of 1950’s pamphlet issues published by K.G. Murray. The five stories listed above appeared previously in Batman #’s 27 (1952), 31 and 32 (both 1953). To the best of my knowledge, they have not appeared in an issue of Colossal Comic, so it is quite possible they were earmarked for whichever issue was to intended to bear the redrawn cover to Batman #201.

All purely speculative on my part, but consider also that “The Death of Batman!” and “The Masterminds of Crime!” were each reprinted shortly afterwards in US editions, and by extension in Giant Batman Albums (#’s24 and 26 respectively); that “The Flying Bat-Cave!” had already been reprinted just two issues earlier in Giant Batman Album #17; and that the oft-reprinted “The Mightiest Team in the World!” had also just seen print in a US edition (World's Finest Comics #179 aka 80 Page. Giant G-52, October-November 1968) and in Australia as Superman and Batman Album #4, March 1969, and it is evident that the K.G. Murray editors putting this issue together were paying little heed to the contents of other issues in their line in considering the contents of this special issue.

The original title for “The Death of Batman!” was “The Murder of Bruce Wayne!” The title seems to have been changed specifically for the original Australian Batman reprint in Batman #32, January 1953. At least I’m unaware of any US version with this new title. So it appears this was reprinted directly from the Australian pamphlet edition.

Curiously, the cover for Batman #32 is a modified version of the cover for the US Batman #64, April-May 1951 - the text on the movie sign is altered to reflect the new lead story. The cover story “The Candid Camera Killer!” had previously appeared in Super Adventure Comic #17, October 1951. I guess that the ‘leftover’ cover for US Batman #64 was deemed readily adaptable for the purposes of a new Batman issue which needed a cover. “The Murder of Bruce Wayne!” originally appeared in US World's Finest Comics #58 and featured a typically generic cover which had also already been used on Super Adventure Comic #31, December 1952. “The Candid Camera Killer!” did make it into Colossal Comic #47, November 1968.

Some sources credit Curt Swan as penciller on “The Masterminds of Crime!” The reprint in Batman #238 credits the art to Win Mortimer. There are the tell-tale signs of Swan's middle fingers in the art, but having said that, it doesn’t look like typical Swan art to me, which may or may not have something to do with Charles Paris inking – certainly not a regular art team!

“The Joker's Millions!” is a classic Batman comic which I remember from the Batman vs. The Joker paperback from Signet Books. It was also reprinted in Batman: The Complete History by Les Daniels and Chip Kidd, Chronicle Books, 1999. The text in this book credits the writing to "probably... Bill Finger or Walter Gibson...". The David Vern Reed credit is from online sources. As far as I know it is not currently in print in any of DC’s Batman-related collections, which is really a shame, but I understand it has been adapted for the Animated Series.

After this issue Giant Batman Album continued to be based primarily on US Giants for a few more issues, until the format started to morph due to various factors, as discussed in previous blogs (see entries on Giant Batman Album #26, Giant Batman Album #27, Giant Batman Album #31 and Giant Batman Album #32).

And a thank you to my UK correspondent for helping out with my queries on Batman #32.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mighty Comic # 43

Sometimes I think we just got lucky. It’s not as if each and every cover of the classic Justice League of America series (that is, the Silver Age Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky series) made it onto the cover of Mighty Comic or All Favourites Comic. It’s not even as if every classic or iconic DC cover made the cut in the K.G. Murray series (just think of the many unreprinted Silver Age Batman or Detective Comics covers).

Consider that the follow-up issue of the US Justice League of America didn’t appear in the following issue of Mighty, but a month later in All Favourites Comic #45; consider also that one of the first four Crisis team-ups didn’t get the cover treatment (“The Most Dangerous Earth of All” from Justice League of America #30 was on back-up feature duties for All Favourites Comic #48) and you begin to see why I’m grateful to see the cover of Justice League of America #21 reprinted on Mighty Comic #43.

But I’m also grateful because it’s a better reproduction than the reprints in both the Crisis on Multiple Earths TPB and Justice League of America Archives Vol. 3. The inking in both these reprints is muddy and indistinct (unforgiveable on Murphy Anderson) whereas the Mighty copy is crisp and clean. It even manages to reproduce the colouring errors in the original issue (Dr. Fate’s collar, Green Lantern’s chest emblem) which were corrected in the TPB. And of course, the bold purple background is reproduced with integrity, albeit with a bit license - a deeper, richer shade than the original, which somehow imbues the scene with a greater sense of royalty and ceremony.

So sure, it’s not quite the original cover. The image is cropped by the 100 Pages spine banner, and the text boxes have also been rearranged, and the masthead of the Mighty Comic arches over the smoke formation rather than nestling into it as the Justice League of America logo does, altering the arrangement of the elements (to greater effect, in my opinion).

So sometimes, we just got lucky. And sometimes, K.G. Murray just got it right.

Mighty Comic # 42: The Parallel World Factor and the Desire for Geekoscopies

I picked up a small batch of Mighty Comic’s a couple of months ago, including the Mighty Comic #42 pictured above. This copy is missing the back cover, the spine is ripped, it’s riddled with creases, edge tears and stains, the splash page has a name stamped on it, and if that wasn’t enough to turn off any prospective purchaser, get this: it is missing over a dozen pages.

But I gotta say, despite all this, this issue has really caught my eye. Sounds crazy, but it’s as simple as this: I still get a kick out seeing K.G. Murray covers for the first time.

Over the last few years we K.G. Murray fans have been spoilt for information by James’ site with its wonderful ever-expanding index and cover gallery, and our own little spin-off networks, sharing info and scans and trading issues. All of this has been a wonderful boon of course.

But strange as it is to say, there’s been an unexpected tradeoff, and that is the diminishing surprise factor.

There’s a few I have a hankering to discover. Superman Supacomic #7 comes immediately to mind. I’d like to confirm my guess for Tip Top Comic Monthly #8. And Mighty Comic #6 hasn’t turned up at all that I can recall. There’s a few Hundred’s, Century’s, Colossals and Five-Score’s I haven’t seen. Offhand I would guess there’s 20-odd issues I haven’t seen from the core post-1956 series I’m interested in, and most if not all would be pre-decimal issues.

Which explains why I was so pleased to come across this poor specimen. I recognize the Mike Sekowsky cover from Justice League of America #23, but it’s still a kick seeing US images reprinted in Australian editions with the Mighty Comic (or insert any title!) masthead – I call it the Parallel World Factor in which everything is exactly the same apart from minor yet critical differences. A familiar trope to DC readers I’m sure…

It also maybe explains why I don’t mind so much that this copy is incomplete to the extent that I cannot even provide full contents details. There’s still something left to the imagination and for future discovery. Sure, there’s a couple of Westerns in there and a Challengers of the Unknown reprint. And apart from the Justice League feature the most noteworthy reprint is probably the Eclipso reprint of Hideout on Fear Island by Alex Toth, which has also been reprinted in All Star Adventure Comic #95 as noted in my first Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake a few months ago.

But I’m not in any rush to find out the rest of the contents for this issue. There’s plenty of other issues queued up in the junkyard lab. I’m happy to wait for a complete copy to find its way to me, and at that point I’ll get the forensics instruments out and put the white gloves on and give it a good ol’ geekoscopy.

PS This was written a couple of months ago, and for some reason I neglected to put it on the blog – I think it was lost in the mix when I took a break. Since then I’ve found a Tip Top #8, and a new fresh copy of Mighty #42, and even a copy of Mighty #6. And the image above is actually my new copy, the old copy having been passed along to another desperado. And the thorough geekoscopy will just have to wait a little longer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake Part 8

A couple more Alex Toth reprints:

Who is Haunting the Haunted Chateau?
Weird War Tales #10, January 1973
Also reprinted: DC Special Series #18, Fall 1979
Terror Tales Album #10

The Great Dimensional Brain Swap
House of Secrets #48, September 1961
Aso reprinted: House of Secrets #96, February-March 1972
Haunted Tales #35

The latter has the better title, but the former is the better piece of work.

Also like to mention I picked up another Toth comic – The Witching Hour #11 – which features the story The Mark of the Witch as well as framing sequences by Toth.

This is the sort of sample (see image above) I was referring to previously when I mentioned the suitability of muted tones to Toth’s art, especially on older printed comics. I know the style is not to everyone’s taste, but for me it is enough to warrant seeking various printings or editions of in order to fully appreciate the art. Or rather, to fully experience the variety.

I guess it’s analogous to the fetish over different mixes and pressings of favourite records... just to equate meaningful junk with meaningful junk.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Super Heroes Album #18 - The Missing Issue

Is there a Super Heroes Album #18? I haven’t seen a copy, and after asking around this week and drawing a blank on confirmed sightings I’m willing to bet there wasn’t one published.

It’s difficult to provide proof of an absence of course, but I’ve reviewed the contents of the issues close to #18 and I don’t see any evidence of a gap.

The series kicked off in 1976 as Super Heroes for the first two issues before changing to Super Heroes Album with #3, and cover-featured Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes which had previously been appearing regularly in All Star Adventure Comic.

The series converted to a Justice League of America series with issue #15. This issue reprinted the US Justice League of America #150, continuing the K.G. Murray Justice League reprints which had been appearing in Super Adventure Album until #14 reprinting JLA #’s 147 and 148. JLA #149 was obviously lost in the transition, but was slotted into Super Action Album #15 (which, just to confuse things, actually picked up the issue numbering from Super Adventure Album!)

After issue #15, Super Heroes Album reprinted the JLA stories in sequential order for issue #’s 16, 17, 19 and 20. Indeed #19 reprints the JLA features from #’s 153 and 154, suggesting that the skipped issue may have been noticed by the K.G. Murray editors after all, but not in time to correct the issue numbering.

After #20, the final issue of the series, the JLA stories appeared in a variety of one-shots and series. Tracking the JLA reprints in the K.G. Murray titles is a task in itself and which I will probably get around to some day (James has already made a great start on this tracking).

But that’s for later. For now, if anyone does happen to have a copy of Super Heroes Album #18, send me the details and I’ll gladly retract my claim. Until then, I reckon you can all scratch that issue off your wants list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ghostly Tales # 9

Ghostly Tales #9, c. 1979/1980
Cover artist: Steve Ditko

Music of Murder
Steve Ditko
(Ghostly Tales #69, October 1968)

...To Die A Witches' Death
L. Sabalys/Enrique Nieto
(Ghost Manor #27, January 1976)

The Eternal Oak
Steve Ditko
(Ghostly Tales #71, January 1969)

Beyond The Grave
(Original unidentified, 10 pages)

Live Happily Forever and Ever
Joe Gill/Wayne Howard
(Ghost Manor #21, November 1974)

The Death Mask
Joe Gill/Sanho Kim
(Ghost Manor #18, May 1974)

Terrible Teddy
Tom Sutton
(Ghost Manor #23, May 1975)

A House with a Different View
Jim Aparo
(Ghostly Tales #67, July 1968)

Ghostly Tales #9 is good value for a Charlton-centric K.G. Murray horror comic with a great mix of artists and features. With a couple of Steve Ditko reprints it was always bound to meet my criteria for an issue worth seeking out. Add a Charlton-era Jim Aparo story and the bonus points start to accumulate.

But the real gem in this issue is the Tom Sutton classic, Terrible Teddy. This is a truly delirious 6-page psychodrama about a killer one-eyed teddy bear, with dozens of curved knives for teeth, which stalks and attacks a thief-turned-killer on the run.

I guess that description either has you turning your attention to something far more edifying, or you have already begun scouring eBay for copies. To the latter junkhounds I say keep in mind that the original appearance in Ghost Manor #23, May 1975 is behind a painted Sutton cover based on this story, whereas the reprint in Ghost Manor #50, May 1980 simply reprints a panel for cover duties. It was also reprinted in the ACG Christmas Special #1, 1999.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake Part 7

I‘ve come across another Alex Toth reprint , Is A Snerl Human?, in Weird Mystery Tales #39. This story is written by Sheldon Mayer, and originally appeared in Adventure Comics #431, January-February 1974.

It would have been great to see the Jim Aparo Spectre series, which ran in Adventure Comics beginning with this issue, also reprinted in the K.G. Murray editions.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

...and the Gredowns just keep on comin'...

I’ve had a few more emails this week advising me of even more Gredown issues – some horror, some non-horror – so, without further ado or ceremony:

Curse of the Werewolf
Frozen Fear

E-Man 1-2
Ironjaw 1
The Golden Years of Sinbad 1
The Brute

I understand from Kevin that a couple of the Sinbad stories are based on a screenplay by Brian Clemens. Clemens is probably one of the first writing credits I picked up as an inveterate consumer of mystery and supernatural tv series in the 1970’s. He may be best known for The Professionals or The Avengers, but his series Thriller was one of my favourites. I wonder whether he ever wrote any comics...?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mammoth Annual # 8: Cover source identified

Following on from yesterday’s post, it turns out the cover to Mammoth Annual #8 is indeed based on a Curt Swan cover, for Action Comics #309.

Another mystery solved, thanks to my UK correspondent (I feel like Lamont Cranston with operatives lying low around the globe until their particular skills are required for the cause…):

To quote directly from his report: “There are all the signs of Amos-isation: Lori Lemaris has gone, the generic banner and balloons appear, Clark Kent has gone (so there's no story to be told...) and Lois is kissing Superman in a pose right out of Kurt Schaffenberger (but with a semi-Amos Superman...probably derived from the original but with a new face and arm position - looks like a traced and adapted copy). I'd bet on the Lois figure being derived in the same way from another DC comic.

"Interestingly, the Batman figure is original DC, even though he looks like the Amos version!”

Oh, and I also received another note identifying Action Comics #309 as the source (see below), so again, my thanks to Michael. My thanks also to Mark Cannon who helped with some queries I had in preparing yesterday's post.

Note: image above sourced from GCD.

Something else just occurred to me – as my UK correspondent mentioned in his report, the story from Action Comics #309, “The Superman Super-Spectacular!”, is the one in which JFK stood in for Clark Kent, and which hit the stands just shortly (within days? a month?) of his shooting. I don’t see this story reprinted in a Superman Supacomic or Super Adventure Comic of the period, so I’m guessing it was consciously dropped from the publishing schedule by the K.G. Murray editors, probably as a sign of respect. Hence the 'spare cover’ is available for duty as a Mammoth cover. The fact that the Clark Kent figure – JFK – is omitted further supports this theory. Of course it helps that it is modified as a celebratory birthday cover which makes it appear as a regular Mammoth cover. So unless I’m wrong and “The Superman Super-Spectacular!” is in fact reprinted some time in circa 1964, I’m going to run with this theory.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Mammoth Annual # 8

The 'genuine' Mammoth Annual #8 is also a curious cover image in its own right. Offhand it looks like another regular Australian image – especially the prominent Superman figure and the Batman figure in the background – however many of the figures also look like Curt Swan illustrations. It may be that an original Swan illustration was adapted.

It’s also odd that it features some Legion of Super-Heroes characters, and this may be a clue to identifying the original image. The older gent in the rear is unknown to me, maybe that is also a hint. So if any of you eagle-eyed forensics experts out there have any suggestions as to the original source of this image, or segments of it, drop me a note.

My copy contains the following rebound issues:
Superman Supacomic #89, January 1967
Superman Supacomic #90, February 1967
Superman Presents Wonder Comic Monthly #23, March 1967

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mammoth Annual # 9

Mammoth Annual #9 exhibits symptoms of a rush job.

For one thing, it is misnumbered as #8.

For another, it is the first of the Mammoth or Gigantic Annuals to sport an original DC cover (by Curt Swan and George Klein from Action Comics #348, March 1967) and not an original Australian cover.

The advertisement date code on the on inner back cover is KGM.M.1068

My copy contains the following rebound issues:

Superman Supacomic #109, September 1968
Super Adventure Comic #34, September 1968
All Star Adventure Comic #52, August 1968

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Gredown Horror Comics List

Well, it’s taken some 6 months or so, but I can now confirm 250 Gredown horror comics titles!

Avenging Spirit
Awesome Apparitions
Beyond Help
Bite of the Scorpion
Bite of the Vampire
Black Doom
Black Havoc
Black Legend, The
Black Spectre
Black Terror
Blade of Fear 1-8
Blind Despair
Blind Terror
Blood Plague, The
Brute, The
Buried Alive!
Call From Beyond
Call of the Monsters
Chain of Pain
Charons of Hell
Chill of Fear
Chills of the Supernatural
Claw of Pain
Claws of Horror
Crawling Horror
Crawling Terror
Creepy Things
Cruel Beyond
Cry of the Werewolf 1-5
Crypt of Creatures 1-6
Crypt of Souls
Curse of Doom
Curse of No Return
Daunting Images
Deeds of the Diabolical
Deadly Horror Stories
Deadly Mayhem
Deadly Omen
Deathly Horrors
Death Rattle
Death Wish
Deeds of the Diabolical
Demon is a Hag, The 1
Demon Phantoms, The 1-2
Demons Revenge
Descent to Horror
Devil's Brood
Devil's Doom 1-3
Devil's Dilemma
Devil's Inferno
Devil's Seed, The
Devil's Triangle, The 1-8
Doom Zone
Doorway to Doom
Dreaded Werewolf Tales
Dread of the Dead
Dread of the Unknown
Edge of Fear
Empty Tomb, The
Endless Torment
Eternal Hell
Evil Eye, The
Evil Ones, The
Evil Shadows
Evil Trap, The
Evil Winds of Death 1-4
Eyes of Night
Face of Doom
Fanged Monster, The
Fate of Death
Fearful Fancies
Fearful Forces
Fearful Freaks
Fearful Spectres
Fearful Tales of the Occult 1-3
Fearsome Stories
Fear Zone
Fiends and Demons
Fiends and Things
Fiends of Frenzy
Fingers of Doom
Fingers of Fear
Flight Into Peril
Forbidden Tales
Forever Dead
Foul Winds of Fear
Frantic with Fear
Fright! 1-3
Future Shock!
Ghastly Encounters
Ghost Dancers
Ghost Panic
Ghostly Ghouls
Ghostly Horrors
Ghostly Shadows
Ghostly Villains
Ghosts and Ghouls 1-7
Ghosts of Terror
Ghouls from the Grave
Ghoul Tales 1-2
Grave Ghost's Tales 1-4
Grim Ghostly Stories
Grip of Death
Grinning Skull
Grotesque, The
Gruesome Nightmare
Hand of Death
Haunted Horror 1
Haunting Images
Hell Bent Destruction
Hell Fire
Hell Pit
Hell's Doorway
Hideous Haunts
Horror Encounters 1-3
Horror Experience 1
Horror in the Dungeon
Horror Tales of Vampires
Horror Unleashed
Ill Fated, The
Infernal Nightmare
Jaws of the Deep 1-4
Kiss of Death 1-2
Knife Edge
Living Horrors
Living Nightmare
Loathsome Ghosts
Macabre Destiny
Macabre Monsters
Mad Fear
Malignant Forces
Maze of Monsters 1-4
Midnight Terror
Mind Possessed
Monsters from Hell 1-3
Monsters Incorporated
Morlock 2001
Night Creature
Night Without End
Orgy of Destruction
Out of this World 1-2
Pact with the Devil
Panic Struck
Panther's Revenge
Peril Below
Phantom Fear
Phantoms of Evil 1-5
Pit of Evil 1-13
Plague of Vampires
Planet Doom 1-2
Planet of the Spirits
Planet of Vampires 1-6
Portrait of Peril
Princes of Darkness
Prison of Fear 1-4
Pure Panic 1-3
Pure Madness
Rampage of Demons 1-2
Ramparts of Evil 1-2
Reign of Terror
Return from Death
Road to Disaster
Satan's Corpse
Satan's Disciples
Screaming Terror
Secrets of the Supernatural 1-2
Shadow of Death
Shadows of Doom
Sheer Panic
Shock and Dilemma
Shriek of Despair
Shriek of the Dead
Shrouds of Mystery
Shuddering Fear
Shudder Tales 1-6
Sinister Spectres
Skulls of Death
Sorcery 1-4
Spells of Blackness
Spirit's Den
Spirits from the Unknown 1-2
Spirits of Misfortune, The
Spooks of Terror
Stark Fear 1-4
Storm Forces
Strange Encounters
Strange Experience 1-10
Strange Macabre Tales 1
Strange Mission of the Weird Brain
Strange Romance
Tales of the Forbidden
Tales of Horror 1-10
Tales of the Mystic
Tales of the Zombie
Tales of Torment 1-3
Tarantula, The
Temple of the Dead
Tentacles of Terror
Terror Madness
Terror Trail
Terror Under the Sea
Terror Unleashed 1-2
Thirst of Blood
This Comic is Haunted 1-6
Thriller Tales
Toll of Doom
Tomb of Ghosts
Tombstone Terror
Tortured Mind
Underground, The
Undreamed of Horrors
Vampire Havoc
Vampire Killers
Vampire Mania
Vampires of Death 1
Vampire Panic
Vampire Scare
Vault of Demons 1-8
Vault of Fear
Vault of Ghosts
Vengeance of the Vampires 1
Vengeful Corpse
Victim of the Vampire
Vile Monstrosities
Vile Tales of Havoc
Visions of Doom
Voodoo 1-2
Voodoo Tales TBC
Voyage to Death
Weird Experience 1
Weird Tales of the Macabre 1-7
Weird Tales of Werewolves 1-3
Werewolf Fangs of Horror
Werewolf Prowls, The
Wicked Witchs' Tales 1-2
Wild Fear!
Witches Cauldron 1-4
Zombies From Below

The majority of the issue numbers have also been confirmed, but note some are assumed in order to complete a sequence.

I also expect two or three of the titles above are not so much horror titles as sci-fi, adventure or sorcery titles.

Speaking of which, I’ve noted a few non-horror Gredown titles too:

Strange Tales of the Wild West
Wild Western Action
Space Wars
Raiders of the Lost Earth
Battle Strike Action
The Rats featuring Delta 99
Demons of the Deep featuring Five and the Infinite
The Zombies featuring Delta 99
Bullet Western
Hell Rider 1-2

Some of these are probably deemed horror hybrid genres (Hell Rider, the Delta 99 issues), but I'm keeping them separate for now as they are also ongoing serial features - I expect Morlock 2001 probably belongs to this list too.

So keep the lists and updates and comments and corrections coming, and I'll keep updating the checklist. I'll also be adding a few more indexed issues soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Zombies: Delta 99

….and here’s another Gredown issue featuring Delta 99…

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Rats: Delta 99

Based on the cover The Rats appears to be another regular Gredown horror/sorcery issue, but it is in fact a dedicated Delta 99 issue.

Delta 99 were also featured in Strange Mission of the Weird Brain (see cover image here). Check out Kevin Patrick’s blog for more information on Gredown features such as Delta 99 and 5 and the Infinite, including details of some interesting local editions and their publishing origins.

I showed this issue to Kevin a week ago and he says the cover looks like the work of Phil Belbin. So many of the Gredown horror covers featured generic ‘adult horror’ images but in this case it certainly appears to be specially commissioned as it is based on images appearing in the first story.

“The Rats” is the name of the first 24-page installment, and the second is titled “Super-Delta”.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ditko Alert - Haunted Tales #31

A heads-up on an otherwise regulation Haunted Tales issue featuring “A Demon and his Boy”, a Steve Ditko tale originally published in House of Mystery #258, May-June 1978.

Also of note in this issue is a reprint of “We Battled the Storm Creature”, originally from My Greatest Adventure #40, February 1960 and reprinted in Five-Score Comic Monthly #25, c. June 1960. I’m unaware of any subsequent US reprint of this story, so this may be another of those K.G. Murray oddities in which a story is pulled from the archives to fill out an issue.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake Part 6

I hear from one of my fellow K.G. Murray Toth-watchers that the Robert Kanigher/Alex Toth story "White Devil... Yellow Devil!" which originally appeared in Star Spangled War Stories #164, 1972, is reprinted in Army at War, a 96 page $0.95 cover price Murray Comics one-shot circa 1980.

I don’t have a copy of this issue but I recommend checking out this review with accompanying page scans. I’m sure this Toth piece is as compelling in its black and white incarnation as I’ve come to expect from Toth reprints, but looking at these scans I’m also reminded just how well his art comes up when coloured appropriately - I know not everyone is enamoured of the 'muddy muted tones' approach to colouring, but in the right hands it can be just the subtle touch required. Not sure how often this story has been reprinted, but I’m willing to bet it looks best on an old tanned comics page - at least that's what I expect based on these scans.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tip Top Comic Monthly: The Complete Collection

Very happy to report that the junkyard is now the proud custodian of a complete collection of all 127 issues of Superman Presents Tip Top Comic Monthly.

No photocopies. No coverless rebound copies. No US edition placeholders. No United Features funny animal Tip Top Comics, Sky Hawk Extra, or any other variety. Not even the whitebread! Just The Real Thing! 100%!

And it only took 10 years or so... about as long as the series ran!

So expect to see a few choice Tip Tops featured in the near future.

Monday, June 18, 2007

a short break

now, i know you all enjoy your regular daily fix of the junkyard's notes and miscellanium... so don't take it too hard when i say i'll be taking a short break in my communiques... only a couple of weeks or so... lots of things to take care of... places to travel to... scenarios to play out... games to fix... crimes to conduct... and of course, trinkets to arrange in the junkyard... a bit of dusting and cleaning... a bit of dried blood in the horror section... some ice cream stains in the hart amos wing... a few stray syllables in the krazy korner... by all means keep the comments coming... whether it's online or offline... i promise to attend to all of them eventually... and see you all back here around the first week of july... until then... to the brave and the bold... as above, so below...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Colossal Comic # 24: Before The Brady Bunch and Watchmen...

...another box layout of sorts by Hart Amos…

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Century The 100 Page Comic Monthly #2

Another Hart Amos beauty - just for the sheer heck of it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Colossal Comic # 8: ...and the Hart Amos reproductions just keep on comin'...

The cover for Colossal Comic #8 is another Hart Amos adaptation, this time from World’s Finest Comics #41, July-August 1949 (see comparison on the AusReprints site). The figures have been rearranged slightly, and Batman is kneeling on one knee rather than just bending forward, but it is basically the same image.

It supports the working theory that the Amos template was indebted to the World’s Finest Comics model. To my eye the Superman face looks like Amos even though the bodies do not look like his regular soft and puffy bodies. It appears he followed the source material quite closely even as he adapted it.

Again it begs the question: why adapt the cover image rather than use the original? In the discussion on Century The 100 Page Comic Monthly #9 it was suggested that the colouring may have been the reason. I can certainly see that being the case for Century #9, but it doesn’t apply in the case of Colossal #8 and World’s Finest Comics #41.