Monday, April 30, 2007

Giant Batman Album # 26

Giant Batman Album #26, May 1973
Cover artists: Neal Adams and Dick Giordano

Batman: The Man With Ten Eyes!
Frank Robbins/Irv Novick/Dick Giordano
(Batman #226, November 1970)

Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder: The Case of the Honest Crook
Bill Finger/Bob Kane/George Roussos/Jerry Robinson
(Batman #5, Spring 1941)

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

The Batman: Blind Rage of the Ten-Eyed Man!
Frank Robbins/Irv Novick/Dick Giordano
(Batman #231, May 1971)

Plus fillers: Cap's Hobby Centre (0.5 pages) and Science Says You're Wrong If You Believe That... (1 page)

The appearance of contemporary Batman stories in Giant Batman Album #27 was not completely unprecedented in the series. As mentioned in passing, Giant Batman Album #’s 25 and 26 were also prominent exceptions to the rule of reprinting nothing but vintage Batman comics.

Giant Batman Album #26 in particular lays the groundwork for the two related Batman/Man-Bat stories in Giant Batman Album #27. As in the Man-Bat example, the two stories featuring The Ten-Eyed Man appeared over 6 months apart in the US editions, but were presented together as bookends for this issue of Giant Batman Album.

However, this issue is not contrived as a theme issue as per #27. It simply reprints the cover from Batman #226, the first of the two appearances of The Ten-Eyed Man, and this comparatively modest aspiration is, presumably, deemed sufficient for the purposes of this issue.

And there does not appear to be any particular effort to shoehorn other loosely related material in a theme issue, as I have speculated is possibly the case in #27.

Speaking of the vintage strips, it’s worth noting that “The Masterminds of Crime!” is sourced from Batman #238 aka DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-8, January 1972. This is in a sense ‘leftover’ from Giant Batman Album #25 which is itself largely based on Batman #238 (to be discussed in greater detail later). It is also curious to note that it had previously appeared in the May 1969 issue of Giant Batman Album #19 – another very interesting issue which I’ll be covering shortly! The reprint in Batman #238 credits the art to Win Mortimer. Some online sources credit the pencil art to Curt Swan, and I’m inclined to agree, noting the tell-tale signs of Swan's joined middle fingers in the art.

The other vintage story, “The Case of the Honest Crook” is sourced from Batman #241, May 1972, and is just the sort of story one expects to find in a Giant Batman Album. No mystery to be solved there!

From a design perspective this cover mostly resembles the post-“Giant” Batman Albums which also paid little or no heed to any of the preceding templates for a compilation cover by featuring a single image directly related to one of the stories reprinted within. Apart from #19 all of the preceding Giant Batman Album covers at least implied a range of contents - even the “The Secrets of the Batcave” on Giant Batman Album #17, the various panels/photos on the cover of Giant Batman Album #18 and the line-up on the cover of Giant Batman Album #25 all suggested a wealth and variety of stories. The speech balloons and story title beneath the main image root the cover image to a single story.

Indeed, in both cover design and content mix Giant Batman Album #26 most closely resembles the short series of Batman issues which followed the cancellation of Tip Top Comic Monthly, such as Batman #’s 132, 133 and 134.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Special Case of Giant Batman Album # 27

Giant Batman Album #27, September 1973

Giant Batman Album #27 is, as I mentioned a few days ago, a special case. Firstly, let’s check out the contents:

Batman: Man-Bat Madness!
Frank Robbins
Detective Comics #416, October 1971

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Batman's Great Face-Saving Feat!
France Herron/Sheldon Moldoff/Joe Giella
Batman #164, June 1964

Bat Out of Hell
Jack Oleck/Nestor Redondo
House of Mystery #195, October 1971

Superman and Batman and Robin: The Super-Rivals
Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang/Stan Kaye
World's Finest Comics #85, November-December 1956

Batman: Man-Bat Over Vegas!
Frank Robbins
Detective Comics #429, November 1972

The issue is conspicuous for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is bookended by two contemporary stories, which is odd for the Giant Batman Album series at the time. This represents a break from the pattern set with the first issue, way back in 1962, of reprinting vintage comics exclusively. Yet it gestures towards a unifying theme, which was a traditional element of this series, with the subtitle Three Bat Mystery Thrillers!

The second reason it is noteworthy is that the cover is a montage of various images from the US covers, a cut-and-paste job by a K.G. Murray staffer. The images are sourced from Detective Comics #416 and #429 (as per the Man-Bat stories listed above), and also a ‘non-Batman’ bat cover from House of Mystery #195, from which “Bat Out of Hell” was reprinted.

That the K.G. Murray editors decided to include a ‘new’ Batman story in an issue of Giant Batman Album is surprising enough (although, as I note below, not quite unprecedented). That the two stories happen to be Man-Bat stories, and were originally published a year apart, suggests a selective compilation from available material based on a theme, and this is supported by the subtitle. So far, so good - a bit odd in that it is new material, but the thematic approach is certainly warranted given the traditional profile of the series.

But to go a step further and include another mysterious non-Batman ‘bat tale’… Well, at best it’s a well-intentioned albeit crude effort, and at worst it smacks of desperation and misleading advertising.

It is enough to make me wonder whether the hapless editor in charge of compiling this issue gleaned some related theme in the other two accompanying stories. For example, was the suggestion of mistaken or confused identity inherent in Man-Bat tales deemed sufficient reason to include “Batman's Great Face-Saving Feat” on the basis of the false identity theme in that story? It’s a long stretch, of course, but…

What is certain is that changes were afoot in the K.G. Murray stable - remember, this is the first issue of the title under the Planet Comics logo - and as the various titles were being streamlined in this period, this provides evidence of some strain on the identity of this series.

I mentioned that it was unusual at the time for Giant Batman Album to reprint contemporary stories. There were precedents – for example, there was a contemporary Batman story of sorts used in Giant Batman Album #18, but that is an anomaly as it is a series of contemporary framing sequences used to introduce and link vignettes from vintage comics. There was also a retelling of Robin’s origin in Giant Batman Album #20, courtesy of Batman #213, but this is itself a retelling of a vintage strip. The prominent exceptions to the rule before this issue are in fact the two preceding issues, Giant Batman Album #’s 25 and 26, but I will discuss these separately as they are more properly relevant to the broader discussion on the Batman Album incarnation of this series.

In one sense Giant Batman Album #27 points towards the succeeding issues with their own Australian-made covers, such as Giant Batman Album #31 and Giant Batman Album #32 just as it harkens crudely to the classic issues before it which were modelled and based on the US Batman Annuals and 80 Page Giants. But as I will argue in forthcoming blogs it is also clearly symptomatic of the fumbling and frustrated attempts by K.G. Murray to settle on a title and format to best present the Batman comics of this period.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Batman # 132

Batman #132, May 1976
Cover artist: Ernie Chua

Batman: Batman's Greatest Failure!
Mike Fleisher/Rick Buckler/Bernie Wrightson
Batman #265, July 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Round-Robin Death Threats
Gardner Fox/Carmine Infantino/Sid Greene
Detective Comics #366, August 1968

Heroes Who Wouldn't Die!
Bob Rozakis/ Various artists
The Brave and the Bold #116, December 1974-January 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Where There's A Will--There's A Slay!
Gardner Fox/Carmine Infantino/Sid Greene
Detective Comics #367, September 1967

Plus a couple of fillers: Sale Men's Shoes Today Only and Beware of the Thing

PS A few days ago I began discussing issues of Giant Batman Album, which I intended to pursue, but as often happens with these K.G. Murray series, one thing leads to another, and rather than just looking at a few Giant Batman Album issues I've been led to review various issues of Tip Top Comic Monthly, Batman and Bumper Batcomic... So even though it's taking a bit longer to compile and put together a neat narrative, I think it will be worth the extra effort as it's bringing up some interesting little details which I'm keen to share. In the meantime, enjoy these snapshots of the Batman issues circa 1976 - I'll be referring to them shortly in my review, just as soon as I doublecheck some theories, cross some T's, dot some I's, banish some question marks, and dump some emphatic and unrepentant exclamation marks at strategic points!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Batman # 133

Batman #133, June 1976
Cover artist: Jim Aparo

Batman: Bat-Murderer!
Len Wein/Jim Aparo
(Detective Comics #444, December 1974-January 1975)

Batman presents The Adventures of Alfred: Alfred's Mystery Menu!
Gardner Fox/Sheldon Moldoff/Joe Giella
(Batman #191, May 1967)

Batman presents... Challenge of the Man-Bat
Frank Robbins/Neal Adams/Dick Giordano
(Detective Comics #400, June 1970)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Failure of Bruce Wayne
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
Batman #120, December 1958

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Batman # 134

Batman #134, July 1976
Cover artist: Jim Aparo

Batman: Bat-Murderer! Part 2: Break-In At the Big House
Len Wein/Jim Aparo
(Detective Comics #445, February-March 1975)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Riddle of the Space Rainbow
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #232, September 1957)

Batman: Die Small--Die Big!
Robert Kanigher/Bob Brown/Joe Giella
(Detective Comics #385, March 1969)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Riddler's Prison-Puzzle Problem!
Gardner Fox/Frank Springer/Sid Greene
(Detective Comics #377, July 1968)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Giant Batman Album # 32: The Last of the 'True' Giant Batman Albums

Giant Batman Album #32, March 1976
Cover artists: Nick Cardy Sheldon Moldoff

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Signalman of Crime
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
Batman #112, December 1957
Wanted. The World’s Most Dangerous Villains #1, July-August 1971

Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder: The First Batman
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff
Detective Comics 235, September 1956
Batman #255, March-April 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Witch and the Manuscript of Doom!
Bill Finger/Bob Kane/George Roussos
World's Best Comics #1, Spring 1941
Batman #254, January-February 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Crimes Man-Hunt
Joe Greene/Dick Sprang
Detective Comics #92, October 1944
Batman #261, March-April 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Grade A Crimes
Bunny Lyons/Jack Burnley/Ray Burnley
Batman #16, April-May 1943
Batman #260, January-February 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Man with a Thousand Eyes!
Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
World's Finest Comics #43, December 1949-January 1950
Batman #258, September-October 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Tweedledum and Tweedledee!
Don Cameron/Jerry Robinson/Bob Kane/Charles Paris/George Roussos
Detective Comics #74, April 1943
World's Finest Comics #209, February 1972

Batman: untitled (The Origin of Batman aka The Batman Wars Against The Dirigible of Doom
Gardner Fox/Bob Kane
Detective Comics #33, November 1939
Secret Origins #1, February-March 1973

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Knights of Knavery
Alvin Schwartz/Jack Burnley/Jerry Robinson
Batman #25, October-November 1944
Wanted. The World's Most Dangerous Villains #2, September-October 1972

Giant Batman Album #32 is a true companion piece to Giant Batman Album #31. Similarly to #31 this issue has a charming K.G. Murray-generated cut-and-paste cover. The main cover image is from the splash page of “The First Batman”; The "Grade A Crimes" image is from Batman #260; and the "3 Evil Eyes" image is from Batman #258.

Also noteworthy is that whilst most of the reprints are, as usual, sourced from the US issues of Batman and Detective Comics, they have been judiciously supplemented by material from other series such as Secret Origins and Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains. You’ll recall I noted with approval the decision to include "The Man from Robin's Past" in Giant Batman Album #31. The K.G. Murray editors had been quite consciously dabbling with the contents mix in issues of Giant Batman Album since #25, with mostly interesting results, but also with a couple of notable ‘unfortunate’ selections too, which I’ll cover in the next few days.

I mentioned it in passing yesterday, but I’ll just reiterate for the record that this issue is the first to use the new Batman masthead which was appearing in the US series, and also marks the point at which Giant Batman Album becomes simply Batman Album. No doubt this is related to the streamlining of titles under the second Planet Comics logo as other titles also exhibited similar changes in their titles with the their first ‘new logo’ issues (Giant Flash Album became The Flash Album with #13; Giant Jimmy Olsen Album and Giant Superboy Album terminated; Giant Lois Lane Album morphed strangely and belatedly into Lois Lane Album a couple of years later continuing the numbering from Lois Lane Comic; Giant Supergirl Album had a bet each way becoming Superman Presents Supergirl Album; and, staying true to its invulnerable form, Giant Superman Album prevailed until the very end.) Of course the most notable change of all was that the longtanding anthology titles converted to eponymous titles eg Tip Top Comic Monthly to Batman, which, I should add, also used the new Batman masthead for the duration – streamlining indeed! But that is a topic for another blog!

Nevertheless, regardless of the change in title, I still think of #32 as a Giant Batman Album. I think it deserves it, at the very least in honour of its allegiance to its forebears in presenting exclusively vintage Batman reprints.

The series changed in this regard with the following issue, in which contemporary stories rubbed shoulders with vintage stories for quite a few issues. But it was an odd, at times rather uneasy mix - I guess it just didn't feel like the good ol' Giant Batman Album series any more. (There were two or three previous instances of such mixing, but they are different cases to the post-#33 issues, and I'll discuss them in the next few days).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Giant Batman Album # 31

For all their idiosyncracies and often baffling editorial decisions, the K.G. Murray editors would often also ‘get it right’. Take for example Giant Batman Album #31:

Giant Batman Album #31, September 1975
Cover artists: Nick Cardy, Dick Sprang, Charles Paris

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Ally Babble and the Fourteen Peeves!
Bill Finger/Dick Sprang
Batman #30, September 1945
Batman #257, August 1974

Robin The Boy Wonder: Dick Grayson Detective!
Jim Mooney
Star Spangled Comics #111, December 1950
Detective Comics #444, January 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Twenty-Ton Robbery!
Don Cameron/Dick Sprang
Batman #26, December 1944-January 1945
Batman #258, September-October 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Bullet-Hole Club!
David Vern/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
World's Finest Comics #50, February-March 1951
Batman #254, January-February 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Duped Domestics!
Alvin Schwartz/Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson
Batman #22, April-May 1944
Batman #255, March-April 1974

Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder: The Strange Costumes of Batman!
Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
Detective Comics #165, November 1950
Batman #259, November-December 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Man Who Couldn't Be Tried Twice!
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Ray Burnley
Batman 118, September 1958
Batman 218, January-February 1970

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Man from Robin's Past
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
Batman #129, February 1960
80 Page Giant #8, March 1965

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Rackety-Rax Racket!
Don Cameron/Dick Sprang
Batman #32, December 1945-January 1946
Batman #257, July-August 1974

The contents are mainly drawn from various 100-Page editions of the regular Batman series (and one from Detective Comics). These miscellaneous stories were being plundered to fill out the various issues of Giant Batman Album, a series which had continued long after the demise of the US Batman Annual and 80-Page Giant series which had in large part provided the template and contents for the Australian series. The 100-page issues of 1971-1975 (known as 100-Page Super Spectacular) typically featured a new lead cover story along with reprints as back-ups.

The new compilations left the K.G Murray editors with an obvious dilemma – what to use for the cover? The likes of Hart Amos and Peter Chapman had long departed, yet in such instances their skills and experience would have come in handy.

As it was, they were left to their own devices to conjure a new cover. So what they did was cut-and-paste a new cover image from the available material. In this instance, the main Batman figure is from the splash page to "The Strange Costumes of Batman!". The rest are from from Batman #258 (Cavalier); Batman #259 (strange costumes/Robin); Batman #255 (Alfred); and Batman #257 (Ally Babble).

The covers for Giant Batman Album #’s 30 and 32 were similarly contrived.

Personally, I love these covers - they are not standard facsimiles of US editions, yet they are comprised of ‘authentic’ art from the ‘real Batman artists’. You know as soon as you see one of these covers that there’s going to be some wonderful vintage comics between the covers, and there’s a palpable element of anticipation and surprise as to which stories will be reprinted.

On occasion, Giant Batman Album would reprint the cover feature of a regular Batman comic eg. Giant Batman Album #26 (Giant Batman Album #27 is a special case which I will discuss in a future blog) but most often the lead feature would be reprinted in a regular K.G. Murray title, and the vintage strips collated for the Giant Albums. There was even an instance of a US Batman cover redrawn for cover duty on Giant Batman Album #19 (which I believe was likely earmarked for use on a Colossal Comic – but that’s a story for another time!)

The cover designs after Batman Album #32 (the “Giant” in the title having been dropped effective this issue, along with the vintage masthead and the old Planet Comics logo) fell into two camps – full size images sourced from regular Batman comics, or reduced images conventionally arranged in 4 rectangular boxes on the covers (which must surely qualify as the missionary position of cover layout designs!) There was one or two with slight variations on this schema, but as the series began to revolve around contemporary stories, the vintage Giant-style covers were to become as much a thing of the past as the stories with which they are associated.

Quite apart from the sources, the selection of predominantly Sprang-illustrated tales is what really raises the profile of this issue. I doubt there are many DC volumes even today which have as many Sprang Batman stories as this one, apart from hardcover Archives volumes.

One of the stories reprinted in this issue, "The Man from Robin's Past", does not appear to be culled from a contemporary 100-Page issue. I believe this was ‘leftover’ from the Secret Origins 80 Page Giant #8, March 1965 pending an appropriate venue for reprinting. Again, kudos to K.G. Murray for waitng for an appropriate time and place, even if it was 10 years later – like I said, sometimes, they just got it right!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Gredown Horror Comics List

A few more titles to add to the growing Gredown Horror Comics List:

Sheer Panic
Shrouds of Mystery
Strange Romance Vampires of Death #1

Thanks for the additional titles and issue numbers, Tom!

This brings the total number of confirmed titles to 241 (and for those keeping track, yes, one title was counted twice before, sorry!)

I expect we will reach 150 confirmed titles very soon, at which point I’ll present the complete up-to-date list with issue numbers, so keep them coming!

In the meantime I’ll keep plugging away at indexing various Gredown issues as I come across them in the junkyard.

And I also hope to have some info to share on a few related topics which I’ve been meaning to chase up over the last month, but have been distracted from doing so (John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Monsters From Hell # 1

Monsters From Hell #1

The Bloody Thing!
(Original unidentified, reprinted in Horror Tales Vol. 3 #3, May 1971, Eerie Publishing)

Call of the Monsters
(Original unidentified, 6 pages)

Terror Tunnel
(Original unidentified, 9 pages)

A Hole in the Sky!
(Original unidentified, 7 pages)

Horror Island
(Original unidentified, reprinted in Terror Tales Vol. 3 #4, July 1971, Eerie Publishing)

The Skin-Rippers
(Original unidentified, 6 pages)

The Monster
(Original unidentified, 6 pages)

Web of Terror
(Original unidentified, reprinted in Tales of Voodoo Vol. 5 #7, December 1972, Eerie Publishing)

The only stories I’ve identified so far in this issue happen to be courtesy of Eerie Publishing. It’s tempting to assume that the rest may also be via Eerie, but based on a few other Gredowns which also carry Eerie Publications material I would guess the mix in this issue to be just as varied as they are (see for example Grave Ghost’s Tales #1).

I don’t have any original Eerie Publishing magazines to check but I hope they have information on the original horror comics they reprint. There’s a few internet sites I’ve come across recently which may also have this information, but I just need to spend a bit of time to check them out in this regard.

Like so many of the vintage horror stories reprinted in the Gredowns, most of the stories in this issue have the tell-tale grey-scale shading which says they’ve been ‘amended’ for the reprint edition. When I first came across this years ago I just assumed it was a Gredown stunt, but I have since heard that this is how they appear in the 1970’s US reprint editions. It reminds me of the gray-scale used by K.G. Murray in their Annuals circa 1956-57. At least the charcoal effect in the Gredowns is suitably ashen and grimy for the horror stories – the K.G. Murray effect was often akin to a spotty film overlay – but too often it comes across as a bad copy of a muted colour original.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Maze of Monsters #2 update: The Lost Simonson Story

Yesterday’s post on Manhunter generated quite a few responses online and offline - there sure is a lot of goodwill towards Walt Simonson.

And the junkyard is chuffed to have received an email from Walt himself some weeks ago, in relation to his story Capital Punishment which appeared in the Gredown comic Maze of Monsters #2. Walt was amused to find this story was in an Australian magazine as he informed me that the publisher collapsed before the chapter was published!

This certainly adds a new wrinkle to the “Where did Gredown get this material from…?” question!

And of course I now recant my comment to the effect that “…it’s just not what I look for in a Gredown horror comic” – I mean, if I knew then that this was a previously unpublished story, it would have been the headline!

Anyway, armed with this information, I’ve searched the internet and come up with a bit more information about the history of this story. It appears it was intended for publication in Weird Tales of the Macabre #3 from Atlas/Seaboard (note Weird Tales of the Macabre is also a title used for a number of Gredown issues), and as Walt says in an online interview:

I did complete the Monster X/Winged Terror story. It was called ‘Capital Punishment’ but was never published. Mine was the third chapter of an ongoing series written by Gabe. The first two were also completed as I remember seeing them in the office. The first chapter was drawn by Nostrand {Monster X} and the second by Enrique Romero Badia {Winged Terror}.

I don’t have the originals myself. They were lost when Seaboard/Atlas went out of business. I do have a set of photostats around somewhere, through the courtesy of Jeff Rovin who got them to me on what I think was his last day in the Seaboard offices. But I’ve no idea if they’ll ever see the light of day. I believe Jon Cooke ran a few panels in COMIC BOOK ARTIST as illustrations in a long interview I did for him.

I was going to mention this earlier, but I was scouting around to see if I could find another copy of Maze of Monsters #2 – I thought it would be a nice gesture to send a copy to Walt (before everyone was alerted to it's scarcity and the prices for ratty copies were suddenly inflated). Alas, I haven’t found a copy. But at least he has photostats, according to the above interview. And Walt, I'm happy to send you scans of my copy if you’d like them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tracking Manhunter

I was browsing through some 1970’s issues of Detective Comics recently, looking for something in particular – I don’t recall precisely what right now, probably something to do with Marshall Rogers – when I was distracted by the Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson Manhunter back-ups.

I was a latecomer to this series. I heard about it by reputation some time in the late-1980’s or early-1990’s, and didn’t really read it until a few years ago when I bought the 1999 Manhunter: The Special Edition on a whim.

Upon reading The Special Edition I recognised much of it in slabs and bits and pieces here and there, so much so that it was clear I’d read excerpts before, but much of it was also certainly for the first time. I reasoned this was simply because I must have read or browsed through the odd chapter in various issues before I had completed my 1970’s run of Detective Comics (which I finally managed to do last year – whoo hoo!)

And then it hit me – of course, I must have read much of this ages ago as a young kid in the K.G. Murray reprints. I certainly remembered the Gotterdammerung chapter in one of the last issues of either Tip Top Comic Monthly or Wonder Comic Monthly – I remembered the cover, and as it featured Batman I reasoned it must have been a Tip Top, yet the Wonder Comic logo seemed a more natural fit - so surely I also read the rest, assuming they were indeed all published by K.G. Murray.

So this led me on a bit of a hunt to track down the Manhunter chapters in the K.G. Murray reprints, and having done so I am no longer surprised that my memories of reading the series are patchy, nor that I did not recall which titles or issues it appeared in, for its publication in the Australian reprints was very haphazard.

Here’s the lowdown:

Chapter 1: The Himalayan Incident
Detective Comics 437, October-November 1973
Wonder Comic Monthly #114, November 1974

Chapter 2: The Manhunter File
Detective Comics 438, December 1973-January 1974
Wonder Comic Monthly #119, March 1975

Chapter 3: The Resurrection of Paul Kirk
Detective Comics 439, February-March 1974
Wonder Comic Monthly #126, October 1975

Chapter 4: Rebellion!
Detective Comics #440, April-May 1974
Wonder Woman #128, January 1976

Chapter 5: Cathedral Perilous
Detective Comics #441, June-July 1974
Wonder Woman #129, March 1976

Chapter 6: To Duel the Master
Detective Comics #442, August-September 1974
Wonder Woman #130, May 1976

Chapter 7: Gotterdammerung
Detective Comics 443, October-November 1974
Wonder Comic Monthly #125, September 1975

As you can see, it was hardly a neat and timely reprint program - gaps of 5 and 7 issues between chapters, chapters reprinted out of sequence, crossing over three different titles (although, to be a fair, this last point is qualified on the grounds that Wonder Comic Monthly was renamed Wonder Woman effective with #128, explaining further why I don’t recall reading half of Manhunter as Wonder Woman was a not a must-buy-at-all-costs title to me when I was 10-years-old.)

I expect that when the K.G. Murray editors published Wonder Comic Monthly #125 they treated it as just another Batman team-up cover story as per the Brave and the Bold instalments, but of course this was the climax of the Manhunter back-up serial taking on main feature cover duties. How else to explain the publication of Chapter 3 a month later in the following issue of Wonder Comic Monthly!

They appear to have woken up to the fact that Manhunter was a continuing series of chapters somewhat belatedly. By the time Manhunter was running in Wonder Woman, they noted that the story in Wonder Woman #130 continues in Wonder Comic Monthly #125, published eight months earlier – better late than never!

Note also that by this time the Wonder Woman title was in the middle of reprinting The Twelve Labors of Wonder Woman, a saga which also warrants a K.G. Murray tracking!

The Special Edition is the best format in which to read the Manhunter serial, but I also recommend checking out a chapter or two in black and white – there’s something about the combination of the intense compression of the shorter chapters and the black and white reproduction which together manage to invoke something of the classic serial adventure as well as a thoroughly ‘modern’ style.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shuddering Fear

Shuddering Fear, cover price $0.60, no cover date.

The Knight of the Draco Order
Ivan Soler/Cebollo
(Original unidentified, credits state “Editorial Vilmar - Barcelona - The Illustrated”, 1974)

Drowned in Sand
(Original unidentified, 6 pages, 1973)

Deadman's Dream
(Original unidentified, 7 pages)

The Space Schnook!
Zev Zimmer/Chic Stone
(Unknown Worlds #34, September 1964)

The Indian Rope
A. Carrasco/Jose Garcia
(Original unidentified, credits state “Editorial Vilmar - Barcelona - The Illustrated”)

The Visitor
Pat Boyette
(Red Circle Sorcery #11, February 1975)

Come Back, Cynthia!
Lafcadio Lee/Ogden Whitney
(Adventures into the Unknown #125, June-July 1961)

The Wax Witch
(Weird Vol 5 #2, April 1971)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Climax Adventure Comic # 16

Climax Adventure Comic #16, March 1975
Cover artist: Steve Ditko

A Voice in the Fog
Joe Gill/Steve Ditko
(Haunted #14, September 1973)

The Bludgeoning Beast!: ...and the Juggernaut will get you...if you don't watch out!
Steve Englehart/Bob Brown/Marie Severin/Frank McLaughlin
(Amazing Adventures #16, January 1973)

What Happened To Harry?
Dick Ayers
(Tales to Astonish #29, March 1962)

The Loch Ness Monster
Nicola Cuti/Don Newton
(Ghostly Tales #112, December 1974)

Midwest Cops Smash The Crimson Gang!
(Original unidentified, 8 pages)

The Eternal Struggle
Joseph M. Molloy/Sanho Kim
(Ghostly Tales #111, September 1974)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Super Giant # 4

Super Giant #4, circa 1973

Cover reprinted from splash page of I Am The Brute That Walks! by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, with some elements rearranged and redrawn.

I Am The Brute That Walks!
Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers
(Journey Into Mystery #65, February 1961)

Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner: On A Clear Day You Can See... The Leviathan!
Roy Thomas/John Buscema/Frank Giacoia
(Sub-Mariner #3, July 1968)

I Opened the Door to... Nowhere!
Steve Ditko
(Journey Into Mystery #61, October 1960)

Billy the Kid and False Revenge!
(Original unidentified, 4 pages)

The Incredible Hulk!: Many Foes Has The Hulk!
Roy Thomas/Herb Trimpe/Sam Grainger
(Incredible Hulk #139, May 1971)

The White Rat
(The Thing! #2, April 1952)

Nyoka The Jungle Girl: Treacherous Treasure!
(Original unidentified, 21 pages)

Stop the Clock!
Steve Ditko
(Haunted #7, August 1972)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weird Mystery Tales # 3

Weird Mystery Tales #3, circa 1973
Cover artist: Mike Kaluta

The Demon Within!
Joe Orlando/John Albano/Jim Aparo
(House of Mystery #201, April 1972)

Mr. Mortem!
Leonard Starr
(House of Mystery #20, November 1953)

The Thing in the Telescope
Mort Meskin/George Roussos
(House of Mystery #60, March 1957)

The Day of the Demon!
Archie Goodwin/Mike Sekowsky/Carl Anderson
(House of Mystery #198, January 1972)

The Prisoner of a Dead World
Nick Cardy
(The Unexpected #128, October 1971 originally The Prisoner of the Wizard's Coin House of Mystery #94, January 1960)

Dark Journey
Nick Cardy
(House of Mystery #72, March 1958)

A Tale of Vengeance!
John Albano/Sam Glanzman
(House of Mystery #201, April 1972)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Gredown Horror Comics List

A few more titles to add to The Gredown Horror Comics List:

Ghostly Villains
Vampire Panic
Vault of Fear

This brings the total of confirmed titles to 238.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Super Adventure Comic # 20

Super Adventure Comic # 20, January 1952

Cover adapted from Win Mortimer’s illustration for Detective Comics #160, June 1950, with new Superman and Superboy figures.

Superman: Exit-Superman!
Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Action Comics #161, October 1951)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Underworld Bank!
Dick Sprang/Stan Kaye
(Detective Comics #175, September 1951)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Men Who Doubted Superboy!
John Sikela/Ed Dobrotka
(Superboy #18, February-March 1952)

Plus a 1-page filler: Shorty

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tip Top Comic Monthly # 10

Tip Top Comic Monthly #10, February 1966
Cover artist: Bruno Premiani

The Doom Patrol: The Death of the Doom Patrol
Arnold Drake/Bruno Premiani
(The Doom Patrol #98, September 1965)

Dizzy Dog & McSnurtle, The Turtle: Fish Story!
Sheldon Mayer
(Three Mouseketeers #2, May-June 1956)

The Beast That Walked Like a Man!
Gil Kane/Joe Giella
(Sensation Comics #109, May-June 1952)

Superboy: The Day Superboy Was A Coward
George Papp
(Superboy #72, April 1959)

A Green Glob Adventure: The Curse of the Mystic Mask
George Roussos
(Tales of the Unexpected #88, April-May 1965)

Hopalong Cassidy starring William Boyd: The Boy Lawman!
(Original unidentified, 8 pages)

The Creature of 1,000 Dooms
Lee Elias
(Tales of the Unexpected #72, August-September 1962)

Eclipso: Eclipso Must Die!
Bob Haney/Jack Sparling
(House of Secrets #75, November-December 1965)

The Ferry Was Waiting!
John Giunta
(Sensation Comics #109, May-June 1952)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Weirdest Asteroid in Space!
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Sheldon Moldoff
(Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #50, January 1961)

Plus a Peter Puptent Explorer filler

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

World's Finest Comic Monthly # 54

World's Finest Comic Monthly #54, October 1969
Cover artists: Ross Andru/Mike Esposito

The Flash: The Most Colorful Villain of All!
John Broome/Ross Andru/Mike Esposito
(The Flash #188, May 1969)

Buffalo Bill: The Ambush of the Iron Horse
(Frontier Fighters #2, November-December 1955)

I Was An Outer Space Frontiersman
Nick Cardy
(My Greatest Adventure #22, July-August 1958)

Suicide Squad: The Creature of Ghost Lake!
Robert Kanigher/Ross Andru/Mike Esposito
(The Brave and the Bold #27, December 1959-January 1960)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Doomsday Album # 10

Doomsday Album #10, circa 1978
Cover artist: Bollesta (sp?)

The Monster of Death Island
Maxine Fabe/Ruben Yadoc
(Secrets of Sinister House #11, April 1973)

Vampire's Gold
Jack Oleck/Jess M. Jodloman
(Weird Mystery Tales #9, December 1973-January 1974)

A Very Cold Guy
(Secrets of Sinister House #12, July 1973)

The Demon: The Creature from the Beyond
Jack Kirby/Mike Royer
(The Demon #4, December 1972)

The Ultimate Horror
Jack Oleck/Alex Nino
(Secrets of Sinister House #12, July 1973)

Death at Castle Dunbar
Lynn Marron/Michael Fleisher/Mike Sekowsky/Dick Giordano
(Secrets of Sinister House #5, June-July 1972)

John Jacobson/Robert Kanigher/Alex Nino
(Secrets of Sinister House #11, April 1973)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Wonder Comic Monthly # 10

Wonder Comic Monthly #10, February 1966
Cover penciller Curt Swan

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Arena of Doom!
Jerry Siegel/Al Plastino
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #87, September 1965)

The Space Ranger: Cryll's Deadly Double
Arnold Drake/Bob Brown
(Tales of the Unexpected #75, February-March 1963)

One Monster--Coming Up
George Roussos
(Strange Adventures #180, September 1965)

Superboy: Bad Boy Clark Kent!
Otto Binder/George Papp
(Superboy #71, March 1959)

The Metal With A Memory
Lee Elias
(House of Mystery #153, September 1965)

Captain Comet: The Counterfeit Captain Comet!
John Broome/Murphy Anderson/Sy Barry
(Strange Adventures #27, December 1952)

The Atom: The Adventure of the Cancelled Birthday!
Gardner Fox/Gil Kane/Sid Greene
(The Atom #21, November 1965)

The Hobo Jungle of Space
George Roussos
(Tales of the Unexpected #75, February-March 1963)

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane: The Magic Spectacles!
John Forte
(Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #31, February 1962)

And fillers including Chief Hot Foot, Varsity Vic and two instalments of Cap's Hobby Center.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Five-Score Comic Monthly # 77

Five-Score Comic Monthly #77, October 1964
Cover artists Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

King Faraday: Thunder Over Thailand!
Robert Kanigher/Carmine Infantino/Joe Giella
(Danger Trail #3, November-December 1950)

King Faraday: I--Spy! (frontispiece)
Carmine Infantino/Joe Giella
(Showcase #51, July-August 1964)

Hopalong Cassidy: The Treasure of the Great Smoky Mine!
(Original unidentified, 8 pages)

Desperate Manhunt
Leonard Starr
(Gang Busters #35, August-September 1953)

The Ghost-Breaker: The Phantom of Paris!
Leonard Starr
(Star Spangled Comics #126, March 1952)

Red Hawk: The Man Who Rode The Moonlight!
Bob Powell
(Original unidentified, reprinted in America's Greatest Comics #9, 2004)

Captain Compass: The Ship with the Magic Motor!
Otto Binder/Joe Certa
(Detective Comics #208, June 1954)

The Coins That Came To Life
Jim Mooney
(Challengers of the Unknown #72, February-March 1970)

Roy Raymond: The Man No Prison Could Hold!
Ruben Moreira
(Detective Comics #216, February 1955)

The Ghost-Breaker: The Girl Who Lived 5,000 Years!
France Herron/Leonard Starr
(Star Spangled Comics #128, May 1952)

Vengeance of the Sea King!
Carmine Infantino/Bernard Sachs
(Sensation Mystery #115, May-June 1953)

Return to Karonia!
Shane O'Shea/Ogden Whitney
(Adventures into the Unknown #122, February 1961)

The Ghost-Breaker: The Supernatural Alibi!
(Star-Spangled Comics #127, April 1952

And a couple of Chief Hot Foot fillers.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mighty The 100-Page Comic! #14

Mighty The 100-Page Comic! #14, December 1959
Cover art: Gil Kane/Bernard Sachs

Adam Strange: Mystery of the Mental Menace!
Gardner Fox/Mike Sekowsky/Joe Giella
(Showcase #19, March-April 1959)

The Lair of the Dragonfly!
Bernard Baily
(House of Secrets #19, April 1959)

Tomahawk: The Great Indian Bank Robberies
Fred Ray
(Tomahawk #60, January-February 1959)

The Flash: The Super-Gorilla's Secret Identity!
John Broome/Carmine Infantino/Joe Giella
(The Flash #108, August-September 1959)

The Creeping Creatures of Steel
George Roussos
(House of Secrets #23, August 1959)

Wyoming Kid: The Riddle Robber!
Gardner Fox/Howard Sherman
(Western Comics #73, January-February 1959)

The Human Hurricane
Mort Meskin/George Roussos
House of Mystery #88, July 1959

Wonder Woman: The Stamps of Doom!
Robert Kanigher/Ross Andru/Mike Esposito
Wonder Woman #108, August 1959

The Lighthouse in the Sky!
Howard Purcell
(Tales of the Unexpected #40, August 1959)

Foley of the Fighting 5th: Warning to Fort Desolation!
John Broome/Howard Sherman
(All-Star Western #103, October-November 1958)

Knights of the Galaxy: Outcast of Lost World!
Dion Anthony/Carmine Infantino/Joe Giella
(Mystery In Space #5, December-January 1951)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Hundred Comic Monthly # 16

The Hundred Comic Monthly #16, circa February 1958

Wonder Woman: The Eagle Who Caged People!
Robert Kanigher/Harry G. Peter
(Wonder Woman #91, July 1957)

Tomahawk: Tomahawk's Little Brother
Fred Ray
(Tomahawk #43, September 1956)

The Book That Bewitched
Joe Maneely/Joe Sinnott
(House of Mystery #68, November 1957)

The Wyoming Kid: The Riddle of Needle Point!
Gardner Fox/Howard Sherman
(Western Comics #66, November-December 1957)

The Man Who Owned The Earth!
Otto Binder/Sid Greene/Joe Giella
(Mystery In Space #35, December-January 1957)

Pinky and Winky: (untitled) - (begins with "A luxury cruise!...")
(Original unidentified, 5 pages)

John Jones Manhunter from Mars: The Martian Without A Memory
Joe Certa
(Detective Comics #248, October 1957)

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane: The Jilting of Superman
Otto Binder/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Showcase #10, September-October 1957)

The Green Arrow: The Imprisoned Archer
George Papp
(World's Finest Comics #88, May-June 1957)

Roy Raymond TV Detective: The Fabulous Fabric
Ruben Moreira
(Detective Comics #248, October 1957)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Riddle of the Space Rainbow
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #232, September 1957)

The Trigger Twins: The Decoy Sheriff!
Robert Kanigher/Carmine Infantino/Joe Giella
(All-Star Western #97, October-November 1957)

The Magic Pass
Howard Purcell/Mort Meskin
(House of Secrets #6, September-October 1957)

Little Allergy: (untitled) - (begins with "Here are your books, Allergy!")
(Original unidentified, 4 pages)

The Indian Boy Who Turned Into A Star!
Alvin Schwartz/Mort Drucker
(Jimmy Wakely #17, May-June 1952)

The Spaceman of 1,000 Disguises!
Otto Binder/Sid Greene/Joe Giella
(Strange Adventures #81, June 1957)

Plus a couple of Jerry The Jitterbug and Chief Hot Foot fillers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Scary Tales # 4

Scary Tales #4, 1978

Lure of the Swamp
(Haunted #8, October 1972)

Paul Kupperberg/Mike Zeck
(Scary Tales #3, December 1975)

What's Inside Roger?
Joe Gill/Steve Ditko
(Scary Tales #5, April 1976)

The Garden of 1,000 Delights
Steve Ditko
(Haunted #5, April 1972)

The Ghost of Glory!
Pat Boyette
(Ghostly Tales #75, September 1969)

Valley of Death
Paul Kirchner
(Scary Tales #2, October 1975)

The Hades Germ
Nicola Cuti/Tom Sutton
(The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves #49, January 1975)

The Wedding Gift
(Scary Tales #1, August 1975)

A Bad Bargain
Joe Gill/Murray Postell
(The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves #44, January 1974)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Superman Supacomic # 24

Superman Supacomic #24, August 1961
Cover art Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

Superman: The Reversed Super-Powers!
Jerry Siegel/Kurt Schaffenberger
(Action Comics #274, March 1961)

Superman: The Super-Weapon!
Curt Swan/George Klein
(Superman #144, April 1961)

Superman: Superboy's First Public Appearance!
Jerry Siegel/Al Plastino
(Superman #144, April 1961)

Superboy: The Phantom Superboy
Robert Bernstein/George Papp
(Adventure Comics #283, April 1961)

Superboy: The Biggest Bully in Smallville!
John Sikela
(Superboy #76, October 1959)

Superboy: The Saddest Boy in Smallville!
Leo Dorfman/George Papp
(Superboy #88, April 1961)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Island of 1,000 Traps
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #139, April 1961)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Challenge of the Joker
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #136, December 1960)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Bat-Mite Bandits
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #289, March 1961)

Plus the following one-page fillers: Superboy's Workshop: Make Yourself A Mask! ; Planets of Wonder !; and Peter Puptent Explorer by Henry Boltinoff.

Do not adjust your set...

Dear readers, fellow scavengers, bibliophiles and hoarders anonymous!

I'll be taking a bit of a break over the next week or so from the usual blog regimen. Time to stocktake the junkyard. Recharge the leaking batteries. Clean up some clutter. Patch up some leaks. Clear the decks. Then get ready to polish up some gems for display. And hunt down some more goodies! You know what I mean. After all, it's Easter, right? Crucifixion, resurrection, public holidays...

Not to say that there won't be any programming. Consider it the non-ratings period. I'll endeavour to drop off an issue or two a day with an image and contents info for your pleasure. It depends partly on my computer access. Just don't expect any commentary, opinions, essays, theories and speculation. Think of it as a test pattern which morphs so imperceptibly that one doesn't notice the incremental changes by staring at it, but check in on it hours later and papa's got a brand new bag!

And we'll be back to normal programming in a week or so.

So. Until then...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Third Rail Magazine: Al Williamson Sketches

I found a small stash of fanzines in the junkyard a few weeks ago. I have no idea where or when I picked them up. There’s some interesting stuff in there which I’ll rummage through for your amusement and benefit in due course, including some interesting comments in a few issues of The Australian Comic Collector.

I just wanted to mention this issue of Third Rail Magazine as a follow-up to my Al Williamson comments yesterday. The only background information I have is based on Steve Bissette’s post which I’ll quote in a slab here:

This handsome black-and-white fanzine dates from June, 1981, and is chock-full of fantastic art and stories. Lovingly designed, packaged, and printed by my old Kubert School classmate Ken Feduniewicz …Third Rail was Ken's answer to (and entry in) the cream-of-the-crop fanzine circle personified by Spa-Fon, Squa Tront, Graphic Showcase, and others.
This sturdy zine showcases a fine illustrated interview with artist extraordinaire Al Williamson, featuring never-printed-before or since sketches by the master himself... I'm proud to be in here, too, with the first printing of my first dinosaur story, "Scraps." Sure, it's been reprinted since (in Bedlam! and SpiderBaby Comix #1), but this remains its finest presentation ever -- beautifully reproduced on heavy-stock white paper when the original art was brand-new (i.e., before the Duo-Shade toning faded -- and before Eclipse Comics man-handled the double-page spread, necessitating considerable repair and redrawing work).
The dramatic two-color (blue and sepia ink on a heavy cream-color stock) front cover is a 1950s jam piece by Al Williamson and Wally Wood, pitting one of Wood's trademark saurian monsters against one of Al's trademark Buster Crabbe-inspired space hero.

Well, now you know what I know about the background to this fanzine!

I just found it interesting that even when it comes to 'The Fanzine Treatment' or 'secondary' sketch work Williamson’s art still warrants the high production values. Williamson’s sketches in this mag are wonderful, vibrant and alive to the artist's hand. And contrary to the dropouts mentioned yesterday in relation to the printing, in these sketches it's a privilege to see lines suggested but not necessarily fulfilled, to allow one's eye to be directed and carried along a line and left to complete the journey with its own momentum. Deft beautiful stuff.

And Bissette’s own work comes up a treat, rich and rugged, presented as originally drawn and intended to be seen. But I like Bissette on newsprint just fine. And he's the only reason I've read a dinosaur comic in the last 10 years!

I’ll just mention that by following the link above to Bissette’s web page you'll find he is offering signed copies of Third Rail. No idea if the offer is still current, but I feel it’s only fair I direct you to him given I’ve leaned heavily on his efforts for today’s blog.