Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Yellow Claw Reprint Forensics Report

I was loitering in the forensics unit of the junkyard checking out some Yellow Claw reprints from All Star Adventure Comic #3 and Climax Adventure Comic #12 (in order to send a scan to Blake Bell) when I noticed something quite peculiar. I reasonably expected to confirm the reprint in question from Climax Adventure Comic #12 was sourced from Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3, until I noticed the dates –Master of Kung Fu #3 was published in 1975, almost two years after Climax #12!

On closer inspection it is evident that even if by some strange twist of the space-time continuum (or more mundanely, a slip by some agent or editor) the Master of Kung-Fu version was indeed the source for Climax #12, the freshly-inserted ‘retconned’ “S.H.I.E.L.D” at the end of the caption has been erased (refer to scan here), and “agent” rewritten by an Australian staffer.

So what’s going on? Is it just a wild coincidence? How did Climax manage to anticipate a forthcoming reprint from Marvel and beat them to the punch? Maybe the Marvel reprint was scheduled two years earlier, supplied to K.G. Murray as part of the standard arrangement, and in the interim experienced an unexpected delay? This is at least a plausible scenario, unlikely as it sounds.

Given I was already in forensics mode I decided to compare the Climax reprint to the earlier one in All Star Adventure Comic #3, and what I found surprised me even more - the Climax version appears to be sourced directly from the All Star print!

Allowing for minor imperfections in the older print from 1959, such as the break in the line of the speech balloon and subtle signs of ink bleed, the two sets of panels are, for all intents, identical.

Naturally there’s a difference in the pagination, and this provides the evidence that the latter print is based on the earlier print. The page number on the All Star #3 reprint ("31") is in a wavy flag shape which also makes a wave on the bottom of the panel. The same wavy line is evident on the panel border beneath the Climax page number circle (“41”). This suggests the page number circle has been superimposed over the previous flag shape box.

And yes, this also means that the Climax art has been tampered with to finish off the linework on the jacket sleeve around the page number circle.

Well, that’s how it all appears to me on the information I have to hand. I don’t have an original Yellow Claw issue nor the Master of Kung Fu issue to compare with the Australian reprints, so it’s quite possible either would shed a different light on the above. Could the odd wavy flag-shaped page number box be on the original page? For all I know there is another reprint circa 1973 of the same material which could be relevant. Maybe many other possibilities.

And I’m conscious of the fact that even if the All Star #3 source answers the How question, it still doesn’t answer the Why question, apart from Wild Coincidence.

PS Please excuse the crude layout. So I still haven't worked out to how organise multiple images on this thing. It gums up the works, so I avoid it if possible. Patience, grasshopper, patience.

1 comment:

spiros xenos said...

Just realised I neglected to acknowledge Mark Cannon's help in eyeballing these scans... a pox on me! Much obliged Mark!