Friday, September 30, 2016

Range War Westerns #4: Another digest-sized reprint from Page Publications.

The cover to Range War Westerns #4 is from the splash page of the Wyatt Earp story Vengeance of the Apaches!:

Issue #3 of the Range War Westerns series featured a Keith Chatto cover, and I expect the first two issues did too.

This issue appears to be a belated addition to the series . The increased cover price and the el cheapo cover suggest this was a quick and crudely contrived publication, and tacked on to the existing series as an afterthought.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chamber of Chills #6

Chamber of Chills #6 is a digest-sized reprint of Chamber of Chills #1.

There are minor differences - the title banner at the top of #1 has been omitted; there is a yellow background filling up blank space above the title; and the advertisement on the rear cover is for The Amazing Spider-Man series, not the Avengers. Otherwise it is a facsimile of the first issue.
There are a few years between these issues - Chamber of Chills #1 is from 1977 with a $0.50 cover price, #6 from 1980 with a $0.60 cover price.
Interestingly, The Amazing Spider-Man also sold for $0.60 at this time, but was still published as a full-size series.

Down the Chatto rabbit hole...

Unforgettable Love Stories #11 c. 1977 features a Keith Chatto cover and is a reprint of the first issue of the series. The story is titled “Storm Warning”.

Unforgettable Love Stories #13 features the same Keith Chatto cover but a different story altogether – “A Very Precious Thing” - most likely reprinted from an earlier issue in the series.

I say “most likely” because this story was definitely published in the earlier Page Publications comic Confessions and Love Library #12 c. 1974, which featured a different Chatto cover, which was itself published a little bit earlier in yet another Page Publications comic Romance and Confession Library #80 c. 1973 which – you guessed it – featured yet another Chatto cover!

The original publication of “A Very Precious Thing” appears to be from Coleccion Celia #169 c. 1964.
Chatto covers were often based on images from the original sources. These covers aren't based on Coleccion Celia #169, but original sources may be identified in future.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Werewolf by Night #4

I got lucky scoring this copy of Yaffa’s Werewolf by Night #4 – it only cost me a few dollars, and is not only quite scarce but it’s in excellent condition for its age.

It reprints the main features of the U.S Werewolf by Night #’s 10-12. The cover is from #11, and the other two covers also earn the full-page reprint treatment in black and white.

Yang: I do love you, really, but... it's not you, its me...

Well, it’s been quite a number of years between drinks as far as a certain little dark corner of the junkyard is concerned, but yesterday, latent primordial neurons and endorphins were once again activated, by the appearance of a copy of Yang #2, which proved to be just irresistible.

Seriously, this copy is so well preserved it feels like it came off the rack a week ago and has been read and stored in my 12-year-old bedroom since then. And that’s as good as Planet Comics from this era get.
I know very little about Yang, just as I know little about the Martial Arts genre in general.
What I do know is that this purchase of Yang #2 and Yang Master of Kung Fu form bookends around a few other Yang titles and issues which found their way into the junkyard over the last few years with barely any conscious intent on my part.

For example, this one-off unnumbered issue titled Martial Arts was purchased almost 10 years ago and was intended to take its place amongst the many other Murray Comics one-shots with a similar profile amongst my collection, and at the time it was only distinguished in my mind by the mix of Charlton and Spanish material, not the Yang reprints per se.
Similarly, this rather worn and badly patched up House of Yang specimen was amongst a batch of Gredown horror comics I picked up some 5 years ago at a fair, and it would have been the lowest priority of the lot, possibly used as padding to protect some Pit Of Evil issues.
Short 3- or 4-issue runs of titles were rather uncommon for Planet comics in this period. Blue Beetle and Hot Rods come to mind, as does the earlier Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol. I imagine Blue Beetle, Hot Rods and Yang being considered by the editors as fodder for a Planet Series 4. That kinda appeals to me. And I note Yang does make an appearance in Martial Arts Album Planet Series 3 No. 6.

No doubt in a few years I'll be updating this blog with a complete collection of Murray and Gredown Yang issues, all in NM condition and all sourced without purpose or focus. It's just how it is sometimes in the Junkyard.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

More Chatto horror

Here’s another Keith Chatto cover, for Page Publications’ Nightmare Suspense Library #5, based on the art for Nightmare Suspense Library #11 published by MV Features circa 1966. 

When I originally posted on this some years ago I wasn’t aware of the source material for these reprints, nor that some of Chatto’s covers for Page were based on the original cover art. But following up on my earlier post today I’m finding more source material for these digest horror titles, courtesy of the Grand Comics Database, and realising that many of the Page Publications covers are indeed based on the original source material, which featured what appears to me to be mostly painted cover art.

I wonder whether it was technical limitations related to reproducing the painted art which prompted the redrawing, or whether it was some other rights issue.

I don't mind saying that as much as I like the lurid colours of Chatto’s palette, in this instance, I probably prefer the muted tones of the original cover.

Casting A Shadow: Keith Chatto on Terror Pocket Library and Spy Stories Picture Library

I’ve waxed lyrical over the cover to Terror Pocket Library #1 before, and I’m about to do so again in light of some new information which has come to hand.

I imagine the intrepid comics reader and collector recoiling in horror for all the wrong reasons when he or she (let's face it - it was probably a he in most cases) picked up Terror Pocket Library #2 (above) on the newsstands for $0.60 in the late 1970’s to find they had paid twice the cover price to re-read “Cast A Crooked Shadow” as they had previously in issue #1.

Not only that, but the new cover was a crudely modified colour version of a full-page image of Nick Bailey treading stiffly – not “stumbling in a frenzy of panic”, as the caption text would have one believe. If only the buyer had treaded so carefully!

To my eyes the Keith Chatto cover on Terror Pocket Library #1 is not only superior to that of #2 but is far more appealing than the painted cover on Secret Service Picture Library #17 from which “Cast A Crooked Shadow” was sourced.

Chatto’s cover for Spy Stories Picture Library #1 (above) is also a winner. It’s based on the cover for Secret Service Picture Library #23, which I also like, but I reckon Chatto’s ‘pops’ more than the original. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Gunhawk Western #3: Jubilee Publications do their stuff again and again and again...

Following on from an earlier post on the cover image used on Gunfire #46001 and Cheyenne #3218, here’s the same image adorning the cover of an even earlier Jubilee Publications comic, Gunhawk Western #3 – and props to you if you also immediately noticed the bloody cut above the character’s left eyebrow.  
I said in the earlier post that I thought I’d seen a later edition of Gunfire #46001 with a higher cover price. If that turns out to be true that makes at least 4 comics with virtually the same cover image. Could there be more? Who is the artist? When and where was this image first published?
I can see this is going to turn into a minor obsession.
All my info on this issue is courtesy of James’ indispensable Ausreprints site.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

When you think that you've lost everything... Bob Dylan, Western Gunfighters Summer Special, and pulpy hardass philosophy!

One of favourite Bob Dylan albums is 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, and one of my favourite lines from this album is “When you think that you’ve lost everything/You find out you can always lose a little more” from Trying To Get to Heaven Before They Close The Door.

I got a pleasant surprise reading the first page of the Caleb Hammer story “The Devil's Starry Anvil!”, which originally appeared in Marvel Premiere #4, June 1980 and was reprinted in the U.K. as the opening story in Western Gunfighters Summer Special NN, February 1981.
The first caption box ends “...a man with nothing to lose could lose still more”. I’m not saying this was the source for Dylan’s song, but the similarity is uncanny. For all I know this pulpy piece of hardass western noir writing by Peter B. Gillis is itself adapted from another hardboiled film or pulp novel, or has otherwise gone completely unnoticed for decades.

What I do know is that it’s a great piece of hardboiled pulp philosophy, which can be read as either typically downbeat and fatalistic as any drawl delivered by a B-grader from the 1940’s, or indeed as  life-affirming. And it drew me into speed-reading this story whilst I should have been doing other things.
I picked up this issue in a batch of other Yaffa/Page issues, and on first look it appeared to me as a previously unseen Yaffa one-shot western. There are a few Australian series titled Western Gunfighters by various publishers, including Yaffa, but not this one. I’d love to find that such an edition does exist. Pending that, I’m filing this along with my other Yaffa magazine-size Westerns.

The Human Torch in triplicate

The Human Torch series by Page Publications ran for 4 numbered issues.

#3 in the series is a reprint of #1. And this unnumbered digest-sized issue with a $0.75 cover price is a further reprint of those two issues.

This should have been a retitled issue. Some gold dust for the completist mavens amongst us.

Maybe there is a retitled edition too.

My database has a #5 of this series listed, but I don't have a cover scan. I may have spotted one some time ago, or it may be an erroneous reference to this unnumbered issue.

Given the short run of the U.S series, even if there is a 5th issue, chances are it reprinted another Page issue. At three U.S issues per one Page, there's not a lot of meat for a full three Page's, which may explain why #3 is a reprint to begin with. 

If there is a #5, it may even be a 4th copy of the issue under discussion. So if anyone can confirm a #5...

Update: #5 confirmed -

The Yaffa/Page Wyatt Earp #1 - and two more...

I picked up this Yaffa/Page issue of Wyatt Earp #1 the other day without really knowing much about it.

What I’ve found is that it doesn’t appear on James’ site amongst the many other Wyatt Earp series by various Australian publishers, but there is an unnumbered reprint of this issue with a $0.75 cover price. Given my copy has a $1.10 cover price I’m guessing there are at least three editions of this issue published by Yaffa – these two and an initial $0.50 or $0.60 cover price issue.

The GCD actually has my edition listed as Wyatt Earp #1 but it is not indexed. It is listed as being published in 1972, but this is incorrect. No doubt the indexer has read the indicia which states in part Copyright 1972 by Magazine Management Co. Inc., and assumed this was the date of the Yaffa issue. An easy mistake to make, but the date simply refers to the 1972 series of Wyatt Earp which, it appears, began with issue #30.
And that’s where the Yaffa/Page Wyatt Earp #1 begins – it reprints the cover and contents of Wyatt Earp #30, October 1972; and then reprints the next two issues - Wyatt Earp #31 and Wyatt Earp #32, including black and white reprints of their respective covers. It appears some of the stories are reprinted out of sequence, but I think they are otherwise complete.

I’ll note also that there’s some appealing  art in these pages by the likes of Dick Ayers, Al Williamson, Reed Crandall and Angelo Torres, and the stories are all reprints from the 1950’s.

The Tomb of Dracula and Night of the Vampire: Now it all makes sense...

I like looking back at some of my posts on comics from years ago and seeing what I knew then and what I know now.

At the time there were so many gaps in my knowledge that I would make an educated guess as to the providence of an issue or a series and be confident that I had put the available clues together to at least form a cohesive narrative which stood up to immediate scrutiny, often with a dash of hope that time would not make me look foolish.

I also knew that it would only take one more missing piece of the puzzle – a date, an advertisement, a missing issue turning up – to make me recast the narrative.

Case in point: Night of the Vampire – at the time I was not yet au fait with the pattern of the Yaffa Marvel series of reprints. I knew that a typical series might begin with 6 to 10 consecutive issues reprinting 3 original Marvel issues. I wasn’t so aware that these series might run for just a few in the full magazine size edition and then convert to digest-size issues, and then maybe revert to reprinting one or two of the earlier issues as a late numbered issue in the series as the licence petered out, and that those last issues may either revert back to magazine size or remain digest-sized. Nor that once the numbered series ended a ‘new’ unnumbered, retitled series of digest-size issues may become a proxy reprint series of the originally published series.
And of course, the very existence of unnumbered retitled issues was one of the greatest mysteries of all. That is, they could not be catalogued as existing until they turned up in other collections or on the collectors’ market, and hence you could never be sure that a full set had been compiled.
A good 10 years of spotting such issues has answered plenty of questions for me. Not all, but enough of a pattern to give me more confidence in the narrative of the puzzle.
The Tomb of Dracula #3 provides one such opportunity to reflect on what I knew and didn’t know. I wasn’t aware of this issue at the time but I had in my hands a copy of Night of the Vampire, an unnumbered one-shot digest-sized issue from Yaffa/Page. Whilst I was able to identify the source of the contents form Marvel and associate it with the parallel Newton edition, I didn’t realise it was in fact a reprint of the earlier Yaffa/Page The Tomb of Dracula #3.
One thing this does is help me to predict that there are more issues of The Tomb of Dracula reprinted as retitled, unnumbered one-shots. The Tomb of Dracula #1 was reprinted as The Tomb of Dracula #11, the last issue in the initial series. As above, The Tomb of Dracula #3 was reprinted as Night of the Vampire. That suggests that there is a retitled, unnumbered, digest-sized edition of The Tomb of Dracula #2 published by Yaffa/Page which will, at some point, turn up to take its rightful place in the catalogue. The cover will be based on The Tomb of Dracula #2.
There are many more such instances of having identified unnumbered, retitled Yaffa/Page digest-sized issues since my initial posts years ago, and I’ll present them here all in good time.