Sunday, October 23, 2016

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man: Cloak and Dagger stuff

This is an odd issue. And not just because it's advertised as All Color and is in fact a black and white issue.

It's odd because there was no ongoing Peter Parker The Spectacular  Spider-Man series from Federal Comics. This is a single, belated, unnumbered Federal Comics issue of a US series which, by 1985, had well and truly established itself as a long-running series of over 100 issues, albeit playing bridesmaid to the primary Spider-Man title The Amazing Spider-Man.

It's odd because the source material dates back to 1982, which provided the initial stories for Federal Comics' ongoing The Amazing Spider-Man series, sourced mainly from The Amazing Spider-Man, apart from some initial Marvel Tales content, which suggests they had the material for this issue - and possibly more - available and ready to go, but did not use it.

And it's odd that it is published as a 64-page issue with a $0.99 cover price at a time when most Federal Comics had converted to 32-page colour issues with a $0.99 cover price - including the aforementioned The Amazing Spider-Man series.

During their tenure as local Marvel publishers Page Publications managed to publish a Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man series alongside their The Amazing Spider-Man series, even if it was for just a year or so.

So somehow Federal Comics missed the boat on this, and appear to have rush-released this single issue not long before they pulled up stumps on the DC and Marvel range of comics.

Around this time Federal Comics also published a single issue Cloak and Dagger comic. This featured the banner A Federal Super Special. To this point this banner had been a virtual imprint, reserved for reproducing local editions of the Marvel Comics Super Special series of album-sized comics such as Dune (as well as humour magazines such as CARtoons)

In this instance the banner has been applied to this single unnumbered Cloak and Dagger issue from 1984 which is based on the Cloak and Dagger 4-issue mini series and has regular production values - no cardstock covers or colour printing - with a higher than usual $1.25 cover price and 84 pages.

My guess is, having made the decision to publish this Cloak and Dagger issue as a faux Super Special, Federal decided to piggyback their unused Cloak and Dagger/Spider-Man material onto this issue.

So maybe there is an explanation for the appearance of this one-shot issue of Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man after all. But I still think it's odd.

Update: This issue was published between June-August 1985. The Battle of the Sounds advertisement on the rear cover ends August  1985. I can confirm this advertisement ran for at least three months in other series published at this time.

I also said above that most Federal Comics had converted to 32-page colour issues with a $0.99 cover price at this time, pointing to The Amazing Spider-Man as an example. I now think The Amazing Spider-Man was an exception, converting to 32-page colour issues earlier, and for a longer duration, than other series. The being said, this issue of Peter Parker The Spectacular  Spider-Man with its All Color banner does appear at about the same time as The Amazing Spider-Man #5, the first colour issue.

Update 16/9/2018: Based on new information to hand, I can confirm the Cloak and Dagger issue was published some 3 months earlier than the Spider-Man issue. It also appears the Spider-Man issue may have been published as late as September 1985.

Update 26/1/20: I have spotted a copy with 10 written on the front cover. This confirms the publication date of July 1985, just as it is clear this issue was on the stands in some areas as late as December 1985.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The mystery of Federal Comics' The Amazing Spider-Man #1 solved!

If you’re still looking for a copy of the Federal Comics edition of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 you can cross it off your list. It doesn’t exist. In its place you can file Marvel Tales starring Spider-Man # 1 – this is the first issue of the series.
Marvel Tales starring Spider-Man # 1 begins with a reprint of Spider-Man’s origin story. Of course this famous story originally appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15, but this reprint is sourced directly from the US reprint in Marvel Tales #137, March 1982, as is the modified, recoloured cover.
The second story in this issue is “The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer!”, which originally appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #2, May 1963. I expect this Federal reprint is sourced from Marvel Tales #139, May1982.
The next two stories are “Let Fly These Aged Wings!” and “Fools...Like Us!”, which originally appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #224, January 1982 and #225, February 1982 respectively.
The Amazing Spider-Man #2 begins where Marvel Tales starring Spider-Man # 1 left off, reprinting the main features from the US The Amazing Spider-Man # 226, March 1982; #227 April 1982; and #228 May 1982.
It appears Federal had the right idea – launch a current series of The Amazing Spider-Man with the most recent material available from Marvel, and begin with the origin story which had also conveniently become available courtesy of the Marvel Tales reprint. But, having proceeded to begin the new series with the Marvel Tales cover, they neglected to modify it so that it read The Amazing Spider-Man #1. That would have ironed everything  out smoothly.
Looking at Federal Comics’  Marvel Tales issue, it’s curious that they padded it with the Terrible Tinkerer story from Marvel Tales #139. They could have opted for “Duel to the Death with the Vulture”, a similarly vintage Spider-Man story which also appeared in Marvel Tales #139, and would have provided a neat segue into “Let Fly These Aged Wings!”. Maybe they didn’t have all the material from the Marvel Tales series at their disposal. Who knows – I’d have to dig a little further to see what other Marvel Tales material was published by Federal. I don't think there were any more issues of Marvel Tales published by Federal Comics, but some of the material may have found its way into other issues.
But that’s for another time. For now the Junkyard is happy to have solved yet another little mystery.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Tomb of Dracula: The complete Yaffa cover gallery

May I present, for your pleasure and edification, a complete cover gallery of the Yaffa/Page Publications The Tomb of Dracula series:

The series started c.1978, reprinting the main feature from the US The Tomb of Dracula (1972 series), and ran for 11 issues, the last of which was a reprint of the first issue, with a $1.10 cover price - a well-established pattern by Yaffa.

The first 4 issues and the last issue are regular sized, with 6 digest-sized issues filling out the series.

Newton Comics published a run of this series prior to Yaffa, but Yaffa did not replicate the Newton editions - and I'm glad they didn't, as it meant we got a #1 issue with the classic Neal Adams cover, albeit with an idiosyncratic colour scheme. I like the ghostly white of the castle and the red moon in the background of the Yaffa edition, compared to the dark grey castle and white moon on the original cover.  (And my inner Beatles geek cannot resist pointing out that the castle appears to be floating on a "sky of blue and sea of green"...)

It is possible there is another numbered issue in this series, say a reprint of #2, but I don't think so. More likely to find a retitled, unnumbered, digest-sized edition of #2 or another issue, as per the reprint of #3 as Night of the Vampire.

Thanks to Mark Cannon for supplying a couple of cover scans to complete my gallery, and as always AusReprints from which I sourced the cover to #11.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Yaffa digest gallery: Pairing up the retitled Yaffa digests - or, The centre is everywhere and no circumferance can be drawn

To state the obvious, collecting a complete run of a series is a challenge. Sure, some may take as little six months, but as serious collectors understand and accept, many take ten or twenty years or more.

I have full runs of titles running over 100 issues. I also have incomplete series with stubbornly elusive issues which have thwarted me from completing runs of less than 20 issues.

But at least they are a known quantity -  finite series with a neat, orderly number of consecutive issues, generally with a regular publishing frequency.

Collecting unnumbered or one-off issues is a different matter altogether. Firstly they need to be sighted for their existence to be confirmed. And you need to weave around dead ends such as dodgy databases or inhouse advertisements for non-existent issues. Then you need to secure a decent copy. Think Gredowns. Think Murray digest romance or western comics. Think some Newtons.

Then consider one-off, unnumbered, retitled digest Yaffa/Page issues. Random issues published towards the end of the licence, with no apparent schedule, no unifying volume number or series, and no existing complete checklist or index.  

You can draw a loose circle around, say, a couple of dozen or so, without knowing the full circumference.

I've posted on a few of these before, but I wanted to bring together in one place as many pairings as I could recall and identify. So, for the moment, enjoy this gallery of one-off, unnumbered, retitled Yaffa/Page digest issues, paired with their mother, and I'll add a few more notes at the end.

Still with me? Cool. Allow me to add a few more words about these images.

1. This is obviously not a complete gallery. I do have a few more one-off, retitled issues - or cover scans of issues - for which I have not yet identified matching original sources. I wanted to survey confirmed pairs only in this post.

2. There may also be a large range of Yaffa/Page issues and pairs with similar qualities to those above, but which are beyond my radar, such as Archie comics, which don't interest me.
3. Generally speaking, the covers and other images I post on this blog are from my own collection. I would say more than 90% are my own. Having said that, many of the images in this post in particular are from various sources, such as AusReprints, GCD, eBay, private collections, and other miscellaneous sources from ages ago too.

4. Given I don't have my usual access to all of these issues, I cannot guarantee that every retitled issue above is indeed a direct reprint of the original as far as the inner contents are concerned. I believe they are, given the track record of the issues to hand, but I must, in good faith, add the qualifier that I haven't confirmed it to be so for every single issue.

5. I'm aware that some of the Yaffa issues above had subsequent reprintings by Yaffa quite apart from the retitled digest editions eg. Master of Kung Fu #1. Such reprintings have been covered before and are a separate albeit related topic.

6. I alluded at the top of the post to the apparent randomness of the retitled issues. At times I've sensed or hypothesised an underlying order of sorts - that retitled issues followed directly from the end of the parent series, and were maybe even published sequentially sans numbering following the reprinting of the first issue as say the 10th issue of the regular series. This kind of makes sense, but there are examples where this does not apply so neatly. However, if and when these retitled issues are fully indexed, a pattern may become evident, and the circumference drawn.