Saturday, February 18, 2017

Four one-shot Conan digests

Apart from the numbered digest-sized issues in the regular run of the Conan the Barbarian series, to the best of my knowledge, there were only four other digest-sized one-shot editions of Conan comics published by Yaffa/Page Publications:

King Conan #1 (cover price $0.70);

King Conan NN (cover price $0.75) - a reprint of King Conan #1;

Untamed World of Conan (cover price $0.75) - a retitled reprint of Conan the Barbarian #2;

The Legend of Conan NN (cover price $0.75) - a retitled reprint of Conan the Barbarian #3;

I confess I haven't physically crosschecked the contents of the last two digests with their respective parent issues, but given the covers and the track record of  Yaffa/Page inhouse reprints it's a safe assumption that the digests are direct reprints of the larger format issues of the original series.

Given that #2 and #3 of Conan the Barbarian earned retitled unnumbered digest editions one might assume that a similar reprint Conan the Barbarian #1 exists. However, Conan the Barbarian #1 was reprinted as Conan the Barbarian #11 of that series. In fact, the publication of Conan the Barbarian #11 as a regular-sized issue ended the run of digest-sized instalments of the Conan the Barbarian series. This is a pattern I've noticed in quite a few other Yaffa/Page series. There are exceptions, but it is nevertheless a quite well-established pattern, which I intend to return to in future blog posts.

The King Conan #1 issue listed above may be numbered but I don't believe there was a second issue, even thought it appears it was projected as a series.

Having said all that, there may indeed be more Conan digests, but I haven't come across any others to date.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blazing Western Stories #6 and Western Illustrated Stories #6

I've just had another look at Page Publications' Blazing Western Stories #4:

It turns out the contents of this issue are identical to Page Publications' Western Illustrated Stories #6:

Both covers are by Keith Chatto.

I assume Blazing Western Stories #6 was published in 1973, based on the cover price and advertisement date code on the rear cover. I also assume Western Illustrated Stories #6 was published in 1974 as per AusReprints. I don't see a cover price on this issue, but #'s 8 and 9 each have a $0.30 cover price, so I'll assume #6 was also $0.30.

I won't be surprised to find there's yet another reprint of this issue.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The 'problem' with Superman #1 solved!

This cover has always bugged me. It looks wrong. It's supposed to be Superman flying, but he looks like he's posing, and not in a charming Wayne Boring fashion. And the linework doesn't seem right - crude and thick in places, as if it was sourced from a small image and enlarged for the purposes of a cover image (ala the Mr. and Mrs. Superman cover a few years later.) It was clearly an inhouse Murray production, intended to promote and showcase the new line of color (sic) comics, and I always wondered where the hell they got the image from.

Well, answering the second question kind of answers the others. The image was copied and modified from the cover of Superman Supacomic #198:

The fact that it is copied from a statue explains the flying pose, and yes, it has been somewhat enlarged and adapted.

And you can imagine the thinking behind the editorial hand in this. Launching a new title in a new format, it makes sense to make a splash with an iconic image. The cover for the feature "Midas of Metropolis!" as published in Action Comics #394 wasn't really suitable if one was looking for a heroic image:

Planet Comics had a new logo to go with their new "All Color" comics, and the Superman masthead was relatively new too, having appeared for the first time around a year or so earlier on Giant Superman Album #26 or Superman Supacomic #196, just two issues before Superman Supacomic #198, which conveniently provided an authentic Superman image in a heroic pose - in black and white no less, all set for colouring in and resetting for a new cover.

Another option would have been to have used yet another rendition of the flying statue pose, courtesy of the first page to the story in Superman Supacomic #198, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Bob Oksner:

Well, maybe that would have presented its own problems when enlarged. I don't know. All I know is that the cover to Superman #1 was a blown opportunity, and as happy as I am to have solved the mystery of its source - the Junkyard is always chuffed to solve K.G. Murray mysteries - I wish greater care had been taken in this particular instance.

They redeemed themselves somewhat with the cover to Superman #2:

For this issue they cropped the splash page to the story "Bus-ride to Nowhere" as it appeared in Superman Supacomic #184 and had a suitable, ready-made iconic front cover image worthy of launching a new series.

No doubt it helped that this particular image was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Murphy Anderson, which to my mind was the quintessential Superman art team of the 1970's. No other inker in this period did for Swan what Anderson did. But I digress.

This image would find itself repurposed by Murray a short time later to advertise the Superman line of comics, long after the All Color Planet Comic had expired:

Which kind of confirms in my mind at least that this would have been the perfect cover image for Superman #1.

Due credit to for the information on Superman #2 and the scan of the advertisement above.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scary Stories Annual revisited

Some time ago I noted my Scary Stories Annual contained a coverless rebound copy of Haunted Love NN, but at that stage I had not identified the other two issues in this volume. I can now confirm my copy includes the following issues in the following order:

Haunted Love NN:

Nightmare... or Reality:

I... The Cursed:

For some reason I... The Cursed is bound upside down and back to front.

While I'm on Scary Stories Annual, check out James' detective work on the cover image for a great range of international issues which have featured this cover image:

The unexpected Unexpected

Tales of the Unexpected/The Unexpected was a long-running mystery/horror/fantasy series published by DC Comics between 1956 and 1982. K.G. Murray published many of the stories from this series in titles such as Weird Mystery Tales, Haunted Tales and Doomsday to name just a few.

Murray/Federal published three one-off/unnumbered issues under this title under three different imprints:

Unexpected NN (cover price $0.95) was published under the Murray Comics imprint with a cover based on The Unexpected #209, April 1981:

Unexpected NN (cover price $0.99) was published under the transitional Federal Comics/Murray the Cat imprint with a cover based on The Unexpected #215, October 1981:

Unexpected NN (cover price $0.99) was published under the Federal Comics/Australian DC Edition imprint with a cover based on The Unexpected #222, May 1982:

It's a little odd that such a long-running DC series was not represented by a parallel Murray/Federal series, especially as there were a few one-off issues based on issues of The Unexpected, but published under new titles.

For example, the wraparound cover to The Unexpected #191, May-June 1979

was cropped and used as the cover on Tales of the Supernatural:

The cover to The Unexpected #212, July 1981

was modified for the one-off Murray Comics issue Nightmare... or Reality, providing its title:

Similarly, the following issue - The Unexpected #213, August 1981 -

provided the cover image to the one-off Murray Comics issue Beast of Darkness:

The cover to The Unexpected #221, April 1982

provided the cover image for the one-off Murray comics issue Shadows From Beyond:

Earlier 1970's covers from The Unexpected were used on various issues of ongoing series such as Weird Mystery Tales, but it's notable that so many The Unexpected covers were used in one-off Murray/Federal titles whether they were 'Unexpected' or not.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

World Famous Comic Annual: The 'Mammoth' Atlas comic

Australian reprint comics mavens are familiar with K.G. Murray's Mammoth Annual and Gigantic Annual series of blockbuster-sized comics which contained coverless rebound issues of their regular series issues.

Less well-known is World Famous Comic Annual - the Atlas Publications version of Mammoth and Gigantic, which predated the K.G. Murray titles, and ran for 11 issues between 1951 and 1955, according to

There are three significant points of difference between the Atlas and Murray issues:

1. It appears World Famous Comic Annual was a mail-order item. As per "The advertising for this comic directed orders to "Beltern Merchandising Co. 282 Queen's Parade, Clifton Hill." This is Atlas' address." This may account for the relative scarcity of this series;

2. Issues of World Famous Comic Annual contained 9 rebound 24-page comics, compared to the regulation 3 issues of the K.G. Murray titles (which were  initially 100-page issues);

3. The rebound issues in World Famous Comic Annual retained their covers, unlike the K.G. Murray issues which were coverless.

My copy of World Famous Comic Annual #1/NN contains the following rebound issues:

The Katzenjammer Kids #16
Jane #5
Buck Ryan Detective #17
Garth #16
The Lone Wolf #20
Flynn of the FBI #9
G-Man #7
Sergeant Pat of the Radio Patrol #21
Captain Atom #51

I'm unsure of the date of this issue. guesstimates 1951, yet some of these issues are from 1952 according to

I have previously discussed other such titles with rebound issues, for example Dell's Fantastic Adventure and Daring Adventure, and Gold Key's Amazing Adventure, not to mention K.G. Murray's other minor forays into this arena with horror and romance titles such as Young Love Romances, All Love Romantic Stories and Scary Stories Annual. I expect there are others - I don't think I've seen a Transport or Horwitz equivalent but would love to spot such an animal, especially with the covers included.