Monday, July 9, 2018

1979 and the Murray Publishers imprint



For quite a while now I've known that K.G. Murray comics with the Murray Publishers logo as per the inhouse advertisement above were published in 1979. This logo superseded the second Planet Comics logo, and on the back of reviewing the Murray comics c.June 1980 I thought I'd dig into the issues bearing this Murray Publishers logo an see if I could identify a start and end date. I think I've accomplished that goal and in the process I've unearthed some other interesting information.

The earliest issues with confirmed dates that I have found with this logo date from July 1979. These issues include Super Adventure Album #11, Bumper Western #72 and Superboy #116.

Superboy #116 is of particular interest as it has the Planet Comics logo as well as the Murray Publishers logo, and is therefore a transitional issue:


The latest issues with confirmed dates that I have found with the Murray Publishers logo date to January 1980. These issues include The Fastest Gun Western #38 and Bumper Western Album #73.

In other words, based on the sample I have examined, the first Murray Publishers logo was active for a period of no more than 7 months, from July 1979 to January 1980. 

There are some issues published in July 1979 which still carry the Planet Comics logo, such as Mighty Comic #127 and Super Heroes Album #13, but certainly the rest of the 1979 K.G. Murray catalogue is branded Murray Publishers for the duration. The exceptions to this rule are discussed below.

The Murray Publishers branding brought the non-superhero titles under the one umbrella. Titles such as Bumper Western Album, The Fastest Gun Western, Battle Action Album, Savage Tales, Magic Moment Romances, For Lovers Only, Young Love, Secret Romances, All Love Romantic Stories, Terror Tales Album, Doomsday Album, Haunted Tales and Weird Mystery Tales had no branding as such before this point, and they all picked up the Murray Publishers logo without transitioning from the Planet Comics logo. Ghostly Tales and Career Girl Romances are exceptions to this rule, each bearing the Planet Comics logo before joining the Murray Publishers fold. 

Titles also experienced a price hike in this period. It appears the rise was effective September 1979. Examples of the September 1979 price rise include Giant Superman Album #37, Batman Album #44 and Planet Series 2 #6 Strange Suspense Stories, each of which had a cover price of $0.80 up from $0.75.

When this Murray Publishers logo expired the titles transitioned to the Murray Comics logo with the Murray the Cat mascot:


However, there were some exceptions. For example, Doomsday Album donned a modified Murray Comics logo which looked very similar to the Murray Publishers logo:


Indeed, Doomsday Album #18 has a blank space where this logo was mistakenly omitted:


The non-cat Murray logo carried on deep into 1981.

Super Heroes Annual also bears this modified Murray Comics logo:


This issue dates from 21 December 1979 - the precise date is courtesy of a newsagency sticker on my copy. I have seen a copy with a newsagency date marking 5, suggesting that as a premium product, this issue had an extended shelf life until May 1980.  

Another variation of the Planet Comics/Murray Publishers logo could be found on the 32-page colour issues of series such as Batman and Robin and Superman:

A you can see, Batman and Robin #13 has the distinctive  All Color Planet Comics logo placed beneath the Murray Publishers logo, and by the next issue, the Planet reference has been removed so that it reads Murray Publishers All Color Comic:


Batman and Robin #14 appears to have been published c.November 1979. The next issue would carry the Seven Seas Stamp Contest c.April 1980. 

Note that Superman #13 appears to date after July 1979 but the series doesn't include the Murray Publishers logo until #14 c.November 1979. Superman #13 may have shipped late, or my data is incorrect on this issue.

The Planet Series comics are a conspicuous variation on the theme. Planet Series comprised of unrelated one-shot issues numbered as a series.

The first issue in the series to bear the Murray Publishers logo was Planet Series 2 #5 Love 1979:


The Planet Comics logo was dropped for this issue, but reappears on the next issue, Planet Series 2 #6 Strange Suspense Stories:


The combination of the Murray Publishers branding and the Planet Comics logo was maintained for the duration of Planet Series 2 through Planet Series 2 #10 World of Speed. On the data to hand I date this issue February 1980, but I expect to eventually find a copy which confirms an on-sale date of January 1980 as per James' entry.

Curiously, it was not until Planet Series 3 that the series technically attributed the series name in the number box - and this was done with the advent of the aforementioned Murray Comics cat logo! In other words, Murray committed to the Planet Comics-inspired attribution over the course of two logo and imprint changes.

As the Murray Publishers branding expired a new imprint was born - the Murray Romance Library imprint. Romance series such as Love Song Romances, Magic Moment Romances, For Lover's Only, Secret Romances, All Love Romantic Stories and Young Love all began with an issue or two with the Murray Publishers branding before transitioning to the new dedicated romance imprint effective January/February 1980. This was reflected in modifications to the advertising of the romance stable:



When I began this research I anticipated I'd find that that the Murray Publishers branding ran for the better part of a year. It's quite possible that earlier issues with the Murray Publications logo will be identified, maybe as far back as May 1979, but I'll be surprised to find any earlier than that. I also  suspect there is another transitional issue like Superboy #116 to be unearthed. We shall see.

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