Monday, January 21, 2019

Newton Comics: Considering the August 1976 period

On the heels of the transfer ads in the Sunday Observer during the period May-July, the following advertisement appeared in the Sunday Observer 25 July 1976:

The three issues clumsily namechecked in this ad are:

These three issues have a uniform design. They are numbered, they are cover-dated August 1976, and they have the same black banner across the top of the cover pronouncing the Free King Size Superhero Poster and the Camera Contest. 

They also happen to include a Captain America Bulletin on the inside front cover:

We recall this making it's first appearance with some degree of fanfare back in December 1975. Like a tried and true political slogan it is reinvoked in August 1976 as Newton launches another campaign to establish a presence in the marketplace. The darker shading differentiates it from the bright yellow of the original Bulletin, and perhaps unconsciously symbolises a somewhat less optimistic relaunch than its sunny forebear.

Also cover-dated August 1976 are the following issues:

Dracula #14

The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #4

These three issues also belong to the set above - they have the same Poster and Camera Contest and the same Captain America Bulletin. However, they are also a conspicuous subset - the banner at the top of the cover begins at the top of the page and, more significantly, these issues are new instalments of previously suspended series.

The issues in the first subset are all advertised as On Sale Now. On first blush this suggests that all of these issues - or at the very least one of them - was published 24 July 1976, irrespective of the August cover date. However I suspect that these three were published over three successive weeks. I say this because the advertisement ran for three weeks until 8 August 1976. Assuming this is the case, then the publishing schedule for these three issues pans out like this:

24 July 1976: Newton Four-In-One #1
31 July 1976: Newton Triple Action #1
7 August 1976: Newton Spectacular #1

It's an assumption, but it is based on balancing the merits of the evidence to hand. It also has the benefit of precedence as it replicates the practice of the initial launch of Newton Comics in May-June 1975.

It also means the next three issues in the second subset neatly fill the schedule for the remaining three weeks in August 1976. The sequence can be juggled in any compatible configuration, but for argument's sake, if we place the two blue banner issues first, reflecting the order of each series' initial publication, the schedule looks like this:

14 August 1976: Planet of the Apes #17
21 August 1976: Dracula #14
28 August 1976: The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu 14

Yes, there's even more guesswork re: the second subset, but in lieu of further data, I'm pencilling these dates with an asterisk into my database for my own reference.

All but one of these issues includes the same Bullpen Bulletin/Marvel Mailbag in which the new formats - 84-page and 100-page issues - are ratified as permanent. Some of these issues are cross-promoted in the in-house advertisements.

The Free King Size Super-Hero Posters in these issues were different to the posters in the 1975 issues. Rather than being stapled into the centre of the books, these posters were larger and folded, and inserted loose into the books. One of the posters used the same image as the advertisement above:

This poster is in my copy of Newton Spectacular #1

Another poster I believe was inserted into Newton comics in August 1976 is this one:

This photo was supplied to me by Robert Thomas. I have a copy of this poster, but it is eluding me for the moment. When I locate it I will update this image and also check for any markings which may indicate where it came from. I note the copy above has 7 written on the top. If this indicates a month, it may refer to a July 1976 issue as discussed earlier. 

Robert sent me a photo of yet another King Size poster:

It is possible, even likely this poster was also inserted in some August 1976 issues. 

However, this may be the Thor poster referred to by Ash Long in his notes to Robert Thomas: "Thor posters were inserted into 28,235 new (Captain America, Planet of the Apes) and recycled (Daredevil, Apes, Captain America, Hulk, Sub-Mariner and Kung Fu) in March 1976" And I note there is a 3 pencilled in at the top of the poster, which may refer to March. (I will address this particular episode relating to recycled Heritage Series issues in a separate post). I also note that Long's notes indicate that "[In] March 1976, Spiderman posters were added to Daredevil, Hulk, Captain America, Submariner, and Planet of the Apes comics (quantity 18,600)". It does appear that these large posters were used twice - in March 1976 and August 1976.

Being loose, such posters are now much scarcer than the stapled variety, and even scarcer than the swap cards. Indeed, based on Ash's notes, it appears many issues hit the stands without the advertised posters.

1 comment:

Robert Thomas said...

Awesome work! As a long-time collector it gladdens me to see this particular period of the Newton "King Size Posters" investigated and resolved. I had always assumed that there were NEVER any posters in the August issues and it never occurred to me that they would be loose, folded and un-stapled. So it may be possible, somewhere in someone's garage or storage chest, or buried beneath a piled stack of 70s newspapers, periodical and comics, there may be a Four-In-One, Spectacular or Triple Action still with its folded King Size Poster. The hunt is on again!