Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Gredown double-dipping

And yet another instance of Gredown double-dipping... Thanks to Dillon Naylor for pointing this one out and sending through some scans.

Vampirella #54 - The final issue?

Vampirella is one K.G. Murray series which has flown under my radar until very recently.

I don't have too much to say about it yet (other than there's some very good non-Vampirella back-up horror stories in the issues I've browsed through), but I would like to ask if anyone knows of any issues later than #54 in this series, or indeed of any other Australian editions or series.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Federal Daredevil # 9

There was a query a few months ago as to whether there were any Federal Daredevil issues after #8... well, there's at least one more... but it would seem only the first eight issues are in black and white.

By Request: A Splash of Delta 99

This is the splash page to the second feature in The Rats .

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pit of Evil #1: The First Gredown Horror Comic?

Since I began collating the Gredown Horror Comics List earlier in the year with the help of a number of collectors, we’ve been keeping an eye out for a Gredown issue with a date earlier than 1976. There were plenty of $0.40 covers with a 1976 date, but nothing earlier, so we assumed they started in 1976.

Well, Pit of Evil Vol. 1 No. 1 was printed in 1975, according to the indicia.

I suppose it’s possible it was printed in 1975 but ‘published’ ie: on the stands in 1976… but I’m happy to call it a 1975 publication! And based on a quick check it appears all the contents are from Charlton comics cover-dated mid-1975 or earlier.

With 13 issues to its name, Pit of Evil is the highest numbered and, it would appear, the longest running of the Gredown horror series – indeed Pit of Evil #1 could be the first of all the Gredown horror issues!

Speculation on the run... Maybe, maybe not... Who knows? The quest for answers continues.

PS I’ve collated a bit more more info on titles and issue numbers over the last month from various sources so I’ll be updating the list shortly, so if anyone has more data to send to me, by all means do so and I’ll endeavour to incorporate it in the next summary.

By Request: A Johnny Galaxy Page

Friday, October 19, 2007

Superman Supacomic #97: Giant Superman Super Library

Superman Supacomic typically featured covers sourced from the Superman family of books – predominantly Superman and Action Comics, and with a hefty contribution from World’s Finest Comics in the 1960’s. A couple of early issues (#’s 2 and 5) featured covers from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, which were usually reserved for Super Adventure Comic.

There were two prominent exceptions to the Superman family rule: #1 was an original Australian anthology-style cover; and #10 opted for a Batman and Robin cover from an issue of Detective Comics. Of course at this stage Superman Supacomic was the main forum for Batman and Detective Comics stories, but it is still anomalous in terms of a Superman Supacomic cover (and I don’t know what is on the cover of Superman Supacomic #7, so any of these exceptions could prove to be slightly less exceptional…)

Yet one of the most curious Supacomic covers is for issue #97. The lead story is “The Prisoner of DEMON!” from Superman #191, November 1966, but instead of printing the cover from that issue, the K.G. Murray editors decided to run with a copy of the splash page from the story!

Why did they do this? Maybe the original cover was earmarked for other duties, for example, as a Colossal Comic cover. Maybe they thought the splash was more user-friendly for the Superman Supacomic masthead. Maybe the US cover was lost or damaged. Maybe they just preferred a cover which included Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

Or maybe this story was being prepared for an issue of Superman Super Library, and reallocated at the last minute. The covers for Superman Super Library typically featured the splash page of the story for cover duties. They generally reprinted 1950s stories – I tend to associate the Super Library’s with Wayne Boring splash page covers – but contemporary reprints were not unheard of. I do know that every time I see this issue it looks to me like what a Giant Superman Super Library issue would look like.

Who knows?! As usual, we can only speculate.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol

I think the first time I came across Johnny Galaxy in a K.G. Murray comic was in an issue of Climax Adventure Comic. It wasn’t until much later that I was amazed to find there was a series of four issues preceding the Climax instalments (I think Mark Cannon first mentioned this to me). I don’t know much about the publishing history of Johnny Galaxy, but here’s a few tidbits I’ve come across.

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol was published in the UK as Space Ace by Atlas. I understand it also appeared as a back-up feature in various Marvelman-related titles published by L.Miller &Sons Limited

Many instalments are signed/credited to Jose Bea, a Spanish artist. According to various internet sites Bea co-created Johnny Galaxy (“Johnny Galaxia”) and worked for the Spanish agency Selecciones Ilustradas (SI). As we know this agency provided comics to English-speaking markets such as Australia.

I believe some of the chapters are illustrated by Fernando Fernandez (they appear to be signed “Fernando”). Ramon Escolano Metaute is another artist who also worked on Johnny Galaxy.

It’s curious that as early as 1968 K.G. Murray was publishing material which appears to have been sourced direct from SI, which we associate with the Gredown horror magazines of the 1970’s. I assume they dealt directly with SI because the series is not called Space Ace as it may have been had it been sourced via a UK publisher. It begs the question: Why would SI distribute the series under two different English names?

As Kevin Patrick says: “KG Murray, which used to rely almost solely on DC Comics material for its editorial content, began using European/Spanish material in its non-superhero titles, such as Super Giant, and their various Western comics including Bumper Western Comic and Fastest Gun Western…. While SI was by no means the only Spanish agency syndicating comic strips worldwide throughout the 1970s, they were arguably the largest - and could well have been responsible for the lion's share of translated Spanish/European comic strips appearing in Australian comic magazines during that decade, including those published by KG Murray and Gredown…”

Given Johnny Galaxy predates K.G. Murray titles such as Super Giant and the horror titles such as Creepy, it may be that Johnny Galaxy was K.G. Murray’s proverbial toe-in-the-water in dealing with SI. As far as I know neither Johnny Galaxy nor Space Ace nor Johnny Galaxia were published in the US, so presumably there was no conflict in dealing with a European agency at the same time as the agency which provided the DC material to K.G. Murray.

But again, this is all speculation. It’s just bits and pieces of information loosely held together by guesswork and deduction.

What I can confirm is that instalments of Johnny Galaxy appeared in Climax Adventure Comic #’s 7,8,9,10 and 13. (Something tells me that Johnny Galaxy may have also appeared in early issues of Super Giant, but file this under TBC for the moment).

In fact the cover for Climax #10 is a reprint of the first panel of the Johnny Galaxy story reprinted in that issue. It works quite fine, but it certainly doesn’t match the painted SF Pulp images on the covers of the self-titled issues. In my opinion if nothing else these covers warrant seeking out the issues - they are the main attraction for me, and I now have copies of all four issues, which is quite a feat really as they are not very common, especially in reasonable condition.

Which also says two things to me – 1. They were not big sellers, and 2. Those who bought them read them over and over.
Postscript August 2009: See James' article on Johnny Galaxy.