Friday, September 28, 2018

Newton Holiday Spectacular: Recycling the contents and the cover

Newton Holiday Spectacular is, like Newton Four-In-One, a one-shot issue compiling various seemingly random stories in the last stretch of Newton's short-lived tenure as Australia's publisher of local edition Marvel comics.

The contents are as follows:

The Merciless Puppet Master, originally published in The Fantastic Four #14
The Good, The Bad, and the Uncanny!, originally published in The Silver Surfer #4
A Skrull Walks Among Us!, originally published in The Fantastic Four #18 
The Coming of the Plantman!, originally published in Strange Tales #113

The Merciless Puppet Master had been previously published by Newton in Fantastic Four #10.

The Good, The Bad, and the Uncanny! had been previously published by Newton in The Silver Surfer #4. Indeed, this issue also featured the original classic cover image by John Buscema.  

A Skrull Walks Among Us! and The Coming of the Plantman! had both been previously published by Newton in Fantastic Four #11. The bonus in the Newton Holiday Spectacular is that The Coming of the Plantman is reprinted in full (it was a partial backup feature reprint in Fantastic Four #11), and that the cover to Strange Tales #113 is also reprinted, without the Marvel trade dress.

So there's maybe just a little content-wise to entice you to pick up this issue if you already have the other Newton comics. The sweetener of course is the cover - another in a line of Newton contrivances which both appeal and frustrate. The appeal is partly the odd montage and variance factor. The frustration is knowing you know where the images come from, but they remain just beyond the reach of your recall. I love identifying these, so here goes:

The Thor image hails from The Silver Surfer #4. The image has been reversed:

The Silver Surfer image originally appeared on the cover of the US The Silver Surfer #12:

This image has been enlarged and modified a bit.

The Fantastic Four image originally appeared on the cover of the US Fantastic Four #21:

I'm pretty sure this cover was otherwise not used by Newton Comics, so I guess it was a rather effective and efficient recycling of resources in modifying leftover material for this purpose. And given 98% of the book had been previously published, it's also rather appropriate.

Dracula #2: The Newton Comics edition

The cover to Newton Comics' Dracula #2 is modified and recoloured from the US Tomb of Dracula #5:

The contents are as follows:

A Poison of the Blood, originally published in Dracula Lives #1, June 1973 
Morbius, originally published in Vampire Tales #1, August 1973
Revenge of the Unliving!, originally published in Vampire Tales #1, August 1973

Australian editions of both Dracula Lives #1 and Vampire Tales #1 would be published by Page Publications just a few years later.

This colour poster in this issue is a modified panel from Fantastic Four #139 featuring The Human Torch, Medusa, Wyatt Wingfoot and The Thing.

This issue advertises Fantastic Four #3 as being On Sale Now. The Win A Monster contest ends September 1975. At this stage my best guess is that this issue was published August 1975.

AusReprints names the second story in this issue The Creature from the Crystal. The GCD entry for Vampire Tales #1 refers to it as Morbius. The GCD entry also has a link to a recent reprint in which the story is referred to as [The Creature from the Crystal]. I'm not sure how this proxy title came about. It may be that the index to the original printing of Vampire Tales #1 carried this title. The Page Publications printing of the index to Vampire Tales #1 simply refers to "Morbius", and as you can see below, the title page of the story, as presented in both Dracula #2 and Vampire Tales #1 is unambiguous:

Clearly there's a story to this alternate title - if I come across any more info in this regard I'll update the post.

At any rate, Dracula #2 did not feature any Tomb of Dracula reprints despite the cover. Based on editorial comments in the letter columns of issues around this period, it would appear the proofs for  some of the Newton issues did not arrive, which is why some of the early Newton series had 'odd' 2nd issues. The scheduled  material for Dracula #2 - Death to a Vampire-Slayer - may not have arrived at all, as I'm unaware of a Newton printing of this story. 

 The cover did reappear in Newton Comics as a colour poster, and the issue came with a Mature Readers warning - or rather, an enticement!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dracula #1: The Newton Comics edition

Newton Comics' The Incredible Hulk #2 carried an advertisement for the forthcoming Dracula series:

This appears to be a pre-production image. By the time Dracula #1 appeared it had earned a modified title - Tales of Horror:

The cover is recoloured from the US Tomb of Dracula #2:

The series begins with the story titled Dracula which originally appeared in the US Tomb of Dracula #1. The backup story was the 9-page Hobo's Lullaby from Vampire Tales #11.

Dracula #1 includes a colour Man-Thing poster drawn from the cover to the US Man-Thing #7. This poster appeared in other Newton Comics too - including The Incredible Hulk #2. The cover image was subsequently reprinted in Australia by Page Publications as The Man-Thing #3 and Monster of the Swamp.

Looking through the issue, it would appear conclusive that Dracula #1 was published early July 1975. Dracula #1 includes advertisements for The Fantastic Four #2 with an on-sale date of 12 July;  The Avengers #2 and The Amazing Spider-Man #4 with on-sale dates of 19 July; Planet of the Apes #3 - no specified release date but the issue has a June 1975 cover date; and The Incredible Hulk #2 - no specified release date but advertised as On Sale Now; and the Dracula Contest on the rear cover has a cut-off date 4 August 1975.. 

The advertisement for Dracula #1 in The Incredible Hulk #2 advises that it will be available "early next month". If Dracula #1 was published July 1975, then it stands to reason The Incredible Hulk #2 was published June 1975. The Incredible Hulk #2 does not have a cover date, but it does carry advertisements for The Amazing Spider-Man #3 with an on-sale date 5 July; and The Fantastic Four #1, Planet of the Apes #2, and The Avengers #1 are all advertised as On Sale Now. Whilst I don't yet have precise release dates for these three issues, I'm sure they were all published before July 1975, all of which suggests The Incredible Hulk #2 was indeed published June 1975. 

However, the kink in this triangulation is the note at the end of The Incredible Hulk #1 - on the last page it says "Don't miss Captain America in the next issue of The Incredible Hulk - on sale July 5". If that is correct, then it suggests that Dracula #1 was scheduled for publication early August 1975, not July 1975. And when the pre-production image is taken into account, it's not unreasonable to assume there may have been some delay in producing Dracula #1, which might push the release date to August 1975. Factoring in the Man-Thing poster common to both issues doesn't clarify the date issue for me as a case could be made for both July and August release dates on this basis.

I could speculate further - on possible delays and  What Ifs for either issue - but overall, the weight of evidence leans towards a July 1975 publication date for Dracula #1, intended or not. 

Update: Just had a quick look at The Avengers #2, which was published July 1975. The subscription page has Dracula added for a 12-issue subscription. It also includes an advertisement for Dracula #1:

This advertisement includes all the Newton stuff on the cover - the logo, the price, the Tales of Horror title, the No.1 Historic First Edition box - and it is advertised as On Sale Now. And the contest on the rear cover has a closing date of 4 August 1975. This clinches the July 1975 publication date for me.

Update 21/12/2018: Dracula #1 was advertised in the Sunday Observer 27 July 1975:

This is the first advertisement in the Sunday Observer for this series. It suggests 26 July 1975 as the publication date. The advertisements in this issue for other series clearly indicates an early July publication, however the timing of this advertisement is a strong indication the issue was delayed. 

Note the reference to Dracula Lives!, and to Man Thing as The Swamp Creature. It is also interesting that this advertisement promotes the subscription service.

The Australian Steranko Experience: Newton's Captain America #4 and Page Publications' Captain America #4.

Newton Comics' Captain America was published in March 1976.

The story contents are as follows:

 The Snares of the Trapster!, originally published in Captain America #108, December 1968
 Tomorrow You Live Tonight I Die!, originally published in Captain America #111, March 1969

Despite the proclamation on the banner, there was no poster included in this issue. In lieu of a poster, the double-page spread offers colour in-house advertisements. The rest of the pages include the regulation letter column and more advertisements. 

Interestingly, the contest in this issue has a cut-off date of 31 January 1976. These contests are often a reasonable and useful guide to the publication dates of the issues if there is no cover date. In this instance it appears to be an error. Considering the error mentioned above re: the missing poster, and the fact that one of the in-house advertisements is for this issue itself, I'd suggest that's a fair bit of evidence that this issue was put together under some strain and thus such errors crept in.

The cover is a classic Jim Steranko image originally published as the cover on Captain America #111:

The bright yellow background on the Newton Comics edition is immediately noticeable and makes for an attractive variant to the original, but I must say I miss the psychedelic red design element of the original.

This image was subsequently reprinted in Australia as the cover to Page Publications' digest-sized Captain America #4:

In this instance, the white background is maintained, however the psychedelic design element is again absent. Given this is absent in both books, a few years apart and by different printers, I can only guess that there was an inherent printing hurdle, probably related to linework.

Captain America #111 contains a number of  key sequences showcasing Steranko's page designs. One of these is the double-page spread on pages 12-13. The Newton and the Page editions both manage to maintain the double-page spread integrity of this sequence. The Page edition also reflects the separate pages of the "strange, mad, psychedelic nightmare" sequence of pages 9-10. However, the Newton edition happens to print these two pages side-by-side which, whilst accidental, makes for a better design and reading experience.

The Page Publications issue reprints Captain America #'s 109-111.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Newton Comics' Captain America #3: And Page Publications picks up the slack

Newton Comics' Captain America #3 was published in February 1976.

The story contents are as follows:

Cap Goes Wild!, originally published in Captain America #106, October 1968
If The Past Be Not Dead--, originally published in Captain America #107, November 1968

The poster in this issue is from the cover of Newton Comics' The Incredible Hulk #10.

The rest of the pages include a letter column, inhouse advertisements, a contest and the like.

The cover was contrived by Newton Comics. It is a composite of the iconic image from Captain America #100, and selected panels from Cap Goes Wild!.

Thankfully, the original cover to Captain America #107 was eventually published in Australia, by Page Publications in Captain America #3 c.April 1979: 

This issue reprints the main features from Captain America #106-108.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Federal Comics Comic Pack

Federal Comics recycled their unsold/returned comics. One method was via their Second Release program. Another method took the traditional route of reissuing rebound coverless copies under a new cover. There was also a third method involved - the 5-issue Comic Pack:

The issues in this comic pack are The New Teen Titans #8; Super Powers #2; Supergirl #5; Vigilante #2; and Super-Juniors #NN. 

There is no price or date information on this pack. The issues broadly date to early 1985, so presumably this pack was issued in 1985. Maybe for the Christmas holiday period. Or maybe even in 1986 around the time Federal ceased publishing such series.

It is also possible this Comic Pack wasn't a fully-fledged Federal product. The Federal name doesn't appear on the packaging, and the rather generic design suggests a third party was involved. It is clearly designed to hang off a peg, so it may have been stocked by non-newsagency/comics retailers. Maybe it was a 1980's Show Bag-type thing.

I don't know. I got mine some 7 years ago on eBay and it is still sealed, so if there's any information inside the bag, it's staying there for the moment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Newton Four-In-One #1: Compiling the leftovers

Newton Four In One #1 is cover-dated August 1976 and was published by Newton in the period after the cancellation of the first phase of their publishing program, when Newton converted its range of ongoing and one-off comics to 84-page and 100-page issues. This issue collates stories originally intended for the next issue of the respective series before the cancellations.

The cover to this issue is modified from the splash page to Spidey Strikes Back! originally published in The Amazing Spider-Man #19. Of course the cover to that issue is a classic image, but I must say I really like the Newton cover too. 

The main contents are as follows:

Spidey Strikes Back! originally published in The Amazing Spider-Man #19
Frenzy in a Far-Flung-Future! originally published in Iron Man #5
From the Void of Space Comes...The Super Skrull! originally published in Captain Marvel #2
Where Fall the Shifting Sands? originally published in The Incredible Hulk #113
When Magneto Strikes! originally published in Journey Into Mystery #109.

The Spider-Man story was likely scheduled for Newton's The Amazing Spider-Man #18, but the series was cancelled with #17, which reprinted stories from The Amazing Spider-Man #17 and #18.

Only 7 pages of the Captain Marvel story are included in this issue. An editorial note advises it is "continued from Iron-Man #2". Newton's The Invincible Iron Man #2 reprinted Unconquered is the Unicorn! from The Invincible Iron Man #4. It also reprinted 6 pages of the Captain Marvel story as a backup feature, itself continuing from Newton's The Invincible Iron Man #1. Clearly the Iron Man and Captain Marvel features in this issue were originally scheduled for The Invincible Iron Man #3, which wasn't published. 

The Incredible Hulk #15 was the last issue in the Newton series. Newton advertised The Incredible Hulk #16, which featured the cover image from The Incredible Hulk #113, but the series was cancelled before it was published:

This advertisement appeared in Fantastic Four #15, cover-dated March 1976, the final issue in the series.

Tracking the Thor stories originally published in Journey Into Mystery gives me a headache. The short summary is that many were published - out of sequence - as backup features in The Amazing Spider-Man, then some appeared in The Mighty Thor Giant 100-Page Annual and the 2-issue self-titled series, then a smattering appeared across a number of one-off titles, including this Newton Four In One.

The cover advertises a Free King Size Super Hero Poster. My copy doesn't have a poster, but it isn't missing any pages. The central 4 pages comprise of 2 letters pages (printed in the incorrect sequence) and 2 pages of advertisements  for Bay City Rollers magazines and gear. There is a single page Silver Surfer pinup, which also appeared as filler in other issues around this time, for example in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #4. My guess is that  a loose poster ala the Sub-Mariner poster in Newton Spectacular #1 was originally included.

This issue also includes full-page advertisements for Dracula, Newton Triple Action, Newton Spectacular and Planet of the Apes.

Some, if not all of these stories were later published in Yaffa's Marvel comics.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Moon Knight and Night Nurse: The $1.10 question

Page Publications' Moon Knight is based on the US Marvel Preview #21. It contains the complete main Moon Knight feature and the backup The Shroud story, but not the other text articles or letters pages. There is a Table of Contents, but there is no illustration as per the GCD entry.

There is no indicia date. The $1.10 cover price indicates this was published in 1982. My copy has a 12 marked in pencil on the cover which suggests it was on the stands c.September 1982. This puts it a few months beyond my cutoff for $1.10 cover price issues in my Yaffa  profile. I will keenly watch for further copies to come to light in order to clarify this.

This issue is a bit different to most $1.10 cover price Yaffas. Most of them are recycled editions of earlier issues. However, I am unaware of an earlier Moon Knight edition. Again, something to watch out for.

There are a few other such $1.10 cover price Yaffas for which I haven't spotted earlier iterations. Some 10 years ago I blogged about the Yaffa Night Nurse:

In the interim I have not seen another copy of this issue, let alone an earlier edition. Whilst it would not really surprise me to find that the Moon Knight issue is a true one-off, given the US edition is from 1980, it would surprise me if there wasn't an earlier version of Night Nurse with, say, a $0.60 cover price.

According to writer Jean Thomas, Night Nurse suffered from an identity crisis - too serious to appeal to the romance reader and not action-oriented enough to appeal to the superhero crowd.

I reckon this might account for the scarcity of the Yaffa edition too.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Heart Decides which Chatto is best

Juliette Picture Library #4 was published by Famepress with a cover date of February 1966.

Page Publications published the story The Heart Decides under a new Keith Chatto cover in Romance & Love Library #2:

Page Publications republished this story a short time later under another Chatto cover in Marvellous Love Stories #1:

It's not too hard to guess which of these three scenes accurately reflects the detail in the story. And probably not too hard to guess which I prefer. So let me just say I look forward to discovering that Chatto had occasion to swipe the image on Juliette Picture Library #4 for an earlier edition of this story, and that he also had occasion to provide a cover for a $0.40 Page Publications edition.

Nightmare #5 and the 'problem' with Nightmare #6

Nightmare #6 was published by Page Publications c.1977. 

The contents are the same as Nightmare #15 published by Skywald:

The only difference in the contents is that the stories are published in a different sequence, and the Australian edition does not include the letter column A Wretched Bunch of Letters. Presumably there are advertisements in the Skywald edition not replicated in the Page edition.

The other difference, of course, is the covers on the respective issues. What is especially noteworthy is that the cover to the Skywald issue was published by Page Publications at least once - as #8 in the same series:

This cover scan is taken from the AusReprints listing. 

As you can see from the AusReprints cover gallery for this series, there is no image for Nightmare #5. My collection of such issues is rather patchy, and unfortunately I don't have a copy of Nightmare #5, nor of Nightmare #8 . I've asked a few likely collectors for information, and have come up dry. 

So let me speculate and pose some questions:

1. I think we'll find that Nightmare #5 has the same cover as Nightmare #8
2. I think the contents will be the same as Nightmare #6
3. If this is correct, the new cover to #6 was rather devious in its intent 
4. But, where did the cover image for Nightmare #6 come from? A European source?
5. And wouldn't it be even stranger if Nightmare #5 didn't exist? Unlikely, but it would put a different spin on the cover to Nightmare #6.
6. Is there a third iteration of Nightmare #8 ie. an unnumbered issue? Or an unnumbered edition of Nightmare #6?

I look forward to answering these very important questions.

Captain Midnight #15: Chatto swiping, faults and all

Some days ago I was chatting to some fellow Chatto-philes and in part we discussed the  cover to Captain Midnight #15:

In particular we were distracted by the overlong rubbery legs. On the one hand we joked about the anatomically crude rendering. On the other hand we also conceded that it 'worked' from a design perspective.  

What I didn't know at the time was that the merits or otherwise of this image are not necessarily down to Chatto, for this image is a swipe from Captain Midnight (Fawcett) #61:

The Chatto image was subsequently reprinted at least two more times over the next three years

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

From romance to horror: A Chatto 'secret origin' story

This is Keith Chatto's cover to Horror Suspense Library #3:

The story contained within is The Edge of Fear, which I have covered before, and doesn't interest me here. 

What does concern me here is the poor woman. She appears to have lost her top between this issue and Horror Suspense Library #2:

This traumatic experience may be the reason she later uses her assets to turn the tables on men, leering at them in half shadow with a tease that renders them nervous and unable to perform, scrunched up in the bottom right hand corner like a moody Bernie Wrightson/Kelley Jones victim and, in the process, changing the Romance genre into the Horror genre that spawned her Secret Origin:

And to think it all started so innocently:

I'll never trust a man in a yellow shirt and pink tie again!

Oh, Chatto - how I wish you had drawn a longform horror romance comic in this period.