Sinister Tales

May 26, 2010

Now, where have I seen this cover before ??  Although I bought this when it was first published I can’t remember when that would have been…. its not like I kept a list…mid to late 1970s ?? Who knows…Alan Class never dated his comics. Sinister Tales, along with the other 5 main Class Series comics such as Uncanny, Astounding etc began circa 1962-1964 ?? I don’t even know if he kept to a strict monthly schedule. I don’t know much do I ?? I do know that the best interview with Alan is by Terry Hooper here. And I do know that the same cover appeared many years earlier on this comic.

And, of course, it originally appeared on this comic.

Astonishing Stories

May 12, 2010

According to various sources around the Interweb Alan Class published 1448 individual comics up until his company’s demise in 1989. His main 6 titles of Astounding Stories, Creepy Worlds, Secrets of the Unknown, Sinister Tales, Suspense Stories and Uncanny Tales ran for many years and accounted for 1348 of them. The remaining 100 issues (or 96 plus the 4 Ally Sloper magazines) consisted of an assortment of 18 short-lived titles such as Journey into Danger and Weird Planets. Eight titles appeared for one issue only such as Uncensored Love, Tales of the Supernatural and this lone unnumbered issue of Astonishing Stories from the mid 1960s.

The reason for this comic being issued only Alan knows. The majority of his books had similar content (mostly a mish-mash of ACG/Atlas/Charlton Fantasy/SF with some random super heroics from Magicman, Nemesis, The Phantom, early Marvel etc black and white reprints) and the titles of the comics were pretty irrelevent. When I bought this comic (in 1965 or 1966 ??) I thought I was buying the latest issue of Astounding Stories anyway !!!

Another of the numerous Alan Class black and white reprint anthologies that appeared in the UK from the early 1960s to approx 1990 was “Amazing Stories of Suspense” (usully just shortened to “Suspense”). Containing reprints of Atlas, Marvel, ACG, Charlton and Archie superhero comics with no continuity you never knew what to expect in each issue. Some of the stories reprinted (especially in the earlier issues) have probably never ever been reprinted in the States. For instance in this issue there are stories from the early 1950s from Atlas’ Strange Tales and Marvel Tales.

Even the young me realised the contents were far from being “All Brand New”. Issue 19 (probably published around 1965) contains the classic Ditko story called “It happened on the Silent Screen” from Marvel Comics’ Tales to Astonish 21 of 1961. Interestingly the whole story unfolds without a single word balloon being used. Perhaps Steve Ditko should be recognised as the one who first came up with the character called “The Hulk” many months before the “Incredible Hulk” first appeared in his 6 issue series (Marvels first ever mini-series ??) of 1962.

The back cover reminds you of the other titles avaiable. Journey into Danger only lasted a few months but most of the other titles were published for years.

I purchased Issue 93 (undated as were all of these “Class Series” comics) when it was new, probably around 1970. The main story comes from Archie/Radio comics Mighty Crusaders 5 originally published 3 or 4 years earlier. Again the back cover reminds you of the other five monthly comics Alan Class was to issue until the demise of his company. The final “Suspense” is believed to be number 241.

Out of this World

May 6, 2008

Alan Class Comics’ UK science fiction anthology comic “Out of this World” ran for 23 issues in the mid 1960s. If you look the title up in the Grand Comics Database Cover Gallery they claim that issue No 1 came out in 1962. I believe it was later than that.. possibly 1964 or 1965. I bought these comics new off the spinner racks in 1966 and 1967. In fact I continued to buy similar Alan Class reprint comics with titles like “Suspense” and “Uncanny” until the company ceased publishing in 1989. “Out of this World” consisted of 68 black and white pages for a Shilling. (That was 5p in pre-decimal money.) That was also the same price as a 36 page Marvel or DC comic…but the US comics did have the luxury of colour.

Matters are complicated by there being no date EVER on any Alan Class book. And without  the problems of a date on the cover there was always the possibility of repeat printings or even unsold warehouse stock appearing in the shops a few years after the original print runs. With Alan Class comics anything is possible.

You’d  think Alan would have reprinted the Charlton books in order using the Charlton covers, but no that would be too logical. These books contained a mixture of Charlton SF stuff, Captain Atom, Marvel monsters…even early adventures of the Mighty Thor with the covers often giving no clue to what was to be found inside.

For example what is most interesting about Alan Class Comics “Out of this World” No 17 is that it contains (for possibly the first time in the UK) a reprint of Spiderman’s Origin story from “Amazing Fantasy” 15.

Lets just enlarge that last panel. I wonder if Stan Lee and Steve Ditko realised quite what an impact Spiderman would have. Still, its a powerful line for a then obscure story in an obscure “Fantasy” Comic Book.
     “With great power there must also come – - great responsibility!”                           
A few Politicians should heed that!

Postscript. There was a second series of “Out of this World” that ran for 10 issues. The GCD have definitely got their dates mixed up here. They have No 1 being published in 1964 and yet the cover clearly shows a price of 20p. That places the comic AFTER 1971 when decimal currency began. I think 1974 is more likely the correct date for these.

Alan Class Comics

March 9, 2008

Alan Class produced a range of black and white comics in the UK from 1961 to 1989..ish. I can’t be precise because Alan never put any date on any comic. All the comics were pretty much interchangeable despite the different titles like Astounding, Uncanny, Sinister Tales or Creepy Worlds. The contents were a mixture of 1950s and 1960s SF anthology material from the USA. This varied from ACG, Charlton, Atlas-era Marvel and sometimes Marvel Superheroes like early FF and Spiderman all mixed up without any continuity whatsoever. By the early 1970s Alan had used all the material in his posession and so just shuffled all the stories up and carried on publishing his magazines with reprints of reprints until slow sales and distribution problems ended the line in the late 1980s.

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Here is Creepy Worlds 40 from the 1960s. The price throughout the 1960s was One Shilling for 68 pages. Note how Alan has invented his own version of a Comics Code stamp where he approves his own comic!! 

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By Creepy Worlds 152 the material was coming around again. The price has increased to 10p placing this issue somewhere in the mid 1970s. Alan had removed the word “new” from the cover and evidently thought twice about his “approved” endorsement.

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Four or five years later we have reached issue 186 and Alan evidently assumed his readers had forgotten the earlier issues and the same magazine re-appeared, now costing 20p.  

When these magazines were current very few comic fans seemed to bother to collect them. Now, in hindsight they are often the only place to read reprints from issues of ACG’s “Adventures into the Unknown”, early 1960s Charlton stuff and pre-monster Marvel/Atlas material from the likes of “Marvel Tales”, “Journey into Mystery” and “Strange Tales”. Often very early 1950s “pre-code” stories from Atlas comics like “Mystery Tales” and “Uncanny Tales” would appear. My advice then is that if you see an Alan Class comic going cheap (and they usually do) then buy it..

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For completeness here is Charlton’s Unusual Tales 29. It appears that here in the UK we had a far greater chance of reading this early 1960s Charlton material right through the 1960s and into the 1980s than comic buyers in the States !!! 

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Here is the cover from Creepy Worlds 245 from the 1980s. Note how Alan Class has used the cover from Charlton’s Out of this World 1 from 1956. Not wanting to waste a word for one issue only the title changes from “Creepy Worlds” to “Creepy World” !!

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This is the back page from Astounding Stories 115. It seems that Alan Class is advertising for back issues of his own magazines!! The address is certainly the same. Perhaps he needed them to copy so he could re-issue them once more?? I wonder if he still has a collection of pre-war UK comics? I am aware that in 2007 Alan put his file copies up for sale at 30th Century Comics in London. There are sill some issues currently available.

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