Thorpe and Porter Double Double comics

March 17, 2008

Do you remember how DC comics always printed this warning about selling their comics in any altered state.  

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Thorpe and Porter in the UK ignored this dire warning and came up with perhaps the oddest comics ever published anywhere.

Double Double comics were 4 remaindered comics with their covers removed and glued together within a new cover. Between 1967  and 1970 at least 24 of these 132 page comics were issued. I have seen issues of Adventure, World’s Finest, Superman, Action, Strange Adventures, Detective, Superboy and Batman. I believe there were others. Some only had one issue whilst Action and Detective had at least three each.

Here is Double Double Action number 1 (although there is no number on the cover) probably from 1967. I know it is the first one as it is priced at One Shilling and Ninepence. The  coverless comics inside are Action 342 from October 1966, Action 343 from November 1966, GI Combat 117 from April/May 1966 and Inferior Five 2 from May/June 1967. The cover seems to be  UK sourced artwork.

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Double Double Detective number 3 was evidently published in 1970 or 1971. It is dual priced at 12.5p and Two Shillings and Sixpence. The UK adopted decimal currency in early 1971 and there was a period when many products were labelled with the old and new prices. This magazine contains coverless copies of Detective Comics 352, 378, 359 and 372  (inserted in that order) dated between 1966 and 1968. Again the cover appears to be UK sourced artwork.

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The oddest thing of all about these comics is that not all issues had the same four comics inside. It was possible to purchase two copies of Double Double Detective 3 and find different coverless DC issues within. It was even possible to sometimes find a Marvel Comic mixed in with the DCs !!!!!

Here are 2 more Double Double comics I recently failed to win on E Bay. They suddenly seem to have become extremely collectable.

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16 Responses to “Thorpe and Porter Double Double comics”

  1. Comicology Says:

    Pretty interesting article. Why does Batman have his hands exposed, though?

  2. themagicrobot Says:

    Good point. He seems to have his gauntlets up his arms but bare hands !! I’ve been trying to find this cover on a DC comic without any joy so far. It seems to have a 1950s Sprang look about it. Perhaps it was a splash page from an older comic that a British artist re-drew.

    I plan to scan the 100s of unusual comics I have accumulated as time permits. There are already enough blogs about current issues and the popular stuff.

  3. Gary Fox Says:

    I have been collecting Double Double Comics for a while. As far as I know, there are 24 in total. They are: Action 1-4, Adventure 1-3, Batman 1-3, Detective 1-3, Jimmy Olsen 1, Justice League 1-2, Lois Lane 1, Strange Adventures 1, Superboy 1-2, Superman 1-3 and World’s Finest 1. The covers are all from original US DC comics. For example, Action 1’s cover is from Action Comics 333, and Detective 3’s cover is from Batman 152. There are some even stranger examples, such as Detective 2’s cover being from Blackhawk 163!

  4. themagicrobot Says:

    The info is appreciated. Thanks for confirming that there is an Action Double Double No 4 to look out for!!
    And I checked through all the DC Detective covers but never checked Batman covers. I thought it seemed familiar. It looks different without the word balloons!

  5. Gary Fox Says:

    Here’s a full list, I think:

    Action nn (1) (price = 1/9, cover = Action 333)
    Action 2 (1/9, Teen Titans 4)
    Action 3 (2/6, Justice League 56)
    Action 4 (10p, Action 336)
    Adventure nn (1) (1/9, Adventure 335)
    Adventure 2 (2/6, Adventure 358)
    Adventure 3 (10p, Adventure 366)
    Batman nn (1) – (1/9, Batman 168)
    Batman 2 (1/9, Batman 160)
    Batman 3 (12 1/2p + 2/6, Batman 170)
    Detective nn (1) (1/9, Detective 345)
    Detective 2 (1/9, Blackhawk 163)
    Detective 3 (12 1/2p + 2/6, Batman 152)
    Jimmy Olsen nn (1) (1/9, Jimmy Olsen 87)
    Justice League 1 (2/6, Action 328)
    Justice League 2 (12 1/2p + 2/6, Justice League 59)
    Lois Lane nn (1) (1/9, Lois Lane 60)
    Strange Adventures 1 (2/6, Strange Adventures 186)
    Superboy nn (1) (1/9, Superboy 124)
    Superboy 2 (10p, Superboy 139)
    Superman nn (1) (1/9, Action 329)
    Superman 2 (1/9, Superman 184)
    Superman 3 (12 1/2p + 2/6, Action 335)
    World’s Finest 1 (2/6, Superboy 123)

  6. themagicrobot Says:

    Wow, thats kind of you to take the time and trouble to fill in all the details. Oddly enough I bought a book today. Clive Selwood’s Autobiography. The book is subtitled “Secrets of the Record Business”. He has worked for or run a number of record labels over the years. Flicking through the book the phrase “Thorpe and Porter” caught my eye. Yes he worked for them too in the 1960s. He says that T+P “serviced” 1200 newsagents with soft porn and comics which I knew. What I didn’t know was that they were also responsible for the spinner racks of those cheap and cheerful “Pickwick” LPs and also the boxes of ex-jukebox 45rpm singles that every newsagent seemed to have!

    In 1969, at about the same time as the Double Double comics were being issued there was also a monthly magazine called “Super DC” published by Top Sellers. I believe that T+P were also responsible for that. (I must dig my old copies out to check.) Along with the British editions of Mad Magazine and Classics Illustrated there must be an interesting story still to be told.

  7. Jim Greer Says:

    I was a dc comic fan from early sixties onwards. I used to ask my newsagent about new titles such as Plop and Secret Origins as sometimes first issues of new titles were difficult to get. She would ask the thorpe and porter traveller to look out for them. I would frequently get complementary copies this way. I think there is a fascinating tale to be told about this company. They also used to distribute Men’s Adventure mags, Detective mags and pulp science fiction magazines. The downside was the haphazard way they used to send things out but this made collecting fun as you had to go round all the newsagents in your locality looking for new DC comics.
    Some people thought that what thorpe and porter brought sold was a bit sleazy but as a young boy who thought America was a very exciting place I used to marvel at all the treasures they circulated. The founders of the compnay are unsung heroes of British comics fandom and in this internet era we really ought to know more about them.

  8. themagicrobot Says:

    Thanks for the feedback Jim. Yes I too am amazed that there hasn’t been more written about the people who distributed our comics in the 1960s and 1970s. I don’t even know if T+P covered the whole country or not. I’m not even sure if they distributed Marvel and Harvey comics. My local shop had a T+P Spinner rack but it only ever held DCs. I had to go elsewhere for Marvels.I read somewhere that either Mr Thorpe or Mr Porter moved on to invent and/or distribute large print books. How many people would have had that mind-numbing job of stamping prices on thousands of comics. I feel we should be told !!

  9. Jim Greer Says:

    By the mid seventies, by which time they were called General Book Distributers, they only handled DC and Charlton. During the sixties they they distributed a large number of publishers in their usual ad-hoc way and occasionally I even saw some Australian comics, including an Australian version of Gold Key’s voyage to the bottom of the Sea. They distributed Marvel up until about 1970/1971 -probably at the same time Marvel broke away from DC as their distributer in the USA. They never handled Harvey as far as I know as Harvey comics tended to appear in different newsagents. There was a huge market for American comics and comics in general. Low birth rates and competition from other media seem to have put paid to that though comics still do well on continental Europe.
    I suggested to Dez Skinn about a year ago that he should write a piece as he used to work for them when he edited House of Hammer and the UK Mad magazine.

  10. themagicrobot Says:

    Yes it really is a different world now with “Previews” to order exactly which comics you require. Although in some ways in the 1960s and 1970s we were exposed to a greater choice than many areas of the USA and Canada.We had our own comics AND theirs! There were many places in the States that Charlton comics never reached.Although Dell comics were plentiful in the USA I only found them in the UK when on holiday.For some reason where I lived Harvey and Charlton Comics clogged up the spinner racks and were forever hiding the more interesting stuff like DC 80 page giants. Collecting was an adventure in the 1960s! One local newsagents only stocked Tower comics for a year or so around 1967/68, and when Tower finished they never had any other american comics. Very strange. I think over the course of that year I bought all of them including Undersea Agent and Tippy Teen! Funny how you remember these things! I also remember Dez from “fandom” in the early 1970s.I even bought some old fanzines from him not too long ago.

  11. Mark Read Says:

    Hi I have a copy of Double Double Action number 1, in good condition. Can you give me a rough indication of vlaue please. I also have some other UK published comics from that time.

    Regards
    Mark

  12. themagicrobot Says:

    When it was new 1/9d would have wiped out most of my weeks pocket money. £10 today perhaps. Personally I think it is still only worth 1/9d for Thorpe and Porter’s crime of ripping the covers off 4 new comics !!

  13. gary francis Says:

    hello, i have a copy of double double detective no2, in good condition, could you give me some advice on the value of this comic please.

  14. themagicrobot Says:

    Well lets just say don’t start planning any exotic holidays or think of buying a new car on the strength of it. In India it is worth 16 Chickens or 2 Goats. Or 5 quid.

  15. gary francis Says:

    thanks for your humerous reply, only one was sold on ebay on aug2 for £51, any reason why it would go for that much.

  16. themagicrobot Says:

    I suppose on an auction site if someone wants something badly enough to complete a collection…… I don’t think Detective No 2 is particularly rare. If you look further up this page to Gary Fox’s list of all the different titles I have to admit that even when I was buying/selling comics in the 1970s I never saw the third issues of ANY of the titles so they might be rare now…
    I’d still only bid up to £5 If I saw one personally. I can picture the dustbins at Thorpe and Porter overflowing with discarded comicbook covers…………………………


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