More Red Comet

Jan 17, 2011

The more adventurous Newsagents shop in the UK of 50 years ago may have contained a few copies of the flimsy monthly comics from the smaller companies like Miller and Atlas along with the usual Fleetway and D.C Thompson weeklies. The more adventurous comic buyer of 50 years ago may well have purchased the odd issue of “Red Comet”. I wonder if they would have realised then that the material contained within was already 20 years old.

Red Comet appeared in approximately the first 20 issues of Fiction House’s famous Science Fiction anthology title “Planet Comics” circa 1941. It was only here in the UK 20 years later however that he got his own comic. The UK Atlas Publishing (no relation to the Timely/Marvel Atlas) produced at least 9 monthly issues in 1961/1962. They contained 28 pages of black and white reprints featuring Fiction House characters such as Red Comet, Auro Lord of Jupiter and Gale Allen at 6d a throw. (Although oddly, issue No 5 doesn’t contain a single Red Comet story despite him being the title character !). The covers are unique to the UK even though the original American Planet Comics covers were usually far better, often showing mini-skirted girls of the future (with 1940s hairstyles) being carried away by gruesome aliens. Looking at the back page advert there were at least six different Atlas monthly comics still being published in early 1962. Space Ace continued until 1963 and may have been their final comic although books continued to be published by Atlas later into the 1960s. I have a few copies of Space Ace and some of the Westerns along with the more well-known Superman/Superboy/Batman/SuperAdventure comics and Annuals I have mentioned in previous blogs. Space Ace was an interesting title as it was one of the few UK Atlas comics that wasn’t full of reprints from the USA. Although it began with UK sourced stories and art after a dozen issues it transformed into an english language version of the Spanish Johnny Galaxia. See here. I’ve never seen a copy of Atlas’ Planet Stories but I presume it would have been similar in appearance and content to the Red Comet ones containing Planet Comics reprints but who knows, it was all before my time. The best (nay, the only) book on this subject is Denis Gifford’s “Space Aces” from 1991. I may have to drag it out and re-read it to remind myself about this forgotten era.