March 1, 2017
A few days ago I awoke with an image of the cover of “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane” No 50 in my mind even though I probably haven’t owned a copy since 1973! Memory seems to work along similar lines to a tape recorder. The majority of mundane memories get overwritten by new ones. However, with important/traumatic happenings in your life the brain must put a “do not delete” marker so that you can forever recall them for good or bad. Yet some mundane memories of various days have stayed with me with startling clarity. These memories haven’t been overwritten and I can still vividly picture the scenes after many decades whilst more recent events are forgotten.
For example I still recall random events that took place on a holiday in 1965, although I can’t recall the resort. In the 1960s family summer holidays were usually a week at the coast in a static caravan. For some reason in 1965 the accommodation was at a boarding house/small hotel. As we arrived at the hotel I noticed a shop further down the road with a comic spinner rack outside amidst the usual seaside sales tat. It didn’t take long before I’d blagged a two shilling coin from my father and set off to investigate. The comics on the spinner were an immediate disappointment. No superheroes at all. Some of the comics looked quite tatty as if they’d been there for years exposed to the salt air. Apart from a few Dell comics featuring long-forgotten western heroes, the rest were all GIRLS comics. I picked up a DC love comic and checked the small print on page three. It said 1963!! Still I went carefully through all the comics until I found two Lois Lane comics. Hooray! They weren’t too girly for me. They had Superman on the cover!
Inside the shop I proffered my two shillings and was surprised to get a shilling change. I was expecting to be charged 10d for each comic. I still had funds for two more comics! I carefully went through all the comics on the spinner rack once more. I found a Dobie Gillis comic. I assumed Dobie was a girl’s name (and I didn’t notice the full title was “The many loves of Dobie Gillis”) but the cover showing a spaceship looked interesting. Then finally I noticed a lone Patsy and Hedy comic amongst all the DCs. This really did look far too girly for me but it surprisingly had a Marvel comics logo top left so why not take a chance if it was only 6d? I was quite pleased to have added four more issues to my small but growing collection of “American” comics for the princely sum of two shillings.
I can even recall the four issues I bought that day. In fact I still own that Lois Lane number 54 fifty two years later.
It’s funny what things stick in your mind. I still can’t recall the resort but I vividly remember the next day of the holiday when right by the beach I found a kiosk selling icecreams etc and ALAN CLASS COMICS. I’d never seen these before but immediately realised they contained black and white reprints of REALLY OLD comics. Over the course of the week I purchased at least half a dozen which were read cover-to-cover sitting in a deckchair during one of those perfect summer days that only existed when you were young.
May 1, 2016
A steady stream of people continue to type “Alan Class comics” into search engines and, simply because I once posted a few cover images, they end up here. The place they really ought to visit is here where they can buy not only Alan Class comics but even still buy some of the printing plates used to produce the actual covers. A first in comic collecting?
February 1, 2016
Back in the dawn of time (early/mid 1960s) I purchased “Suspense” 14. I was immediately disappointed that the odd intriguing cover bore little relation to the actual story inside.
It probably took me a decade to finally track down the details of the issue number of “Mystery Tales” that contained the original (in colour!) story. Pre-Interweb the world moved at a very different pace!
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.
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 !!!
July 24, 2008
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.
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.