Sinister Tales

Jun 1, 2021

This early Alan Class comic is unusual for featuring three or four 1950s Atlas war strips that have never been reprinted again by Alan or anyone else. Mostly the main six Class comics contained SF/Horror/Fantasy fare. It seems early Class comics had adverts on the inside front cover and on the back cover. Admittedly the fist ad was for other books he was selling. The back cover was an ad for stamp collecting (we did that in those days for some reason?!?). For most of the runs of Alan’s comics they contained no adverts at all apart from a list of the other comics he was selling. I wonder why? Was it too much trouble or didn’t potential advertisers think the comics were selling in sufficient numbers compared to “proper” UK comics like Lion and Valiant etc?

It boggles the mind that someone would spend the time collecting (almost) all of the 1472 issues produced by Alan Class but here they are. It’s far more convenient (and far more complete) than the clicking and scrolling required to reach all the images in the Grand Comic Database site.

He does however clear up the mystery of the two different issues of Suspense No 90. One issue just had a typo on the cover. It really should have been No 96.

You can find the “book” right here.

How much?

Aug 1, 2020

£452 and not forgetting the 64p. Well you do get free postage. Personally I think a poor condition copy of Creepy Worlds 32 is worth about 64p tops. Even less when encapsulated as you can’t read it or check how many detached pages there actually are. I doubt that it has “cream to off-white pages” either.

And then scrolling further down eBay I see the same comic for sale at a staggering $29999.95. Admittedly this one comes complete with the cover printing plates. But the seller would have purchased this package for a fraction of the current asking price from 30th Century Comics just few years ago. I own a few similar comics with plates myself purchased for approx £20/£30 each at the time. There are other Class comics complete with cover printing plates still for sale and reasonably priced at 30th Century Comics (but not Creepy Worlds 32 or any other issues with FF covers) right now.

I recall a few years ago when some chancer wanted $49999.99 for a similar comic that didn’t even have the printing plates. Interesting to note looking at the back cover, that when Creepy Worlds 32 was first published (in 1964 or perhaps 1965) Alan had yet to publish the last two of his 6 main titles. Uncanny Tales and Astounding Stories began circa 1966. I recall purchasing No1 of Astounding Stories from my local newsagent as soon as it appeared on their counter. (For some odd reason I was deluded enough to collect first issues of anything and everything at the time). Not printing months or years on the covers (or inside) did give the comics a longer shelf life than all the other weeklies then available and some Class comics sat in the newsagents for months. Most of my money went on Marvel/DC/UK “Power” comics in those days.


More How much?

Aug 1, 2020

So whilst I’m browsing the Grand Comic Database to check out Alan Class Comics covers I noticed an odd thing. At some point in 1974/1975 as inflation inflated prices increased from 6p to 8p overnight. It must have happened quickly as some issues numbers are available at both prices. The 8p issues have the 6p crossed out in a very unprofessional way. Fair enough. But then the following month(s) some titles reverted to 6p. Had Alan forgotten he’d changed the prices or were comics with higher issue numbers printed before lower ones? Or were all issues available for a period of a few months at both prices? Anything is possible. The back covers say “published monthly” but I read somewhere that Alan actually published his main 6 titles 10 times per year. There are even a few issues where he forgot to number the comics altogether.

So prices went up from 6p to 8p and would continue to rise throughout the 1970s and 1980s. There are various Alan Class Comics in the Grand Comic Database showing 6p or 8p prices. Why then does my copy of Creepy Worlds 140 clearly show a 7p price??? I’ve perused the GCD once more but can’t see any other issues of his comics, whatever the title,  bearing that particular price point. How odd!

Variant covers

Aug 1, 2020

According to Wikipedia and most places on the Interweb the first comic to be printed with two completely different covers (as opposed to covers with the same artwork but different prices) was DC’s Man of Steel No1 of 1986.

Alan Class beat them to it by a decade and a half with Amazing stories of Suspense 90!

Coming around again

Aug 1, 2020

The first 4 issues of Alan Class’ Creepy Worlds and Secrets of the Unknown displayed comic code stamps in the top right corner as did the original comic covers when they were first published in the US in the late 1950s. This was probably a mistake as the 8 issues may have contained the story featured on the covers but all other contents were random often containing one or two pre-code stories as well. So from issues 5 onwards Alan invented his own code (?!?).

Approx 700 comics later across 6 titles and it seemed that Alan had exhausted his inventory and material started appearing again, but for Creepy Worlds 147 he forgot to modify the cover so for one final time a comic code stamp appeared on a Class comic, This was rectified for later reprints of reprints when the material came around again.

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.