Lone Star Annual

Jul 1, 2015

Lone Star

Like Alan Class comics, comics produced by the Atlas Publishing and Distributing Company (no relation to Marvel/Timely/Atlas, or even the short-lived mid 1970s Atlas/Seaboard who both operated on the other side of the atlantic ocean) were sure to NOT date their range to maximise the chance for the newsagents to sell their monthly sixpenny black and white comics. I think the Annuals sold quite well however. The most popular ones were Superman, Superboy, Superadventure, (and later Batman) which were usually released around August/September time and bore two dates such as 1957/1958. The Lone Star Annuals (of which there were at least six..possibly ten) published between 1953 and 1963 seem to have dispensed with a date on the cover. They were numbered (usually inside) instead. As I only own two Lone Star Annuals I can merely assume the others in the series would have had similar contents. These two mostly contain the expected Lone Star rider western strips but are livened up by the inclusion of some cartoons along with Captain Cutlass and Space Ace.

Lone Star Annual No 4

Lone Star Annual No 6

Miller comics produced dozens of cowboy comics, usually re-printing stuff from the states. Atlas too had their share of western reprint comics. However Atlas’ Lone Star contained all-British material. Atlas took over in 1956 and the comic lasted until issue number 99 in 1963. Lone Star magazine had originally begun in 1953 as a tie-in promotional tool for Die Cast Machine Tools Ltd range of toys. Toy handguns with holsters and toy rifles were massively popular with children of the 1950s brought up on a diet of Cowboy TV shows. Usually they were “capguns” that made a “loud” bang when paper gunpowder capsules were inserted. These days toy weapons of any type are frowned on, although I see that there are still replicas around.

Lons Star advert

Wikipedia has this to say:-
Today, cap guns and other toy guns in the United States must be manufactured with a bright orange, red, or yellow tip placed over the “muzzle” of the cap gun, or with the entire gun made in these or other bright colours. Laws requiring these markings were made because of incidents where civilians – usually children or teenagers – were killed by police officers when the officers thought they saw real guns. While these incidents were rare, lawmakers decided that toy guns must be marked so they cannot be mistaken for real guns.It is also possible to commit acts of robbery with a replica gun, since no shots need to be fired from a gun that looks real.

Roy Rogers cap gun

There are many collectors throughout the world who collect all types of cap guns, even though restrictive laws in some areas may make it difficult. Whereas the toy guns brought small prices originally, they now command significant prices for many models, with some of the most famous sets of holsters, guns and original boxes selling for high prices at auctions and toy gun shows. Some collectors will collect all types of cap guns, but many collectors specialize in either guns named after a famous western hero or a particular company’s set, like the Nichols Industries or Hubley cap guns.

Interpol cap gun

PS: Die Cast Machine Tools didn’t just make toy guns. They produced a range of toy cars similar (though not quite as good quality) to the Dinky/Corgi models.

D.C.M.T. advert

More Atlas

Jan 1, 2013

Although they are now 38 years old it still seems to be quite easy to get the 1975-version Atlas Comics for not too much money. Galactus knows why, but on an impulse I’ve just acquired a stack of them from eBay. And I’ve still got loads that I foolishly bought when they were new!! Despite supposedly having given up “collecting” years ago, and as I’m so near to a full set, against my better judgement I feel an overwhelming urge to locate the missing issues now that I have virtually the complete checklist right here. I’m only missing the (difficult to find in the UK ) one-shot Gothic Romances and two Monster Mags.

Marvel Comics had called themselves Atlas for a period in the late 1950s. The UK also had an Atlas Publications producing comics and annuals at the same time. Most likely due to editorial disarray and a belief that as long as it looked like a Marvel comic it would sell in truckloads Seaboard/Atlas only survived for 6 months in 1975. By the time the returns began flooding in, it must have been obvious that the comics weren’t selling.

In 2011 three of the  Seaboard Atlas characters re-appeared with updated versions of The Grim Ghost, Phoenix and Wulf the Barbarian. I dunno if they’re still being published now though. And I don’t think they’re likely to resurrect Vicki…….

Out of the 70 original 1975 comics and magazines spanning 28 titles there were 4 issues of Vicki. The other comics may have been of variable quality but at least they were new, if a trifle derivative of contemporary Marvel material. Vicki comics were derivative of Archie comics and also reprints. The covers may have been new but the stories in the 4 issues had originally appeared in the 1960s in Tower’s Tippy Teen comics. Some of the Tippy/Vicki artwork was slightly re-drawn to make the clothes a little less dated, but they still looked like Archie comics from a decade earlier. 

The “Golden Age” UK/Australian Atlas/K.G.Murray Superman No 29 published in August 1952 reprinted the cover story from Superman 73 dated Nov/Dec 1951. No sideways comics this time.

I like this exchange between Lois and Superman from the backup story “The Anti-Superman Club” (originally found in Superman 71).

 

Sideways comics

Sep 29, 2011

The “Golden Age” UK/Australian Atlas/K.G.Murray Superman No 24 published in March 1952 reprinted the cover story from Action Comics 155 from a year earlier. The rest of the comic was made up of DC material from other places such as the Johnny Quick story that was originally found in Adventure 150.

Apart from the missing gun on the cover the oddest thing about this comic, (and presumably other comics issued by Kenneth G.Murray at the time) was that half of the comic consisted of two DC pages reduced and printed sideways. Not something you see every day.

Superman 24

Red Comet revisited

Apr 25, 2011

Gosh, he certainly does look red on the cover. The muddy black and white interior artwork isn’t that marvelous either but I’ve scanned it anyway. It was difficult to read in the comic also, with the last story looking particularly washed out as if they were running out of ink in the printing press. I suffer for my art. Now it’s your turn.

Red Comet – The Interplanetary Marvel No 3 Atlas Comics UK

I never liked Judge Dredd (or 2000AD for that matter). That comic began during a period when I had little interest in comics and was perhaps buying just a couple of Warrens each month. I wouldn’t return to purchasing UK comics on a regular basis until the 1980s and Warrior. I’d buy an issue of 2000AD perhaps once a year just out of curiosity. At the risk of enraging Tharg and his supporters, I don’t see that Mr Dredd has any personality to engage the reader. I wouldn’t care if he got blown up or not. I’m sure that was the idea. He’s just a cypher. Like in the Astro City comics that came much later it is the characters both good and bad inhabiting the Megacity that drive the plots. A couple of years ago I purchased a random issue of 2000AD which contained what I consider to be one of the better Judge Dredd stories. So to contrast and compare here is a UK SF comic strip from almost 50 years after the Red Comet. If nothing else it shows how the printing processes have improved immeasurably. Splundig Vur Thrigg. 

Judge Dredd story – 2000AD

PS: These comics below appeared in a forum earlier this year as jpg images. I decided to convert them into cbz files for my own convenience.  As you seldom see copies of Miller and Atlas comics these days, let alone scans of them I thought they were worth putting back out to the Interweb again…….

Diamond Adventure Comics No 11 Atlas Comics UK

Captain Tornado No 86 Miller Comics UK

Marvelman No 328 Miller Comics UK

 

PPS: The Marvelman comic is from 1959. The back cover has this advert for the Magic Tricks/Novelties Mail Order Company (and shop) Ellisdons. They were still going strong in the 1960s when I would send off for a variety of fab gear/tat that usually required a Postal Order of around 1/6d not forgetting the 6d post and packing. Do you remember the strange “throw your voice” device you had to hold in your mouth and be careful not to swallow !! Or the wonderfully named “Seebackroscope” ??

The first of the four Atlas “Space” Annuals was the most comicy (is that even a word?) of the lot. Plenty of Space Ace stories and even a smattering (is that a word either?) of half page humour strips along with the photos and articles.

Luckily it is only 64 pages short, and a small amount of bribery has resulted in acceptable scans of all pages. Just scroll down and click on the link. Simples.

The Boy’s Book of Space Adventures 1963

Before my thoughts wander back to more sensible subjects (?!?) like crap 1970s pop music or offshore radio there is one more series by the Atlas Publishing and Distributing Company Ltd (to give them their full title) from the 1960s that at least deserves a mention.

In 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1966 Atlas published a book presumably for teenagers and presumably on sale in time for Xmas (sorry I’m supposed to say “Christmas”) titled “The Book of Space Adventures” and subtitled “The latest developments in the world space programmes” which was quite a lofty claim !!

The 1963 edition must have been published in late 1962. It contained a number of factual articles and photographs of rockets and jet planes along with “Space Ace” adventure strips. The 1964 and 1965 editions followed a similar format only with “Ace Jordan” strips. Actually, thinking about it, these were probably Space Ace stories too. I don’t own a copy of the final 1966 book but I have found a picture of the striking and quite modern-looking cover.

As was usual for the times half the strips were in duo-colour (an odd yellow/blue in the case of the 1965 No 3 Annual) and the other half were “fully coloured”. Now their idea of colour and mine doesn’t quite correspond. They could well have been coloured by an infant class in school at break time using a combination of spit and blunt crayons such is the strange finished results !! This page is perhaps the best of the bunch. The rest have “scribble” backgrounds.

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.

Who is this strange man and what has he done with the real Superman ?

I mention UK Annuals more often than the comics they are based on for the simple reason that the durable books have survived in greater numbers than the weeklies …at least in this household. Atlas UK Superman Annuals are often advertised for sale (although at increasingly silly prices). Atlas UK Batman Annuals from the early 1960s seem to be the rarest as he then had yet to become a household name. The flimsy sixpenny Superman/Superboy/Batman/SuperAdventure Australian weekly black and white reprint comics are getting quite rare in the UK now. I’ve saved perhaps two dozen for the simple fact that when I was a teenaged comic trader I never sold them because I couldn’t find anyone who collected them. Although I have 30 or 40 Dandy Annuals, some going back to the early 1950s when it was called The Dandy Monster Comic, I know for a fact that I only own precisely 6 Dandy Comics as I’ve just kept one representitive issue from each of the last six decades !!

Superman UK Annuals

May 31, 2008

K. G. Murray of Australia produced monthly black and white reprints of some DC Comics from the late 1940s until the 1970s. The main titles throughout the 1950s were “Superman”, “Superboy”, “Batman” and “Superadventure”. These reprint comics were reprinted for UK consumption both as monthly editions and also hardbacked 160 page Xmas Annuals. These Annuals were published by a company called “Atlas” in the UK with no connection at all to the Atlas/Timely (later to be Marvel Comics) of the USA.

                            

                            

Above are some thumbnails of the Superman Annuals published between 1951 and the late 1960s. Below is the 1954-1955 Annual. “Daring new exploits” maybe. I’m sure many of the stories inside had already appeared in the UK/Australian monthly reprint comics.

The back cover advertises some of the many Western comics available in the UK at the time. “Cowboys and Indians” also dominated the evening TV schedules.

Most of the stories inside are at least 4 or 5 years old. For example this story was originally published in Superman 63 in 1950. Note how the title has been changed to the more contemporary date of 1954 for the Annual.

Contrast and compare with the original story splash page in the US edition Superman 63.

The cover of Superman 63.

Here is the cover of the UK Superman Annual of Xmas 1956. This year they call it an “Adventure Book” even though it was called an “Annual” the previous (and the following) year. The UK is introduced to Jimmy Olsen. His own comic had begun in the USA a couple of years earlier.

superman-annual-1956-1957

annual008

It always amuses me how in the UK in the 1950s they would go to great lengths to remove all $$$$$$s and carefully replace them with £££££s. !! These were the days before the Signal Watch. But why burn the money to send a smoke signal to alert Superman ?? I would have burnt my Jacket first !!

annual007

The above story originally appeared in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen No 3. I haven’t checked when Curt Swan first began drawing the Superman books, but here he draws Jimmy quite oddly, but does draw a cute Lois Lane.

Here is the cover of the 1958 Superman Annual. The price has increased and the page count has been reduced.

I like the “Superman Wallpaper” inside! Vigilante seems an odd choice to be paired with Superman however he had appeared regularly in Action Comics a few years earlier. This Annual was on sale for Xmas 1958. Most of the reprinted stories are from the mid 1950s. The first story in the book however was from Action Comics 111 originally published as far back as 1947.

Inside was an advert for the other Annuals available. I don’t think there were any Batman UK Annuals yet.

The interior pages of these books are on quite good quality paper. Later 1960s issues suffered from poor quality paper and were often printed in an odd red/black and white.(see my blog on the “Superboy UK Annuals” for an example.)

Superboy UK Annuals

Apr 23, 2008

Superboy Annual 1956/1957

K. G. Murray of Australia produced monthly black and white reprints of some DC Comics throughout the 1950s. The main titles were “Superman”, “Superboy”, “Batman” and “Superadventure”. These reprint comics were reprinted for UK consumption both as monthly editons and also hardbacked 160 page Xmas Annuals. These Annuals were published by a company called “Atlas” in the UK with no connection at all to the Atlas/Timely (later to be Marvel Comics) of the USA.

Superboy Annual 1957/1958 

The Superboy Annuals were available for approximately 14 years, from 1953 to about 1967.  Along with Superboy stories there were always  Rex the Wonder Dog and Detective Chimp stories. Even in the mid 1960s kids in the UK could read about the adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog and the Detective Chimp when they would have already become distant memories in the States.

Superboy Annual 1964/1965

The quality of paper used in the 1960s books is diabolical. Many stories are in this odd red and black and white colour scheme.

The stories that are in colour have evidently been coloured here in the UK. It looks like a child has been using a crayon, but no thats exactly how the book was sold!!

Superboy Annual 1965/1966

Superboy Annual 1966/1967

Here is the small print from the above annual showing the connection between K.G. Murray, Atlas and Thorpe and Porter. The Superboy and Detective Chimp stories in the book seem to have been licensed from the Australian company of K.G. Murray, who in turn had licensed the material from National/DC. As usual the cover was no doubt drawn by someone in the UK.