I’ve been reading comics for what seems like forever (since 1963) and I never noticed this until today. I’ve just looked at some other comics from the period and it seems Charlton issued many of their titles in 1973 every six weeks rather their more usual bi-monthly frequency.

Here in the UK most comics were either weekly or monthly. In the States anything seemed to go. Many Dell comics were only published four times a year. DCs were often published eight times a year with the indicia listing the months when there wasn’t an issue of your favourite comic. A few Archie comics had really odd publishing schedules. Six comics of a title published in the Summer over two months and then no more for months after that. Smaller publishers were just as random.

This particular Charlton comic featured the annual “Statement of Ownership”. Of the earlier comic used for the statement it seems that 213658 issues were printed. 121232 reached newsstands and were presumably sold. 91815 reached newsstands and weren’t sold. The figures were all quite similar in the following years too. Having those figures in front of them why on earth did they continue to print so many more copies than they knew they could actually sell? It doesn’t make financial sense (unless by having their own printing presses it actually only cost them 1cent per issue to produce?). I’ve often wondered if some of those “unsold” issues weren’t just destroyed but were the ones that ended up here in the UK. I particularly recall buying Charlton comics in the Autumn of 1974 that had newly appeared on the spinner racks yet displayed 1973 dates.

So I went through some more of my Charlton Ghostly Haunts and found these circulation figures:

YEAR   PRINTED   SOLD   UNSOLD

1972   213658   121232   91815

1973   240400   153600   88665

1974   220000   126800   90784

1975   210000   107946   84672

1976   230000   110000   114340

The differences between the totals of sold/unsold and printed are made up by subscription issues (a mere 50 or 60 each month) and spoiled copies that for whatever reason didn’t print right and weren’t a good enough quality to sell. In 1975 there were 17000 spoiled copies of one issue!!

PS: The host of the comic was Ms Winifred Witcherly (Winnie the Witch). Her looks changed dramatically from issue to issue depending on who was doing the artwork. She varied from looking quite sexy to looking downright bizarre (if Ditko was doing a rush-job).

PPS: This Charlton comic, like all the others they published from the 1940s/50s to the 1980s suffers from diabolical printing, blurred text, terrible colouring and even the pages are poorly trimmed. I think the comics got worse as the years went by as the printing presses (originally used to print Cornflakes boxes?!?) began to wear out.

Unusual comics

May 1, 2016

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Although all Charlton comics are unusual, if not downright bonkers, some are more unusual than others. “Unusual Tales” appeared bi-monthly for a decade or so, finishing with issue No 49 in March/April 1965. All well and good. Two months later the comic continued with issue No 50, but now it was titled “Blue Beetle”. After five issues as “Blue Beetle” to March 1966 it then became “Ghostly Tales” in May 1966 which ran from issue No 55 to issue No 169 in October 1984. Charlton would finish publishing comics altogether within the next twelve months.

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There is some sort of logic about all of the above. Yet somehow, someone at Charlton Comics decided to issue another comic that continued on from “Unusual Tales” 49. And No 50 in 1966 is part of Volume Two when Volume Three had already appeared a year earlier ?!? But as issue No 50 of “Shadows from Beyond” published in October 1966 ended up being a one-off anyway rather than the promised quarterly publication I guess it’s not important in the great scheme of things. Just another unusual comic that’s received a mention in this Blog.

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Wanted

Apr 1, 2016

As a fan of odd comics these titles are currently on my “wants” list. I’ve managed to collect all of the Dell Monkees comics and quite a number of the UK “Lady Penelope” weeklies that contain Monkees strips. However I’ve never seen this Gold Key comic featuring their 1968 movie. “Head” contains some fantastic music amongst the often mediocre sketches. I particularly like their versions of Carole King’s “As we go along” and “Porpoise Song”, Mike’s “Circle Sky” and Davy singing Nilsson’s “Daddy’s Song”. Although care has to be taken with that one. Davy is dancing with Toni Basil whilst set and clothes flash alternately between black and a migraine-inducing white.

Head by Rich Meyer

Here’s another one that looks interesting. I’d like to read it just for the Monkees backup strip.

Mothers by Rich Meyer

Charlton comics were always oddly numbered. “The Flintstones Pebbles and BamBam” survived for five issues until in issue six it suddenly became “Team-Up”. If you were a toddler who’d been given a subscription to the Flintstones comic you were in for a shock. I just want issue 7 as it features E-Man’s girlfriend and former exotic dancer Nova.

Team up by Rich Meyer

Likewise with Miss Bikini Luv 625. She finally got her own comic after featuring for a year or so in Charlton’s “Gorgo”. However the series had originally begun a decade earlier at number 500 as “Robin Hood”. From issue 524 it changed to “Wild Western comics”. After a hiatus it continued from number 581 as “‘Lil Scamp”. It was re-named as “Jungle Warfare” from number 610 (but still had “‘Lil Scamp” back-up stories to use up inventory). Miss Bikini Luv ran from number 623 to 627. All these comics are extremely rare/completely unobtainable.

Miss Bikini Luv 625

Out of this World 6

Out of this World 6 Thorpe and Porter 1960

Charlton Comics “Out of this World” ran for 16 issues from 1956 to 1959. British black and white reprints appeared first courtesy of Thorpe and Porter. Of course being 68 pages and square-bound additional stories, often from other Charlton comics or even other publishers were also used. For some reason the Grand Comics Database, using logic only a Gallifrayan could understand, believes that the British reprints were issued five years before the original Charlton comics when the Thorpe and Porter comics clearly use the Charlton covers and logo.

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The cover image of the Thorpe and Porter reprint had to be stretched to remove the bizarre Charlton “win a swimming pool” competition.

Soon after the Thorpe and Porter series finished in the early 1960s Alan Class began his own series of “Out of this World” (and further issues would be re-reprinted in the 1970s). 

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PS: Out of this World 6 contains the classic Ditko tale “The Little Things”. Even the powers that be at Charlton must have thought it was one of their better stories as it featured on the cover when it first appeared in “Out of this World” 16. And even if you don’t like science Fiction comic strips there is always the back cover of the Thorpe and Porter reprint to enjoy. The inside back cover contains a classic Ellisdons Novelty advert and the back cover gives you a useful checklist of all the British Classics illustrated comics published up to that point.

The Little Things in black and white

The Little Things in colour

Out of this World 16

Odd Comics

Apr 29, 2010

There were no issues of Robot Comics produced by Renegade Press in 1987. Unless you count this Issue No 0. Which means one issue was published. So why didn’t they call it Issue No 1 ???

Charlton Bullseye appeared for 10 issues in the early 1980s and featured a very odd assortment of SF, Sword and Sorcery and Funny Animal strips. Early appearances of Arn Saba’s Neil the Horse and Bill Black’s Nightshade (soon to be seen in AC Comics) can be found in some issues.

There were 7 issues or 10 issues of the extremely adult Dr. Wirtham’s Comix & Stories depending on how you counted them. Issues 6, 8 and 10 were found by turning issues 5, 7 and 9 upside down !!!

If you subscribed to Giant Lois Lane Album there was a very long wait between each of the 14 issues. It appeared annually in Australia through the 1960s and early 1970s.

This magazine from 1973 was an interesting concept. A “how to” manual with good solid advice on how to set out a script and basic advice on lettering and artwork. I’m sure Charlton, along with all the other comic book companies of the time received unsolicited submissions in biro/pencil/on the backs of cereal packets! This was a nice thing to hand out to people explaining that a good starting point was to produce something neat,clean and tidy. Useful advice included keeping a “swipe file” and “plenty of erasers”. I presume this magazine was sold at conventions as well as being available by mail order/with subscriptions.

This magazine was the first time I’d seen the Comic Book Code spelt out in its entirety.

The Old Robot

Jul 23, 2008

        

                    

                                   

                                                    

                                                                     

                                                   

From Charlton Comics Outer Space No 18 from August 1958.

Charlton Comics’ Professor Coffin 21 had a cover date of February 1986.Typical of Charlton’s strange numbering system it was only the third issue of the title. I’m sure it only contained reprints although they didn’t admit to it. They even seem to have lost the bar code !!

This must be one of the last..if not THE last comic Charlton ever issued. Unless YOU know otherwise?

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.

Alan Class Comics

Mar 9, 2008

Alan Class produced a range of black and white comics in the UK from 1961 to 1989..ish. I can’t be precise because Alan never put any date on any comic. All the comics were pretty much interchangeable despite the different titles like Astounding, Uncanny, Sinister Tales or Creepy Worlds. The contents were a mixture of 1950s and 1960s SF anthology material from the USA. This varied from ACG, Charlton, Atlas-era Marvel and sometimes Marvel Superheroes like early FF and Spiderman all mixed up without any continuity whatsoever. By the early 1970s Alan had used all the material in his posession and so just shuffled all the stories up and carried on publishing his magazines with reprints of reprints until slow sales and distribution problems ended the line in the late 1980s.

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Here is Creepy Worlds 40 from the 1960s. The price throughout the 1960s was One Shilling for 68 pages. Note how Alan has invented his own version of a Comics Code stamp where he approves his own comic!! 

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By Creepy Worlds 152 the material was coming around again. The price has increased to 10p placing this issue somewhere in the mid 1970s. Alan had removed the word “new” from the cover and evidently thought twice about his “approved” endorsement.

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Four or five years later we have reached issue 186 and Alan evidently assumed his readers had forgotten the earlier issues and the same magazine re-appeared, now costing 20p.  

When these magazines were current very few comic fans seemed to bother to collect them. Now, in hindsight they are often the only place to read reprints from issues of ACG’s “Adventures into the Unknown”, early 1960s Charlton stuff and pre-monster Marvel/Atlas material from the likes of “Marvel Tales”, “Journey into Mystery” and “Strange Tales”. Often very early 1950s “pre-code” stories from Atlas comics like “Mystery Tales” and “Uncanny Tales” would appear. My advice then is that if you see an Alan Class comic going cheap (and they usually do) then buy it..

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For completeness here is Charlton’s Unusual Tales 29. It appears that here in the UK we had a far greater chance of reading this early 1960s Charlton material right through the 1960s and into the 1980s than comic buyers in the States !!! 

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Here is the cover from Creepy Worlds 245 from the 1980s. Note how Alan Class has used the cover from Charlton’s Out of this World 1 from 1956. Not wanting to waste a word for one issue only the title changes from “Creepy Worlds” to “Creepy World” !!

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This is the back page from Astounding Stories 115. It seems that Alan Class is advertising for back issues of his own magazines!! The address is certainly the same. Perhaps he needed them to copy so he could re-issue them once more?? I wonder if he still has a collection of pre-war UK comics? I am aware that in 2007 Alan put his file copies up for sale at 30th Century Comics in London. There are sill some issues currently available.

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Charlton Comics

Feb 21, 2008

I collect Charlton Comics. Not in an organized or obsessive way but if I come across one I do have a tendancy to aquire it. Lets face it, most Charlton Comics are totally bonkers. If you Google hard enough you can find details of Charlton the company. The whole set-up  seems to have been odd. They gave their writers and artists far more freedom than Marvel/DC which evidently compensated for the low page rates they paid. They even printed the comics themselves too.

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 My favourite is Go-Go which was a humour/parody comic  from the mid 1960s when Dick Giordano was in charge of the comic book department. The “Ghost” comics in the 1970s often contained surprisingly good art from Tom Sutton and others. Charlton faded away in the mid 1980s. If they had trademarked the title of this letters page from E-Man back in 1974 perhaps the history of the Internet would  have been different………………….

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