Hank Garvin, Man of Steel

October 13, 2011

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

September 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

Super Adventure Comics

April 13, 2009

Throughout the 1950s these comics (along with Superman, Batman and Superboy comics) were printed in Australia and imported into the UK. The covers, though printed in Australia, were unique to the UK solely by virtue of a different price. In 1950 these comics cost 6d in both the UK and Australia. By 1957 the Australian price had increased to One Shilling (via 8d and 9d) whilst the UK issues continued at 6d, hence the requirement of different covers. The back cover also carried local adverts too.

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For much of the ten year run these DC reprints had black and white interiors. For 1956 and 1957 colour interiors were tried. The colouring was evidently carried out in Australia, often with hilarious results. I haven’t checked but I can’t ever recall Clark Kent wearing a bright yellow suit. Surely it was always blue !!
These comics often had covers uniquely drawn by Australian artists which adds some interest to them.

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Incidentally, for many years after the monthly comic had disappeared from the UK’s newsagents an annual hardback Xmas Annual entitled “Super Adventure” was still published annually. Did I mention that there was only one each year ??

Planet Comics

March 28, 2009

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For a few years in the 1970s the Australian comic company K.G.Murray called themselves “Planet Comics”. Most of their monthly magazines contained 96 pages of American reprints in black and white.

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The Bumper Batcomic ran for 20 issues in this format although K.G.Murray had printed Batman reprint comics in one form or another since the late 1940s.This issue is from May 1977. What is even more surprising is that it wasn’t just DC comics they reprinted. There were many many Charlton comics reprinted in Australia. There were issues of  The Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Unusual Tales, Vengeance Squad…even Haunted Love !!

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I like this issue of Planet Comics featuring Ditko at the height of his powers. I’m unable to identify some of the back-up stories. They are too gruesome to be from Charlton or DC. They look too modern to be pre-code. I suspect they may originate from Skywald or even Eerie Publications. Incidentally, during the 1970s K.G. Murray also produced Australian editions of Warren’s Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella.

The “Terror Tales Album” comics are a mixed up medley of DC and Charlton horror stories. Over these two issues the terror tales are introduced by just about every “host” that the two companies used across all their different titles through the 1970s !!

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For further information on comics Australian style head over to this site and all will be revealed.

PS: This advert was on an inside cover. Evidentally locally drawn, is that really Supergirl ??

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Superman UK Annuals

May 31, 2008

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 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.

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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 !!

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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.)

A World of Comics

May 30, 2008

Marvel and DC comics from their earliest days have always licensed their material for reprinting in other countries. I have Marvel Comics in German and Spanish. K.G. Murray of Australia continued with their DC black and white reprints throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s.

I recently purchased a book about the history of Australian Comics. It only covers home-produced comics though and dismisses these K.G. Murray reprints in a few words.

Only a tenuous link to the above, but one area of comic history I know nothing about is Mexican Comics. I have an old issue of the “Alter Ego” Fanzine from the 1960s. This contains an article by Roy Thomas where he mentions Mexican Comics. One interesting fact was that in the 1960s they cost a mere 8 cents. I understand that Conan appeared in Mexican/South American comics years before Marvel used the character. I also read somewhere on the Interweb that when Quality stopped producing “Blackhawk” the Mexicans ended the reprints and carried on regardless with their own version. I’d love to know more!

Superboy UK Annuals

April 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.