Friday, October 21, 2016

Charlton Press

Charlton's comics line was always on the fringes - never to be confused with any other company, with a look, feel and smell all their own. Despite the indifference of management, their low budget fare had a distinctive charm and, from time to time, they took a swing at bat and hit it out of the park. 

If DC, Dell, Harvey and Archie were the Saks or Macy's of their period, Charlton was akin to Woolworth's or John's Bargain Store (those of you of a more tender age won't get the reference, but they were precursors of modern day 99 cent stores). Finding a Charlton comic book could be a chore - at least for this kid from Brooklyn - even though candy stores could be found on every other block in the mid-1960s. My brother John managed to wrangle a few, usually hero types like Thunderbolt, Capt. Atom and Blue Beetle. They were often stacked on a shelf in a far off corner of those aforementioned stores, or sometimes found in one of the local used bookstores. In a few years, though, Charlton managed to improve their distribution. I can pinpoint the exact month, thanks to Mike's Amazing Word of Comics site:

In April, 1971 I bought The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves # 26 and Ghostly Tales # 86 at my local candy store. From that point on the mystery titles, especially those adorned with Ditko covers, became a regular part of our comic book purchases.  


I came across the above comic in a barbershop circa 1969. When I peered inside I was reintroduced to a familiar, idiosyncratic and appealing style of art that drew me in completely from day one. Although there was no signature on either "The Eternal Oak" or "Phantom Surfer" I had no doubt the artist was Steve Ditko. Ghostly Tales # 71, January 1969. Jim Aparo cover art.     

 Charlton occasionally tried to jump on the superhero bandwagon, as it did in the mid-1960s, inspired by both Marvel comics' success and the popularity of the Batman TV show, but their Action-Hero line had its own personality. Charlton had a tangible charm, and the editors, including  Pat Masulli, Sal Gentile, Dick Giordano, George Wildman, Bill Pearson and Robin Snyder, came off as unpretentious men who were very much aware that they weren't competing with The New Yorker or Esquire. Their letters pages were unique in comics. They often praised (and were not afraid to name) their competition, always made note of their artists accomplishments and, refreshingly, admitted that some of their stories and art didn't always make the grade. 

It has often been noted that Charlton’s page rates were low, but editors gave artists the freedom to experiment and often fashion a script to suit their own preferences. Joe Gill was their primary writer, and while no one (including Gill) would categorize him as a great literary talent, he could at times turn in a solid story that displayed skill and humor. While there were a few notable writers at Charlton including Steve Skeates, Denny O’Neil and Nick Cuti, Gill remained a Charlton perennial until its demise.
One of Charlton’s high points was its array of diverse artists, some of whom remained with them for decades. Many were both proficient and versatile; drawing stories in every genre, from romance to war. While it's beyond the scope of this essay to highlight every cartoonist who worked for Charlton (over thirty years worth!) I'd like to pay tribute to a selection of grizzled veterans (and some rookies) who worked in the trenches and got little respect or attention, but deserve their moment in the sun.             

When one thinks of Charlton, the team of penciller Charles Nicholas and inker Vince Alascia (often credited as "Nicholas Alascia") come to mind. Their efforts were simple, clean and competent, and rose above that level when sparked by inspiration. I've grown to appreciate the good work they produced throughout Charlton's line.  Both men were veterans of the field, having worked for Fox, Fiction House, Ace and Avon, among others. Alascia, in particular, had a long run inking Timley's Captain America over Syd Shores' pencils.  

An attractively designed and offbeat romance cover by the team of Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia. Brides in Love # 8, June 1958. Image from Comic Book Plus:

Nicholas's off-kilter layout adds a sense of mood to this page. "Let The Buyer Beware!", Vince Alascia inks, Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves # 20, June 1970.

Charles Nicholas was occasionally rendered by other inkers, one of the most distinctive being Wayne Howard, who added a Wally Wood inspired gloss. "Who'll Die Tomorrow?", Haunted # 12, May 1973.  

Nicholas' art was prominent in practically every genre at Charlton. He drew countless war, romance, crime and western stories for over two decades. Jon D'Agostino's slick inking adds texture to his pencil's on this exciting splash. Billy the Kid # 51, August 1965. Image from Comic Book Plus:    

Maurice Whitman produced fine work beginning in the 1940s, notably at Fiction House. He toiled at Charlton extensively in the 1950s and 1960s, drawing everything from Atomic Mouse to Fightin' Marines, and was particularly impressive on covers. Often neglected in the pages of comics history, Whitman was a very talented artist who later went on to work for Warren and DC.

An inventive Maurice Whitman cover from Strange Suspense Stories # 36, March 1958.

There was a time when dogs and horses headlined their own comic books - and artists like Maurice Whitman could draw then with great craft! Rocky Lane's Black Jack # 21, January 1958.    

Dick Giordano’s accomplishments have been well documented, but his importance as both an artist and editor at Charlton is worth noting. Giordano began drawing for Charlton in the 1950s on many genre stories. He also produced an enormous amount of attractive covers throughout the line, both as penciller and inking over other artists such as Rocco Mastroserio and Pat Masulli. As editor he instituted the "action hero" line in 1966, competing against Marvel and DC with new characters including Thunderbolt, Sarge Steel, Peacemaker, Judo Master and revivals of Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle.   Under his tenure letters pages became a staple (with personal replies by Giordano) and, inspired by Marvel, he began to add credits to the stories. Giordano was instrumental in creating a personality for Charlton, elevating it in the eyes of fandom.

An impressive early effort by Dick Giordano. "Shakedown!", Carl Memling script, Charlotte Jetter lettering, Racket Squad in Action # 14, January 1955. 

Dick Giordano cover art, Konga # 12, May 1963.

Giordano drew countless romance covers for Charlton. I Love You # 59, August 1967.

For a period of time Joe Sinnott worked for Vince Colletta's shop, penciling countless stories for Charlton's romance line. In addition, he filled in for Steve Ditko on a run of Gorgo stories. Although Sinnott is recognized as an exceptional inker, enhancing the pencils of John Buscema, Gene Colan and Jack Kirby, he has also penciled many stories over the decades for outfits including Dell, Archie and Treasure Chest, where he illustrated biographies of Pope John XXIII, General Douglas MacArthur, Patton, Eisenhower and Babe Ruth.           

"The Venusian Terror", Joe Gill script, Joe Sinnott pencils, Vince Colletta inks, Gorgo # 10, December 1962. 

Rocco "Rocke" Mastroserio is another artist who deserves greater recognition. While indexing  stories and covers for the GCD I’ve observed how prolific and talented Mastroserio was. Mastroserio had a strong line and his inking was solidly detailed. His covers, stories and introductory pages were scattered throughout Charlton’s line for some 14 years. Mastroserio also produced excellent work for Warren in the late 1960s for their black and white line of horror magazines. Had he lived he would undoubtedly have branched out to work for other companies (as many of his peers did), but in 1968 Mastroserio died at the all too young age of 44.  

Rocco Mastroserio cover art to Ghostly Tales # 59, Jan 1967. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the lettering skills of Jon D'Agostino, who worked for many years at Charlton. In addition to his solid calligraphy, D'Agostino was also a skilled artist, inker and colorist. D'Agostino continued to work in the industry for many years, often drawing stories for Archie comics.    

Mastroserio cover to Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves # 4, Nov 1967, Giordano layout and/or inks. In an interview in Whizzard # 14 (Winter 1981), Dick Giordano spoke about Mastroserio: "He was living and working in Derby at the time and if you look at those books you'll see that he used to do about 70 per cent of the covers, which were generally laid out by me but penciled and inked by Rocke." 

Mastroserio was also an attractive inker over many of Charlton's mainstays, adding a level of John Severin style detail to the pencils of Bill Molno. "Sgt. Yellabelly", Joe Gill probable script, Battlefield Action # 28, January 1960. Image from Comic Book Plus:

Jim Aparo began his career at Charlton in the 1960s, and although he is recognized for his work at DC on characters such as AquamanBatman and the Phantom Stranger, his Charlton output was equally impressive. Aparo had a clean, attractive style and he always produced a complete job (pencils, inks and lettering). Perhaps his finest accomplishment at Charlton was his excellent run on the Phantom.      

                             Jim Aparo cover art, The Phantom # 38, June 1970. 
                          Jim Aparo's effectively moody cover to Ghostly Tales # 79, April 1970.
Wayne Howard was a Wally Wood inspired artist (and one time assistant) who often wrote, drew and lettered his own stories. He began working for Charlton in the early 1970s, and was credited on covers as the creator of the mystery-anthology Midnight Tales, where he also created the hosts Arachne and Professor Coffin. Howard also inked other artists work to good effect. Although Howard occasionally worked for DC and Marvel, mostly as an inker, it was at Charlton that he had the freedom to experiment. Howard died in 2007.   

A Wayne Howard Wally Wood inspired page, likely written, drawn, lettered and colored by Howard. "The Voyage", Ghost Manor # 8, Nov 1972.  

Wayne Howard cover (and lettering), Ghost Manor # 13, July 1973.

Pat Boyette was hired by Dick Giordano in the 1960s and became a prolific artist well suited to the mystery line. His faces and figures might not be attractive, but he brought mood, experimentation and an expressive quality to his stories. Boyette often wrote, drew and lettered stories, giving him an opportunity to play with the form. Because Boyette's style was so unorthodox he was not always welcome at other companies, but at Charlton he fit in perfectly.

Pat Boyette excelled in portraying bizarre creatures, as seen on this painted cover. Ghostly Haunts # 52, Oct 1976.

Boyette's sense of mood and panel movement is showcased on this page, from "The Things Some Kids Dream Up!", page 6, Joe Gill script; pencils, inks and letters by Boyette, Haunted # 14, Sept 1973.   

Sanho Kim was a Korean artist who started working in 1957, drawing fantasy and science fiction related comics. In the late 1960's Kim moved to the United States and began working for Charlton on many of the ghost titles, but also contributed to war, western and romance stories and covers. Kim had the unusual habit of including the day, month and year the work was completed in the final panel. Kim inked and lettered all his stories, occasionally writing them as well. Kim also produced some work for Warren and Marvel. In 1973 Kim produced an early Graphic Novel for Iron Horse Press, Sword's Edge, in collaboration with Michael Juliar. Kim returned to Korea in 1996, continuing to create comics, and In 2008 was honored with an Order of Cultural Merits award by the Korean Government. He continues to be involved in fine art centering on Korean culture. 

Sanho Kim wrote, drew and lettered, "The Promise", cover billed on Ghostly Tales # 101, Jan 1973, as "A Korean Folk Tale told in English and Korean". The rigid formats of DC or Marvel in that period would not have found room for a story like this, but Charlton allowed such experimentation. Kim also wrote an editorial message at the end of the story. 

Pete Morisi, better known under the pseudonym "PAM", created Thunderbolt for Charlton and worked on war, western, romance and mystery stories. A police officer by day, he freelanced anonymously in his off-hours for Charlton since the force frowned on outside work. Morisi's style was greatly inspired by veteran George Tuska, along with artists like Jack Kirby. While Morisi's figures had a stiff quality, his sense of pacing and storytelling made up for it.

An effective Morisi page from "Wrong Turn", Haunted # 13, July 1973. Nick Cuti script, PAM letters.  In this period Morisi used photo references (not for the aliens, I assume!) 

Thunderbolt was the creation of Pete Morisi. This page highlights a good sense of design. From issue # 51, April 1966.

Tom Sutton would have been a perfect fit for EC comics 1950s horror line (indeed, he was inspired by the work of Wally Wood and Graham Ingles) but he was instead destined to bring a sense of the macabre to Charlton's 1970s thrillers. Another triple threat (writer, artist, letterer) Sutton loved the ability to experiment with styles and techniques and - like Boyette - painted many stunning covers for the company. Although Sutton worked for other companies, including Marvel and DC, his quirky, offbeat renderings were most at home in the backwoods of Charlton. 

Tom Sutton's bizarre imagery was showcased on Charlton's mystery line. Painted cover from Haunted # 17, July 1974. 

Don Perlin had been drawing comics since the 1950s, although he received greater recognition in the 1970s at Marvel on horror series such as Werewolf by Night and Ghost Rider. Perlin produced a great amount of stories for Charlton in the 1960's and 1970s, both in the mystery and war genre.   

A Don Perlin splash page showcases his skill at composition. Joe Gill script, likely lettered by Perlin. "The Night of the Poltergeists", Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves # 18, Feb 1970.

 Fred Himes became a Charlton mainstay in the 1970s. His style was clean and simple, with an emphasis on attractive women. He worked on war, western, romance, mystery and television related titles such as Valley of the Dinosaurs and the Six Million Dollar Man, with covers often inked by Pat Boyette.  

Fred Himes' attractive page from "The Devil's Bride", Ghostly Tales # 96, July 1972. Possible Gill script, likely Himes lettering. 

Joe Staton was part of the “70’s wave” of young artists who started at Charlton. Staton had a charming, cartoony style, with a mix of inspirations, including Steve Ditko. The versatile artist produced a plethora of mystery, romance and adventure stories. Staton is most noted for his collaboration, with co-creator-author Nick Cuti, on the humorous super hero strip E-Man. Staton has had an impressive career working for companies such as DC and Marvel, and currently draws the Dick Tracy comic strip, but his early work at Charlton is fondly remembered and worth seeking out.

Staton's sense of pacing, design and Ditko influence is evident on this page. "No Way Out", from Ghostly Haunts # 28, Dec 1972. Nick Cuti script, Charlotte Jetter letters. Jetter's distinctive  lettering enhanced many Charlton stories from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Jetter began working in the 1950s alongside her husband, artist/editor Al Jetter at Fawcett; in later years she  worked for Marvel. Charlton's colorists remain a mystery, although artist/letterer Jon D'Agostino is a prime contender when he worked there in the 1950s and 1960s; he is said to have begun as a colorist for Timely/Atlas' production department (per Stan Goldberg) and has been mentioned from time to time as working in that capacity for Charlton. Wendy Fiore was the only known colorist who was occasionally credited in the 1970s and 1980s.      

Staton art and storytelling enlivens this page from "Reunion", Haunted Love # 4, Oct 1973. Joe Gill script, Joe Staton letters. This was a extra-length 16 page story, and Staton created a moody and effective tale.

Mike Zeck showed great ability in his fanzine art for titles such as RBCC. His first professional sale was at Charlton, where he drew stories and painted and colored covers. In a short period of time he moved to Marvel, gracing titles such as Master of Kung Fu, Captain America, Spider-Man and the Punisher.

Mike Zeck pencilled, inked and colored this dynamic cover for Ghostly Tales # 123, Oct 1976

John Byrne also began his career at Charlton. His enthusiasm and talent was apparent from the start, working on such diverse strips as Speed Buggy and Doomsday + 1. Byrne soon found employment at Marvel, first penciling, and later often writing strips such as Captain America, Fantastic Four and a little known comic titled X-Men.

John Byrne's skill is apparent in this splash to Rog-2000, "Withering Heights". Nick Cuti script, Byrne art and lettering. From E-Man # 7, March 1975.

Don Newton had been known as a talented artist in fanzine circles for years, drawing impressive covers for RBCC and many other fanzines. Newton broke into the business in the 1970's at Charlton, working on mystery stories and creating hosts such as Baron Weirwolf. His work on The Phantom is on a par with Jim Aparo's. Newton later followed Aparo on another famous character: BatmanNewton died in 1984.    

Impressive Don Newton splash page to "Death in the Storm!", with inks by Dan Adkins. Written by Joe Molloy, likely lettered by Newton. From Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves # 49, Jan 1975.

The Phantom visits Casablanca, with some familiar faces in the background. Don Newton pencils, inks and letters, Bill Pearson script, from The Phantom # 70, April 1976

    And, of course, there was Steve Ditko.

Ditko worked for Charlton early in his career drawing horror, science fiction, crime and westerns. He never really left the company, as he explained in First Choice, an essay published in Steve Ditko's 160 Page Package, 1999:  "..Charlton left us and the comics field"

Ditko always had a strong sense of pacing and choreography, as this page illustrates. "The Forbidden Room", possible Joe Gill script, Jon D'Agostino letters, Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds # 4, July 1957. 

Even when Ditko was busy working for Stan Lee on mystery and superhero stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s he continued to produce art for Charlton, notably the monster titles based on movies Gorgo and Konga. There was only a short gap in the 1964/65 period when Ditko only had one story appear each year. Ditko returned to pencil a revived Capt. Atom in late 1965. The title appeared on newsstands the same month as Amazing Spider-Man # 32 (comics were usually dated two to three months ahead of "real time"; Capt. Atom had a December cover date; Amazing Spider-Man # 32, January - both apparently were on sale in early October). After creating "the Question" and a revised Blue Beetle, Ditko settled in for a long period drawing primarily for Charlton's mystery line.  

Ditko's page design and atmospheric inks were exceptional in the late 1960's-early 1970's period, one of the most expressive of his long career. "Return to Trilby Shoals" Ditko art, Possible Joe Gill script, Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves # 16, Oct 1969.  

Ditko drew many finely detailed and experimental stories for Charlton in the 1970's, some of his finest work ever. While his art became less detailed by the mid 1970s he still produced for Charlton while working at DC and Atlas-Seaboard. In the mid-1970s Charlton went all reprint, but Ditko returned for their last revival attempt in 1985. Along with drawing a few new stories for the revived Tales of the Mysterious Traveler, Ditko brought his creator-owned character Static to the company. Ditko and Charlton were a good fit and he remained loyal to them until they closed their doors for the final time.

It doesn't get much better than this. Ditko's line absolutely flows on this page. His design sense, characterization, layout and backgrounds are expert. "An Ancient Wrong", Ditko art, Joe Gill script, Charlotte Jetter letters, Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves # 20, June 1970.  

Charlton’s  line of romance, war, western, mystery and humor had a place on the newsstands from the mid 1940s to the mid-1970s. Increasingly, with the loss of mom and pop stores and the proliferation of comics shops their product became marginalized. Fans in the 1970s almost exclusively sought out superheroes, or monsters with a continuing back story, such as Tomb of Dracula and Swamp Thing. Their line-up continued to cater to a younger crowd, but the audience for hot rods and westerns appeared to be diminishing. Although they tried to make another run in the mid 1980's, it was not to be.

Alex Nino cover art to Tales of the Mysterious Traveler # 15, December 1985. 

Steve Ditko's final new story for Charlton appeared alongside reprints of his 1950s Mysterious Traveler stories. Story, art and lettering by Ditko. Tales of the Mysterious Traveler # 15, December 1985. Story copyright 2016 Steve Ditko.  

For many years Charlton was a familiar product on the comics racks, alongside Archie, Harvey, Western, DC, Marvel and others. Their diverse titles sold well to a general audience.  Although often maligned, they had a solid group of diverse and dependable creators. While Charlton never rose to the top ranks of comics publishers, perhaps that was a good thing. Nestled in their own little corner Charlton thrived for decades; an offbeat company that received little notice or acclaim, they chugged along at their own pace. I'm glad they were around to entertain me when I was growing up and appreciate them even more in today's often predictable and antiseptic environment.  

Top image, Tom Christopher art; bottom image, Steve Ditko art. Ads such as these appeared in fanzines such as Amazing Heroes and The Comics Journal to promote Charlton's revived line in 1985. The company was one of the few still attempting to cater to a variety of tastes, but sales were not strong enough and Charlton called it quits late in the year.  

Mort Todd continues the Charlton tradition with a mix of new material and classic reprints. I've had the pleasure of assisting him on his Comic Book Cover Series, which is highly recommended. Read more about his publications here: 

With thanks to Robin Snyder for his knowledge, input and encouragement and Darci for her grammatical corrections.



None said...

You have written an exhaustingly long article about Charlton art yet you managed to omit any mention of the artist responsible for more Charlton art than any of these other creators. Care to guess who or was it an intentional oversight?

narfstar said...

Enjoyed the article but it is missing the Hot Rod King Jack Keller

Robert Beerbohm said...

Like "he" said, "...enjoyed the article..." and like wise could add in concepts that Charlton produced far more than what and who you covered here.

Charlton had its own distribution system which strayed far beyond the NPP owned ID system once American News was finally "conquered" in the late 50s after a decades long distribution war. Their trip improved immensely once they were able to replace all their printing and other equipment following a devastating flooding in the late 50s. The Fed government ponied up low interest loans, covered in a wonderful article in Cooke's Comic Book Artist magazine more than a decade ago now. I supplied the pics for that article.

That all said, enjoyed it, Nick, and I am also wondering who the artist referenced in the first comment is. Racking the pea brain of mine and coming up blank for now....

Martin OHearn said...

Nick, I wonder if the Dick Giordano influence you (and I) see on the Dr. Graves #4 cover is uncredited inks rather than layouts.

Nick Caputo said...


I know I left out quite a few creators, two that come to mind are Sam Glanzman and Jack Keller (as narfstar mentioned). This is far from an exhaustive article and more needs to be said about charlton, but I wanted to focus on some of the artists and show examples of their work.


thanks for the kind words and input. I've also made some corrections and revisions and think this version is a little better. I may also add some additional scans of other artists.


It is possilbe that Giordano inked that cover. I will add that as a possibility.

Thanks to all for the interest.

Kid said...

As you said, Nick, Charlton had a charm all its own. Strangely, I don't think I have too many in my collection, but I know I've got E-Man #1. I'll have to think about acquiring more Charlton titles.

I think you could have teased us a little with this one, Nick, and perhaps presented it in two (or maybe even three) parts. Interesting all the same.


Nick Caputo said...


You're right that breaking it up into parts would have been intyeresting, however I get so involved in the stuff I just wantyed to get it out there. Still, I may continue with more Charlton. It's gotten some pretty good feedback, so perhaps folks would like more on Charlton.

Shar said...

Wonderfully informative post, Nick! And I guess the Space Adventures is one of the earliest comic book "pieta" covers, right?



I guessed who it was you left out, Given the simple clue who produced more Charlton art than anyone else the obvious answer is Vince Colletta. Not only romance but he drew comics in every genre.

Nick Caputo said...

Colletta will likely be discussed in my next post, although there were a number of prolific artists at Charlton, such as Charles Nicholas, who you could find in mystery, romance, war, western, crime, Hot Rod and others. Colletta did a tremendous amount of romance work for Charlton, assisted by Joe Sinnott for a number of years as ghost penciller.

Barry Pearl said...

“None are so blind as those who will not see.”

None wrote: “You have written an exhaustingly long article about Charlton art yet you managed to omit any mention of the artist responsible for more Charlton art than any of these other creators. Care to guess who or was it an intentional oversight?”

But he does not give us an answer so I have no idea who he is talking about. And to state that this might be an “intentional oversight” is both insulting and demeaning. You take shots but I have yet to see your blog on Charlton, yet you criticize someone else.

You see, first this is a blog, a personal blog, not a published book of the history of Charlton. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It is obvious that Nick spent a huge amount of time writing, formatting and scanning for this long, incisive and informative blog. I know how long it takes. And Nick seems to be drawing mostly from his own collection not the Library of Congress. And any blog that is embellished by Robin Snyder has to be exceptional too. This is a great blop and it give people like me a great deal of information and it is fun to read.

Nick, while we will probably see collections of artist’s work from Charlton that is out of copyright, it is shame that we probably not have archives of complete comics like we do for ACG and Harvey

Professor Fester said...

great articles, Nick! As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your writing.
For those that missed out on Charlton the first time around, read full issues on my blog here:

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Crazy but true: my first comics, ever, were Charltons. We were on the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Boat in the summer of '63 (shortly before the built the bridge!), and we stopped by the ferry boat's coffee shop. They had a rack of comics for sale, and my parents (probably my Mom) bought one for me and one for my brother. As was so typical, he got a war book-- BATTLEFIELD ACTION #47 (May'63), I got one about an animal-- BLACK FURY #42 (Jun'63).

Decades later I discovered the artists included Sam Glanzman (the cover story, "Jungle Jump", which took place in Viet Nam!), George Tuska (a western tale), and Arnold Drake's good friend Luis Dominguez, who had art in both books! When I showed Arnold the splash plage fo the war story, he said, "That doesn't look anything like Luiz' work." Yet, there was his very recognizable signature at the bottom of the page. As with so many artists, Dominguez apparently cut corners and gave Charlton what they were paying for. (heh)

Over the years the odd Charlton somehow found its way into my collection (looking over my index, most due to my Mo, I suspect). They never grabbed me as much as, say, Gold Key. But once I had access to an actual comic-book store with back issues, I did get ahold of PEACEMAKER #1 (Pat Boyette), JUDOMASTER #91 & 96 (Frank McLaughlin-- if ever there was a guy who should ave become the regular IRON FIST artist, it was him), and SPACE: 1999 #2 (Gray Morrow and others).

I suppose I may have more Charlton material thanks to 80's reprints, like E-MAN, DOOMSDAY +1 and ROG 2000.

It kinda floored me to learn that both Jim Aparo and Don Newton did long runs of THE PHANTOM before they did BATMAN. considering DC's mistreatment of their character since 1986, I sometimes wish Charlton could have paid more so they could have stuck on THE PHANTOM instead.

Nick Caputo said...


I don't have the Black Fury that you mention with Tuska art, but I wonder if it's Pete Morisi instead. Tuska apparently did a little bit of work for Charlton in the early 1960s, but Morisi was so good at aping his style its sometimes hard to tell.

As I continue to research and index Charlton comics for the GCD I've discovered so many interesting and varied artists working for Charlton. There is still a lot to learn about the company.

~D.Puck' said...

One thing you neglected d to mention was Who was Charlton's primary colorist? Especially during the 1957-60 time period when Steve Ditko did some of his finest work.

Nick Caputo said...

D. Puck - I didn't neglect to mention the colorist(s), I just don't know the answer. It's a possibility that Jon D'Agostino, who drew, inked and frequently lettered for Charlton in the 1950's and 1960's also colored for them, but I have no definite evidence. If and when I come across information I'll be sure to cover it (and update info) here.

Nick Caputo said...

I've revised and corrected this post of almost two years past and included D'Agostino as a possible colorist.

Unknown said...

I always had access to plenty of Charlton comics at the local magazine shops when I was a kid; perhaps because I live in Connecticut, not too far from Derby. They certainly did have their own distinctive flavor, as all comics publishers once did.
Charlton was a great place for budding artists to get started in the business, and it was always exciting for me to see a familiar fan name such as Don Newton or Mike Zeck turn pro in their titles.
I seem to recall reading -- back in the seventies -- that Mike Zeck had submitted a portfolio to Marvel; only to have it returned unopened. Disappointed, he allowed James Van Hise to publish some of those samples in the RBCC, where Roy Thomas saw them and was inspired to offer Zeck a job based on the merit of those pieces.
I have a fondness for the "Nicholas Alascia" artwork. Despite its static qualities it was good, clean storytelling; always engaging and compelling.
Great article, Nick. Thanks!

Nick Caputo said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks kindly. I've grown quite fond of the Nicholas/Alascia team, particularly when seeing their work in other genres such as romance, war and western. Their storytelling was clean and pleasant, and I've enjoyed seeing many stories I've never had to opportunity to enjoy at Comic Book Plus.

Rip Jagger said...

As an unabashed fan of Charlton for decades I truly enjoyed your overview. I lived in the wilds of Appalachia and for whatever reason was blessed with great distribution of Charlton comics. They were always on the stands and ready to buy. Rocke Mastroserio is one of the best artist almost no one has heard of. I liked that you mention the feel and smell of Charlton's comics, they were distinctive and not an unimportant part of the nostalgic appeal of those comics. The Action Heroes properly get a lot of attention, but Charlton was so much more than that, producing genre comics in a market saturated with yet more superheroes.



Nick Caputo said...

Thank you, Rip. Mastroserio was an extremely talented artist and I have no doubt that he would have done work for DC or Marvel as either artist or inker. Charlton deserves attention because it didn't cater to one style or genre. I'm sure many boys and girls purchased a wide variety of Charlton's over the decades, and they're worth revisting.

Anonymous said...

Way back in The Comic Reader # 203, Aug 1982, Mike Tiefenbacher wrote the following:

Helen Popowski, Supervisor of Charlton’s Color Separation Department since 1956, is retiring July 2 1982, after a career in separation that began in 1938 for Derby, Connecticut’s Koppel Engraving Company, doing separating for syndicated strips and both Timely and Fawcetts of the late 1930s, including Human Torch, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. In those days, the complex masking system used as many as nine overlays per page and were hand adjusted for registration; today’s Grafix system, by contrast, requires only three overlays per page, and the engravings are produced by machine. After having three daughters, she returned to separating at Charlton in 1954 and trained dozens of women for a department that at its peak numbered as many as eight full-time and several part-time employees at a time. Two of her daughters, Charlotte Schmecker and Elaine Voytek, were among them, and Elaine will take over as department head. Helen Popowski’s tenure as Separation Department head lasted through the administrations of six comic book editors.

The third daughter (actually the first) was Carol Mihalick. I believe all three women still live in Connecticut.

Jake Oster

Unknown said...

After reading the comments from "Anonymous" I did a bit of research and located an Elaine A Voytek in Shelton, Connecticut, which is the town directly across the Housatonic River from Derby. (Someone with a good arm could throw a rock from one downtown to the other.) She is in her early seventies, so the age is right. Perhaps this is the one-time head of Chalton's Color Separation Dept.

Russ said...

I was drawn to Charlton by Ditko, probably like many others. In retrospect, they deserve credit for their Action Hero line; each title was unique in style and unlike anything else being published during that post-Marvel, post-Batman, superhero boom. There was nothing like Peacemaker out there, for instance, in contrast to some of the sorry efforts flooding the stands in those days. I liked Montes/Bache on Fightin' Five and thought Rocke was one of the only decent Ditko inkers. Perlin's work for Charlton seemed to have a lot of verve compared to his later Marvel stuff. He did a story called "Focus: Danger" in Strange Suspense Stories, that looked like it was meant to be a series and was a great turn on the old I Spy TV show. And I just loved Sanho Kim's haunting work on Cheyenne Kid; his storytelling was right up there with Steranko, to my eyes. Obviously I could go on forever; thanks for a great post.

Nick Caputo said...


Thanks for sharing your memories. I'll have to look for The Perlin story you mentioned, it sounds interesting. Rocke really did fine work over Ditko, and I was always thrilled by Sanho Kim's unique stylings. Charlton had a lot going for it and I'm glad so many have enjoyed reading about them.

Russ said...

Brad Rader said...

Great stuff. I recently purchased the Ditko IDW art/coffee table book "Ditko Unleashed: An American Hero" and was struck by how well colored were his Charlton comics from the 50s. Have you any info on who the colorist(s) was/were?

Defiant1 said...

Robin Snyder is a "her", not a "him".
I was not a fan of Charlton growing up, but I have become a big fan of their existence. The variety of stuff they published is something I miss seeing today.

I've been plugging away at a cover gallery for years. I've discovered some new stuff that wasn't being listed anywhere, but I'm constantly plagued by setbacks and lousy (free) web hosting.

Nick Caputo said...


I've known and corresponded with Robin for decades and can assure you he is male.

I too miss Charlton's output much more than I did long ago.