Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Marvel's British Reprints

For those readers who don't get enough of my musings here (all three of you) I would like to direct you to one of my favorite Bloggers, a gentleman whose posts are often fascinating, illuminating and have a touch of melancholy for a time long gone.

"Kid" Robson was kind enough to allow me to write a Guest Blog, so I thought I'd reminisce about my discovery and interest in Marvel's UK line. I hope you'll pop over there and not only read my post, but wander around the many corners of the comics world that Kid writes about with great passion and enthusiasm. 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

More on Charlton

My last post on Charlton garnered a great deal of response, which surprised and pleased me. This time out I'll delve into the more neglected genres and show some examples of a few other Charlton alumni.

Jack Keller had been working in the business for many years at such outfits as Quality and assisting Will Eisner on backgrounds on his Spirit comic strip. Keller did much work for Stan Lee at Timely-Atlas on crime and horror stories, but is noted for his long and successful run on Kid Colt, Outlaw. Keller was never a flashy artist; he had a simple style, but was a solid storyteller and his rendition of Kid Colt made him more of an average guy that readers could relate to. At Charlton he drew many western and war stories, but was most prolific on the hot rod and car titles, many of which he both wrote and drew, often assisted by his son Gary as letterer. Keller was enthusiastic over the material and when he left comics he worked for a car dealership and made model cars. Keller died in 2003.

Jack Keller, Hot Rod Racers # 15, July 1967

Aside from Jack Keller,  Dick Giordano provided many covers for the Hot Rod comics, although this may possibly be pencilled by Pat Masulli. Hot Rods and Racing Cars # 68, March 1964.  This publication ran a healthy 120 issues, from 1951-1973.  

Charlton produced all sorts of comics, and this one about a horse is interesting because there was an NBC TV show called Fury that ran from 1955-1960, the story of "A horse and the boy who loved him." Black Fury appeared on the newsstands at the same time, although there was no connection to the TV show. I guess no one at the network was aware of Charlton's comic. Cover by Maurice Whitman, from Black Fury # 16, Nov 1958  

"The Guardian", page 3, Ernie Hart art and possible script, from Black Fury # 18, April 1959
A number of talented artists worked on Black Fury, including Ernie Hart, who was a writer, artist and editor for Timely Comics working in the animation division. Hart may be known to some as "H.E. Huntley", a pseudonym he used while scripting some early Marvel Human Torch and Ant-Man stories. Steve Ditko also illustrated a few Black Fury stories.

Pat Masulli was the Executive Editor of Charlton from 1955-1966, taking over from Al Fago. Masulli began at Charlton as a colorist, but also worked as an artist for a number of companies. Even when he was Executive Editor Masulli pencilled covers for Charlton, it's interesting to note that almost all the Charlton editors, including Al Fago (who drew Atomic Mouse), Pat Masulli, Sal Gentile, Dick Giordano and George Wildman, were also artists. Here Masulli is inked by Rocco Mastroserio. Outer Space # 18, August 1958

Bill Molno was a Charlton workhorse, drawing for a variety of genres. Although Molno worked for a number of companies over the years, he produced the most work at Charlton. Molno pencils; Sal Trapani possible inks, "Kelly's Private War", Fightin' Army # 20,  May 1957.  

Sam Glanzman started out in comics in 1939 and worked for a variety of publishers, including Centaur and Harvey. In the 1950s and 1960s he worked primarily for Dell and Charlton, pencilling movie adaptations, war stories and strips such as Kona. At Charlton he drew an unauthorized and short-lived Tarzan series and worked on Hercules. Glanzman was most closely associated with war stories and later wrote and drew a series of autobiographical stories for DC, "U.S.S. Stevens". With writer Willi Franz he drew the feature "The Lonely War of Captain Willy Schultz" in Fightin' Army for a number of years. Cover from Fightin' Army # 90, Mar 1970.  

Although Steve Ditko was often seen in Charlton's many ghost comics in the 1950s-1970s, he also worked in other genres from time to time. Here he lends his considerable talents to a war story. Page 2 of "Pied Piper of St. Pierre", possible Joe Gill script, from Fightin' Army # 89, Jan 1970.   

Dick Giordano drew everything at Charlton, including crime stories, romance, hot rods and westerns, and just about all the work was produced with solid craftsmanship. "The Most Desperate Man in Texas", Texas Rangers in Action # 8, July 1957    

Occasionally Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia would break out of the standard six panel grid and liven up a page, as they do here. "The Professionals", page 2, Outlaws of the West # 81, May 1970. 

Warren Sattler drew many war, western and ghost stories for Charlton in the 1970s, including a run on Billy the Kid. Sattler also worked on Yang. Sattler had an attractive style, as can be seen in this stat of Billy the Kid # 114, Sept 1975, as published in The Charlton Bullseye # 2.   

Ditko displays his use of  body language and expressions, including an impressive silent panel, from page 2 of "Enemy Ground", Texas Rangers in Action # 77, April 1970.

Charlton had a huge line of romance comics and included many fine artists, including a young Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, who later went on to produce exceptional work for DC comics.  Cover from Love Diary #56, October 1968. Scan courtesy of Jacque Nodell who has educated me greatly on Romance comics through her blog Sequential Crush. You can read her thoughts on the cover story here:


Jorge Badia Romero's cover for Time for Love #47, May 1976 from the collection of Jacque Nodell, who has displayed much wonderful art by the neglected spanish artists on her site.  

Charlton comics ran a continuing story of David and Eileen, a couple in an interfaith marriage, an unusual idea that was probably not seen anywhere else in comics. "Heart-Ache Ahead" from Just Married #93, March 1973. Artwork by A. Martinez and J. Zuniga. Jacque has written a little about the series here:

Dick Giordano noted his involvement as editor in getting the talented Spanish artists for Charlton:

"I made contact with a studio in South America and they were able to produce artwork at a fraction of the normal rate. Having discovered this, I went down to the publisher at the time and said, "rather than the company establishing rates I would like to dispense the money as I see fit as long as we remain within the established budget." I managed to save money a number of ways, partly by using the South American artists.
Also, if you look closely you'll see that some of the covers are photostats of the inside art. I did that so I could pay Steve Ditko, Denny O'Neil and others a little more."  From an interview in Whizzard # 18, 1981. Apparently Giordano's idea  continued when he left the company.    

Vince Colletta inked a prolific amount of work for Charlton, notably on their many Romance comics. From 1959-1963 Joe Sinnott pencilled many of Colletta's stories. Seen above are scenes taken from an interior story. Romantic Secrets # 31, Feb 1961. Image from the GCD.

George Wildman took over the editorial post from Sal Gentile in 1971, with Nick Cuti assisting. Wildman also drew the Popeye comic book, which was written by Joe Gill (one of his favorite assignments). Wildman provided information for the fan press and was instrumental in notching up the quality of the Charlton line. This drawing appeared in The Charlton Bullseye # 2 

Wildman explained his editorial policies,  accomplishments and goals in this article from The Charlton Portfolio, 1974 

Abbott and Costello had some very witty covers, likely written by Joe Gill and possibly drawn by Tony Tallarico, a prolific artist for Charlton as well as many other companies. If I recall correctly Gill very much enjoyed working on animated stories, as did Steve Skeates, who wrote many of the early Abbott and Costello stories. Abbott and Costello # 14, April 1970. Image from the GCD. Information on Tallarico's possible cover contribution by Mark Evanier. 

Talented artist Gray Morrow did some work for Charlton on their magazine line in the 1970s, as did Neal Adams, mainly on TV related fare such as the Six Million Dollar Man, Emergency and Space:1999. Cover from a stat of the first (magazine) issue, Space 1999 # 1, Nov 1975, as published in The Charlton Bullseye # 3.

In 1985 Charlton made one final attempt at a revival. This ad by Steve Ditko gave him an opportunity to draw characters he had never worked on before, including Yang, The Iron Corporal, Punchy the crow and Lil' Genius! Ad from Amazing Heroes # 82, 1985

As noted in a news item that accompanied this drawing in The Comics Journal # 103, November 1985, Ditko's poster celebrating Charlton comics included some of the popular hosts such as Dr. Graves, The Mysterious Traveler and Winnie the Witch as well as his own creation, Static, of which he retained copyright. Unfortunately sales on the revived line were dismal and Charlton closed its doors for the final time. For 40 years Charlton had a diverse line of comics, with many hard working artists, writers and editors on their staff. I doubt we'll ever see its type again.    

 With thanks to Robin Snyder, Jacque Nodell and Mark Evanier.