Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Superman, Batman and Robin at Perisher Ski Resort: The Murray connection


Colossal Comic #26, July 1963

That's Superman, Batman and Robin doing their skiing thing on the cover of Colossal Comic #26, at the Perisher Ski Resort.

Or so I like to imagine. Why?

It turns out that the publisher, KG Murray, was involved in the development of the Perisher Valley. Further, according to Wikipedia, "Murray Publishers...traded under the name of Perisher Ski Resort...(and) in 1995 Murray Publishers Pty Limited and the Alpine Australia Group Pty Limited merged to form Perisher Blue Pty Limited."   

That's evidence enough for a legitimate leap of the imagination.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Master Comics #24: Captain Marvel Jr. and the (Dis)Appearance of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Would you trade the Statue of Liberty for the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Captain Marvel Jr. did - or rather, Larry S. Cleland did in Master Comics #24:


Here's the original cover to Master Comics #107:


I give Cleland credit for taking advantage creatively of the landscape format of their issue in contrast to the portrait format of the source material - the horizontal bridge for the vertical statue is an aesthetic decision, not just a patriotic turn.

I also give Cleland credit for adapting the interior art:




If you're interested, the original story can be read in full on comicbookplus.com.

My only gripe with the modification is the spelling of Harbor - did Cleland imagine it would be sold back to the Americans?

Daring Love Confessions Library #1: The Forgotten Years

Daring Love Confessions Library #1: The Forgotten Years looks like a Page Publications digest-sized romance comic, but isn't - it's a pulp novel.


Nevertheless the cover by Keith Chatto makes it suitable for filing alongside your other Australian digest-sized romance comics, and there's another issue in the series if you're a completist.

Update: This image was redrawn for Page Publications' Wonderful Love Stories #1:


The story Autumn of Desire had previously been published in Page Publications' Real Romance Library #43:


Autumn of Desire was originally published in MV Features' Dream A Romance Picture Story #14 in 1965.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

$0.15 for a comic in 1959? You must be dreamin'...!

This is a scan of the front cover of my copy of Yaffa's Two-Gun Kid (Vol.1) #40:


This is a scan of the rear cover of my copy of Yaffa's Two-Gun Kid (Vol. 1) #40:


And just in case the scan above is too small to read, here's a zoom shot of the coupon including the advertiser's date code.


'Nuff said. Anything more would be mansplaining.

The Young Eagles: Four Yaffa editions and counnting...

The Young Eagles was originally published in MV Features' Action War Picture Library #15:


It was published by Yaffa in the following digest-sized comics:

  Air Combat Library #1


Second World War Library #30

Air Combat Library #1

As you can see, none of the covers appear to be swipes of Action War Picture Library #15. As the earliest published issue above has a $0.25 cover price, I expect that there is an earlier $0.20 edition with a swipe of the original issue's cover.

The cover of Air Combat Library #1 is from an interior panel:


War Action #1 and Second World War Library #30 are both cover-priced $0.30 - I'm not sure which one was published first.

A loose pattern is emerging in these 1970's Yaffa digests whereby the first publication of a UK digest comic carries a cover swipe, the subsequent recycled editions - often in a new series - feature newly commissioned artwork, and then the last gasp edition is slapped together by reprinting an interior panel for cover art duties. This is parallel to instances in which previously published cover art is itself recycled over 'new' content, or indeed over 'old' content. And this doesn't just apply to material sourced from UK comics - I'm pretty sure it's the case for Marvel westerns and any other Yaffa digest material of this era.


Navy Warfare #'s 2, 3 and 4: A different kind of triplicate Chatto

So we've seen Keith Chatto provide multiple versions of a cover for the same story, and we've seen the same Chatto cover recycled for two issues in the same series, not once but twice, but how about the one cover being used three times on three consecutive issues of the one series? I give you Navy Combat #'s 1, 2 and 3:




The Burning Ocean is the story printed in Navy Warfare #'s 2 and 4; The Unknown Warriors is the story in Navy Warfare #3. The Burning Ocean originally appeared in MV Features' Action War Picture Library #17, and The Unknown Warrior originally appeared in MV Features' Action War Picture Library #24. The latter cover was swiped by Chatto for War At Sea #1.

It is possible this image is a swipe from a UK source, but if it is, I haven't identified it yet. It isn't based on a panel from either The Unknown Warriors nor The Burning Ocean, so it would appear this is an original conception by Chatto.

I haven't seen a copy of Navy Warfare #1 so I don't know what is on the cover, but you can guess what my perverse wish is... 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Three Chatto covers and a double swipe!

 Death before Dishonour! was originally published in Battlecry #7:


It has been published by Yaffa four times that I'm aware of, as follows:

Wartime Library #1, c. March 1971

War Adventure Series #4, c. March 1972

Battle Victory Picture Library #1, c. 1974

Battle Victory Picture Library #2, c.1977

The dates for Wartime Library #1 and War Adventure Series #4 are based on advertising date codes on the issues. The dates for the two issues of Battle Victory Picture Library are from Ausreprints, and I think are reasonable guesses on the limited data available.

What interests me here is not the dates so much as the publication sequence and the cover art. Following on from my query regarding Keith Chatto's art for reprinted and recycled stories, I thought reviewing another sample may shed some light on the matter. For this purpose, all that matters is that the issues above are presented in the order of publication, based on available dating information and cover prices.

The first three issues feature Chatto's cover art. The cover art for the first issue is clearly a swipe from the source material, as is the art on the third issue. The second issue features art which does not appear to relate to a specific panel in the story. Indeed it appears to be rather generic, and could have been intended for any war comic featuring an Australian rather than an American soldier (it's all in the hats and helmets...). The cover of the fourth issue is a copy of an interior panel:


Now, allowing for gaps - there may be more Yaffa printings of this story along this timeline - it does appear that the appeal to common sense should be trusted, and it is wise to assume that the first printing of a story which is recycled a number of times will most likely be the issue with the cover swiped from the source material. There may be exceptions to the rule, and there may be conflicting data, but this will be my standby position until such time as I learn otherwise.

I think this is the only time I've noticed Chatto swipe and adapt from the source material twice. Something else to keep my antennae attuned to.

Chatto and The Fanatics: Spy Action Library #1 and Spy Stories Picture Library #3

Spy Action Library #1 is a digest-sized Yaffa comic published c.1974:


The cover is by Keith Chatto and, as was often the case with his covers for Yaffa, it is based on the source material - in this case, S.A.T.A.N. Picture Library #6:


The Fanatics was also published by Yaffa in Spy Stories Picture Library #3:


Again, as was often the case, Chatto was tasked with supplying a cover image for recycled material for which he had already provided a cover. There is no similar panel in the comic to suggest he swiped/tailored it for his purposes.

I say he had already supplied a cover, but I'm not sure of the publication sequence of these issues. I can usually tell which edition was published first by the cover price. In this instance each edition has a $0.30 cover price, leaving me to make deductions. Common sense dictates that Spy Action Library #1 was first out the gate, given the cover is based on the source material.

However, I note that Spy Stories Picture Library #1 was published with a $0.25 cover price, and ran for at least 4 issues, whereas I'm not sure there were any further issues of Spy Action Library. So it is possible Spy Stories Picture Library was considered the primary series, and Spy Action Library was an afterthought.

I also note there is a 7 marked in pen on my copy of Spy Stories Picture Library #3, indicating a publication date around April/May 1974. AusReprints has an indicative date of December 1974 for Spy Action Library #1, based on the advertiser's code MMBO/1274. The code on Spy Stories Picture Library #1 is MPHO/1274. Should I accept that they were both published simultaneously? It's possible, I guess, but it doesn't scan with the April/May date ascribed to Spy Stories Picture Library #3.

I must admit I tend to be a bit frustrated and sceptical about the accuracy of the date codes on Yaffa comics. I think they're useful for indicating a year, but less accurate regarding the month of publication. My impression is that they tend to be too generic or 'long term' compared to the date codes on  K.G. Murray Comics. I may change my mind about this as I become more familiar with the early/mid-'70's Yaffa catalogue. I don't yet have a handle on this period as I do on Yaffa's Marvel period.

Oh, and I look forward to spotting another issue recycling the Fanatics!

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Invincibe Iron Man: The complete Yaffa editions

Here's a cover gallery of my complete run of The Invincible Iron Man published by Yaffa:

#1 c.October 1977

 #2 c.March 1978

 #3 c. August 1878

 #4 c.December 1978

 #5 c.September 1980

 #6 c.April 1981

 #7 c.August 1981

#8 c.November 1981

#9 c.March 1982

Notes:
1. These issues reprint the main features of the first 27 issues of the U.S Iron Man series - three U.S issues per Yaffa edition.
2. There are likely to be pages missing or otherwise modified in the Yaffa issues
3. At least one Yaffa issue reprints the U.S stories out of sequence
4. Issue #'s 1-5 are regular/magazine size
5. Issue #'s 6 and 7 are 'short' digests
6. Issue #'s 8 and 9 are 'tall' digests
7. The dates ascribed are my best estimations on available data. I consider them accurate within a month, but will amend them as more data becomes available
8. I believe this is the complete series.
9. It is possible there is a further regular/magazine-size issue, whether unnumbered or #10, possibly reprinting the first issue, but I have not seen such an issue. It is also possible issues in this series were recycled by Yaffa as digest-sized editions, possibly even with new titles, but again, I have not seen any.
10. A few months ago I took a guess that #8 in this series would be a 'tall' digest, and it would be published c.November 1981. The copy I picked up today is indeed a 'tall' edition, and has November 1981 written by hand on page 3, presumably by the first owner. 

The X-Men #3: The Yaffa edition

Here's a cover scan of Yaffa's The X-Men #3:


This is a digest-sized edition published in 1980. It reprints the main features from the original The X-Men #'s 7-9. It appears that one page is omitted from each feature.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Chatto and Real Confessions

Here's yet another Keith Chatto cover for a Yaffa/Page romance digest comic - Real Romance Library #42/Real Confessions:


The story, Goddess of Love, was subsequently recycled by Yaffa/Page in the first issue of Romance & Love Library #1 under - you guessed it - another Chatto cover:


Goddess of Love may have been originally published in IPC's Love Story Picture Library #285, cover dated 2 May 1960.

Breathtaking Love Stories #39: Have sex already...!

Breathtaking Love Stories #39 features a Keith Chatto cover illustration which is significantly more adult than two of his earlier illustrations for the story Don't Speak of Love, and certainly more revealing than the source material from Juliette Picture Library #5.



Juliette Picture Library #5 is a digest-sized English romance comic published by Famepress in 1966, and you can tell by the discreet cover illustration that this is a romance comic for young readers who haven't had sex yet:





Yaffa/Page published this story at least twice before Breathtaking Love Stories #39, in what is a clearly a steadily rising libido in our young protagonists:

                                                 


I do wonder if there was a subsequent reprinting of this story...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Invincible Iron Man #9: The Federal Comics edition

Federal Comics' Iron Man #9 dropped into the Junkyard this morning, and I just want to note a few things which have struck me about this issue on first inspection:


1. There is no issue number on the cover, however it says Iron Man #9 in the margin of the first page.

2. The banner across the top of the cover says Marvel Comics Group. The black and white Federal comics which had a banner across the top were variations of Federal Comics Group or Federal Presents (the colour issues boasted All Color or somesuch). I don't recall another Marvel Federal issue with a Marvel Comics Group banner. I'm not saying this is the only issue to do so - presumably there are more - but it does represent a significant change at this late stage of the game.
3. The date pencilled on the cover is F 3/87. This is the last issue in this series, and it is clearly not published in 1987, but early 1986. I'm not sure what the F stands for - Federal?

4. The advertisements in this issue suggest it was published in January/February 1986. But...

5. A few months ago I noted that there were two different Comic Comments... letter columns published in Federal Comics. This is the letter column in this issue:


This letter column is a variation on #2 as sampled in my earlier post - identical, except for the final letter. I'm not suggesting this variation is exclusive to Iron Man #9 - I suspect it's in a number of issues, and that I missed it the first time I inspected the letter columns. At any rate, this means there is a third letter column to add to the first two.

Having now completed my run of this series I'll take some time next week to present them all here, and see if any new insights to dates and formats are revealed in the review.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Man and Woman #21

Here's a cover scan of K.G. Murray's Man and Woman #21:


The cover is from Charltons' Time For Love #35, and is itself a montage - the image in colour in the forefront is a portion of the splash page, and the monochrome rear imagery is from an interior page. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Yaffa's Captain America #8: Method to the madness?

In my overview of the Yaffa Marvel editions I noted that in 1981 the price rise from $0.60 to $0.70 coincided with a change in size from a 'short digest' to a 'tall digest' format. I also noted that a typical run would include two 'tall digest' issues, possibly with an indicia date. As it turns out, the pattern which has established itself is that the first of the two 'tall digest' issues is likely to include a 1981 indicia date, the second unlikely to include a date at all.

I further noted that "Indicia dates can be perplexing and manifestly incorrect at this stage of the game." I'm not sure which issue(s) I was specifically thinking of in that regard at the time, but an issue which squarely fits in that frame is Captain America #8:


The Page Publications date in the indicia is 1977. This qualifies as both perplexing and manifestly incorrect. Suffice to say that Captain America #7, the first of the two 'long digests' in the series, duly contains a 1981 indicia date. 

I've surmised before that it is possible - even likely -  that Yaffa consciously fudged the publication dates towards the end of their licence in order to evade scrutiny. As the licence began in 1977, a 1977 date on a 1981 issue might be intended to suggest the rights to this material was in hand from the inception of their licence. If this is the case, it may be that this was tried for a short time before a change in strategy to publishing issues without any designated publication date in the indicia. 

I don't know. But it's something I'll keep an eye out for in terms of identifying an interim stage in the Yaffa Marvel editions c. late 1981/early 1982, and ascribing some plausible method to the madness.