Big excitement comes to AC Comics and comic shops everywhere this Fall as AC begins a joint venture with Mort Todd’s Charlton Neo to bring print versions of their comic books to the direct sales comic shop market. Look for Charlton Arrow #1, in September- starring E-Man by original series creators Joe Staton and Nicola Cuti in a FULL COLOR (that’s right, FULL COLOR) 44-page standard sized comic book under the AC Comics banner.

Anyone who has been a comic book collector for any length of time certainly remembers the original Charlton Comics; John Santangelo’s Derby, Connecticut publishing fiefdom from the late 1940’s to the mid-1980’s that grew to be the #3 player among mass-market newsstand comic houses through the Silver Age, behind only Marvel and DC in US comic book sales and circulation until dropping out of the comic book business before the true rise of the independent comics market.

Several years ago, writer/artist/editor (and industry veteran) Mort Todd decided to revive the spirit of this fiercely independent company (and even a few of its former features) in the form of an online comic book company that he christened Charlton Neo. Since that time he and a small army of other talented creators have produced a number of titles (some based on or inspired by original Charlton features; others completely original but steeped in the “spirit” of the old Charlton line), offering them for sale online as digital downloads and via mail-order in print-on-demand editions. As the Charlton Neo followers online began to reach into the thousands, it became apparent to Mr.Todd that bowing to the hew and cry, Charlton Neo HAD to make the jump to quality, printed-on-paper hard-copy traditional comic books, available to fans and readers anywhere that independent comic books were sold. Looking for an existing comic book publisher to work with on this project, Todd approached AC Comics, and a deal was quickly struck.

Why choose AC? Well, perhaps experience, longevity, and stability were factors. AC has been producing and marketing independent comic books on a monthly basis continuously since 1983. They must be doing SOMETHING right. Also, the company was helmed by it’s originator Bill Black from it’s inception until 2014, at which point long-time #2 man ( a freelance associate since 1980, in-house Associate Editor since 1990 ) Mark Heike was handed the day-to-day editorial reigns, and Black ascended to the role of Editor Emeritus. A stridently-independent outfit that handles much of it’s production in-house at it’s Central Florida location, AC’s iconoclast business model echoes much of the philosophies behind both Todd’s Charlton Neo and the Derby, Connecticut original.

“There’s more of a connection between AC and Charlton than you might suspect”, opines current AC EIC Mark Heike. “Our original ‘Bossman’ Bill Black was contributing cover art to some of the Charlton Western titles (Like Billy the Kid) in the early ’80’s, as well as being involved as an inker on their ground-breaking tryout book, Charlton Bullseye #1, and well as writing and drawing a Nightshade story that was still in inventory when Bullseye was cancelled. I myself did a couple of stories (and cover art) for Charlton Bullseye #8, in 1982. Bill also knew then-Charlton Assistant Editor Bill Pearson since fan days, including a collaboration with Pearson in publishing the last issue of Wallace Wood’s legendary Witzend. When the decision to drop comics publication at Charlton came about, Pearson approached Bill (who was then preparing to launch AC Comics) about the backlog of completed stories Charlton had on hand intended for future issues of the Bullseye that would never be published. Bill agreed to publish some of those, under the proviso that Charlton would give AC permission to publish these already-in-progress stories featuring Charlton characters including Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and The Question, during a limited, 12-month span. That period was the year 1983. AC did in fact publish a pair of Blue Beetle stories in Americomics #4, a book-length group story teaming BB, Captain Atom, Nightshade and The Question in Americomics Special #1, and one Atomic Mouse story in Americomics #6. There were other Charlton stories planned, but they were not completed by the time the Charlton permissions ran out. Subsequently, a sale of those characters to DC Comics went through, at which time DC assumed all rights to publishing new material utilizing those characters. Perhaps most importantly, a number of writers and artists involved in the original Charlton Bullseye project eventually became important early creators involved in developing the AC Comics line of original characters, including Rik Levins, Dan St. John, Greg Guler, Don Secrease, and Paul Ryan, among others. I myself was already doing work on Bill’s pre-AC Comics Paragon Publications line at the same time as I was working up Charlton Bullseye material, so I don’t ‘officially’ count as one of the guys that came to AC via the Bullseye experience. All that notwithstanding, there is a sort of a “cosmic link” between AC and Charlton in the past that seems to make the Charlton Neo deal here in 2017 a ‘natural’. And we couldn’t be MORE excited to start the whole thing off with a bang, showcasing what is probably THE most popular original creation ever to come out of the old Charlton, E-Man!!”

A truly unique approach to super-heroic characters, this strange ( but benevolent) alien being with the ability to manipulate matter and energy first came to Earth in the mid-’70s in his own title, sharing adventures with his former exotic-dancer girlfriend Nova Kane that were three parts high-adventure and one part outrageous visuals. E-Man was the first place most comic book readers were introduced to the unique dynamism of artist Joe Staton. Joe has gone on to draw literally thousands of pages of comics for all the major companies, illustrating all the biggest stars; yet none have really ever eclipsed his work on E-Man. And with original writer Nicola Cuti ( a long-time veteran comic book scripter and editor in his own right) teaming with Joe, how could a new E-Man series possibly be anything less than great? If you remember E-man and have been pining for his return, your time has come. And if you’re a Johnny-come-lately who DOESN’T know the character, hang onto your socks! You’ve NEVER seen ANYTHING like THIS!!

This new Charlton Neo imprint at AC will not have any effect on current existing AC Comics titles; expect to see Femforce (heading for issue#179 in June), Men of Mystery and Crypt of Horror released on their regular quarterly rotation; Big Bang Universe appear whenever Editor/Creator Gary Carlson has an issue ready, and the occasional Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special or other one-shot made available as they present themselves. Charlton Neo is an expansion of the AC line, made possible through the Herculean creative efforts of Mort Todd. More Charlton Neo titles will be coming to comic shop shelves through AC Comics in future, though details of exactly WHAT titles they will be and when they will appear have not yet been finalized. A lot will depend on what kind of reception Charlton Arrow #1 gets within the marketplace. Interested parties should check out Mort Todd’s entire output at www.morttodd.com, and the whole AC Comics line at www.accomics.com. And be sure to pre-order your copy of Charlton Arrow#1, in the AC Comics section of the Diamond Previews for July, 2017, listing products shipping in September 2017 at your local comic book retailer’s.

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Big excitement comes to AC Comics and comic shops everywhere this Fall as AC begins a joint venture with Mort Todd's Charlton Neo to bring print versions of their comic books to the direct sales comic shop market. Look for Charlton Arrow #1, in September- starring E-Man by original...