Recently it was announced that AC Comics will be working with Mort Todd’s Charlton Neo to bring print editions of the Charlton Neo stable of comics 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, 44-page standard sized comic book under the AC Comics banner.
As part of this huge development I had a chance to exchange a few emails with creator Paul Kupperberg. We talked about Charlton in general and focused on Paul’s The Monster Hunter which will be featured in the Charlton Arrow anthology.
Martin Boruta: I know you are mainly known for your huge body of work at DC Comics but you must have some memories of the original Charlton Comics.
Paul Kupperberg: I have lots of memories of the original Charlton Comics, going way back. I was a hardcore DC fan growing up, but I also loved the quirky little smaller comics publishers in the 1960s and nobody was quirkier than Charlton. I was twelve or thirteen when Dick Giordano, who was Charlton’s editor in those days, put out the Action Heroes, or superhero, line, featuring Captain Atom and The Question by Steve Ditko, Pete Morisi’s Thunderbolt, Pat Boyette’s Peacemaker, Frank McLaughlin’s Judomaster, Dick’s own Sarge Steel, and the rest of them, including the early work of Jim Aparo. Great stuff. Silly scripts, amazing art, but this was 1967, 1968, when Batman was still doing “Pow! Zap! Blam!” on first run network TV, so silly scripts weren’t unusual.
Martin: That did seem to be a “golden time” for Charlton. Even a “youngster” like myself had copies of some of those late 60’s Charlton books mixed in with some of the later reprints from the Modern imprint. What about your favourite memory?
Paul: Even after the Action Heroes faded, Charlton still had a lot going for it, and I was big fan of a lot of artists whose work mainly only appeared in Charlton Comics, like Don Newton, Ditko, and Boyette. Don’s run on Charlton’s The Phantom comic remains one of the best stretches of art that strip has ever seen, and the company’s horror line was peppered with scores of little gems by Ditko.
My best memory of Charlton, though, is that it was the company that bought my first professional comic book stories. I made my first sale to Charlton on April 3, 1975, when then-editor Nick Cuti bought a five-page sword and sorcery/horror story called “Distress” I had submitted. It appeared in Scary Tales #3, drawn by Mike Zeck.
Martin: Charlton folded up shop in what, 1986? Working at DC and having a fondness for Charlton you must have been eager to work on the characters under the DC Bullet?
Paul: I remained connected to Charlton throughout my career at DC, which had bought the rights to the Action Heroes in the 80s, not long before Charlton stopped publishing comics for good. In the 1980s, I was assigned to write a Captain Atom serial for a planned weekly DC anthology title; I wrote the scripts but the project was cancelled before any of it appeared. In the 1990s, I edited DC’s revival of Pete Morisi’s Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, which was written and drawn by Mike Collins, and wrote several stories for titles like Justice League Quarterly that featured Thunderbolt, Captain Atom, Nightshade, and a few other Charlton characters.
Martin: How did you come to be the Executive Editor at Charlton Neo?
Paul: A few years ago I joined The Charlton Arrow, a Facebook group started by Mark Knox, aka Fester Faceplant. Almost as a joke, the group got to discussing publishing a Charlton fanzine—I bear some of the blame for that; when Mark mentioned the idea, I volunteered to write a story for it and that sort of got the ball rolling—but for various reasons, that fell through. Then Mort Todd and Roger McKenzie joined the group. Mort’s an old pro too (well, not as old as me), an artist, writer, editor, and, most importantly, indie comics publisher. Mort picked up the reins of The Charlton Arrow ‘zine, which soon evolved into a full-blown comic book. Then Roger, another old pro who IS at least as old as me (we broke in at around the same time and knew each other from out mid-70s says freelancing at DC), thought that he’d check out what we were doing and, really, the next I knew, we’re Charlton Neo Comics and we’re publishing a little line of comic books. I got to be “Executive Editor” ‘cause I thought it sounded cool, but really, there are no hard and fast boundaries to who does what…except for Mort, who really does do everything.
Martin: What has it meant to you to be a part of the Charlton Neo revival of some of these great stories?
Paul: Please, I’ve got my own comic book company! What’s not to love? But Charlton Neo’s not about reviving old stories. We may reprint the occasional old gem, like a 1960s Pay Boyette Peacemaker story and have some all-reprint books planned, but most of what we’ve been doing in the first volume of The Charlton Arrow is all new. What we’re largely about in everything we publish is continuing, or maybe I should say helping to keep alive, the tradition of solid, entertaining, all-ages comic book stories. Marvel and DC are so teeth-grittingly grim and serious, it’s a relief to be able sit down and write stories that don’t involve destroying cities or lots of arterial spray. And the best thing is, we’re not locked into “all superheroes, all the time” at Charlton Neo. We’re open to every and any genre, superheroes, Western, war, science fiction, sword and sorcery, horror, hot rod, super-gorillas…name it. All that matter is that it’s a good story.
Martin: Colonel Whiteshroud is the Monster Hunter. What can you tell me about him?
Paul: Colonel Whiteshroud was created by Nick Cuti and Joe Staton as the host for the new Monster Hunters title in 1975. Originally, the Colonel was leader of a whole group of monster hunters that he sometimes joined to fight monsters and beasts of all kinds, but they drifted in and out of that for the eighteen issue run of the book, but it was mostly a routine anthology title. Otherwise, there’s not a lot to tell about him really. The characters been around for over forty years but I don’t think anyone’s ever given him a real back story. I kind of like leaving him a man of mystery.
Martin: I haven’t had a chance to reread all my Charlton Arrow issues and I know I don’t own a complete set but how many Monster Hunter stories have there been so far?
Paul: A half dozen or so, I think. Maybe eight? But there wasn’t any continuity between them that I recall. They were just one-offs. This is the first new Colonel Whiteshroud story in a long time.
Martin: Paul, you mentioned that the new Charlton Arrow #1 comic at AC Comics won’t be a reprint book so I am assuming it will also not just reprint the same Charlton Arrow #1 issue self published by Charlton Neo a little while back. Your story in the book being released by AC Comics in September, when did it first appear?
Paul: The new Charlton Arrow series at AC will be 100% all-new and, in fact, even as I answer these questions, artists Mike Collins and Barbara Kaalberg are toiling away on the pencils and inks, finishing the story.
Martin: Plans for the future? New characters? Additional stories?
Paul: Lots of plans. If the reaction to Colonel Whiteshroud is good, I’d love to do more. Otherwise, I’ve got several projects in the works for Charlton Neo, including a new kids supernatural adventure team, an urban man of mystery hero, and a steam-punk adventurer. And new ideas keep popping up all the time. More ideas than I’ve got time to write.
Martin: Well Sir, many many thanks for slapping some keyboard keys for me. We are all looking forward to The Charlton Arrow from Charlton Neo and AC Comics stating in September 2017.
Series: Charlton Arrow | Publisher: Charlton Neo & AC Comics
Writers: Nicola Cuti, Paul Kupperberg, and Roger McKenzie | Artists: Joe Staton, Mike Collins, Steven Butler, Barbara Kallberg and Mort Todd
Price: $7.99 – 44 pages