PART TWO: “CHARLTON and….THE MAFIA-!”
Folks, before you begin reading this article, entitled ‘The Charlton Mystique, Part Two’, you’ll want to read part one of this article first to give you the background on what I am going to discuss here! And, don’t worry, we promise you, that we’ll wait for you, right here, until you get back. That is, unless a police constable comes along, and tells us we are illegally parked. In which case, we’ll have to move the car! In which case, we’ll keep circling the block, until we see you first, or till you flag us down!
Now then: in the latter part of The Charlton Mystique, Part One, I was saying that the Silver Age, 1960’s King Comics’ (Lee Falk’s) The Phantom # 29 does not exist, despite the fact that the annual (Bob) Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, has, each year, been saying # 29 was, quote, “only published in Europe.” My editor on First Comics News.com, Rik Offenberger, actually turned up the cover of King Comics # 29, an issue I had been saying does not exist – and published the image of that cover, with the article, in Part One. And, it turns out that I’m actually glad he did!
At first, I thought, was I wrong? Is it possible the issue WAS published, in Europe? And then, self-doubts over that matter, in me, vanished. And here is why:
I’ve attached the photo scan of this ‘phantom’ (nonexistent) King Comics’ The Phantom # 29 to Part Two of this Charlton Comics series of articles, as well. And, for a very good reason! Click on this photo scan of The Phantom # 29, attached. Clicking on it will enlarge the image, on your computer screen. Now, look at the enlarged image. See those hand-written notes, done with either pencil or in pen, written right on the cover, itself? One of those blurbs says, ‘Full Yellow BIG.’ Still another hand-written blurb on the cover, up top, is hard to read. I couldn’t make out all of it, but part of it reads ‘…full yellow in…’ something, or other. Now, also notice how the cover of # 29 has not one, but TWO prices: 12 cents, and 10d. But notice how those two cover prices on this cover, are crossed out, with a line through them.
Here’s my theory on this: this King Comics # 29 was never published, not even in Europe. What you are looking at, here, in terms of that ‘The Phantom’ # 29 cover, is not an actual published comic book. But, rather, a ‘The Phantom’ King Comics # 29 MOCK UP COVER! The blurbs about the colour yellow, on this # 29 cover, are actually instructions to the colourist, to have him or her colour the background of this cover, in YELLOW.
Now, notice the two cover prices on this cover. See how both cover prices are crossed out, with a line in pencil or pen right through the price notations? That’s because, once King Comics decided NOT to publish The Phantom # 29, they then crossed the prices out on the cover, since they would NOT be publishing the issue, after all! This is what I believe happened.
WHY did they decide to not publish the issue? This is all speculation on my part, of course, but my guess is that Charlton Comics made King Features a better $$ offer, to pick up the lease license. Or, more likely, King Comics may simply have ceased publishing.
So, that is the first (of two) Charlton Comics’ myths that I wish to dispel. In fact, that’s the minor myth, compared to the next one!
The second Charlton Comics myth that I want to deep-six/- clear up- (and, really, somebody really ought to) – I’m going to talk about, next. In fact, this is a Charlton myth that I downright want to RUN OVER, with my Candy Apple Red 2017 Porsche Cayman convertible, sports car! Now, as it so happens, I DON”T actually happen to OWN one of those, but hey, we all have dreams, right?
This second myth about Charlton Comics, a myth continually perpetuated by thousands, in addition to the horses they rode in on – and for many decades – is that the late, shuttered Charlton Comics, (owned by Charlton Press), is that basically the parent company, and thus, Charlton Comics, also, were owned, or had links to….The Mafia!
It’s always been interesting cannon fodder (to me, and to countless others), the ‘fact’, that this second, and even more intriguing myth, has been talked about, countless times, (and hey, please DO correct me, if I’m wrong, but you won’t catch me holding my breath, waiting for evidence regarding this factoid, to emerge) – with nary a single piece of evidence to support this rumour = false ‘fact.’
This false Charlton Myth, is ‘Gollywoggle’ = Horse Puckey!
I’m saying there has NEVER, ever, been any evidence, ever presented, anywhere, in print – zip, zilch, nada – to support the assertion that Charlton Comics/-Charlton Press, EVER had any links to the Mafia.
Oh, sure, people talk about it, in fan press publications, and all over the internet. But nobody ever gives any EVIDENCE, regarding that baseless accusation!
And, if there is no evidence of such a thing ever having existed, with Charlton Comics/-Charlton Press, then How On Earth did these false rumours About Charlton Press (and also, Charlton Comics), ever get started, to begin with?
I strongly suspect this false and unsavoury rumour came about, because of sheer…..anti-semitism. I have thought so, for decades. I don’t claim to be the first to voice it. But I’m going to say it one last time: there has never, ever been any evidence extant, to substantiate the (false) rumours that Charlton ever had any links, whatsoever, to THE MAFIA!
Chalk it up to pure anti-semitism, and the further fact that this Italian immigrant, by the name of John Santangelo – unknowingly – broke the law, by committing, in many people’s eyes — a huge case of FRAUD — which in my own opinion, it was not.
Because it was unintentional.
I honestly believe John Santangelo, an Italian immigrant, was innocently unaware of American law, in this case. And this made him (look)….like a crook, to others. Which I don’t believe he was — at least, not intentionally. This is my opinion, based on everything I have read on these matters, over the decades. He was convicted of a crime in the United States, and he was Italian. And all of this took place in the 1930’s – when people were a lot less open-minded about people of other nationalities.
Although, when I turn on the TV news these days – practically any day of any week – I realize, in the current political milieu, that nations do seem to be dramatically back-sliding, in that regard! What a damn shame.
On the other hand: for decades, I have had an internet friend who lives in Australia, who is into comic books, and who knows a lot about Charlton Comics, and Charlton Media. His name is Daniel Best. He’s a great guy, and he and I have talked online numerous times, over the decades, about comics, and comics personalities. Mr. Best has a different theory, as to whether or not the late, defunct Charlton Press/-Charlton Comics had links to the MOB! And, it’s an intiguing one! I’m going to show you a link to a story he put online in 2014. His BLOG is called ’20th Century Danny Boy.’
Daniel Best, in the link I’m about to show you, says that Morris Levy had affiliations to the MOB, and that Morris Levy had connections to Charlton Press. Included in this ’20th Century Danny Boy’ article on Morris Levy and Charlton Press is what looks like ‘proof’ that this Morris Levy had business connections to Charlton Press.
(1.) Morris Levy is NOT Ed Levy. They are two different people, entirely. And that fact is crystal clear.
(2.) Daniel Best admits that there is no proof whatsoever that Morris Levy, and Charlton Press’s Ed Levy, are even related. In fact, Morris Levy never, ever had a brother, named Ed Levy.
(3.) In Mr. Best’s very well-written, and well-researched article, there seems to be ‘proof’ (but note the parenthesis around the word ‘proof’), that Morris Levy (not Ed Levy) was linked to both The Mob, and to Charlton Press.
(4.) According to this ‘proof’, Morris Levy sold legal reproduction rights (in magazines) that Charlton Press published, of song lyrics, to Charlton Press.
(5.) Even if this was true, (which it may or then again, may not be), that still doesn’t necessarily mean that Charlton Press had connections to The Mob/- The Mafia, or any other crooked organization of that sort.
Having served a year (plus a day) in prison, (for what I explained earlier), I seriously doubt John Santangelo, Senior (he also had a second son, named John, Junior, (more on that in upcoming chapters)…..would have gotten mixed up with The Mob/-The Mafia.
And, I say again, even if John Santangelo legally bought magazine reproduction song lyrics text publications rights from this Morris Levy (not Ed Levy) – then it means that, this time, John Santangelo Sr. had legally purchased these magazine print reproduction rights from this Morris Levy, clean, and square, completely legally. Above board.
Anyway, I’ll let you make up your own minds, of course, but here is Daniel Best’s excellent written article on this matter, on his BLOG, entitled, ’20th Century Danny Boy’, from June 30th, 2014: When The Mob Met Charlton (Comics)