THE CHARLTON COMICS MYSTIQUE part 4
“A CAPITAL IDEA! THE ONE – STOP PUBLISHING SHOP IS HERE!”
The July, 1955 edition of ‘Newsdealer’ magazine published an article with that (above) title. Well-known comic book historian, and former comic book shop owner, and frequent EBAY SELLER of vintage comic books, rock music posters, original comics art, and various other assorted comics-related paper ephemera, Robert BeerBohm, rediscovered this (above) 1950’s edition of ‘Newsdealer’ magazine.
He then, in turn, sent the article in to Comic Book Artist magazine, and the editors there, republished the entire article, from that vintage Newsdealer magazine, in # 9 of that title, cover dated August of 2000.
The article was replete with numerous photos of inside (and outside) the Charlton Press/-Charlton Comics plant, including a lot of the comics personalities people!
As mentioned in this (originally) ‘Newsdealer’ magazine issue, largest by far of Charlton’s many divisions was the Capital Distributing Company, which came later, still.
The ‘Newsdealer’ magazine article also provides (reprinted, in Comic Book Artist # 9 magazine, the very useful information that Ed Levy, (John Santangel’s business partner), who was also an attorney – had also extensive experience in banking.
Kind of off topic, but I, myself, worked for a Canadian chartered bank for fourteen solid years and three months, as a mortgage and loans officer….
Anyway, it is mentioned, therein, in the article, that Ed Levy’s particular field of lawyering, was in law. As in state(s) law.
And, additionally, Mr. Levy also operated a chain of theaters.
In its’ day, Charlton Press owned a subsidiary company, called stil lanother (Gasp!) company, called ‘The Colonial Paper Company’, as well as an engraving company, that, quote, “makes the cuts, the bindery, the trucking (shipping) operation, from raw paper, to finished, delivered product!” Unquote.
When it’s been said, in various previous articles about Charlton Press and Charlton Comics, by other authors, that Charlton was an ‘all in one operation’, that’s what they were talking about!
Charlton Press, Charlton Comics, and all of these other companies they owned, all worked in tandem, and all under one roof, in an immense, sprawling building complex/-plant that spanned, fully, 100,000 square feet!!
Sorry, but I have to say it: “Holy McGillicutty!!!”
There was even a very early, IBM computer on site, that recorded and maintained exact sales records of every copy of every single type of periodical that Charlton produced. Ye gads! How they managed that, especially in that early day and age, boggles the mind!
I myself, being not only a comic book and comic strip hobbyist and amateur historian on same, I’m also a fan of world history in general – and I was a fairly big fan and follower, thus, of Charlton Press’s ‘Real West’ magazine, in its’ day!
The early ‘CDC’ upper left cover symbol in a ‘target’ circle, on most all of Charlton’s 1950’s, (and into the early 1960’s) comic books — the ‘CDC’ stood, of course, for the ‘Capital Distribution Company’, and not for ‘Charlton’ something or other, as many collectors of vintage Charlton Comics believe. This, I’ve known for a long, long time. That is, or was, before that tiny obscure cover symbol was eventually replaced, on their comic book line titles’ covers, by a much larger ‘Charlton Comics’ logo, in a target circle — which was designed by none other than Popeye comics’ (at Charlton) artist, George Wildman. This was a much more obvious, as well as way more distinctive company cover branding logo, than was ‘CDC.’
Hey! I’ll bet some Charlton readers, way back when Christ was a cowboy, thought ‘CDC’ stood for ‘Cheap DC’ (Comics.)
The previous ‘CDC’ very tiny cover circle design, was more akin to the ‘Atlas’ cover logos of the 1950’s pre-Marvel comics — although some 1940’s Timely Comics (another predecessor name to Marvel Comics), bore a ‘Marvel’ circle logo, too.
It’s complicated to explain, and that said, I actually understand what they were trying to do.
In the 1950’s, ‘Atlas’ on those comics covers denoted the distribution company for those comics, and NOT the name of the comics’ company, itself.
Maybe the progression from Timely, to Atlas, to finally, Marvel, was their take on ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’-?
In the same way as Atlas distributing 1950’s unnamed Marvel Comics, back then, (I mean, they no longer even called them Timely Comics, by the 1950’s), the ‘Capital Distribution Company’ was Charlton’s own, separate, distribution company for their unnamed (on covers, but named, inside), Charlton Comics, as well as their other, non comic book periodicals — and there were many!
Charlton Comics were truly a breed apart. I found them charming, but the paper quality, as well as the quality (or in many cases, lack thereof) of the printing – of both the blank pen inks and the colouring; the way the pages were cut, and bound (often off-centered), and with the edges of the pages often cut jaggedly — not unlike cloth material, cut with a pair of jagged-bladed sewing shears pair of scissors. All of these things made many Charlton Comics so different, often times, than their more respected competitors. Even the staples of these comics were often not centered properly, dang it! And so, with all of this said, what was so darned charming about so many of these Charlton comic books?
Lucy I Can Explain Tee
Although, if you’re REALLY going to pay $21.95 for that tee shirt, then why should I even bother?! ; – )
But, more seriously ~ despite all of the above, there was something about the writing, the characters, the different types of stories, the different artists, in most cases (but not all) ~ these comics, many of them, were STILL, well – worth seeking out!
Some of the colours used on the interiors of some of the 1980’s Charlton comic books (like, for example, too brilliant, as in bright – not to mention garish) oranges and reds, were sort of alarming, to the eyes!
But, you know what? Anyone who would stay away from buying, reading and collecting Charlton Comics at that time, who was
and/-or is also a fan of 1980’s Marvel Comics, doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, in that argument.
Because – remember, around the mid – 1980’s (if you’re old enough — I mean, WISE enough to remember them); Under the Jim Shooter tenure at Marvel Comics during that SAME period, Marvel Comics started being printed, for too long a time, with a
new-at-the-time colour process called ‘Flexigraph Printing.’
The colours in THOSE were even more garish!
And, while we’re on the topic of Marvel Comics in the 1980’s – a brief sequeway, I promise – Jim Shooter’s horrible mid 1980’s mini series, ‘Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars’ was horrible, not just in terms of its’ colours; but the entire writing concept of it, from beginning to end! Those really should have ended up lining a lot of bird cages in households, coast to coast, for all of the Polly the Parrots, out there!
And yes, there ARE geeks out there, who hold these toilet-paper-as-collectibles, UP THERE, as a High Water Mark, of the art form. The mind boggles, as to why.
They say pregnant mothers shouldn’t consume alcohol. And, because many of those mothers failed to heed those warnings, their later born sons, in the 1980’s, made Marvel filthy rich, on that one title, alone-!
Most long-term Charlton fans already know about – some or many – of these names that I’m going to toss your way: Al Fago (Yellowjacket Comics, and endless others), Steve Ditko: Captain Atom, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle version, Gorgo, and endless other simply wonderful monster, Science fiction, mystery, and human interest comics stories that he illustrated for Charlton, and spun our way!
Let’s see: John Buscema (‘Nature Boy’, one of Charlton’s earliest attempts at a super hero, and yet, not THE earliest.
Roche Mastroserio, Sanho Kim (House of Yang), Sam Glanzman – who I talked about in a separate article, published at First Comics News, this month – go here, later: firstcomicsnews.com/sam-glanzman-writer-illustrator-and-war-hero-i-lament-his-sad-passing
Dick Giordano (Sarge Steel, and scores of Charlton western titles, such as Annie Oakley, Billy The Kid, Wyatt Earp, Fightin’ Army, and a ton of covers, to name just some!
Note: only quirky Charlton Comics would make the crazed, homely, and murderous real life Billy The Kid, into a HERO! The real life Billy The Kid would, fairly often, shoot you dead, for simply glancing in his direction!
Sequeway Two: Henry McArty, also known as Henry Antrim, were his real names, although he took the surname Antrim later, after a man who re-married his mother – her second marriage.
‘William H. (Harrison) Bonney’, as some history books will incorrectly tell you – that name was an alias, and one of many.
George Wildman (Popeye artist, at Charlton), was a worthy successor to the character, after Bud Sagendorf! Wildman was also the Charlton Comics comics editor, following Pat Masulli, in the role.
Pat Masulli had been Charlton Comics’ executive editor, from 1955 to 1966. Mr. Masulli also co-created the Charlton Comics characters Son of Vulcan, and Sarge Steel!
Nicola ‘Nick’ Cuti (co-creator of E-Man, along with Joe Staton), Cuti also created the character Moon Child, as well as being the assistant, at one time, to Wallace ‘Wally’ Wood, who many editors, writers and artists, simply referred to, as ‘Woody.’
Nick Cuti’s Moonchild appeared in three of her own, but they weren’t published by Charlton. They were sort of ‘ugs’ – slang for Underground Comics.
Outside Charlton, with Wood, Nick Cuti also assisted with the series two of Wally Wood’s own series: Cannon, and Sally Forth.
Frank McLaughlin (Judomaster and other series, and numerous Charlton covers. For that interview, go here, later: firstcomicsnews.com/phil-latter-chats-with-the-judo-master-himself-frank-mclaughlin
There there was the Charlton artist who constantly confused Charlton Comics’ readers, by signing his comic book art, as ‘PAM’ – which, in reality, stood for Peter A. Morisi. Pete Morisi was the creator and illustrator of the Charlton superhero, Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt!
The reason for the pseudonym? He was a full time police officer, with the New York City Police Department.
Back then, it was frowned at, nearly everywhere, to be working for more than one employer, at the same time! There was a word for it, too: ‘moonlighting.’ It was considered dishonest! The line of reasoning back then, was probably that, if you are working for more than one employer at the same time, then (a) your loyalty to one company is at question, and (b) you won’t be giving your best quality of work, at either company. And (c) what if the two different employers are competitors?
Nowadays, numerous people HAVE TO work for more than one company at the same time, just to financially survive – especially when one single employer doesn’t provide enough work hours, to pay the bills! And, of course, these days, you don’t have to keep it a secret, in most cases, either. Times sure change!!
Other Charlton titles that Pete Morisi did: The Masked Raider (I have a handful of these, a masked western hero); Johnny Dynamite, Vengeance Squad (sort of a Charlton ‘Challengers of The Unknown’), Gunmaster (another masked western character) – I have most of these – he appeared in most all Charlton comics’ title, ‘Six Gun Heroes’, from # 57 up, and then, later, in his own titled series! Another Pete ‘PAM’ Morisi he did at Charlton, was a western, called ‘Kid Montana.’
And, of course, Charlton had the aforementioned E-Man, a Charlton SF superhero from outer space, but very UNLIKE Captain Atom!
Joe Gill wrote not only innumerable Charlton comic book series, (every title imaginable, in fact), but he also wrote every other type of magazine they put out too, and not only fiction! Joe Gill also wrote under a lot of aliases/-pseudonyms, so that it would NOT appear that one writer wrote MOST Charlton Comics, for many, many years! But it was true, nonetheless!
And therefore, whenever Joe Gill’s editor wanted to have a meeting with Joe Gill, and Joe Gill arrived at the office, ready for the meeting, – because Joe Gill had so many pseudonyms, in Charlton Comics, as writer, on numerous titles – the editor, at times Pat Masulli, and later, George Wildman, or someone else, would invariably greet Joe Gill at the meeting, with, “Come on in, boys!”
Pat Boyette, like Jim Aparo, also took a turn at the wheel on art chores for Charlton Comics’ The Phantom, and he also created the Charlton superhero — oops, ‘Action Hero’, ‘The Peacemaker.’
Charlton’s The Peacemaker # 6 was completely illustrated, yet never, ever published.
Although, over twenty years ago, I downloaded off each every page of Charlton’s The Peacemaker # 6, printed them off, stapled them together, read them, then filed them after Peacemaker # 5, in my collection!
As I was saying, Charlton’s The Peacemaker # 6, from the 1960’s, however, was never officially published.
Steve Ditko’s Silver Age Blue (alias Ted Kord) Beetle # 6 was, likewise, completely illustrated by Mr. Ditko, and then, never published, except in the pages of Bob Layton and Roger Stern’s fanzine, entitled ‘CPL’ – which stood for ‘Contemporary Pictorial Literature. This Ditko Blue Beetle # 6 was published in the only double issue of the CPL fanzine ever published, the combined # 9/-# 10 issue!
But CPL Double Issue # 9/-# 10 is much more commonly referred to, by fans, as ‘The Charlton Portfolio.’ Here is a great link to this issue: CHARLTON PORTFOLIO – AN UNPUBLISHED BLUE BEETLE BY STEVE DITKO !!!
The above link is also a link to the complete Steve Ditko Blue Beetle # 6 Silver Age pages! DC Comics published this issue in recent years, in one of their two Charlton Comics hardcover Archive Editions!
And now, here is a query from me, to you: I’ve spent over four decades, trying to put together (buy or trade for) a complete set of all 12 (twelve) issues of the CPL fanzine. I’ve gotten pretty close, within the past four years, by finally finding and buying a copy, each, of issues # 3 and # 4. So I now own original issues of CPL’s # 3 through # 12. This means that I am only missing CPL’s # 1 and # 2, to complete the set!! So here’s my question to you: has anyone reading this ever seen copies of CPL # 1 and # 2-??
I’m very curious as to what is on the covers of these, and as to what the contents are! If anyone knows about this, can you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org please! Or, if you can put me in touch with someone who has this info, please kindly do so!
And, oh, Joe Gill also frequently happened to keep a large bottle of hard liquor in his desk drawer at work, to imbibe on, between writing spells! I mean, if you were his boss, would YOU have an issue with him doing that, when he always turned scripts and all writing assignments in on time, or even early, every single time without exception?? I mean, would you seriously want to be the
Alcohol Police, and screw that the f*** up-?
Especially where Joe Gill wrote MOST EVERYTHING (but not every single thing), that the company published – and when he could coherently carry on a completely coherent conversation with anyone, while typing out scripts, straight from his brain as he went…..at the very same time?
THAT was Joe Gill!!
Jim Aparo (Lee Falk’s/-King Features’) The Phantom, (at Charlton), costumed and masked superhero of the Bangalla Jungle!
Then there was Jim Aparo’s ‘Miss Bikini Luv’, in ‘Go-Go Comics’, the horribly named Thane of Bagarth (but actually, a nice series!) The female superhero Nightshade, in the backup strip in Captain Atom, and the backup strip ‘Wander’, in the back of the Cheyenne Kid series.
Then there was Tom Sutton, who did some of the best horror (and) ghost comics stories out there, in the entire industry! I often wondered if Tom Sutton, Bernie Wrightson, and Mike Ploog all grew up in the same haunted orphanage-!
And then, there was the dynamic Canadian artist John (Lindley) Byrne, who burst upon the Charlton Comics scene with his backup strip about a robot, called Rog 2000, in the back of Joe Staton’s E-Man title. Later, he illustrated Charlton’s kiddie title Wheelie and The Chopper Bunch, Space: 1999 and Emergency, the latter two based on two television series!
All of these followed John Byrne’s spot illustrations in Bob Layton’s and Roger Stern’s twelve issues of the comics fanzine, CPL, which stood for ‘Contemporary Pictorial Literature.’ However, Byrne’s comics career actually started with an illustration in Skywald Comics’ ‘Nightmare’ # 20 (August, 1974), one of his fan illustrations in an issue of Marvel’s mid 1970’s fanzine, entitled F.O.O.M. = ‘Friends of Ol’ Marvel’, and a comics story in Marvel’s Giant Size Dracula # 5.
Then there was Don Newton, who, like Jim Aparo, was another very talented illustrator, on Charlton’s (Lee Falk’s) The Phantom!
All of these stellar talents were just SOME of the many, many talents who worked for Charlton Comics in those halcyon days!
Coming up in future (within the next couple of days) Installment of my series of articles entitled ‘The Chartlon Mystique’ – a complete hero history for Charlton Comics’ very first superhero character, YELLOWJACKET, from the title YELLOWJACKET COMICS, including a blow by blow, panel by panel description of every comic Charlton’s YELLOWJACKET superhero was ever in! Also: Marvel Comics’ (and Alter Ego Magazine’s) ROY THOMAS talks to me, and tells me – and therefore, YOU – how the Golden Age (1940’s) YELLOWJACKET inspired him to create the Silver Age 1960’s Hank Pym YELLOWJACKET persona, in Marvel’s THE AVENGERS comics series-! And a lot more!https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/the-charlton-comics-mystique-part-4/https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Charlton-Mystique-logo-600x257.pnghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Charlton-Mystique-logo-150x64.pngCharlton Comics MystiqueColumnCharlton,Mystique