Monday, July 24, 2006

More Newtons: Questions & Answers

First up, a couple of comments/questions from Steven Bove. Steven writes; "As staffs continue to change at the major comic companies here in the USA a little more history fades. The film negatives and stats continue to be mishandled and in some cases they just vanish. At the company I worked for (in the 80s) there was this incredible comic cover from the 70s that was going to be used in a deluxe edition book. I went through great pains to locate this cover as it was filed under the wrong title. An editor and I made stats from the negative and gave to the appropriate people for safekeeping. 20 years later I saw a reprint of this comic in a shop and the cover was completely redrawn! They had lost even the safety copies!

"Another question is what is the market for comics like now in Australia? I guess Marvel and DC comics are available to you? Was there a Newton equivalent to DC? Love those Surfer books!"

The comic book scene here in Australia is fairly healthy. We're serviced by many comic book stores and the news-stands here carry a decent range of Marvel, DC and some independent titles. The stores proper carry pretty much everything, although some product won't be available in some stores (can't find a copy of Archenemies or Of Bitter Souls here in Adelaide to save my life, which is why I'm considering directly importing them myself and selling them at shows and on-line - interested? Get in touch. For those who want this stuff Norm Breyfogle is selling signed/sketched copies of the first Of Bitter Souls trade paperback here - go and buy one, you won't find it in any shops - end plug) but on a whole it's as healthy as it gets. The local scene could be better, but people like Mark Selan are addressing that with a certain amount of energy and zeal. I did try to get involved with the local scene here, but felt that my presence wasn't really required nor desired, but we won't get into that just yet.

As for a DC equivalent to the Newtons? Visit this brilliant site and you'll discover a whole new world opening up to you. Just tell James I sent you.

James Kealy asks; "Please excuse my ignorance...But did your Newton Company ever re-print any Superman comics in the 40s and 50s?" Simple answer is no, they didn't. Newton only ever published Marvel comics, which leads us to the next questions, from Mitch Jomsky; "Thanks for showing us those covers on your blog site. Obviously, this company reprinted much (all?) of the early Marvel Comics. The ones I'd be most interested in seeing are the Marvel/Newton Comics that were reprinted with new covers by any of the 'local' talent. If there were any of these, I'd especially like to see the ones that may have been 'homage' covers based on the original Marvel covers. Am I making sense?? I hope so." Mitch always makes sense, unlike myself at times, so here's the answers as best as I can do.

Yes, Newton did publish a lot of Silver Age Marvel material, but not all of the Marvel line, because the Newton line only lasted for a mere 18 months. The line was predominately Silver Age but they did print a vast amount of then contemporary Bronze Age material. The reason for this was that Newton published whatever they could lay their hands on. According to an editor at Newton, who was there from the start to the bitter end, publisher Maxwell Newton flew to America, got in touch with Marvel and established a deal whereby he'd pay royalties for the exclusive right to publish Marvel in Australia. An amount was decided upon, Newton made the initial payment and left New York with boxes of stats or original art, covers and, more importantly, a license to print Marvel. He returned to Australia and started printing and never paid Marvel another cent.

That's right - he ripped Marvel off. It took the powers that were at Marvel a few months to realize this, but in that time they'd sent over more material, including new material such as Planet Of The Apes (which was going gang-busters on TV at the time), some science fiction, Dracula and Kung Fu (Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu) material. Once they knew they were being duped they stopped sending the stats. The lack of new material didn't stop Newton - he simply ordered that previously published material be chopped up, re-shot and mixed in with their existing, unpublished stock, and hence the giant sized Newtons emerged.

Although those issues didn't feature any Australian (read local) talent doing covers, the covers they did make for the comics were unique to Australia. The cover to the Origins comic illustrates this well, as do the following comics I'm posting today. Have a look and enjoy and keep sending down those questions!

More insights/observations from Mitch Jomsky in relation to the Origins Of Great Marvel Comic Superheroes cover art: "This origins of this cover really bugged me, so I found where it was taken from. It was from page #43 of the FFAnnual #6 (reprinted in Essential FF #4 ) .... Almost. As I mentioned above ... The Thing didn't look right to me. I was correct. I guess the cover editor of Newton decided to liberally apply white out to most of the Sinnott inks on that figure. There was further art touchup around the shoulder of The Thing to eliminate the straps that were present in the original." Well that helps clear that up - if anyone else is able to spot the origin of some of the cover art for the various one-shots then by all means send down the information and share.

Mitch also asked about Planet Of The Apes. His question: "Were the color Planet of the Apes reprinted or were they reprinting the B&W magazine stories?" The answer is yes to both. Newtons were printed in black and white only. The Planet Of The Apes series was the longest running of the line, as previously mentioned that was due to the popularity of the television series of the time.

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