Sunday, September 24, 2006

Atlas/Seaboard, Gredown & A Bit Of Charlton

Two more gems for you to feast your eyes upon.

Today's entries look at two Australian reprint books from the '70s/'80s, this time they're crammed pack full of Atlas/Seaboard goodness. I won't even begin to go into that companies history, suffice to say you can read all about it at this damn fine site. I have spoken to a few artists who worked at Atlas/Seaboard (Alan Kupperberg is but one) and the things that we know for sure are that the company lasted less than a year from start to finish, again leaving a finite amount of product out there to collect (61 comics in total), that it was formed by Martin Goodman, former owner of Marvel Comics and that the company utilised an incredible array of talent in the form of Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber, Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chaykin and many more. Kevin Patrick and myself are speculating that the reason these books were licensed to the Australian market was due to a connection between Goodman, Sol Brodsky and Israel Waldman, either via a distributor or via Waldman, who was well known as being a packager/reseller of comics for sale and distribution, even if he didn't own the rights. Either way we have the comics and much like the Skywald material a job portion, if not all, of this material has yet to be reprinted anywhere.

I'm not sure who the cover artist is, although Kevin Patrick makes a good claim for covers such as these having being painted by Australian artist Phil Belbin. The lack of documentation from the era is maddening these days, sometimes I think I should have done more to research and document, but better late than never. As it stands a lot of people outside of Australia have never seen these books and will possibly be seeing them for the first time. Again, as with the Skywald books, although the bulk of the material came from one company, it doesn't mean the entire book was dedicated to that company.

THE TARANTULA

Published early 1980s, Gredown Pty Ltd.

Contents:

Curse Of The Tarantula by Michael Fleisher & Pat Boyette (Weird Suspense #1)
The Revenge Of The Spider Witch by Michael Fleisher & Pat Boyette (Weird Suspense #2)
Spawn Of The Devil by Russ Jones & Jerry Grandenetti (Tales of Evil #1)
Mind Over Matter = Murder by Gary Friedrich & Pat Boyette (Weird Suspense #3)

This book reprints the entire Tarantula storyline, with all three issues of Weird Suspense in attendance. The cover is based in part on Weird Suspense #1 (by Dick Giordano) and with all due respect to Giordano, this painted cover leaves his original in the dust. Indeed none of the remaining two issues, with cover art by Larry Lieber and Rich Buckler, come close to the evocative imagery on this cover. Notice that those heads have no bodies and the necks are dripping black blood? CLASSIC!!!

MORLOCK 2001

Published 1976, Gredown Pty Ltd.

Contents:
The Coming Of Morlock by Michael Fleisher, Allen Milgrom & Jack Abel (Morlock 2001 #1)
Morlock Must Be Destroyed by Michael Fleisher, Allen Milgrom & Jack Abel (Morlock 2001 #2)
Then Came The Midnight Man by Gary Friedrich, Steve Ditko & Bernie Wrightson (Morlock 2001 #3)
Minotaur by ? (Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves, The #59)
The Knight: Operation Rotten Apple by Nicola Cuti & Tom Sutton (E-Man #1)

This issue is nothing short of incredible. Despite my copy having a torn and taped cover it's one of my favourites, if only for the stunning art team of Ditko & Wrightson, in brilliant black and white. The story might be dodgy but who cares when you've got those two on board. As with the previous book, this comic reprints the entire Morlock 2001 run (with the incredibly frustrating ending to #3, a story that had me searching for issue #4 for decades, I was crushed when I discovered that the story was never finished) and to pad out the issue there's a one page Greek mythology story from Charlton and a back-up story from the classic E-Man #1, also from Charlton.

You can find virtually the entire Atlas/Seaboard line in reprint form in Australia, barring the Vicki material (and even that I'm not sure of) and it's just a case of knowing where to look. I might drag some more of the Atlas material out and start posting the covers up here. Mind you I still need more of them - I've not got the Phoenix, Ironjaw and the Planet Of The Vampires books just yet amongst others, but all in good time.

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