Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Maurice Bramley, Part III

It's been a fairly productive few weeks. Thanks to super Newton collector Peter Ivan I'm now only about 40 or so known Newtons off having the entire line. Just what I'm going to do with the entire line when I finally obtain it is beyond me. I'll probably catalogue it and either give it away or sell it as a lot. I guess we'll wait and see.

Thanks to Peter I now have an almost entire run of Planet Of The Apes, entire runs of Amazing Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, X-Men and Fantastic Four plus the second issues of both Daredevil and Thor amongst others. I'll post the relevant scans as soon as I, well, scan the suckers and index their information. Peter has also provided some vital information that I'll incorporate (with his permission) and update as I go. Slowly that picture is becoming complete.

On to the Bramleys. I also managed to pick up a host of Bramleys - another Phantom Commando (I want the run of that now) and a host of westerns. Most of the westerns aren't Horwitz productions, but the generally inferior Page Publications books. Those books were printed on the cheapest of the cheapest newsprint available and are damn hard to track down in decent condition. Still, I'll point out at the end why people should own them. No great information about the stuff just yet, but that's because I've not had the time to index them just yet.

Anyway, onto the scans!


Date: 1962 - I'm thinking around October/November. It's a fairly effective cover and Bramley has done well here. Bramley also writes and draws the inside stories and the lettering that he used (I presume that he did his own lettering) makes further story spotting easy as pie.


Date: 1963 - I thinking around April/May.

This book lifts it's stories directly from Tales of Suspense #38 (USA), published February 1963 with the addition of a one page Bramley 'story'. Here's where the swiping accusation comes into play. If you look closely at the splash page, as drawn by Jack Davis, you'll see that Bramley followed that image very closely indeed. However Bramley has made enough alterations to begin to own the image and has softened the Davis original to suit his own style.


Date: 1962/63.

To be honest I'm not entirely convinced this is a Bramley but it is still a lovely comic. The lead off story is from the Timely/Atlas comic, Marines in Battle #25, published in 1958. The rest is all over the place but is all classic Timely/Atlas material and well worth having. Another title on my list of books I need to track down.


Date: 1971, probably June. This is a reprint of an earlier Horwitz book, as published by Page Publications. As with most of these books there's one page of Bramley on the inside. Sadly these books suffered from poor reproduction and just poor printing in general. The cover, while showing flashes of it's original beauty, is ruined by crap colouring.


Date: 1972, probably February. Another reprint. This cover has a classic 'hidden' Bramley signature (it's in the rock on the lower left) and amazingly enough the colours are fairly clear, which is good as it showcases some great Bramley artwork.


Date: 1971/72. No idea of the month.

Again, an effective cover ruined by poor colouring and cropping (you can see about a third of Bramley's 'hidden' signature). Somehow I doubt they had charcoal grey cowboys back in the day. Maverick Marshal was a short lived Charlton title, dating from the late '50s, early '60s.


Date: 1971, probably July.

This book reprints a number of Timely/Atlas westerns, Gunsmoke Western, Western Kid...and the artists - Don Heck, Joe Sinnott - all in all a good book to have. Another classic 'hidden' Bramley signature and again, the colours let this book down. I'd love to see what a good colourist could do with these covers.


Date: 1971, probably April.

Good ole Two Gun Kid. Another great Bramley cover, yet again ruined by crappy colours. I know, I know, it's a stuck record, but... Gotta love the panel inside in which someone exclaims, "Well I'll be jiggered!" I remember my mother once clipped my ears for repeating that so it can't be good.


Date: 1971, probably July.

Promise, but sadly the Page Publications books just didn't have the printing quality of the earlier Horwitz books. The one thing they do have going for them is that they're still a relatively cheap way to pick up books that might otherwise cost you far more. All of those books, with the exception of the Horwitz books, cost me just over AUD$5.00 on eBay the other week. They are out there. The quality is fairly ordinary, but hey - go and find a copy of the originals in as good condition and you won't be getting much change from $500.

1 comment:

Kevin Patrick said...

Hi Daniel

Yet another great selection of Bramley covers. Those early 1960s reprints of Atlas' horror/superhero titles are extremely hard to come by, so you've scored a real gem with that Strange Tales edition (which boasts what would have to be one of the lovliest Bramley covers I've seen from this period)

Like you, I'm not 100% convinced that the cover of Attack # 7 was drawn by Bramley - but there's just enough of his scratchy line work evident to make me think that he may have simply done a light 'retouching' of an original American cover illustration, instead of creating an 'all-new' illustration.

The Phantom Commando # 7 cover uses an image of two scuba divers which pops up several times in later Bramley covers for such titles as Frogman, which was another Horwitz mixed-US reprint title that was later reissued by Page Publications in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Concerning those Page Publication editions - I've long held the suspicion that these were distributed through showbags, which were sold at city/country fairs around Australia during the late 1960s/early 1970s.

I've seen numerous examples of Page Publication titles, which were recycled reprints of defunct Australian comics, be they local reprints of US comics, or Australian-drawn titles.

For example, I've got examples of Frew's Catman (with John Dixon artwork) and Melbourne-based Atlas Publications' Flynn of the FBI and Sgt. Pat of the Radio Patrol (both drawn by Melbourne artist, Arthur Mather), which are printed with either 12-cent or 15-cent cover prices.

What's even stranger is that Page Publications appeared to reprint the same issue of each title, over and over again - and even went so far as to change the issue numbers of these otherwise identical reprint titles!

The real eye-opener here is that cover for The Fast Gun # 48. Your listing of the contents suggests that it's another collection of Silver Age Atlas Comics reprints.

Yet I've seen this same cover (which used the same title) for another Page Publications comic - which has nothing but original Bramley stories inside!

I've got three separate issues of The Fast Gun, all of which were put out by Page Publications, which feature a Bramley Western character called 'Sudden', along with the odd, one-off back-up story, also written & drawn by Bramley. These issues, from memory, most likely date from the early 1970s and all bear 15-cent cover prices.

Now, in over 25 years of collecting Aussie comics, I've never seen this Bramley series appear in any Horwitz titles from the early-to-mid 1960s. So, why does this 'Sudden' series appear, as if out of nowhere, in the early 1970s?

One possible explanation for this is that Page Publications, in acquiring the rights to reprint old Horwitz titles, inadvertently purchased some previously unused/unpublished Bramley artwork from the Horwitz inventory.

Given their focus on producing cheap-as-chips reprints, it's unlikely that Page Publications would commission Bramley to create all-new Western cowboy comics for them.

If that is the case, then these editions of The Fast Gun (with the 'Sudden' series and back-up stories by Bramley) could be the last known published works of Maurice Bramley!

Yet another puzzling aspect to the mystery that is the life & work of Maurice Bramley...

- Kevin Patrick