Monday, February 09, 2009

Western & Adventure Monster #2: Stanley Pitt, Moira Bertram and the Aussie EC Connection

This one is a new by me - an Australian reprint, dating from the early 1960s, that features three EC stories along with the standard reprints from Dell and ACG. Until I discovered this comic I'd been under the impression that very little, if any EC material had ever been reprinted. The bulk of the reprints that I have, namely the Gredown reprints from the 1970s and 1980s, feature material from all kinds of companies, from the smaller obscure publishers such as MR, Standard, Avon through to the relatively larger, well known companies such as American Comic Group, Fawcett, Dell, Charlton, Archie, Warren, Skywald, Atlas and, of course, Marvel and DC, but no EC, which makes this comic an oddity. I now expect that Kevin Patrick will offer an opinion that these comics are as common as muck, but seriously this is new to me.

This is certainly a book of contrasts. Published by Calvert Publishing in the 1960s, the comic features a great cover by none other than Stanley Pitt, which I suspect has been reused from an old Calvert western pulp magazine as it looks very much like some of the pulps that I have in my own collection and pulps I've seen for sale.

Calvert was better known for it's later output of pulp novels but they dabble with comic books, most notably with Virgil Reilly's Captain Silver Flash and Monty Wedd's classic Captain Justice along with titles such as Trig Matson and K.O. Comics. The use of the signed Pitt cover isn't the only Australian artistic connection though as the comic also features two stories featuring art by Moira Bertram, best known for her work on her own creation, Red Finnegan and Flameman. The first story in this comic, which you can see the splash for here, is a five page western and was clearly lifted from a previous publication. How do we know this? Easy, the splash is the first page in this comic and sports a page number starting with 18.

The rear cover has the second Bertram contribution, a one page pin-up with the various decorations that are awarded to US servicemen. What has struck me as surprising is that despite the heavy Australian content in this title, with Bertram and Pitt, there's no reference to the title in any of the research material and books I have here on hand. However I am sure that someone out there has more information and perhaps other issues.

The EC material is clearly the icing on the cake. The comic features three EC reprints and after reading them it's clear that they've been edited somewhat, as the panels scanned here show. The first story appears to have escaped untouched, with classic Jack Davis art and sound effects, the second story, Outpost, appears to have suffered the most under the censors blade, and I'd be interested to see scans of the original story to compare it to what was published here. The last EC story, Yellow, also appears to have escaped the censor but, again, without seeing the original stories it's difficult to know for sure.

Isn't it amazing what you can buy for a dollar these days? I guess the question is just how much EC material was reprinted in Australian publications? As it stands this is a nice addition to my collection, along with the other books I picked up at the same trash & treasure sale.

Calvert Publishing
Publishing Date: unknown, circa early 1960s
Cover: Stanley Pitt
Warpath by Moria Bertram - 5pgs (Original appearance unknown)
Frontier Scout by unknown - 5pgs (Young Heroes #35, ACG, March 1955)
Signal Corps by Harvey Kurtzman & Jack Davis - 8pgs (Two-Fisted Tales #33, EC, May-June 1953)
Outpost by Harvey Kurtzman, John Severin & Will Elder - 7pgs (Two-Fisted Tales #34, EC, July-August 1953)
Valley Of The Taboo by Paul S. Newman & Paul Norris - 14pgs (Jungle Jim #9, Dell, July - November 1956)
Roger Of Sherwood Forest by Ogden Whitney - 6pgs (Young Heroes #35, ACG, March 1955)
Yellow! by George Evans - 7pgs (Two-Fisted Tales #41, EC, February-March 1955)
Beetle Baily [Correspondence Course] by Mort Walker - 1pg (Four Color #622, Dell, April 1955)
Frontier Scout by unknown - 7pgs (Young Heroes #36, ACG, April-May 1955)
Beetle Baily: Patents Pending by Mort Walker - 7pgs (Four Color #622, Dell, April 1955)
Prince Athel by unknown - 7pgs (Young Heroes #37, ACG, June-July 1955)
High American Decorations by Moria Bertram - 1pg (Original unknown)

1 comment:

Kevin Patrick said...

Hi Danny - Long time, no post (from me, that is!), so what do I find when I visit your blog after several months absence? An absolute ripper from Calvert Publishing!

Far from being as "common as muck", this is the first such example I've seen from Calvert. Nice Stanley Pitt cover (whom like Maurice Bramley, I suspect, may have occasionally recycled his earlier pulp cover painting designs as line-drawings for comic book covers - but not sure if this cover is one such example of this practice), and the Moira Bertram pieces are a treat, too.

Speaking of the latter, I suspect they may be reprints culled from a short-lived series that MB wrote & drew for Calvert in the mid-1950s, titled "ARMY". My only copy of this title (#1) doesn't contain the stories you've listed here, so clearly they're taken from a subsequent issue.

Regarding EC reprints - aside from Cleveland Publishing/Apache Comics (which reprinted several EC "new direction" strips in their KING SIZE COMIC anthology), I do recall seeing a H. Kurtzman-drawn war story (possibly set in colonial-era America - it had a Mohican indian or Davy Crockett-styled character?) used as the cover story for a one-off, black & white Aussie reprint title, possibly dating from early-to-mid 1950s. I think the cover was an enlarged version of an interior story panel (unmistakably Kurtzman's style), crudely coloured, though. I suspect it was a quick "knock-off" production designed to capitalise on "Davy Crockett" craze which swept Australia in the mid-1950s, courtesy of the Walt Disney feature films starring Fess Parker (May have actor's name wrong!)

But I've not seen any EC reprints appearing in Calvert titles before, so these are new to me, as well. I wonder who syndicated the EC material to Australia in the 1950s? Was it EC themselves? Or did they use a third-party syndicate, such as Transworld Features or Editors press Service?

More questions than answers, I'm afraid!

Over & out, for now....

- Kevin Patrick