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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Atlas/Seaboard Down Under

This document has been spawned out of a growing interest in both the American publisher Atlas and its connection with the Australian publisher Gredown. This essay will explain just who Gredown were and what they published, and how their output is important, not only to Australian comic book collectors, but also worldwide collectors. It will also detail what comics reprinted Atlas within Australia and also where to track down the unpublished in America Atlas stories by Bandia Romereo, Walter Simonson and Howard Nostrand. The relevant copyright and contact details will follow the main text.

If you want a copy of this article with more images, then you can download it via our main web-site. The images include all the covers to the comics, plus some images from the unpublished stories. The above link will take you another link for the pdf file, but, if you're really lazy, here's that link too!

A SHORT HISTORY OF ATLAS
Atlas (also known as Atlas/Seaboard) was formed by Martin Goodman, and his son, Chip, in the early 1970s. Goodman was previously the publisher, and founder, of Marvel Comics, originally known as Timely Comics, followed by Atlas and then, finally, in the late 1950s, Marvel Comics. Goodman and his son, had been bought out of Marvel for a substantial sum by Cadence, but wanted to keep publishing comics, thus Atlas was formed (reverting back to the pre-Marvel brand name). The terms that the Goodman’s offered to creators were generous and included perks such as higher than standard page rates, royalties, art returns and promises of creative control and ownership. By dangling such carrots, the Goodmans were thus able to attract talent such as Larry Lieber, Stan Lee’s brother, from Marvel, to edit the proposed magazines and Jeff Rovin from Warren, who would be editing the comic book line, an unusual choice as he had vast experience editing black and white magazines at both Warren and Skywald, and Lieber had spent the bulk of his career writing, drawing and editing colour comics. As well as Lieber and Rovin, industry veterans such as Mike Sekowsky, Jack Abel, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, Russ Heath, John Severin and others joined forces with relative newcomers, Gerry Conway, Sal Amendola, Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chaykin, Rich Buckler, Larry Hama, Pablo Marcos and Alan Weiss. Alan Kupperberg was also hired, initially as a letterer, and was promised the chance to contribute to the art and editing, but the company folded before this could happen.[1]

Despite the initial interest in the company’s start up, Atlas was only in existence for two years, with a publishing history of just over one full year. Martin Goodman wanted a company that could compete with Marvel and felt that the best way to do this was to steal concepts. Despite some totally original concepts, characters such as The Brute and The Destructor were thinly disguised steals of The Hulk and Spider-Man respectively, and Ironjaw and Wulf The Barbarian also owed a lot to Conan The Barbarian and Kull, then being published by Marvel. Most issues were retooled after the second issue (Chaykins character, The Scorpion, would be totally revamped, without Chaykin’s involvement) and the creative talent were removed. Chaykin clashed with Rovin, resulting in Chaykin leaving the company to be followed by Larry Hama, who was both writing and drawing Wulf The Barbarian, and who had also clashed with Rovin over direction[2]. Other creators complained of late payments and broken promises, resulting in the company being wound up in late 1975. The Goodmans left comic books for good after this debacle, and Lieber was re-hired at Marvel in a gesture of largess. Other creators also returned to Marvel, and DC, without penalty, and some creators, such as Chaykin and Rich Buckler, took their characters with them, adjusted them slightly and continued their stories at other publishers.

The art and stories that Atlas printed were slapdash at best. Despite an amazing array of talent, some issues were poorly drawn or written. However there were some true gems. The third issue of Morlock featured Bernie Wrightson inking Steve Ditko. The Destructor also featured Ditko, this time inked by Wally Wood. Larry Hama and Klaus Janson made Wulf their own, as did Pablo Marcos on The Barbarians. Alex Toth and Russ Heath turned in sterling war stories, Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson showed why they were perfectly in tune with each other, Howard Nostrand drew Targitt, adding to the appeal. Sadly some combinations, such as Sekowsky and Al McWilliams and Mike Ploog teamed with Frank Springer never rose the heights that all were capable of and others, such as Jim Craig, Leo Summers and Jack Sparling suffered. Some, such as Frank Thorne, Ernie Colon and the Spanish artist, Romero, did the best jobs they could with mediocre material.

The art woes at Atlas are best summed up by issue three of The Brute. Penciled by Alan Weiss, the story suffers underneath Jack Abels heavy inking. This is made worse when you consider that the story didn’t only feature Weiss’s art. In an email correspondence, Weiss confirmed that the issue in question was his only job for Atlas. Originally Weiss had been asking to draw an issue of Ironjaw, but had been assigned The Brute as a fill-in artist, with a promise of being allowed to draw Ironjaw in the near future. Faced with a tighter than usual deadline, Weiss enlisted the talents of Jim Starlin and Frank Brunner, both of whom assisted him with the art for the last few pages. Sadly this combination is hidden by some very heavy inks, although Weiss has since said, looking back, he was "was less displeased than I thought I would be"[3].

A SHORT HISTORY OF GREDOWN

The comic book industry in Australia has long relied on both original material and reprints. Some publishers opted for a combination of the two, but there were those publishers who found it more cost effective to concentrate solely on reprinting material sourced cheaply from the USA and Europe, with a focus in the 1970s on Spanish publishers. Publishers such as KG Murray also entered the super-hero market in the 1950s and published reprints of popular DC material[4] in the form of Superman, Batman, the Justice League and others. Short lived publishers, such as Newton Comics, focused on Marvel, as did Horwitz, a magazine and book publisher that branched out into comic books in the 1960s.

KG Murray had branched out into the field of horror and non-super hero material in the early 1970s and via its Kenmure imprint had decided to produce straight reprints[5] of Warren magazines such as Vampirella, Creepy and Eerie. Also in the mix was the Yaffa Syndicate[6], who, via it’s Page Publications[7] imprint, were also publishing straight horror comics from publishers such as Skywald (Scream, Nightmare, Psycho and others), along with Charlton and some Marvel material. It’s highly possible that Yaffa, with it’s strong connections to the US marketplace, had initially dealt directly with Transworld Feature Syndicate Inc[8]. Murray also began to branch out further by deciding to publish Spanish and European material in the form of horror and western stories. The latter had formerly been a strong focus (along with war titles) for Horwitz, and later Yaffa, via its Page imprint, who acquired rights and material from Horwitz and merely reprinted their comics, renumbered, but with the same covers and inside stories. Into this market came Gredown.

Relatively little is known about Gredown and its origins in comparison to other Australian comic book companies such as KG Murray and Newton Comics. This appears to be due to both the lack of recording and interest in preserving the history at the time. However in an eerie parallel with Atlas, it appears that Gredown, a Sydney based publisher, came into being when Greg Murray, son of Kenneth G. Murray, who had established and run KG Murray, was ousted from KG Murray, along with his father, after Murray was bought by Australian Consolidated Press (APC) in 1974[9]. Established to compete with KG Murray, Gredown appears to have started publishing shortly after the buy out in late 1974 with tabloid style magazines[10] (complete with painted covers) before branching out into fully blown horror comics, with the first appearing to have been the debut issue of Pit Of Evil[11]. Gredown then appears to have ceased publishing in the early to mid 1980s, with a likely ending date of 1984. According to historian Kevin Patrick, “Gredown’s one-time Art Director was Phil Belbin (1925-1993), a prominent Australian comic artist of the 1940s, who reportedly painted many of the covers for their inexhaustible supply of science-fiction, Western and horror comics.”[12]

Content for Gredown came from a number of sources. Greg Murray would have brought contacts, staff and an intimate knowledge of sourcing comic book material with him from KG Murray. As such it would have been simple for him to begin to acquire the rights to publish American companies such as Charlton, Atlas, Skywald and Eerie Publications via Transworld Feature Syndicate Inc. As KG Murray had already established contact with the Spanish based Selecionnes Illustradas (SI) agency and Transworld. As a lot of the companies and some content represented in KG Murray comic books in the early ‘70s were mirrored by Gredown in the mid to late ‘70s, this theory is highly plausible. Transworld would have supplied Gredown with material from the American publishers that it represented, and with the recent demise of Atlas, some of that material clearly included stats[13] of unpublished stories that otherwise came under the Atlas banner, with at least three otherwise unpublished Atlas stories being published in Australia for the first, and only, time.

In addition to American publishers, Gredown also secured the rights to reprint English language material produced by Spanish comic art agencies, such as Selecionnes Illustradas and Creaciones Editoriales. Spain’s Selecionnes Illustradas, or ‘SI’, as it was known was founded in the mid 1950s in direct response to the Bruguera publishing house, which held sway over the Spanish comic book/art market. SI managed to bypass Bruguera by syndicating Spanish drawn material into markets such as Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and to markets as far as South Africa and South America, and eventually broke into the lucrative American market in the early 1970s, by dealing directly with publishers such as Warren and Skywald. Once contact had been established, Gredown branched out and made use of other Spanish based agencies and publishers such as Norma Editorial, a Spanish comics publisher which was formed 1977, and ‘Editorial Vilmar - Barcelona’, who was yet another comic art agency (or publisher) which flourished in the 1960s and 70s. The direct contact with Spanish based agencies and publishers resulted in a wide range of diverse Spanish drawn material such as Peter Hypnos, Hombre, 5 And The Infinite and Prickerix The Gaul to name but four being published in the English language for the first time in Australia. The result of this direct dealing means that there was material published in Gredown that could be considered to be original and not reprints. Once established Gredown soon became the main competition to KG Murray and Yaffa/Page for the latter part of the 1970s, when it came to reprinting both American and European based comic books, with a heavy focus on adult orientated material.

Once Gredown began to publish comic books it flooded the market. With Belbin overseeing some of the most inventive fully painted covers ever seen on comics, Gredown began to reprint material from a veritable who’s who of American comic book publishers, including Skywald, Atlas/Seaboard, Charlton, Eerie, Dell, Pacific and Red Circle (Archie), along with Golden Age publishers, American Comic Group (ACG), Ace, Stanmor, Ajax/Farrel, Media, Fawcett, Ace, Stanley Key and Prize[14]. The bulk of the Golden Age reprint material was more than likely sourced when Gredown acquired the rights to reprint Eerie Publications, with some Gredown comics reprinting the entire contents of titles such as Weird, Tales Of Voodoo, Witches Tales, Tales From The Tomb and others. Titles were also structured to feature one character, or book, such as Skywald’s Hell-Rider by Andru and Esposito, The Fly by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (which also reprinted at least one story that has never been reprinted in America), Flash Gordon by Al Williamson and Will Eisner’s The Spirit. Charlton was well represented with volumes of E-Man, The House Of Yang and Planet Of Doom, who’s two issues reprinted John Byrne’s Doomsday series. Other issues would feature an unofficial theme, such as Crypt Of Creatures and Creepy Tales being almost totally made up of Steve Ditko Charlton material, along with other themed issues. Other issues were similarly themed, suggesting that someone with knowledge of comic books, possibly other than Belbin, was responsible for assembling the contents of the titles with the stories not merely being selected at random. Although a rival company, Yaffa, were reprinting Marvel Comics in Australia via its imprint, Page (after the demise of former Marvel reprinter, Newton Comics), Gredown managed to reprint at least one Marvel book, The Golden Voyages Of Sinbad[15]. This cross-pollination of publishing wasn’t unusual, as KG Murray had also reprinted Charlton and Marvel, and Yaffa would also reprint Skywald, both via its Page imprint and also through the mother company in the early 1980s.

At the start of their publishing tenure, Gredown began to publish numbered, sequential titles. As the title count increased, more one-shot, stand alone titles were produced. By the end of the ‘70s the idea of continuing titles was a thing of the recent past and virtually the entire line was one-shot books. In the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, Gredown was bought by Boraig Pty Ltd, a Sydney based company, who promptly abandoned the concept of continuing titles, resulting in all titles being un-numbered shortly after. Gredown provided value for money by printing at least 64 pages per issue, in a magazine format. This page count increased to some issues being over 100 pages towards the end of the publisher’s life. This was achieved by printing straight from the stats provided by the art agencies and forgoing any form of colour. As some of the older material had already been formatted into black and white by publishers such as Eerie Publications, the bulk of the work had already been done. The offset to this was a price spike that saw the first Gredowns costing $0.45 as opposed to the last Gredowns costing up to $1.20 per issue (the main price spike came when Boraig entered the picture), which, compared to the relatively new Federal Publishers[16] was value for money and on an even par with both KG Murray and Yaffa/Page.

The numbering of issues gave the line a sense of continuity, however by the time the 1980s rolled around and numbering ceased, confusion began to reign. At the same time there was a definite shift in the target audience for the comics as Gredown began to saturate regional and remote markets in the form of newsagents, truck stops, shops and service stations in country areas. The reasons for this shift are largely unknown, again due to the lack of records and solid information, but it could be argued that the shift was to ensure that Gredowns were the prominent item on the shelf. By the beginning of the ‘80s Marvel Comics were beginning to establish a foothold in the Australian market and Gredown found themselves competing with lower priced, colour comics, as well as competing with the Yaffa and KG Murray reprints of super-hero, western, war and horror/sci-fi material. While Yaffa had decreased their comic size from magazine format to small, digest sized issues[17], possibly in an attempt to both cut costs and ensure that their stock would always be at the front of the shelves; Murray had increased the size of their own comics to magazine to combat Gredown. By removing, or limiting, product from suburban and city outlets, Gredown clearly attempted to extend their publishing life. However this made collecting Gredowns near impossible as some issues may not have ever made it to certain areas, which accounts for the scarcity value of a lot of the latter issues. Adding to the collectability of the comics is the fact that, by their very nature, they were designed to be disposed of after reading. Gredowns were printed on medium to poor paper stock and easily fell apart and sustained damage. Copies in mint or very fine condition are a premium and, sadly, comic book collecting was a limited hobby at best in Australia when Gredown was active, and most, if not all, serious collectors focused their attentions on American and older Australian comics with original, non reprint, material. Gredowns generally were not a factor for collectors. Thus it may never be possible to have a complete collection of the entire output of Gredown, until the entire line has been accounted for, but there are a series of good starting points; however with limited material and solid information, even attempting to identify what Gredown released is difficult to establish.

Gredown ceased publication, again for reasons unknown, in the early to mid 1980s. This is confirmed by anecdotal evidence[18] along with period advertisements and photographs on both Gredown comics and other publications. For a publisher that remained in business for an estimated ten years, Gredown left a lasting legacy as a lot of the material that they published has yet to see print again in any other market. This is due to licensing and copyright issues, along with a perceived lack of interest. Some of the original material printed by Gredown, particularly in the case of the three (possibly four) otherwise unpublished Atlas stories, have yet to see print in any other market or publication in the world.

THE UNPUBLISHED ATLAS

Atlas had commissioned a number of stories which never saw publication as a result of the company folding. Three of these stories were published in Australia. ‘The Sun-Spawn Stalks' was drawn by Badia Romero and more than likely written by Gabriel Levy and would have been slated for Tales Of Evil #4. As the title was cancelled after the third issue, this story was shelved and presumably sent to Gredown at the same time as the other Bog Beast stories. This story was printed not once, but at least twice by Gredown, in two separate comics.

The second and third unpublished Atlas stories are better known. Titled ‘Monster X’ and ‘Capital Punishment’, they were designed to be a trilogy. Both stories were written by Gabe Levy, the first story being drawn by Howard Nostrand and the second by Walter Simonson. This trilogy was documented by Simonson himself in an on-line interview about his fantasy work. “I did complete the Monster X/Winged Terror story,” says Simonson, “It was called ‘Capital Punishment’ but was never published. Mine was the third chapter of an ongoing series written by Gabe. The first two were also completed as I remember seeing them in the office. The first chapter was drawn by Nostrand {Monster X} and the second by Enrique Romero Badia {Winged Terror}.

“I don’t have the originals myself. They were lost when Seaboard/Atlas went out of business. I do have a set of photostats around somewhere, through the courtesy of Jeff Rovin who got them to me on what I think was his last day in the Seaboard offices. But I’ve no idea if they’ll ever see the light of day.”[19] Adding to the confusion, another story, also titled Capital Punishment, appeared in a separate Gredown comic, Demon’s Revenge; however this is not the same story.

THE MAIN TITLES
THE BRUTE #1
$0.40 cover price, reprinted as a $1.00 reprint.
Published 1975 and reprinted circa 1980
The Brute reprints the following Atlas stories:
Night Of The Brute (Brute; The #1)
Attack Of The Reptile Men (Brute; The #2)
Live or Let Die (Brute; The #3)
The Bog Beast: The Fifty Dollar Body (Tales Of Evil #2)

IRONJAW #1
$0.40 cover price, reprinted as a $1.00 reprint.
Published 1975 and reprinted circa 1980
Ironjaw reprints the following Atlas stories:
The Saga Of Ironjaw (Ironjaw #1)
Ironjaw The King (Ironjaw #2)
The Wolf-Cowled Head-Hunters Of Amun-Rak (Ironjaw #3)
And Who Will Forge A Jaw Of Iron? (Ironjaw #4)
Requiem For A Werewolf! (Tales Of Evil #2)

Ironjaw #1 only reprinted the splash page to the first story, as the end page for the book. The copy was altered to include a blurb for a second issue of Ironjaw. As there were only two, perhaps three stories left it's also possible that a second volume of Ironjaw could have appeared, padded out with other Atlas material. However the Australian Ironjaw did not reprint the entire first Ironjaw story.

MORLOCK 2001 #1
$0.50 cover price, reprinted as $1.00 reprint.
Published 1976 and reprinted circa 1980
Morlock 2001 reprinted the following Atlas stories:
The Coming Of Morlock (Morlock 2001 #1)
Morlock Must Be Destroyed (Morlock 2001 #2)
Then Came The Midnight Man (Morlock 2001 #3)

As with The Brute, this book reprinted the entire run of Morlock with an all new cover based on the storyline. The book was further padded out with two Charlton stories.

PLANET OF VAMPIRES #1
$0.40 cover price, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1975
Planet Of Vampires contained the following Atlas stories:
The Long Road Home (Planet Of The Vampires #1)
Quest For Blood (Planet Of The Vampires #2)
A Matter Of Breeding (Tales of Evil #1)
The Last Train (Tales of Evil #2)
The Blood Plague (Planet Of The Vampires #3)

This book reprints the entire Planet Of The Vampires storyline, with all three issues in attendance. Two further reprints from Tales Of Evil complete the issue. There is speculation that subsequent issues of Planet Of Vampires contain unpublished Atlas material, but this has yet to be verified. Issue #3 of Planet Of Vampires only has one Atlas reprint (found in the SECONDARY TITLES section)

THE TARANTULA #nn
$0.50 cover price, reprinted as a $1.00 reprint.
Published 1976 and reprinted circa 1980
The Tarantula contained the following Atlas stories:
Spawn Of The Devil (Tales of Evil #1)
Curse Of The Tarantula (Weird Suspense #1)
The Revenge Of The Spider Witch (Weird Suspense #2)
Mind Over Matter = Murder (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 originally drawn by Dick Giordano.

PIT OF EVIL #2
$0.45 cover price, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976
Contents:
The Lost Tomb Of Neferti ( Devilina #1)
Vendetta (Devilina #2)
Stake Out! (Tales of Evil #1)
Satan's Domain (Devilina #1)
Curse Of The Ra-Scarab (Devilina #2)
The Demon Is Dying (Weird Tales of the Macabre #1)
Pit Of Evil also reprinted two Charlton stories. Pit Of Evil was one of the longest running titles in the Gredown line, but only one issue focused on Atlas, issue #2, which reprinted the bulk of the Devilina stories.

FEARFUL SPECTRES #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
Contents:
The Bog Beast (Weird Tales Of The Macabre #2)
Vampire Killer Still At Large (Tales of Evil #3)
The Sun-Spawn Stalks (unpublished by Atlas)
Fearful Spectres was a reprint of a reprint. This issue reprinted material that had earlier been printed in TALES OF HORROR #3. This issue features a different cover, however, meaning that two Bog Beast covers exist in Australia.

TALES OF HORROR #3
$0.45 cover price, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976
Contents:
The Bog Beast (Weird Tales Of The Macabre #2)
Vampire Killer Still At Large (Tales of Evil #3)
The Sun-Spawn Stalks (unpublished by Atlas)
The Prophesy (Devilina #2)
Tales of Horror also reprinted two Charlton stories. This title is very similar to Pit Of Evil in that it had a long run and yet only one issue focused on Atlas, issue #2, which reprinted the Bog Beast stories, including the unpublished Sun-Spawn story which was commissioned by Atlas but never published in America

STRANGE EXPERIENCE #4
$0.40, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1975
Strange Experience #4 contained the following Atlas stories:
The Devil's Procuress (Devilina #2)
Escape from Nine by One (Thrilling Adventure Stories #1)
The Sting of Death (Thrilling Adventure Stories #1)
The Temple of the Spider (Thrilling Adventure Stories #2)
A Second Life (Weird Tales of the Macabre # 1)
Speed Demon (Weird Tales of the Macabre # 1)
Time Lapse (Weird Tales of the Macabre # 1)
Carrion of the Gods (Weird Tales of the Macabre # 2)

STRANGE EXPERIENCE #5
$0.40, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1975
Strange Experience #5 contained the following Atlas stories:
Dr. Mercurio's Diary (Weird Tales of the Macabre # 2)
A Job Well Done (Thrilling Adventure Stories # 1)
The Kromag Saga: Kromag The Killer (Thrilling Adventure Stories # 1)
The Kromag Saga: The Valley of the Dinosaurs (Thrilling Adventure Stories # 2)

As will be seen some of these stories also appeared in other Australian Gredown comics. The remainder of this book consisted of Charlton stories

SECONDARY TITLES

STRANGE EXPERIENCE #7
$0.50, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976
Strange Experience #7 contained the following Atlas story:
Town Tamer (Thrilling Adventure Stories #2)

This book also contained stories from Charlton and other unidentified publishers.

THE WEREWOLF PROWLS #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
The Werewolf Prowls contained the following Atlas story:
Requiem For A Werewolf! (Tales of Evil #2)

This book also contained stories from Charlton and other unidentified publishers.

MONSTERS FROM HELL #2
$0.55, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976/77
Monsters From Hell contained the following Atlas stories:
Merchants of Evil (Devilina #1)
The Cheese is for the Rats (Weird Tales of the Macabre #1)

This book also contained stories from various unidentified publishers.

SKULLS OF DEATH #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
Skulls Of Death contained the following Atlas stories:
The Demon is Dying (Weird Tales of the Macabre #1)
The Staff Of Death (Weird Tales of the Macabre #2)
A Job Well Done (Thrilling Adventure Stories #1)

This book also contained stories from Charlton and other unidentified publishers.

CRY OF THE WEREWOLF #1
$0.50, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976/77
Cry Of The Werewolf contained the following Atlas stories:
Vendetta (Devilina #2)
A Matter of Breeding (Tales of Evil #1)
Tour de Force (Weird Tales of the Macabre #1)
Requiem For A Werewolf! (Tales of Evil #2)

This book also contained stories from Charlton.

MAZE OF MONSTERS #2
$0.50, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976/77
Maze Of Monsters #2 contained the following Atlas stories:
Monster X
Capital Punishment (Unpublished by Atlas)

These stories was commissioned by Atlas and drawn by Howard Nostrand and Walter Simonson respectively but were only ever published in Australia.

This title also contained several Charlton stories.

HELL RIDER #2
$0.50 it's possible that this title was reprinted.
Published 1976/77
Hell Rider #2 contained the following Atlas story:
Tough Cop (Thrilling Adventure Stories #2)

This title contained the contents to Hell-Rider #2 as published by Skywald.

MIDNIGHT TERROR #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
Midnight Terror contained the following Atlas stories:
Lay Of The Sea (Devilina #1)
Stake Out (Tales of Evil #1)

This title also contained stories from Charlton, ACG and other unidentified publishers.


BLADE OF FEAR #3
$0.50, this title was not reprinted.
Published 1976/77
Blade Of Fear #3 contained the following Atlas story:
Tigerman And The Flesh Peddlers (Thrilling Adventure Stories)

This title also contained several Charlton stories.

CHILL FROM THE GRAVE #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
Chill From The Grave #nn contained the following Atlas story:
Who Toys With Terror (Weird Tales of the Macabre # 2)

This title also contained stories from ACG and Charlton, along with unidentified publishers.

GRIP OF DEATH #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
Midnight Muse (Devilina #1)

This title also contained stories from ACG and Charlton, along with unidentified publishers.

LOATHSOME GHOSTS #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
The Prophecy (Devilina #2)

This title also contained stories from ACG and Charlton, along with unidentified publishers.

PLAGUE OF VAMPIRES #nn
$1.00, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1980/81
Plague Of Vampires reprinted the following Atlas story:
A Matter Of Breeding (Tales Of Evil #1)

This title also contained stories from ACG and Charlton, along with unidentified publishers.

VOODOO TALES #nn
$0.60, this title was not reprinted.
Published circa 1977/78
Voodoo Tales reprinted the following Atlas stories:
Spawn Of The Devil (Tales of Evil #1)
Midnight Muse (Devilina #1)

This title also contained stories from ACG and Charlton, along with unidentified publishers. Voodoo Tales had one of the most adventurous and impressive cover paintings produced for a Gredown comic, featuring, as it did, a massive wrap around painting.

SUMMARY
Once Gredown went out of business Atlas ceased to see print in Australia. Despite Yaffa/Page, KG Murray (in its many guises) and Federal Publishing continuing to reprint American comics, the focus turned to Marvel, DC along with Charlton,[20] but publishers such as Warren, Eerie and Atlas, amongst others, fell by the wayside. Skywald would live on via Yaffa/Page, but those issues were merely reprints of earlier Yaffa/Page reprints. It would appear that, at no point, were the rights to reprint Atlas either put back on the table for an Australian publisher, nor were they considered worthy of exploring.

When a study is made of the Atlas material that Gredown reprinted what immediately stands out is that while there may be more Atlas material yet to be discovered. Stories from titles such as Phoenix, Wulf The Barbarian, Destructor, Scorpion, Tiger-Man, Grim Ghost and possibly the Cougar have yet to come to light in Australia. While it is doubtful that Gredown would have entertained the thought of reprinting lightweight juvenile material such as Vicki and while they wouldn’t have bothered with editorial or text features they might possibly have considered some titles to be a bit too close to mainstream super hero to publish.

Despite the lack of understanding of Gredown and their publishing practices, it is still feasible that some stories could have seen the light of day at some stage. Books such as Phoenix, Wulf, Destructor and Scorpion contained enough stories to fill the average sized Gredown (anywhere from 48 to 96 pages) and with the discovery of titles like The Brute, Ironjaw, Morlock 2001 and Tarantula it's very likely that the other series were also reprinted. Atlas books like Devilina, Gothic Romances and Tales of Evil were anthology titles, and as random stories have popped up in Gredown publications from those books it's also likely that other stories were also reprinted. Gredown also published a limited number of western and war comics which have yet to be fully explored as to their contents.


It may never be possible to assemble a complete picture of every title that Gredown released. There are a few sizable collections of Gredown comics in existence, however each contains different titles to the others, with a fair degree of overlapping and as more titles appear on the open market there is a hope that one day the entire line can be documented. Only when this documenting process is finished and all the Gredowns can be accounted for will the full picture become clear. Until then any collection of Gredown is a work in progress with many mysteries yet to be discovered.

NOTES

[1] Email correspondence between author and Alan Kupperberg, July 2008
[2] According to Alan Kupperberg, Jeff Rovin also clashed with the Goodmans and Leiber over the direction that he wanted to take the company.
[3] Email correspondence between author and Alan Weiss, June 2008
[4] According to historian Spiros Xenos, KG Murray more than likely dealt with McFadden Publications International. McFadden syndicated DC Comics’ editorial content to international markets from the 1940s onwards.
[5] A straight reprint: the entire contents of the original magazine, repacked, minus any advertisements and/or editorial content and with the same cover. In the case of the Skywald and Warren material, the issue numbers of the Australian reprints did not always correlate with the American original.
[6] The Yaffa Syndicate was established by David Yaffa in 1928 to sell comic strips, news stories and other editorial content produced by America’s King Features Syndicate to Australian newspaper and magazine publishers. By the 1970s that scope was broadened to include reprinting American comic books via an imprint called Page Publishing, which also published magazines. Possibly also through Transworld, Yaffa acquired the rights to reprint Marvel Comics in Australia from 1976/77 through to approximately 1982/83 when those rights were taken over by Federal Publishing.
[7] Page Publications was founded in the early 1960s as a separate publishing entry to the Yaffa Syndicate. It began to publish comic books in the mid 1960s and continued until the early 1990s. During its publishing life, Page reprinted comics from companies as diverse as Marvel, Charlton, Skywald and Archie.
[8] Transworld Feature Syndicate Inc, run out of New York, initially by Al Landau and then Israel Waldman, more than likely provided art and the rights to reprint comics to almost all of the Australian publishers at some point, including KG Murray, Gredown, Frew, Newton, Yaffa and possibly Horwitz.
[9] KG Murray was sold to Kerry Packer’s Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) in 1974. Packer was more likely after the publishing house’s vast magazine catalogue, the comics would have merely been a bonus.
[10] Kevin Patrick has dated The Truth Western, published by Gredown, to 1974: http://comicsdownunder.blogspot.com/2009/06/truth-western-early-gredown-bc-before.html
[11] Pit Of Evil #1 is the only Gredown that I can clearly date to 1975.
[12] Kevin Patrick’s Blog: http://comicsdownunder.blogspot.com/2006/11/spanish-connection.html
[13] More evidence has come to light to suggest that Transworld not only sent stats to foreign markets, but also, in rare cases, pages of original art. In an interview with Roy Thomas and Stan lee in Comic Book Artist magazine (http://twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/02stanroy.html), Thomas commented that, “The only time Al (Landau) and I were on the same side (and it took me a minute to realize why) was when both of us wanted to get back one of the pages of story we had lost in our books. I wanted the page back just because I wanted it back, for better stories-and he wanted it because then his company Transworld could sell another page abroad.” If Transworld did indeed send physical pages of original art then this would account for the scarcity of art from certain companies. Transworld did send stats of art to UK publishers which had been altered (Zip-A-Tone added, spelling changed) and research into Newton Comics shows that stats were also sent to Australia in bulk. At the demise Newton Comics all of the remaining stats and art were thrown into a dumpster due to they being worthless to the company. This was more than likely a common practice for other Australian publishers reprinting non-Australian material.
[14] Although virtually every American publisher was reprinted in Australia at some time or another, in bulk, one publisher wasn’t. E.C. had only a few single stories reprinted by little known, and short lived, Australian publisher Calvert. Calvert were known for producing some highly interesting comics and mixed original material drawn by Australian Moria Bertram along with material from ACG, Dell and all too few E.C. stories. An example of Calvert’s oddities lies in the title Western & Adventure Monster #2 which boasts three EC war stories from Jack Davies, George Evans, John Severin and Will Elder, alongside western material from ACG, Beetle Baily stories from Dell and two original Moria Bertram stories.
[15] As this book was a licensed product, and not strictly a Marvel originated book, it would more than likely to have been handed to Transworld for separate syndication away from the usual Marvel deals.
[16] The Federal Publishing Company (FPC) was a publishing division of Hannanprint, which was formed as a result of the acquisition of a number of publications from Kerry Packer's ACP Publishing. By proxy Hannaprint’s portfolio also included KG Murray. Federal Publishing would reprint both Marvel and DC comics, in both colour and black and white, and were one of the last of the major Australian reprint companies, winding up in the mid to late 1980s.
[17] Yaffa had a standing practice of reprinting three Marvel Comics in each reprint comic, and this was continued when the size of their comics changed from magazine format to digest. Despite the format change, the price of Yaffa did not change. It is also possible that Yaffa sourced their material directly from Marvel, and not Transworld, by the early 1980s as some of their comics featured alternate artwork in the form of covers, and pin-ups consisting of cover art sans logo and cover copy.
[18] For instance: my uncle was a long distance truck driver who used to bring Gredown’s back with him after interstate road trips. As late as 1983 he was bringing back new issues for me to read. Other people have told me how, again, on long distance trips, parents would often stop and buy a handful of comics, usually Gredowns, at country service stations and truck stops during the mid 1980s. In Australia comic books often remained on the shelves for months, if not years, after their ‘expiry’ dates as it was cheaper to leave them on display than it was to send them back to the distributer.
[19] Walter Simonson interview; http://www.enjolrasworld.com/
[20] Charlton continued to be reprinted in various KG Murray publications in the early to mid 1980s.

8 comments:

oversear said...

This article is so well researched and annotated it will be of great help to future comic-book historians, elevating the piece above mere entertainment.
Thank you so much for taking the time and effort necessary in its creation.

Jimmy Palmiotti said...

I was just telling someone about PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES and how I expect that any minute someone will sell this as a film and claim its their idea. yes...thats hollywood.

Gary Chaloner said...

A superb article that brought back many memories from my childhood. I HAD all of those books! (It's the advantage of working in a newsagent through your childhood... first access to comics!)

OM said...

...Outstanding work. I'd suggest someone distill it into something that could be posted to Wikipedia, but considering how the genre-based pages are all run by rogue admins and Wikinazis, I can see someone claiming it's all "original research" and reverting any article creation and/or edits just to get their jollies.

Regardless, excellent work on the author's part!

Daniel Best said...

Well that's the Wiki for you - if you do your own homework, speak to the right people and actually write an original piece then they don't consider it valid. For anything to get into the Wiki it can't be original, they much prefer copies.

Jimmy Palmiotti said...

I was just telling someone about PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES and how I expect that any minute someone will sell this as a film and claim its their idea. yes...thats Hollywood.

Dave said...

those are some seriously cool covers!

Anonymous said...

I've got Pit of Evil #2, thanks for the context.