Independent Silver Age

Doctor Solar Man of the Atom – Gold Key (Silver Age)

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Doctor Solar premiered in issue #1 of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom in Summer 1962 (cover date October 1962) in the first batch of comics released by Gold Key, with Solar being Gold Key’s first original character. Though Gold Key did not have as large a distribution network as Dell Comics, the Gold Key comics stood out on the newsstand shelves due to their cover art and a 12 cent price (Dell Comics sold for 15 cents). The first two issues of Solar appeared with cover paintings by Richard M. Powers; beyond the second issue the cover paintings were done by George Wilson. The interior artwork in the first several issues also had unique features: the superhero, Dr. Solar, did not have a costume until the fifth issue, rectangular word balloons and no black holding line around each panel. Following from practise of Dell Comics, and thanks to Western Publishing’s reputation of publishing other children-friendly books, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom was able to be distributed without the Comics Code Authority symbol. The original creative team of writer Paul S. Newman and artist Bob Fujitani lasted until issue #5 when Frank Bolle took over the art work. With the exception of issue #7 written by Otto Binder, Newman wrote the comic book until issue #10 when Dick Wood took over for the remainder of the series. Other artists that contributed included Mel Crawford, Win Mortimer, Alden McWilliams (issues #20-23), Ernie Colón (issues #24-26), José Delbo (issue #27).

Four Color (1960’s)

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Four Color, also known as Four Color Comics and One Shots, was a long-running American comic book anthology series published by Dell Comics between 1939 and 1968. The title is a reference to the four basic colors used when printing comic books (cyan, magenta, yellow and black at the time).

More than 1,000 issues were published, usually with multiple titles released every month. An exact accounting of the actual number of unique issues produced is difficult because occasional issue numbers were skipped and a number of reprint issues were also included. Nonetheless, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide lists well over 1,000 individual issues, ending with #1354. It currently holds the record for most issues produced of an American comic book; its nearest rivals, Action Comics and Detective Comics, ended their initial runs in 2011 at 904 issues and 881 issues, respectively. The first 25 issues are known as “series 1”; after they were published, the numbering began again and “series 2” began. Four Color published many of the first comics featuring characters licensed from Walt Disney.

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Four Color #1173 F+ $69

Boris Karloff: Tales of Mystery (1963)

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During the run of the television show Thriller, Karloff lent his name and likeness to a comic book for Gold Key Comics based upon the series. After Thriller was cancelled, the comic was retitled Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery. An illustrated likeness of Karloff continued to introduce each issue of this publication for nearly a decade after the real Karloff died; the comic lasted until the early 1980s. Starting in 2009, Dark Horse Comics started to reprint Tales of Mystery in a hard bound archive.

Monster World (1964)

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Begun by James Warren, Warren Publishing’s initial publications were the horror-fantasy–science fiction movie magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland and Monster World, both edited by Forrest J Ackerman. Warren soon published Spacemen magazine and in 1960 Help! magazine, with the first employee of the magazine being Gloria Steinem.

After introducing what he called “Monster Comics” in Monster World, Warren expanded in 1964 with horror-comics stories in the sister magazines Creepy and Eerie – black-and-white publications in a standard magazine format, rather than comic-book size, and selling for 35 cents as opposed to the standard comic-book price of 12 cents. Such a format, Warren explained, averted the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, the comic-book industry’s self-censorship body.

Steed, Peel and John Drake – Silver Age

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In 1968 Gold Key reprinted a couple of TV Comic Avengers strips as a one-shot comic for the US market. For trademark reasons, since Marvel had the Avengers comic trademark in the USA, the comic was titled after the featured characters, John Steed and Emma Peel.

The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series created in the 1960s. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants. Steed’s most famous assistants were intelligent, stylish and assertive women: Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and later Tara King (Linda Thorson). Later episodes increasingly incorporated elements of science fiction and fantasy, parody and British eccentricity. The Avengers ran from 1961 until 1969, screening as one-hour episodes its entire run.

In 1966, Gold Key Comics published two issues of a Secret Agent comic book based upon the series Danger Man (titled Secret Agent in the United States), a British television series which was broadcast between 1960 and 1962, and again between 1964 and 1968. The series featured Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake.

Prisoner fans frequently debate whether John Drake of Danger Man and Number Six in The Prisoner are the same person. Like John Drake, Number Six is evidently a secret agent, but one who has resigned from his job. Moreover, in the surreal Prisoner episode “The Girl Who Was Death“, Number Six meets “Potter”, John Drake’s Danger Man contact. Christopher Benjamin portrayed the character in both series.