Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Golden Derby - July 1965!

Fifty years ago Charlton comics was casting about as they always did, looking for the next big thing. Superheroes seemed to be catching on here and there, but it was a slow build as Charlton never ever seemed to be convinced that the underwear crowd was ever the way to great success. They always seemed to prefer their litany of genre comics in the areas of romance, war, sci-fi and western, areas other companies had diminished over the years giving preference to superheroes. But that was to change with the coming of the "Action Heroes".

In addition to Blue Beetle, Charlton under Pat Masulli was producing Son of Vulcan, a comic which seemed a variation of Marvel's Thor, featuring as it did a disabled human being who could transform into a mythic god. Also there was the rich genre of espionage which was charging through the culture thanks to the wild success of the James Bond movies. TV gave us Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Charlton offered up both the  Fightin' 5 and Sarge Steel who straddled the war and adventure arenas. One character who likewise seemed to exist in both the superhero genre and the western was Gunmaster, a surprisingly durable hero who had been published here and there at Charlton for several years. And then there was Gorgo, a comic developed from the outlandish and exquisite movie some years before and which had become a reliable arrival on the comic stands alongside its companion Konga

The time was coming closer when the heroes would take the center stage. But still in these early days the sense was that the folks at Charlton were still rather timid.

More next month.

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  1. I bought DCs and Marvels directly from drugstores and newsstands, but I usually got this era of Charlton at a second-hand store for a nickel apiece, which was a decent price to try something strange-looking I'd never seen before. I think the pricing of comics eventually reached a point where there was less of an inclination for the buyer to experiment, Every purchase is a financial commitment, and the more eccentric and funky mass-market comics have been homogenized out of existence. Comics were a part of a kid's landscape, a fun diversion like television, and not necessarily meant to be any more permanent than that, They were also very much part of the mainstream, which is why all of the various genres made sense to a publisher then, and why there are not as many Westerns and Romances now.

    1. Comic books as a cheap mass medium are dead. They are a different kind of entertainment, not a ubiquitous part of the background as I grew up with. My oldest Charltons came from second hand places too, though I think I grew up in one of Charlton's better locations as far as distribution went. Most everything showed up there when I knew to start looking.

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