Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Historical Overview of Comics: MLJ & Charlton

For those history buffs who want a good heaping helping of some heroic hot-stuff of the Archie Comics variety, we have a treat for you! You will find over at E-Dispatches from the Great White North as comprehensive an analysis on the "A Historical Overview of the MLJ Magazines/Archie Comic Publications Superhero Lines" as you'll find anywhere!

Consider, if you would, just a few factoids gleaned from this comprehensive essay on MLJ:
  • "While a great deal has been written over the years about Archie Andrews and his pals the same cannot be said about Archie Comic Publications' superheroes. Few people seem to know that not only Archie Comic get its start-under a different name mind you-in 1939-as a publisher of superhero comics but that it was one of the more innovative comics publishers in the industry...chances are that appeared around the same time as Martin Goodman's "Marvel Comics" #1. "Blue Ribbon Comics" #1 hit the stands late in the summer of 1939. Cover-dated November 1939."
  • "Debuting in December, 1939, "Top-Notch Comics" (called "Top-Notch Laugh" from no. 28 on) appeared until cover-date June, 1944, with the last issue being numbered 45. During its run Top-Notch introduced a number of now-classic MLJ heroes including "The Wizard", "The Firefly", "The Black Hood" and "Roy, the Super Boy" (the second costumed boy hero after DC/National's Robin). Top-Notch also featured the work of a number of talented artists Bob Montana, Mort Meskin, Jack Cole and Bob Novick."
  • " Cover-dated January 1940 "Pep Comics", MLJ Magazines' third anthology, was the company's most successful and innovative anthology. Not only did Pep run for a total of 411 issues (the final one cover-dated March, 1987) but it was also where comics' first patriotic hero debuted, where the first comics hero died in the line of duty and where the comics character that the publisher eventually renamed itself after first appeared."
You owe yourself this treat to dive into the ups and downs of the publisher known for teen comics who, in fact, gave inspiration for some of their more profitable competitor's own creations. Which we'll begin dissecting in more detail on coming Mondays. As for a companion piece for Charlton Comics history, there are bits and pieces you can find throughout the internet, but perhaps the most comprehensive piece can be found at Comic Book Artist wherein the creative talents that be made the best of a pretty bad situation financially, a diamond in the rough.

Some quotations from this thorough article for your enlightenment and (hopeful) enjoyment:

  • "harlton Publishing Empire's humble beginnings stretch back to the 1930s, when an Italian immigrant named John Santangelo began selling unauthorized printed song lyric sheets in Central Connecticut"
  • "In 1956, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel briefly packaged titles for Charlton, bearing the eclectic names Mr. Muscles, Zaza the Mystic, and Nature Boy. Ditko's impressive work appears in Tales of the Mysterious Traveler, based on a Shadow-like radio show."

And later, the legendary (in these parts) Peter Cannon...Thunderbolt, appeared in Derby, whose origin is reprinted in this article for your entertainment. Good stuff.

1 comment:

nyrdyv said...

I think you touched on the rise of these brands with the cross-over of talent that happened during this period.

Cheers!

Steven G. Willis
XOWComics.com