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Federal Comics

Federal Comics Logo

In 1983, Australian DC reprints appeared as Federal Comics published by the Federal Publishing Company without any association to the traditional Murray branding.

Over the final years the logo changed first to Australian Edition DC and ultimately to the standard US DC logo of the time.

Super Adventure 1, 1984
Long running: In various forms, the Super Adventure title survived nearly 40 years. (Super Adventure. 2, 1984)

Federal Publishing Company

The Federal Publishing Company (FPC) was a new publishing division of Hannanprint, formed through the acquisition of a number of leisure and special interest publications from Packer's ACP Publishing—including Murray comics.

Hannanprint's Eastern Suburbs Newspapers (subsequently ESN The Litho Centre) became the printers for the DC reprint comics at that time.

Federal 'The Cat' Comics Logo

Restarting The Reprints

The first sign of change from the period of Murray one-shots was the sporadic appearance of issue numbering on some reprints.

Then, in early 1983 the words "Federal Comics" appeared on the familiar "Murray the Cat" logo. This seems to have appeared only on one batch of comics, which were dated "March-April 1983"—the first cover dating to appear in the reprint program's history. The change may have been a quick way to stamp the new publisher's name on the reprints, and was quickly revamped to the more familia "FC" logo.

Under the Federal Comics banner, the Australian DC reprints began to be sequentially numbered again. Most series restarted from issue one, while a few continued with numbering from later Murray comics.

Some new anthology series appeared with idiosyncratic titles such as Super Adventure, Super Heroes, Super Action and Federal Comics Starring..., but most carried direct equivalents to the US originals: Superman, Batman, Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice League of America, New Adventures of Superboy, World's Finest Comic and New Teen Titans.

Infinity Inc 1, 1984
Spot the difference: When colour arrived, the series too closely emulated the US product to survive. (Infinity Inc. 1, 1984)

The new comics were in black and white, and generally 84 pages for 99 cents. Except for the idiosyncratic anthology titles, the page count was typically filled with sequential stories from multiple issues of the original US series.

Pages of the stories were routinely removed or combined to fit, or the issues were padded out with reprinted covers in the middle of the story. Very few older stories were included.

Colour Comics

While Federal Publishing began its reprints in black and white, many series converted to colour in late 1984 ane early 1985. Titles to receive the colour treatment include: Superman, Batman, Justice League of America and New Teen Titans.

New series also started up in colour. "New format" Baxter comics, such as Infinity Inc and Vigilante, appeared in colour, but on lower quality paper. Mini-series also received colour reprinting, with issues of Super Powers, Amethyst and Crisis published.

Super Adventure 11, 1986
One of the last: Super Adventure was a black and white, 68 page title at the end... and didn't complete the "Trial of the Flash" storyline. (Super Adventure 11, 1986)

During this period, some 68-page series continued to be available for 99 cents, and the new 32 page colour comics were initially 95 cents, then 99 cents, and finally $1.25.

The shift to colour generally coincided with the move to a DC-style logo, first with "Australian Edition" markings, and finally a logo matching that used on contemporary DC comics. The reprints continued to have no advertising, providing for an additional short story even in the 32 page colour comics.

Technological advances may have driven this change to colour, as the Hannans' Courier Newspapers pioneered the use of colour on gloss paper for suburban newspapers in 1985.

The End

Federal Comics Logo

By the end, the Australian reprints were largely emulating the US originals that were increasingly available in specialty shops up to a year before the reprints hit the newsstands. While the reprints could provide a cheaper comic fix because the price in Australian dollars was marginally lower, the production standards were also consistently lower.

The last of the Australian DC reprints was published in 1986. In that year, Hannanprint relocated to new headquarters and the comic reprints appear to be baggage left behind in the move.

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