Articles

1 May 2011

AusReprints needs your comics by James Zee

AusReprints needs your comics

This website is a collaborative effort! Since AusReprints.com went online in 2003, I've made surprising progress documenting Australian reprint comics. But I need your help with issues I don't have.

The easiest way to help is to email me a high quality scan of missing or poor quality covers. If you have the time, I also welcome story details and full content information. All contributions can be emailed to me at the link at the bottom of this page.

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8 April 2011

Atlas by James Zee

Atlas

Capitalising on the success of KG Murray's Superman reprints, Atlas Publications entered the comics field in January 1948 with Captain Atom, a full colour comic by Australians Arthur Mather and Jack Bellew (as John Welles). Wartime bans on imported periodicals were still in place at the time, creating strong demand for new local periodicals.

While early Atlas comics mimicked the look of Murray's contemporary comics, the company quickly created a strong identity by being one of the few Australian comics' publishers to consistently brand its publications on the cover. Until 1951, most of its comics were also printed in a distinctive landscape format that was better suited to its dominant newspaper reprints.

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11 October 2010

Larry Cleland by James Zee

Larry Cleland

In 1946, during the post-war boom in Australian comics, the Vee Publishing Co. entered the market with an extensive programme of US Fawcett reprints. This company became Larry Cleland Pty. Ltd around 1949/50, although Stanley Larry Cleland had been associated with the company since its foundation.

Cleland has no publishing record prior to Vee Publishing, and it is unknown how he secured the rights to Fawcett's material. However, the company quickly expanded its range of black and white reprint editions to include a dozen or more humour, super hero and western comics.

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26 August 2010

Frew by James Zee

Frew

While The Phantom is Frew Publications' most famous and only remaining comic, from the late 1940s the company also published a wide range of other reprints and original Australian comics.

In 1948, Ron Forsyth, Jim Richardson, Jack Eisen and Peter Watson put in £500 each to found Frew, using an acronym of their four surnames to name the new company—although Eisen and Watson withdrew before the first comic was produced. For the next 40 years, Forsyth and Richardson shaped the company into an Australian icon.

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5 August 2010

Newton by James Zee

Newton

Newton Comics was a short-lived range of Marvel reprints produced in 1975 and 1976 as part of an excentric publishing empire based around Maxwell Newton's six year run on the trashy tabloid, the Melbourne Sunday Observer.

When publisher Gordon Barton abandoned his Observer in 1971, Newton quickly put out a replacement through Regal Press. The comics were part of a range of magazines and external jobs that kept the presses running throughout the week, not just the two days needed for the Sunday Observer. Other projects included teen mags such as Scream and Sweet, entertainment publications National Tattler and TV Guide, and the pornographic Pleazure, Eros and Kings Cross Whisper.

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4 July 2010

International sources by James Zee

International sources

Until the 1980s, Australian access to international comics was limited due to a range of factors, including distribution monopolies, exclusive licences, geograpical isolation, cultural bias toward British publications and war-time import restrictions.

During and following the second world war, a thriving local comics industry developed, including the publication of thousands of reprint comics. At the start of the 20th century, British material had dominated the Australian market. The earliest comics were modeled on British weekly newspaper-style comics, until the US format and US sources began to dominate in the 1940s.

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29 June 2010

Murray by James Zee

Murray

From 1946 until 1983, the K.G. Murray Publishing Company produced comics under a range of imprints—Climax Comics, Blue Star, Colour Comics, Planet Comics and finally Murray Comics.

While most of these were DC reprints, some included original Australian work and reprints from such diverse publishers as ACG, Charlton, Avalon, Novelty Press, Quality, Comic Media, Ziff-Davis, St. John, Ajax-Farrell, Fiction House and Atlas/Marvel. From the late 1960s, some series included translated comics, particularly from Spain's Selecciones Ilustradas agency.

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29 June 2010

Various by James Zee

Various

Australian access to international comics was limited until the 1980s, resulting in a strong local comic industry, including reprint comics.

Many of the earliest and most popular Australian comics were based on reprints of newspaper strips, reflecting international trends and later providing an opportunity to circumvent import restrictions. The mid-1930s saw significant expansion of syndicated newspaper material in Australia, particularly following formation of the Yaffa Syndicate to distribute material from King Features Syndicate.

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17 June 2010

Federal by James Zee

Federal

Between 1983 and 1986, the Federal Publishing Company (FPC) reprinted contemporary DC and Marvel comics, occasionally dipping into a backlist of stories acquired from the K. G. Murray Publishing Company.

FPC was a new publishing division of Hannanprint, formed through the acquisition of leisure and special interest publications from ACP Publishing, the company that acquired Murray from its founding family in 1972. Hannanprint's Eastern Suburbs Newspapers (subsequently ESN The Litho Centre) also became the printers for the comics at that time.

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16 June 2010

Page/Yaffa by James Zee

Page/Yaffa

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Yaffa Publishing Group produced a range of mainly reprint comics under "Yaffa" and "Page" imprints or company divisions.

David Yaffa founded his company around 1925 with the publication of Newspaper News (later AdNews), an advertising and marketing magazine. The Yaffa Syndicate's earliest comics involvement was the distribution of newspaper strips from King Features Syndicate (such as Flash Gordon, Brick Bradford and Mandrake the Magician). Page Publications, the imprint of most of Yaffa's comics, was established as a separate entity in the 1960s.

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15 June 2010

Horwitz by James Zee

Horwitz

From about 1950 to 1966, Horwitz Publications was a large publisher of war, western and crime comics, including popular titles such as Navy Combat, Fast Gun, Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill.

Horwitz predominantly reprinted US comics, sourced mainly from Timely/Atlas/Marvel, but with other US publishers and newspaper strip reprints. In the late 1950s, it created some local comics, notably adaptations of its Carter Brown novels and The Phantom Commando, created by John Dixon but passed to Maurice Bramley (b 1910) who drew it until 1956.

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14 June 2010

Gredown by James Zee

Gredown

From around 1975 to 1984, Gredown published a diverse range of magazine-size comics, predominanly horror but also western, science fiction and other genres. Beginning as sequentially-numbered magazine-size series, the comics later became mainly one-shots with a wildly eccentric range of titles.

Little is know about Gredown's origins, although it seems the company was formed to compete with KG Murray. Greg Murray appears to have established Gredown after his father, Kenneth G. Murray was bought out by Australian Consolidated Press (APC) in 1974. The earliest Gredown publications were magazines, but the company's output was soon focused on reprint comics.

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16 April 2010

The Vroom by James Zee

The Vroom

One of the last Spanish series to debut in KG Murray's line of reprint comics was The Vroom, a particularly obscure series due to its inconsistent Australian publication and limited international printings.

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5 April 2010

Literacy, Deliquency and Captain Triumph by James Zee

Literacy, Deliquency and Captain Triumph

Just after Christmas 1948, during the holiday silly season when newspapers desperately seek copy to fill their pages, the Sydney Morning Herald opened up debate about the impact of comics on young people.

The final pages of this article reproduce in full the sensationalist and shallow article that may have helped crystalised popular discontent over comics corrupting Australian youth. It represents a fascinating early skirmish in the cultural tensions that erupted into overt censorship during the 1950s, particularly focused around Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, published in 1954.

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28 August 2009

A Man Called... Sunday by James Zee

A Man Called... Sunday

Alongside the comic's lead character, KG Murray's Ringo 24 gave cover-billing to a new series: "Introducing-- A man of courage who rides alone. A man called... Sunday".

From 1973 to 1977, Sunday appeared every issue and usually received cover promotion. The final Sunday episode is in Ringo 41, the comic's second last issue. Remarkably for KG Murray, all 18 episodes were printed in order and on a regular schedule.

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10 August 2009

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol by James Zee

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol

Johnny Galaxy and the Space Patrol was among the earliest work from Spanish agency Selecciones Ilustradas (SI) to be printed by KG Murray.

The feature was first published in Australia in its own title (1967-1968) composed almost entirely of Johnny Galaxy stories. When that series ended with four issues, the feature moved to Climax Adventure Comic (1968–1973) and finally Super Giant (1973), anthologies that hosted work from a wide array of sources.

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1 August 2009

Ringo, Big River Lawman by James Zee

Ringo, Big River Lawman

With a feast of four Ringo stories filling the issue cover-to-cover, Murray launched its long-running, 42-issue series .

The first handful of Ringo issues continued the feature-length approach, which was uncommon for KG Murray at the time. Most of its comics were anthologies and the Ringo series soon reverted to a single feature story as well, backed up by reprints of other western stories from diverse sources.

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1 August 2009

Geminis by James Zee

Geminis

The Australian run of Geminis began mid-1975 in Climax Adventure Comic, before transferring to Super Giant Album for the concluding episodes.

Composed of eight episodes of 20 pages each, Geminis is an espionage story set during the first world war, from July 1914.

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1 November 2008

Moira Bertram: Queen of the Comics by Kevin Patrick

Moira Bertram: Queen of the Comics

Back in late 2003, a copy of an old Australian comic dating from the mid-1940s sold for nearly AU$350 on eBay Australia.

There's nothing unusual about this in itself – the last five years or so have seen dozens of vintage Australian comics being auctioned online for similar amounts.

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20 December 2007

Hart Amos—A 1977 profile by John Ryan

Hart Amos—A 1977 profile

Despite his long association with the K.G. Murray Publishing Company, very little is known about the late Hart Amos (2/12/1916 – 8/6/2000), a talented and prolific artist who produced countless covers for Murray's range of American reprint comics.

However, as the following 1977 profile written by Australian comics' historian John Ryan demonstrates, this was just one aspect of Amos' lengthy and diverse career.

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1 July 2007

Don Richardson—Comic Book Maker by Kevin Patrick

Don Richardson—Comic Book Maker

If the name Don Richardson sounds unfamiliar to you, don't worry—you won't find his name appearing on any of the comic books in your collection.

I'd never heard of Don either, until I received an email from him, quite out of the blue, on 11 January 2004.

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24 April 2006

Peter Fatches—The Mistaken Ambulance Mystery by Kevin Patrick

Peter Fatches—The Mistaken Ambulance Mystery

One of the pleasures of flicking through old Australian comics is that you never know what you'll find.

This was certainly the case when I picked up a secondhand copy of Super Giant Album 23, which was originally published by the KG Murray Publishing Company (Sydney).

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24 April 2006

Richard Rae—KG Murray Cover Artist by Kevin Patrick

Richard Rae—KG Murray Cover Artist

If you've been charting the fortunes of Australian-made comics for the last 25 years or so, then chances are you've come across the name Richard Rae.

You might have been one of the first Aussie comic fans of the early 1980s who picked up one of the many comic books which Richard wrote and published during 1980-1983, such as Star Heroes, The Greatest Super Hero and Fantastic Australian Heroes.

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1 March 2003

Murray Comics—A Brief History by Kevin Patrick

Murray Comics—A Brief History

Australian reprints of American comic books published between 1950s-1980s have become popular items with modern-day collectors.

During this period, the K. G. Murray Company (KGM) dominated Australian comics publishing, yet comic books were just one part of this phenomenally successful publishing enterprise.

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