Atlas by James Zee
Fifties proliferation and censorship
As the Australian comics industry expanded through the early fifties, Atlas moved into the second phase of its existence and boosted its output with a range of non-newspaper comic reprints.
These included material from US companies ACG (Giggle Comics and Natch [The Kilroys]), Magazine Enterprises (The Durango Kid and The Phantom [Ghost] Rider), Youthful (Gunsmoke Blazing Hero of the West and The Masked Marvel),11An interesting advertisement on this series appeared in The Argus (Melbourne, Vic) 18 May 1954. Appearing the the classifieds under... Prize/Feature (Young Romance, Prize Comics Western, Justice Traps the Guilty and Headline Comics) and Orbit (Wanted).
The eclectic nature of Atlas's comic sources is underscored by an obscure title from UK company Foldes Press, Super Thriller Comics, featuring Ace Hart the Atom Man.22For further information see British Golden Age Heroes. This is the same Ace Hart that required DCMT to rename... The mix of publishers has no obvious common link to suggest a single distributor, but most also had their output reprinted by other Australian publishers, indicating some commitment to the Australian or reprint market.
The iconic Captain Atom continued until around 1954, alongside other original Australian material, including new titles Counterspy and The Mask: The Man of Many Faces. Atlas added further titles to its newspaper strip reprints, including Jane Arden, Buck Rogers and The Captain and the Kids (formerly The Katzenjammer Kids).
Under the Western & United Publishing Co. imprint, the company targeted the girls' market with Photo Confessions and Photo Romance ("Illustrated in graphic photo-form—Depicted by top ranking continential film stars") and advice books (How to Get Along with Boys).33I've only identified bare mentions of this publisher. The photo books are advertised on the back of various Atlas comics....
In December 1952, Atlas launched the men’s magazine Squire (1952-1956)44Squire was a rare Atlas publication with dates. The National Library of Australia holds Vol. 1 No. 1 (Dec.... based on the US Esquire. It also appears to have begun an expansion into the men's 'girlie' and humour book market55Titles included Cartoon Parade (195-?); Cute (195-?); Tops: A Magazine for Men (1954?) including at least one annual with the... that led to legal skirmishes around obscenity as censorship grew during the mid-fifties.
The December 1953 issue of Fun magazine put Atlas in court in Victoria facing a charge of distributing obscene literature. Atlas escaped conviction in August 1954—on the technicality that it was not actually the distributor, which was in fact Gordon & Gotch.66The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria), 18 August 1954....
When the Queensland Literature Board of Review was established in 1954 to prevent distribution of objectionable publications in that state, the Board banned a significant number of Atlas comics, including Justice Traps the Guilty, The Masked G-Man, Headline Stories, The Mask, Dizzy Dames and Wanted.
Atlas's sex humour oriented magazines Frolic, Fun and Zowie were also banned in Queensland in 1954 for including "jokes and pictures of women in compromising circumstances". The penalty for distribution of banned literature was up to £100, with up to £500 for a subsequent offence.77The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld) 21 August 1954. See also articles on bans in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) 24 July...
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