2 November 2022

Vintage Spinner Rack by James Zee

Vintage Spinner Rack

An image sourced from the National Archives of Australia shows a woman in an unidentified Melbourne newsagent. Next to her is a rack with comics on sale.

Based on the available issues, this was probably April 1978.

Here's what's been identified on the racks.

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29 October 2022

Hopalong Cassidy (remixed) by James

Hopalong Cassidy (remixed)

Through the 1950s, Hopalong Cassidy was all the rage in Australia. Perhaps even more than in the US. And for longer.

From 1948, Larry Cleland and then KG Murray reprinted the Fawcett and DC comic series. When DC stopped producing new Hopalong stories in 1959, Murray's dedicated title also ceased, but Hopalong Cassidy stories continued to appear in other KGM titles.

During this period, many DC western characters found themselves magically transformed into Hopalong Cassidy during their travels from the US to Australia. Read more

12 September 2022

Moira Bertram in Armidale by James Zee

Moira Bertram in Armidale

Moira Bertram (1913-1993) was one of the few Australian women working in comics during the peak period of the 1940s and 1950s, writing and drawing with a unique style and creative flair. She worked consistently in partnership with her older sister Kathleen Bertram (1909-1977), who provided the stories' distinctive lettering.

It's not clear when the sisters moved from Sydney to rural NSW. In 1928, Moira was in Tamworth sending art to the Sydney Sun's Sunbeams supplement, but it wasn't published. 'Pehaps your drawings were not quite up to the standard,' Sunbeams said.

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11 July 2019

'Irreverent Comments' Revisited by James Zee

'Irreverent Comments' Revisited
In January 1941, E.J. Francis satirised Australia's ban on US publications in The Home magazine. The comments provide an interesting insight into some American comics and pulp publications that were probably available in Australian newsagents at the time. Read more

15 March 2018

Topix announced by James Zee

Topix announced

A brand-new wholesome comic book hit the stands in early 1954, according to Sydney's Catholic Weekly on 11 February 1954 and Melbourne's Catholic Advocate on 25 February 1954. This is a product of its time, battling against the threat of comic books during the moral panic and censorship of the 1950s.

Topix was, the papers insist, a decent answer to the other rubbish on the bookshelves, with artwork of the highest quality and absorbing interest. "It's purpose is fivefold":

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1 October 2017

Who is Terry Powis? by James Zee

Who is Terry Powis?

Terry Powis is credited with nearly half of the comics published by the NSW Bookstall Company when it established its ground-breaking line of Australian comics. Yet there is virtually no information about him.

John Ryan in Panel by Panel acknowledges Powis and Will Donald as 'real pioneers of Australian comic books', before largely dismissing Powis' work:

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16 September 2017

NSW Bookstall by James Zee

NSW Bookstall

For a few years from 1940, the long-running NSW Bookstall Company engaged local artists to establish the first distinctive line of Australian comics, including some creators who would continue to produce comics and cartoons for many decades—especially Noel Cook and Brodie Mack.

It was probably in 1879 that Henry Lloyd (1847-1897) gained the rights to run bookstalls at train and ferry stations in NSW, established the N.S.W. Railway Bookstall Company, and modernised an operation previously focused on ticket sales.

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3 September 2017

1949 political propaganda by James Zee

1949 political propaganda

Thanks to a generous contributor, AusReprints has a full scan of The Road Back—political propaganda in comic form. The comic is undated, but released ahead of the 10 December 1949 Australian federal election when Labor lost power to a new Liberal Menzies government. It's clearly original work, but it isn't in the common lists of Australian comics and there are no credits in the issue.

John Ryan in Panel by Panel (p. 141) provides some information, but the way he describes the comics' origins is probably misleading. He reports:

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17 June 2017

Listing NSW publishers by James Zee

Listing NSW publishers

Censorship laws created a list of comic publishers in NSW between 1955 (when the Government substantially amended the Obscene and Indecent Publications Act) and the start of the 1970s (when the law was again reshaped).

The early 1950s saw restrictions on popular literature, driven by a mix of moral panic, international trends, cultural protectionism and vested corporate interests. At the opening of NSW Parliament in August 1954, the Governor told the legislators that “present legislation relating to the control of obscene and indecent publications is considered…inadequate and a measure to enable publications of this nature to be dealt with more effectively will be submitted to you.”

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7 May 2016

Thorpe & Porter by James Zee

Thorpe & Porter

To paint a broad picture of Australian comics history, AusReprints includes many comics published in the UK for Australians. One company in particular printed some separate editions with Australian pricing and advertising on the covers: the publishers of Classics Illustrated (distributed by Ayers & James) in 1950s and 1960s, and Tarzan and Korak comics in the 1970s.

The company is generally known as Thorpe & Porter or Top Sellers (common names on the comics), but it includes a cluster of publishers that ultimately became part of Time-Warner, the modern owner of DC Comics.

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20 August 2015

Nothing New by James Zee

Nothing New

While there are many local creations on the front of US reprints in Australia, the cover design of Magazine Management’s Triple Western and Triple Adventure stood out to me as unique.

As the name suggests, Triple Western (The Red Circle Press, 1955-1957, 21 issues) and Triple Adventure (Approved Publications, 1957-1958, 5 issues) included (most of the time) three stories.

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16 August 2015

Does it exist? Pt 2 by James Zee

Does it exist? Pt 2

Some Australian publishers started series at random numbers, but the first issue of a Magazine Management title was typically #1. Despite that, a few of its series mysteriously lack low numbered issues and probably don’t start at #1.

Two titles stand out: Angel and Daffy.

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13 December 2014

Aus via Italy by James Zee

Aus via Italy

In August I purchased , mainly because I can't resist a mystery. I hadn't come across the series and didn't recognise the featured characters.

It turns out the comic has one Diet Slurp story, with the rest composed of reprints from US Quality's >Feature Comics (Perky) and Modern Comics (Will Bragg) that were a decade old even when this issue was published. But the source of the lead feature remained unidentified.

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7 November 2014

Chucklers did that? by James Zee

Chucklers did that?

There’s a surprising wealth of international work in Australian comics, despite the dominance of US reprints—including one series reported as never published in English.

That feature was “The Blue Triangle featuring Dan Cooper”, which appeared two pages per week in The Australian Chucklers’ Weekly from v5#39 (23 January 1959) until about v6#30.

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17 September 2014

30,000 Aus comics by James Zee

30,000 Aus comics

AusReprints has reached a landmark 30,000 Australian issues, both reprints and original work.

The comic that tipped it over the threshhold was Penny the Favourite Teenager #13 from Young's Merchandising Company. And it's an unexpected comic worth highlighting.

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5 April 2014

Twice Approved by James Zee

Twice Approved

I've been puzzled by the publisher of the rare Australian series Little Trimmer Comic, but I've not seen a copy until recently.

It's one of those situations where I've wondered if respected Australian comics' historian John Ryan 'got it wrong'.

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16 March 2014

Does it exist? Pt 1 by James Zee

Does it exist? Pt 1

There are a few Australian comics that collectors look for that, most likely, were never published.

One well-documented case is The Phantom (Frew, 1948 series) #330 from 1966. The artwork was irretrievably damaged prior to printing and the following issue (#331) was brought forward to fill the gap. However, due to an oversight, the issue numbering was not updated, leaving a gap (although there was no break in publication).

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9 March 2014

Possible AusOriginal by James Zee

Possible AusOriginal

Despite Mick Stone's disclaimer of "likely omissions", it's rare to find a comic by Australian creators missing from his checklist of Australian comics.

One possible addition to the index is , a mystery one-shot comic without creator credits. The title story, which takes up the entire issue, is not reprinted from a typical US source.

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26 February 2014

Dating OPC by James Zee

Dating OPC

Most Australian comics from the Second World War are undated one-shots, making it challenging to know exactly when they were published. Sometimes it isn't even possible to be sure of the year of publication.

Comics from the Offset Printing Company (OPC) are a classic example. Most suggestions for dates seem to resort to a generic year in the early to mid 1940s.

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11 February 2014

Renovation Time by James Zee

Renovation Time

AusReprints turned ten last year and it's time for an overhaul.

I'm receiving increasing reports of site errors. I appreciate it, since I frequently use the database off-line and don't see problems on the site. Most errors can be quickly fixed, but the real problem is that AusReprints has much the same technology as it did a decade ago.

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27 April 2013

H. John Edwards by James Zee

H. John Edwards

While many Australian publishers disguised the international origins of their comics, H. John Edwards reprints were branded with the logos of US companies such as Fiction House, Standard and MLJ Magazines (Archie).

He also published a large line of original Australian comics with art by some of this country's most accomplished artists, including Larry Horak, John Dixon and Jeff Wilkinson.

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15 October 2012

Australian DC reprints by James Zee

Australian DC reprints

KG Murray (and later Federal) published DC comics in Australia, didn't they?

Well yes... mostly. I've just struck a DC series published by another Australian company, which reminds me that some DC series ended up in the hands of other Australian publishers.

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13 October 2012

Jesús Blasco in Valentine by James Zee

Jesús Blasco in Valentine

There's a stunning scene of Sydney Harbour in a mid-1960 British comic: 'Don't Ever Leave Me', Valentine Picture Story Library (Fleetway, 1960 series) #4.

Particularly interesting is the empty peninsula where the Opera House is now, with Farm Cove beyond. The former Fort Macquarie Tram Depot was demolished in 1958 and work began on the Opera House March 1959. The crane in the drawing would be working on the project's fist stage.

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4 October 2012

Puzzling censorship by James Zee

Puzzling censorship

Here's a puzzle about an unedited "sexy" Australian reprint at a time when the contempory US printing was edited—presumably to comply with the Comics Code Authority.

The story in question is "My Rebellious Heart" from Teenage Love #29 (Barmor Publications), which probably dates from 1954. As with many Australian comics this issue is undated, but some recently auctioned Harvey file copies of earlier issues have dates stamped on the cover.

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1 July 2012

KG Murray archives by James Zee

KG Murray archives

KG Murray's re-use of stories from Five-Score Comic Monthly #10, February 1959 suggests an extraordinary archive must have once existed at the company's headquarters.

The story 'Catastrophe County.' (note the full stop) is a reprint of 'Catastrophe County, U.S.A.' from Strange Adventures #63, December 1955. Such localisation was common at the time: 'Million Pound Ticket', a Mr. District Attorney story in the same issue, was originally 'Million Dollar Ticket'.

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