Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Post No. 690"

I had some luck selling some older comics this past month and, par usual, couldn't resist picking up a couple of books I wanted around that I didn't currently have in my collection.

One of these is a Charlton Blue Beetle #1 (1964). I suppose the special memory this book holds for me was from those early teen years when I'd stay around my Great Aunt Katy Kerr's little grocery store in the town I grew up in and read the comic books she sold. As with many little groceries in this area at that time, a local wholesale distributor, Goodman Candy Company, would buy the comic book returns from Haxby News out of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and then re-sell them in lots of 20 to these groceries where they then usually sold them for a nickle apiece.

I'd sit on the top of Aunt Katy's Coca-Cola cooler and read through the comics on those hot Summer days. There'd be just globs of Charlton, Super-IW Comics, Archies, Harveys and the like. In fact, my first exposure wasn't from a Charlton comic on Blue Beetle, but rather an IW-Super title called "The Human Fly" which reprinted some of the original Fox Publications issues from the 1940's.

Can't say I was overly-impressed the first time I saw the character. The artwork was crude, and then you had this 1940's style of writing that was different enough to make me remember the character, but not to make him one of my favorites. Even so, I read them, and the Charlton issues too with their similiar crude artwork, and it's because of the enthusiasm from readers of "BB" that Charlton eventually revived their best character up to that date: "Captain Atom".

Fans had remembered him from appearing in Space Adventures #'s 33-40, 42 circa 1960-61. It was a hard series to not be able to remember fondly due to Steve Ditko's great artwork and it was his first attempt at a super-hero strip.

So in 1965 the company decided to bring him back in a series of reprints in one of their fantasy titles, Srange Suspense Stories #75. Within 4 issues the title changed to "Captain Atom" and once more on board was Steve Ditko producing new artwork. So the second book I purchased was another copy to have of that issue which I can remember picking up originally at Willis's Drug Store, attacted by it's unusal cover layout of an insert of the good Captain surrounded by a tannish-colored cover; quite different from what I usually saw on the stands. I followed every Charlton super-hero from then on until their end at that company and retain a great love for the work Charlton produced to this day.

Naturally I was familiar with Steve Ditko. And I was familiar with his earlier work at Charlton as I have previously sited that I considered his best work to be at Charlton from 1957-1961, previous to any super-hero work ("Spider-man" in particular) he did at Marvel Comics.


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