Marvel Price Font Variations (Jun 1960 ~ Feb 1961)
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Marvel Price Font Variations (Jun 1960 ~ Feb 1961)

 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, that misguided cretin Dog Like Sparky wouldn't stop banging on about the presence of Marvel comics with different price fonts. Charts were created and information was shared but no one seemed to be able to understand why from June 1960 to February 1961 this kept happening:

Two-Gun Kid #55

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Tales To Astonish #14

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Strange Tales #76

58cd474f93be8_10cwhitebox.PNG.a78353c580f30e048871d9326c816772.PNG  10c.PNG.6bdf3000daf384edaf4e79307166c83a.PNG

Journey Into Mystery #60

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Enquiries were made of the highest minds available. Were they second printings? Printed elsewhere? Printed for another market? No one knew until one person finally established the truth. That person, was none other than Mr Steve Ditko.

To conclude this long running saga of indifference, I can now exclusively reveal the truth as to why these variations exist, and why, therefore, you should not worry whether your long cherished graded key from that period is indeed a first printing:

Spoiler

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So there you have it. Catman was right all along. No further enquiries will be made.

That is all.

 

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4 hours ago, 01TheDude said:

REPLY REDACTED

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That's really interesting. Mr. Ditko seems to have strong (non) feelings about the issue.

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wont someone help me get a ditko letter....?

 

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11 hours ago, Foley said:

That's really interesting. Mr. Ditko seems to have strong (non) feelings about the issue.

 

1 hour ago, porcupine48 said:

wont someone help me get a ditko letter....?

 

I'll send you two the full letter by PM tomorrow. Ditko's a cranky one alright, but I'm convinced he gets a kick out of sending these replies.

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Hello Friends of Obscure and Unexplained Price Font Variations!

It’s taken me some time to recover from being told by Steve Ditko that price font variations for early Marvel comics are, and I quote, “not some CRIME NEVER to be done. The problem is TRIVIAL”.

I like Steve Ditko. He is one cool, if slightly cranky fellow :preach:

Putting to one side his cruel disinterest in my question, the fact remains that we still don’t seem to know (or care?) why there are early Marvel comics with different fonts being used for the same US prices.

During the Dog Like Sparky car crash years dls.png.70cab7b3113287aa2a5ac63a23b3da56.png I speculated in detail as to why these variations may exist and came up with some detailed, but extremely tedious observations.

There are two aspects which I think are noteworthy however.

  1. For the period June 1960 to February 1961, some US original cents priced titles have multiple fonts for the same priced issues.

I would love to know why this is the case. I do not now believe the variations infer second printings, as it is widely documented that Marvel comics in this era were hugely over-printed so there would be no call for a further printing. I have found no evidence that the different issues were printed in different locations. Because the prices are the same, there is no reason to suggest the different copies were intended for different markets or regions. 10c is 10c, so why would we need to have these differences?

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       2. For the period January 1961 to March 1961, every US original that I have found, pence or cents, carries the Thorpe & Porter distribution indicia line.

If you asked most people about Thorpe & Porter, they would say that they handled the distribution of Marvels into the UK. It is for this reason that early pence priced Marvels often carry an additional "Sole Distributors In The United Kingdom - Thorpe & Porter Ltd” strap line under their indicias. What I cannot understand is why the T&P indicia line exists on all copies that I have found, cents or pence, during the period stated? Surely it would only appear on those pence priced copies intended for the UK, and any US bound issues would not have it? If any of you in the US have cent priced Marvels around these dates, check the indicias and see if they have a Thorpe & Porter distribution line.

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Here are some charts I put together for two of the titles crossing the dates involved. I have charts for 6 titles, but these two will do for now so you get the point. You’ll see that I show the price type (pence / cents), any font variation and what indicia details exist. These are all from copies lifted from the web, notably Ebay USA (where you would expect the majority of listed comics to be home grown US destined copies).

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If anyone would like to join the debate as to why these variations exist, or why US cents copies have T&P indicia data, please dive in. I am no expert, I just like to document what I find / see. I’m hoping some of you guys will know yourselves, or know industry figures who may be able to shed some light on this.

I’m sure some of you reading this will be thinking “So what. Who cares if there are variations”, and I get that, but there is so little ‘new’ information or outstanding questions relating to old comics to find nowadays that I thought this was worth pursuing.

Anyway, as Thomas Crown once said, what else can we do on a Sunday? Except it's Friday. 

Cheers! (thumbsu

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1 minute ago, Marwood & I said:

If you asked most people about Thorpe & Porter, they would say that they handled the distribution of Marvels into the UK. It is for this reason that early pence priced Marvels often carry an additional "Sole Distributors In The United Kingdom - Thorpe & Porter Ltd” strap line under their indicias. What I cannot understand is why the T&P indicia line exists on all copies that I have found, cents or pence, during the period stated? Surely it would only appear on those pence priced copies intended for the UK, and any US bound issues would not have it? If any of you in the US have cent priced Marvels around these dates, check the indicias and see if they have a Thorpe & Porter distribution line.

591ef3f75fce3_10cTallFontTPIndiciaCrop.thumb.jpg.bf10c265cf8e4614e005e1333a9a2a49.jpg

 

 

By the way, if this kind of thing interests you, take a look at this thread too, and you'll see that, actually, Thorpe & Porter were not the sole distributors in the United Kingdom...

 

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45 minutes ago, Mackenzie999 said:

:popcorn:

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A guess... the existence of the 9d pricing required special handling for a small portion of the print run.  So, if Machine A is printing "regular U.S. copies" and Machine B is printing "9d priced copies", and if you want to print half of all copies on each machine, then you would print 50% on Machine A with regular pricing, print 5% to 10% on Machine B with 9d pricing, and keep Machine B running with a 10cent price (in the white box) for the remaining 40% to 45%.

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5 minutes ago, valiantman said:

A guess... the existence of the 9d pricing required special handling for a small portion of the print run.  So, if Machine A is printing "regular U.S. copies" and Machine B is printing "9d priced copies", and if you want to print half of all copies on each machine, then you would print 50% on Machine A with regular pricing, print 5% to 10% on Machine B with 9d pricing, and keep Machine B running with a 10cent price (in the white box) for the remaining 40% to 45%.

I like the way your mind works @valiantman. Interesting theory. 

If only we could find someone who worked at Sparta who could say whether this kind of thing happened. Have you got any early US Marvels around these dates? Check for Thorpe and Porters if you have (thumbsu

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1 hour ago, valiantman said:

A guess... the existence of the 9d pricing required special handling for a small portion of the print run.  So, if Machine A is printing "regular U.S. copies" and Machine B is printing "9d priced copies", and if you want to print half of all copies on each machine, then you would print 50% on Machine A with regular pricing, print 5% to 10% on Machine B with 9d pricing, and keep Machine B running with a 10cent price (in the white box) for the remaining 40% to 45%.

I would assume they would all be run on the same machine, and once they got to the pagination/bindery stage they would simply swap out the necessary alternate signatures for the 9P versions.

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6 minutes ago, Mackenzie999 said:

I would assume they would all be run on the same machine, and once they got to the pagination/bindery stage they would simply swap out the necessary alternate signatures for the 9P versions.

I don't know much about printing, but I assume that printers would like to get jobs done quicker with more machines.  Whether that means Job A on Machine A and Job B on Machine B, or Job A on Machines A & B, I couldn't say.

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Depending on the size of the job it could be spread across multiple presses. Depends on print run, scheduling, etc.

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2 minutes ago, catman76 said:

I knew I was right lol

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Great stuff Marwood!

 

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Keep in mind that covers are not printed alongside the interiors.  Or on the same machines in the same place.  But they are assembled on the same machines... newsprint pages folded trimmed then saddle stitched to the covers.

therefore, however they printed the covers, and price and indicia variations, if the interiors were identical for each variant cover, they just load up the cover intake point with all of the covers and separate them later... or pause between each cover variant .

 

Or, they COULD do it that way, ...

and as to why there were two different 10 cent fonts used, I think it relates to why there are white boxes.  The primary covers were the US 10c comics.  But in order to serve their international licensed distribs, I believe they "neutered" the covers to have NO PRICES on them, allowing each market to strip in their own price, and change the indicia if need be.  The way you do that is to "mask out" the US price on the negatives with a black box in same position on all four plates/CMYK.  Being a negative, that black box becomes a white box when printed.  And, being white, or clear when reversed, as positive film, it's an easy fix to add black type price back inside the box.  place a empty white box And there are different 10c versions because there was at least one market that also priced the comics at 10c.  

So in effect, they had to add back the same price that Atlas/marvel used here at home. Using a slightly different font (typefaces were not  nearly as ubiquitous back then. You had to order typesetting from a shop, nobody did it inhouse and choose from the font choices the shop had stocked up on.)

Even though the foreign comics also said 10c, so it feels like they could all have been printed here in the states, I think Atlas/Marvel just didn't want to be responsible for printing someone else's comics, preferring  that the licensed foreign distribs take care the trouble and expense (with no shipping costs) themselves.. in other words take the fee and be done with it.

 

im not sure this is what happened, but it makes sense from a technical basis.

Edited by Aman619

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One more thing.. to me the "proof" that the variants were not printed here in the states for the other distribs is that if they were, Marvel would have easily done away with the whole white box workaround, and just stripped (created final film) for every price variation worldwide as a knockout from the color plates as they appear in our US printings. (Knockout referring to type that appears white within the artwork itself.)

 

to do that you must have access to the actual color separations shot from the artwork plus the color seps (from Eastern Litho in most cases). Atlas and Marvel paid for that step to produce the US editions.  As cheap as this whole business was all around, the simple method was to do the white box thing and just send the other distribs a dupe set of film... same set to everyone.  Cheap and easy and out of Marvels hands.

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