A Brief Review of The First Official UK Distribution of US Published Comics in 1959/1960
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Archie takes the silver!

Archie is up next and they are the current Silver Medal holders courtesy of this June 1959 cover dated book – Cosmo the Merry Martian #4:

1825593362_A1959.06Cosmo4TPStamp.thumb.jpg.fbe1e9a76913a01743a8bd38947ad1ca.jpg

4270248_A21959.06Cosmo4TPStamp.thumb.jpg.98af5be056b1e002e3fa3500bbd35c7d.jpg

 

Thorpe and Porter are again the distributors here and we have a nice 9d price stamp, perfectly placed to obscure the US printed cover price:

1105988884_A31959.06Cosmo4TPStamp.jpg.85ade45018fd2b83dfe8f7b196cc5f75.jpg

 

One of the problems I have encountered documenting Archie titles is where the issue doesn’t have a singular month cover date or indicia. If we look at ‘Archie’s Pal ‘n’ Gals’ #8 we see such a book, typical of Archies of this period. There is no date on the cover and the indicia simply say ‘Spring 1959’:

275746131_B1959.06(Spring)ArchiesPals8TPStamp.thumb.jpg.85fc7eddb464552d5c21eeafd68206e5.jpg 1315359221_C1959.07(Summer)LittleArchie11TPStampINDICIA.thumb.jpg.21c6b183ccb7fea319b4738674338d4b.jpg

 

So where do we record it on the table?

If we look again at Mike’s Comic Newsstand, we can see that the book was on sale in the US from March the 30th 1959:

980125042_D1959.06(Spring)ArchiesPals8TPStampJUNERATIONALE.thumb.PNG.bfb3b27c7c0affd6cdd8d7bc0fe4925c.PNG

 

In the main, it seems that books hit the newsstands in the US around three months prior to their printed cover dates. If we apply that concept to this Spring book, being on sale in March, we come up with June 1959 as a possible placement. But Mike’s Comic Newsstand places the book alongside April 1959 cover dated books which doesn’t seem right to me. The lack of a single cover month makes it really difficult therefore to place a book in sequential appearance order as we can’t say for sure when it surfaced – in this case, before, after or alongside our June 1959 dated Cosmo #4.

Mike’s Comic Newsstand has the following data for Cosmo incidentally:

812262515_E1959.06Cosmo4TPStampMCN.thumb.PNG.f174e4e650f01398c7506e8dfa7891bb.PNG

 

It shows a March on sale date versus a June cover date which is consistent with the theory that books hit the US newsstands three months prior to their printed cover dates. I don’t see therefore how Mike’s can place Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals #8 alongside April cover dated books if was on sale in March – June would be more appropriate wouldn’t it?

For now, I will place Cosmo #4 as the first UK distributed Archie and place Archie’s Pal #8 alongside it as a likely June period book. I’d be interested to see if anyone has a contrary view on this. These ‘on paper’ dates are all very well but they would be trumped of course if there was contradictory evidence that one book appeared for sale in the UK before or after the other, regardless of the data analysis above. But no such evidence seems to exists and, even if someone were to come forward, any first hand recollections from around the time would likely be subject to some doubt given the time elapsed.

So, for now, Archie is the second earliest known publisher of US books that can be determined to have been officially distributed in the UK, courtesy of their June 1959 Cosmo at least. Even if Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals #8 was proven to have preceded it, it couldn’t, being a ‘Spring’ publication, predate the earliest February 1959 cover dated Charlton book anyway.

To date I have examples of Thorpe & Porter stamped Archies covering June, July, August, September, and November 1959, and a good number during the early 1960s. Similar to the Charlton position, L Miller stamps start to appear on some Archie cents priced books from December 1961 all the way through to September 1963. And, of course, we have our 9d printed UK Price Variants between March and August 1960. The jury is out on who acted as distributor of those – Thorpe & Porter or L Miller – as either could theoretically be responsible, but T&P are the most likely candidate as only their stamps appear during the UKPV window.

So, Charlton take the Gold, Archie the Silver.

DC are up next in third and take the Bronze, despite being the indicative front runners by default on the UK CBPG website.

 

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DC take the bronze!

As noted earlier, DC are the first publisher for whom someone else has had a go at documenting the first distribution scenario – step forward the UK CBPG. Here’s a reminder of what they posted on their website:

1470521971_AUKCBPG-DC.thumb.PNG.ef38aba39cace7b69d20b01a744b20e7.PNG

 

So, we have some research at last to compare our own findings to. The UK CBPG provides a list of 43 books dated October 1959 through to January 1960. Their first known cover date is October 1959. Straight away we hit a snag, not dissimilar to the Archie ‘lack of single cover month’ scenario of our previous post. This time, we find books with dual indicia months but which have single cover months.

If we look at Pat Boone #1, the cover date is October 1959 but the indicia date is September/October 1959:

 1169915692_B21959_09.10PatBoone1Indicia.jpg.6d997ae6286bccac9182f4a83015f289.jpg 1322580016_B1959_09.10PatBoone1Indicia.thumb.jpg.3641b35b0a7c3d1a2a45fc16a5debebe.jpg

 

So we have to decide which month to use to place the book – the September of the indicia or the October of the cover. The UK CBPG make no mention of Pat Boone #1, but they do have #2 listed (Nov/Dec) in their list of 43 first wave books. Pat Boone #1 does exist however with a Thorpe & Porter stamp – here are two examples, courtesy of eBay:

1049191583_C1959_09.10PatBoone1TPStamp.jpg.7e832aaa3837ede1dcb83eb2b678162c.jpg 967613395_D1959_09.10PatBoone1TPStampCopyB.jpg.7ba4374f5cef4dafc8eaf9f69ab97f05.jpg

 

In my Dell UK Price Variant work I encounter the same situation and, for the purpose of recording information, make the following decision:

“For ease of presentation, where issues are cover / indicia dated with multiple months (e.g. May-July) the first month is recorded as the cover date”

I resolve to do the same here, and treat any book with a double cover and / or indicia month as dated the first of the two printed months – even where the cover shows only the later month.

That makes our Pat Boone #1 a September 1959 book and, therefore, the earliest known DC example of an officially UK distributed, Thorpe & Porter stamped book.

The UK CBPG states that Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is the ‘rarest’ of all the early DC distributed books. That’s handy, as I have a copy:

953213736_E1959.1960RudolphTPStamp.thumb.jpg.f3c4d5de86199b6d51894900a335f443.jpg

 

It is cover and indicia dated ‘1959/1960’:

1955808541_E31959.1960RudolphTPStamp.thumb.jpg.c4ac4de73d24cdd2e5f5cb918bcebdb8.jpg

 

Mikes Comic Newsstand has an ‘on sale’ date of September 29th, placing the book alongside their November 1959 cover dated books, which seems about right:

603595039_E41959.1960RudolphMCN.thumb.PNG.6a779935657d4c9dc686a78d48a1782d.PNG

 

It doesn’t therefore trouble Pat (Boone, not Postman) for the Silver medal, but it is still a cool early book in its own right.

To date, I have found DC books with Thorpe & Porter cover stamps for the cover months of September 1959 (Pat Boone), October, November, December and all the early months of 1960.

The UK CBPG makes the following interesting additional comment:

“It is thought that there are 'market testers' or 'make-weight' pence stamped copies of Action Comics #257, Detective Comics #272 and Strange Adventures #109.”

I’ve looked for evidence of these books for many years and have never found anything to support the claim. They are all October 1959 cover dated books anyway so even if one were found with a tell tale distribution cover stamp it wouldn’t beat our Pat Boone book and would only match confirmed books like Batman #127 for a share of second place. But it’s an interesting suggestion by Duncan McAlpine there and I for one would not discount the word of a man of his obvious experience. Perhaps they did come over, but were never sold or stamped? If so, there would be no way of validating the claim alas. I do like the idea of it though.

Thorpe and Porter stamps continue to appear on DC comics in the UK more or less up to the demise of the company in 1979 (no sign of L Miller this time, even in the early days prior to DC purchasing the company in 1965). In future posts I’ll dabble some more with them as there are some cool scenarios to report on. Here is just one, for the December 1959 / January 1960 dated ‘A Date with Judy #74’. Two copies below, both with 9d UK price stamps:

1975879058_F1959_12.01ADateWithJudy74AMCoStamp.thumb.jpg.4f16cc7bf30aeec52ad6f302f090dd20.jpg 1431665455_G1959_12.01ADateWithJudy74TPStamp.thumb.jpg.310d4871f116c6521b5701b53c466306.jpg

 

But zoom closely, and you’ll note one of them isn’t from Thorpe & Porter…

510745178_G21959_12.01ADateWithJudy74TPStamp.jpg.6e7b1d6ff699098fbca34ed0fc5a120e.jpg 1194593025_F21959_12.01ADateWithJudy74AMCoStamp.jpg.1ef0fa4c80c8ab47e699a2c6b3a453c8.jpg

 

Who could ‘A.M. Co’ be I wonder? And is it coincidence that they placed their stamp in the exact same spot as the T&P stamper?

All good fun :cloud9:

So, Charlton take the Gold, Archie the Silver and DC the bronze.

 

The medalless ACG are up next!

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A brief interlude, before we dive into ACG and then Marvel.

You'll hopefully note that I purposely titled the thread 'A Review of the First Official Distribution...' and noted in the early posts that I have concentrated on what can be proven to have been distributed by way of an 'official' distributor cover stamp being present. And, for now, Charlton will hold the crown for earliest known cover dated US comic with such a stamp - our 'War at Sea' #29 dated February 1959 - until someone comes along and beats it. But it is common enough knowledge that US comics found their way to the UK unofficially prior to the above date. The difficulty with any research into that is the inability to prove anything retrospectively without any physical evidence that is, say, comparable to the cover stamps that Thorpe & Porter and L Miller began using from 1959/1960.

The above said, there are scenarios here and there that can lead to some reasonable conclusions. One thing I am used to as I scroll the internet looking for price variants and such is the 'same book' phenomenon, i.e. the scenario where the same issue turns up all the flipping time, often in total isolation of its surrounding issues. One such book is 'Li'l Genius' #17, cover dated April 1958. Every time I search that title looking for new pence copies I see multiples of that book. There are no UK Price Variant printed pence copies of course and, over time, its appearance in every search starts to grate, so many of them there seem to be over here.

At any given time, you could expect around ten results from the eBay.co.uk search "Li'l Genius" and, typically, over half of them will be for issue #17. Here are three copies from three different sellers all taken from eBay UK:

1006351446_LiLGenius38Sticker.thumb.jpg.715a3d4ff5bfeae0260c38afec22c663.jpg22693354_LiLGenius38Sticker2.thumb.jpg.d1b9fdb5e09aefb98d13e372ab88e24c.jpg614750410_LiLGenius38Sticker3.thumb.jpg.8c29f237ed5e0ce1bb7b3f7b82cfdbea.jpg

Look closer, and you'll see the copies above all have this same small one shilling sticker on them:

1694256545_LiLGenius38Sticker.jpg.dd7a4864f5617f4b2c543a75172e05b7.jpg 487549397_LiLGenius38Sticker2.jpg.a197acd1732d5d2c1df5488dffaee6d8.jpg 1951926455_LiLGenius38Sticker3.jpg.f4b90aef3f9077a25d629a97d83ca908.jpg

Could this be taken as evidence that this book was imported to the UK around the date of its cover? Later copies with T&P stamps would tend to be one shilling and sixpence (1/6) for an issue that size - could the lower price be indicative of an earlier import date? Or perhaps a load of excess copies came over much later and one UK dealer decided to sell them? It wouldn't be the first time that one regional sellers' books turned up all over.

But there is no way of knowing now is there. So all we can do is speculate and guess. 

Meanwhile, back to the 'provable' first arrivals. Some cool stuff from ACG to follow...

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22 minutes ago, yrag9591 said:

Thanks for a fascinating thread. I'm an old-time UK collector and I like to think I'm fairly knowledgeable, but there's plenty here that's news to me!

Cheers Gary - it's nice to get a comment from a reader finally. Although I started half the research many years ago the thread is still a work in progress so by all means chip in if you find anything amiss. There's lots more to come when I get around to typing it up :)

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A couple of thoughts:

1) In your first post, you mention someone who is doing research into non-distributed (ND) issues. I assume he has the British price guides published by Alan Austin and Duncan McAlpine. There's lots of information about ND issues in those. I provided much of the information in the Austin guides, so it should be good (I hope).

2) I mentioned this thread to a friend of mine who I knew would be interested, and he said he suspected that the very early distributed issues (such as that War At Sea) were not distributed in early 1959, but in early 1960 along with the first distributed DCs. We've no evidence for that, though.

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53 minutes ago, yrag9591 said:

A couple of thoughts:

1) In your first post, you mention someone who is doing research into non-distributed (ND) issues. I assume he has the British price guides published by Alan Austin and Duncan McAlpine. There's lots of information about ND issues in those. I provided much of the information in the Austin guides, so it should be good (I hope).

Yes, he's aware of Duncan's work / guides. Tell me more about the one by Alan Austin please Gary - and your work in support of it

53 minutes ago, yrag9591 said:

2) I mentioned this thread to a friend of mine who I knew would be interested, and he said he suspected that the very early distributed issues (such as that War At Sea) were not distributed in early 1959, but in early 1960 along with the first distributed DCs. We've no evidence for that, though.

Yes, I speculate as such in the relevant posts. It is indeed possible that the Charltons may have come over in bulk, and out of a natural production / shipping cycle. I'd love to see some evidence either way and maybe someone in the know will see this thread at some point and chip in. There are many inconsistencies really. I find it odd that there are no Marvels with T&P stamps in late 1959 / early 1960 - only the printed price variants from May. Duncan's site noted the DCs came over in waves across late 59 cover dates. Why would they have beaten Marvel by 6 months? Why were no Marvels dated 1959 brought over too, before the formal arrangement of UKPVs commenced? Given their current market dominance, it's a little ironic that Marvel appear to have been beaten by DC, Archie, ACG and Charlton doesn't it.

All good fun.

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1 hour ago, yrag9591 said:

2) I mentioned this thread to a friend of mine who I knew would be interested, and he said he suspected that the very early distributed issues (such as that War At Sea) were not distributed in early 1959, but in early 1960 along with the first distributed DCs. We've no evidence for that, though.

Interesting article here from the UK CBPG site by one Bob Mandry (who I have been unable to locate):

 

REFLECTIONS OF A 60’S UK DC COMIC COLLECTOR

by Bob Mandry

In January 1960 a new box was to be found at the leading newsagents in the centre of  my home town, Southend. No big hype, no flashy display stand but an assortment of DC comics packed in two dozen (24) bundles with a selection of the leading DC titles of the time. Each comic had a black circular 9d stamp on its cover to enable comic readers know how much they had to pay for the 10cent cover price books. This was part of the first batch of US comics to be unleashed on an unsuspecting British public............The very early batches that came across were, almost certainly, returns from the States stores. The cover dates of the first two batches were October 1959, 3 months behind the chronological date and were a very random collection of titles, no one two dozen batch being like the next one. Consequently some titles were very rare in the UK, Showcase 22 being a classic example; in fact it was almost non-existent, obviously due to the high take-up in the US stores.

 

That could support a theory that books arrived out of a natural production / shipping sequence. Maybe a whole load of US returns covering multiple cover dates were just shipped over in bulk to the UK, stamped up and then put on sale in early 1960? Maybe our Charltons, ACGs and Archies were with them.......

 

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2 hours ago, Get Marwood & I said:

@rakehell @Redshade @Kevin.J @themagicrobot @Mr Thorpe

Guys, anything to add here? The Gold, Silver, Bronze lark is just to get the thing going and an excuse to post pretty pictures.

Great thread as usual to get the UK nerd juices flowing.

When I pulled Charltons for scans in your other thread I only picked the Pence copies, I ignored any stamps, so I may revisit when time allows, my earliest War at Sea is 29 according to my lists, so that stands up.

Poor health is against me but will have a mooch about in my rooms as best I can and see what I can come up with soon.

I also know Bob Mandry if you want to get in touch with him, I could probs dig out his email address if required, he is an old time collector and very knowledgeable in general.

Its been a few years since I spoke or done any business with him though, I dont want to post his email or Ebay name here though as he is not a boardie, but you can PM me if you want his details :) 

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3 minutes ago, Kevin.J said:

Great thread as usual to get the UK nerd juices flowing.

Cheers Kevin. It's something to do isn't it.

3 minutes ago, Kevin.J said:

When I pulled Charltons for scans in your other thread I only picked the Pence copies, I ignored any stamps, so I may revisit when time allows, my earliest War at Sea is 29 according to my lists, so that stands up.

Poor health is against me but will have a mooch about in my rooms as best I can and see what I can come up with soon.

As and when mate, as and when. If anyone has any old books to beat the above dates it'll be you. I'll be interested to see if your WAS#29 has a stamp and / or arrival date.

3 minutes ago, Kevin.J said:

I also know Bob Mandry if you want to get in touch with him, I could probs dig out his email address if required, he is an old time collector and very knowledgeable in general.

Its been a few years since I spoke or done any business with him though, I dont want to post his email or Ebay name here though as he is not a boardie, but you can PM me if you want his details :) 

Yes please, send me a pm when you get a chance Kevin. I'll see if I can get him to read this old tosh and cast a view :grin:

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Thanks 'Get Marwood & I'. A fascinating thread! So fascinating I registered and this is my first post. Many thanks to Gary for pointing me to these forums.

The 'A.M.Co' stamp looks remarkably similar to the 'L.M' stamp. Could this be Arnold Miller, who was Len Miller's son and was heavily involved in his father's company? I admit I have never seen that stamp before, or at least not noticed it.

Re Thorpe and Porter and their first distributed comics in the UK. In the 1950's T&P did a series of black and white reprints, as I'm sure you are aware, of many DC titles. It makes sense that once they were able to source the real McCoy American editions, they would ditch their (inferior) b&w reprints. I offer you exhibit A. It looks as if T&P were publishing their version of Blackhawk up to when distribution started. I believe these are the final 2 issues of the T&P versions. Note the cover dates of the comics they were reprinting.

It sounds like Bob Mandry was there! It would be great to know what else he remembers being in those boxes particularly Charltons and ACG's.

 

 

 

 

 

36 (140) 499311.jpg

140 (Sept 1959).jpg

37 (141) 851004.jpg

141 (Oct 1959).jpg

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4 hours ago, Get Marwood & I said:

@rakehell @Redshade @Kevin.J @themagicrobot @Mr Thorpe

Guys, anything to add here? The Gold, Silver, Bronze lark is just to get the thing going and an excuse to post pretty pictures.

As always Steve your research and presentation surpasses none. I was too busy reading comics as a youngster (of course) and ne wiht else mattered.:bigsmile:

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3 minutes ago, Redshade said:

As always Steve your research and presentation surpasses none. I was too busy reading comics as a youngster (of course) and ne wiht else mattered.:bigsmile:

I think that I mean that your research and presentation are unsurpassed and not the opposite as I implied in my too quick reply above. Should've proofread it. Muphry's law eh?

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1 minute ago, Redshade said:

I think that I mean that your research and presentation are unsurpassed and not the opposite as I implied in my too quick reply above. Should've proofread it. Muphry's law eh?

I know :bigsmile:

Who's Muphry? Not Murphy's mate is he?

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