Archive | 12:01 am

The Saturday Comics: Gold Key Comics

3 Nov

November 3, 2012

When I was growing up it was all Marvel or DC, mostly DC. The first comic I remember owning was All-Star Comics (vol 2) # 69 and I still own it. DC and Marvel dominated the spinner racks at the local candy and grocery stores. Space was at a premium; after all there were only 4 sides, and DC and Marvel put out a lot of titles. The idea of a whole store devoted to comics was decades in the future and the direct market was not a gleam in anyone’s eye. But even so, I was aware of other comic companies. First and foremost there was Whitman. I am not aware of any details, but Whitman comics were often simply rebranded DC comic books, with the Whitman W inside the DC bullet. It might simply have been a way to get some rack space. Their other titles were, it seemed to me, cartoon titles, like Bugs Bunny. Beyond that, every once in a while, there would be some other company on the racks. Probably a mistake. Don’t know how it got there.

Those comics were from Gold Key.

Though I later found out that Whitman, Gold Key, and Dell were all somehow related publishing/distribution companies, it was Gold Key that stood out. More than anything DC or Marvel was putting out, their covers were eye-catching. They were usually gloriously (or gruesomely, depending on the title) painted action scenes. If the title was a licensed TV or movie property (like Dark Shadows or Lost in Space) they would often feature photo covers.

The stories inside were not the most imaginative. The artistic layouts were, to be generous, bland, usually six panels per page, two across, three down. The actual artwork was workmanlike and serviceable, nothing that stands out. But unlike the big companies they fought for rack space, there was an energy and imagination to them that to this day makes the two dozen or so Gold titles in my collection my favorites. I have comics based on TV properties like The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Dark Shadows. I have a few comics narrated by none-other than Boris Karloff. Check out the Gold Key covers below and see if you agree, that you may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you love the cover nonetheless.

I own this one. I only wish I had it in the giant treasury size.

You might notice from the covers coming up that Gold Key seemed to have a thing for dinosaurs. And rightly so. What title doesn’t work better with dinosaurs? Even Boris Karloff got on the bandwagon.

Seriously, which of those comics would you not buy?

%d bloggers like this: