Tag Archives: Whitman

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?

The Saturday Comics: Hostess Ads

19 Nov

November 19, 2011

There is something inherently wrong with a Hostess Fruit Pie. It isn’t a pie, it is a small square mass-produced pastry-like substance. It contains a bright unnaturally colored filling that in no way mimics any color found in nature and, no matter what it may be made out of, bears little to no resemblance to fruit. Instinctively we should avoid it at all costs. But we don’t. Whatever primitive part of our brains still exists to warn us of danger has been overcome by the simple fact that Hostess Fruit Pies taste so damn good.

When I was in my kiddy heyday of reading comic books (anywhere from age 8 to 38, really, but lets stick with the 1970’s) Hostess produced some of the best and most fondly remembered comic book ads of all time. They were full-page ads that ran in every comic from every publisher. They were comics within the comic, a full-page adventure of a major comic book star which would invariably end with a bad guy getting caught because when it came down it, robbing the bank of millions be damned, the money was not as attractive as a single fruit pie.

From the web:

From 1975 until 1982, Hostess ran an advertisement campaign in American comic books. These advertisements featured heroes from DC Comics and Marvel Comics like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man in one-page adventures each resolved with Hostess products. For example, in the original ad, after being unable to subdue a mummy, Batman pacifies him by giving the mummy Twinkies. Other ads would have the protagonist outwitting the antagonist with the pastries, such as the Hulk preparing to strangle a trio of revolutionaries, but a little boy says that is too violent and instead recommends giving them Hostess Fruit Pies, or Batman outwitting a gourmet villain who is kidnapping chefs by paying a ransom in Hostess Cupcakes instead of money, which causes the villains to voluntarily surrender. Subsequent ads included myriad characters from various publishing houses including Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, and various members of the Archie Comics gang as well as Gold Key and Whitman comics licensed characters such as Tweety and Sylvester and The Road Runner. The Archie Comics character Josie appeared in over 25 ads, frequently as a back-cover to many issues in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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