Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The British Superman from Australia

Back in the 1950s, when wartime import restrictions were still in place, American comics were not widely distributed in the UK. A few got through unofficially at portside cities but, for the most part, it was down to UK publishers to produce reprint editions for British kids. There were dozens of titles reprinting American material, mostly in black and white, from London publishers such as Len Miller. However, some reprint comics came from much further afield, such as the Superman family of titles that were imported to the UK from Australia.

Here's a few pages from Superman No.52, widely available in the UK in the early 1950s but actually an Australian comic. This was published in 1953 (October '53 I believe). The format was Golden Age U.S. comic size (ie: a bit wider than modern American comics) with 28 pages including full colour glossy cover, blue ink on inside and back covers, and black and white interiors on pulp paper.

The cover art is by J.Winslow Mortimer and was originally the cover to Action Comics No.179, February 1953. The lead story, Super Manor, is reprinted from that same issue, with artwork by Wayne Boring.

The 1950s and very early 1960s is my favourite era of Superman, when the strip featured a lot of humour and lighthearted plots. No grim and grittiness or universe-endangering crisis, just Superman in almost sit-com situations. Here's another page from the same story...

The same issue of this Australian Superman comic also reprinted The Search for the Bravest Woman from Superman No.83 (July/August 1953). Art by Al Plastino.

Other Australian reprints of DC Comics that made it to UK newsagents included Batman, Super Adventure Comic (reprinting World's Finest), and Superboy.

The Australian Superman comic also featured short back-up humour pages. Here's a selection. I'm presuming these may be originated Australian strips rather than U.S. reprint...



With a cover price of 6d it's likely that most British readers just assumed these Superman comics were produced in the UK, unless they read the small print: "Printed by Gale and Polden Ltd, for the K.G. Murray Publishing Co. Ltd., 56 Young Street, Sydney, Australia. Distributed by Atlas Publishing and Distributing Co. Ltd, 18 Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London E.C.4"

I've no idea how long this Austalian/British Superman comic ran for. Perhaps as long as 1959 when the U.S. editions began to be imported? If anyone knows, please post a comment.

************

Here's the original cover to that issue, from Action Comics No.179. Image from the excellent Comic Vine website:
http://www.comicvine.com/action-comics-179-supermanor/4000-119009/


12 comments:

Manic Man said...

Al Plastino isn't too bad an artist but I can't say I like those female heads.. probably cause they are trying for an expression which I think looks pretty weird.. of course, need to take the Inker into account.. who looks like Al Plastino himself.. sometimes Artists aren't the best at Inking there own work.. sometimes they are..

anyway.. for me, I think Mort Weisinger's run as Superman's editor gave the best work. often he would ask Kids what they wanted to see, and Superman was.. well, a Superman, fun, sitcom like. Byrne started to add a lot more 'realism' which just doesn't work in a superhero comic. Luckily I don't think he went TOO far down that path, but since then, things have gotten worse.. it seams it's not possible (in the mainstream at least) for a character to be a hero without having personal problems, killing etc. of course, the roots for this date to the 60s and mostly into the 70s but oh well.

John Pitt said...

Hi Lew, well the Aussie versions went up to #147 ( Oct. 59 ).
Will try & find out more....

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks John. That makes sense, as the US editions started appearing in newsagents around that time.

Manic, I personally think those faces are fine. Good studies of the female face. Plastino was a very good artist.

Roger Langridge said...

I don't know about that specific Superman title, but I do know that the Superman comics I read as a kid in New Zealand were published by Murray ("Superman Supacomic" and "Giant Superman Album" being the ones I remember particularly). They were still reprinting DC material in black-and-white as late as the 1980s. They'd do what Charlton used to do in the USA and switch a title's name and contents while continuing the numbering, or start new titles from arbitrary numbers to make them look more established, so their exact publishing history can be hard to track. I think the rise of the comic book specialty shop eventually put an end to them.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Roger. In 1969 to 1970 the UK had one called Super DC that only ran for 14 monthly issues unfortunately. It reprinted resized strips featuring Superman and Batman.

Anonymous said...

I am about to post probably the saddest comment I have ever written on the internet:

I have always wondered what those Australian DC comics looked like - and now I know!

And in other world news today: climate warming increases, global finances crash, world war III breaks out, etc, etc....

Thanks, Lew!

;-)

Manic Man said...

they are probably fine, real human expressions do sometimes look weird ^_^ He is a good artist like I said, but it reminds me of one thing often said in many contexts.. people don't want to see what's real, they want to see what they expect to see.

Manic Man said...

K.G. Murray Publishing seams to have been an intresting Company.. founded by Ken G. Murray, in 1936, it was a family business he created after working in advertisting. while they did original stuff, starting with men's magazines, he ha started to reprint American strips in the late 30s. Not long after he retired from the company, it was brought by Australian Consolidated Press and there flagship magazine stopped.

Professor Pry - The Wise Guy, was a filler strip that Lloyd Piper wrote and drew for K.G.Murray Publishing. He was Australian, died in 1983 (aged 59). Aus-reprints has it appearing in Superboy, Batman and related from age 1950s to early 1960s. Appears to have been original for the Austrlia printings and reprinted in the British versions.

Bonny is like wise, Australian but signed 'NYR' so I'm not sure what artist yet. That strip was from the Australian issues 80 in 1953. most of that issue seams to have been reprinted as Superman issue 53 in the UK, yet that Bonny strip seams to have moved forward an issue.

Stevie is a complete mystery. the way the grass has a completely different line in the final panel makes me think it's a signature.. but it's a complete mess to me.. maybe an M.. I wouldn't have thought it was a signature apart from the face that is nothing like any of the grass lines in all the other panels.

^_^

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for doing that research, Manic! Much appreciated. I suppose I should have done it myself but I don't have a lot of spare time at the moment.

Jay said...

Bonny and Stevie are DC comics reprints. The former is by Hy Rosen, so HYR. Stevie is originally a newspaper strip that was reprinted in various issues by S.B.Stevens.

Manic Man said...

No problem, you are busy, I like research ^_^

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Jay! I was thinking that Stevie looked like a resized newspaper strip.

Thanks Manic.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...