Sunday, August 13, 2017

Challengers of the UK

Back in the post-World War Two years, Britain still had restrictions on what it could import, and American comics were obviously not a priority. Therefore various British publishers such as Len Miller gained the rights to produce reprint editions of popular U.S. titles such as Captain Marvel, Human Torch, various crime and horror comics, etc. 

Fast forward to the late 1950s/early '60s and although distribution of American comics was starting to build up, there were still several UK editions being published. One of them being Challengers of the Unknown, that Leicester-based company Thorpe and Porter were publishing. 

As I understand it, the UK edition of Challengers of the Unknown ran for four issues in 1960. The issue I have (shown here) is No.2, consisting of 68 pages in black and white on pulp paper. The same format that Alan Class used for his long running comics. 

This issue reprinted two American DC comics:

The Wizard of Time from Challengers of the Unknown No.4 (Oct/Nov 1958).
Writer/penciller: Jack Kirby. Inker: Wally Wood

The Men Who Lost Their Memories and The Plot to Destroy Earth, both with art by Bob Brown, reprinted from Challengers of the Unknown No.9 (Aug/Sept 1959).

There's also a short story, I Was the Gulliver of Space reprinted from Tales of the Unexpected No.32 (Dec. 1958) and various one page prose stories and features from DC comics of the period.

Thorpe and Porter also had British editions of other DC comics advertised in this issue, such as The Flash and Mr.District Attorney.

The company also had the rights to reprint comics from other publishers too, so this issue also carries ads for Adventures Into The Unknown and Mad magazine. Mad of course became the most enduring of these UK editions and continued publishing until at least 1989 (after which the US edition was imported to newsagents, and still is.)


I think the UK editions of the DC comics were phased out not long after this issue was published, and replaced by imported DC comics. Thorpe and Porter handled the distribution, and you may remember their distinctive purple T&P stamp with the UK price on the covers of imported American comics of the sixties and seventies. 

These days, history has repeated itself in a way. American comics are no longer distributed to newsagents but Panini publish British editions of Marvel comics whilst Titan publish British editions of DC comics. Sadly they're not as well distributed as the UK editions of long ago but you should find them in your nearest WH Smith. 

2 comments:

James Spiring said...

According to the cover, this isn't issue 2, it's issue 3. Printing error (they were known to happen sometimes), or just a typo on your part?

Lew Stringer said...

Typo. You should apply for a job as a proofreader.

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