Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

September 7, 2019

book-length collections of PD Charlton Comics

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:37 pm
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I’ve written extensively about Charlton Comics (1945-1986) over at Blog To Comm (just do a search there of BILL SHUTE, CHARLTON) in past years, and I usually save my writing about vintage comics for BTC instead of posting it here, but I wanted to alert everyone about some reissue projects over at Gwandanaland Comics.

navy war

Gwandanaland has been putting out publish-on-demand books of vintage Public Domain comics for a number of years and have now topped the 2400 mark.  In that time, they’ve brought many many Charlton comic books back into print, usually in volumes that collect, say, six or seven complete issues. The most rabid comics fans often tend to be superhero fans, though I’ve never much been into that myself, so Gwandanaland Comics (we’ll call them GC from here on out) first went after PD superhero properties from Charlton (Blue Beetle, etc.). My own interests are in Western and War comics, and Charlton was IMHO the King of both genres. Not only did Charlton have all four branches of the US Military covered with their own comics (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force), but each branch had multiple titles devoted to it (even the Air Force had two!!!), and there were also titles such as ATTACK and WAR AND ATTACK which potentially could cover all the military branches.

billy gwan

Charlton also stuck with Western comics longer than the other majors, and never succumbed to the “weird western” fad which western comics fell into in the 70’s and 80’s. Charlton was dutifully pumping out BILLY THE KID comics until March 1983 (although many of the later issues were reprints….it was always exciting to see an issue with ALL-NEW! at the top of the cover. Many Charlton western titles have been reprinted so far, with more to come. Of course, only titles from 1967 and prior could potentially be Public Domain, but that still leaves hundreds of issues.


Charlton also had some of the strongest entries in the horror/supernatural area, as well as being the Kings of the curious HOT ROD comics genre.

During my days of buying new comics (I still pick up old ones cheap) from the 60’s through the 80’s, Charlton was always my favorite publisher, by far. They were the indie upstart, the little company that could, and like a PRC or Monogram Pictures, they created a product cheaply that fit well into established genres, and if the budget was kept down (Charlton paid less than other publishers, and used their own grungy printing presses, which tended to have the coloring not matched up with the lines and produced odd Warhol-esque images that would never have passed muster elsewhere, but were one of the many “special” qualities to Charlton), and the distribution was wide enough, a profit could be made. It was said that at PRC Pictures, if you could work quickly and cheaply and would be willing to give your film an exploitative title, you’d be given a lot of freedom, as no one really cared about the small details of your project. The same could be said for Charlton. Everyone knows about how certain comics visionaries who were always bursting with ideas such as Steve Ditko and (San Antonio’s own) Pat Boyette could pretty much do what they wanted at Charlton, and turned down better-paying gigs at other publishers in return for that freedom.

If you’d like to explore what CHARLTON comics have been reissued by GC and are presently available on Amazon, here is a link to a Charlton-specific search:

Charlton comics collections at Amazon

hot rod

GC has been in overdrive recently researching in a thorough and methodical (and time-consuming) manner exactly which pre-1968 comics are PD from Charlton and Dell and a publisher whose most famous character rhymes with Starchie. For the latter publisher, they’ve been issuing multiple books A WEEK, and they’re also getting ready many more volumes of Charlton and Dell PD material. I provided them with a list of titles in the areas of interest to me—-Westerns, War, and Hot Rods—-and these too will be released in the coming months.

The work being done by GC in turning old PD comic books into handsome print-on-demand volumes is important and making comics history….most importantly, it’s making life more enjoyable. I can’t be reading THE ICEMAN COMETH or the works of Celine or Dreiser all the time–I KNOW that’s the way life is because I live it every day. At the end of a long and grinding work day, nothing satisfies like a Charlton BILLY THE KID comic book. And if we can’t defeat evil in our everyday lives, at least we can read about battles which were won and enemies that are defeated in a Charlton WAR AND ATTACK comic book. Like a solid crime or western programmer from Monogram Pictures, it delivers the goods and is created by professionals who are good quality storytellers and don’t waste your time. Like a good hamburger joint, they give you what you want the way you want it, no frills, no pretensions…just solid (and delicious) enjoyment.

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