The PopCult Bookshelf
A couple of months back I told you about Pix-C, the new subscription webcomics produced by the folks behind Charlton Neo. And if you remember, I spent a big chunk of last year praising the Charlton Neo movement. In case you haven’t been keeping up, Charlton Neo is a revival of sorts of Charlton Comics, the lower-tier comic book company that published out of Derby Connecticut from the 1940s into the 1980s.
Charlton had some brief moments of glory during the superhero boom of the 1960s and the Science Fiction boom of the 1970s, but they were most notable for producing comic books in genres other than those that were most popular. When DC and Marvel were fighting it out in the Superhero world, Charlton was giving us Westerns, Romance, Mysteries, War, Humor and Hot Rod comics. When they went under in the mid 1980s they were the only mainstream publisher regular producing books of those types.
Charlton was also notable for not paying their creators as well as other publishers. Because of this, they weren’t terribly demanding and allowed their artists and writers way more creative freedom than they would have had at DC, Marvel or Gold Key. Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-man, famously left Marvel due to Stan Lee hogging all the credit and tinkering with his work. Ditko worked for Charlton pretty much until they went out of business, doing his own thing and enjoying being left alone.
Charlton was also a breeding ground for new talent. Among the comic book professionals who were first published at Charlton were Denny O’Neil, John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Don Newton, Pat Boyette, Paul Kupperberg, Jim Aparo and Roger Stern, among many others.
Last year, due largely to a Facebook group created by Fester Faceplant, several Charlton vets and new creators came together to create a multi-genre anthology title in the spirit of Charlton Comics. The Charlton Arrow was a major hit and has spawned an entire movement of like-minded titles that present new work as well as reprints of material like the terrific Hot Rod Classics collections. Thanks to Faceplant and Mort Todd, along with veteran creators Paul Kupperberg and Roger McKenzie, Charlton seems poised for the unlikeliest resurrection in comic book history.
The Charlton Arrow is chugging along with a fourth issue in production and last month saw the publication of Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances. Any day now Charlton Wild Frontier, a new Western anthology, will make its debut.
To help fund this, Mort Todd and the other Charlton Neo co-conspirators have turned to Patreon, a periodically-billed crowd-funding site for support. I wrote about this campaign a few weeks ago, and now that I’ve seen the first “reward” I can report that it’s well worth it. For a mere one dollar each month you get access to Pix-C, which includes nine webcomics, which are updated every Sunday morning. This is really good stuff. Some of it’s brand new, some of it comes from Todd’s vast untapped archives. The nine strips are:
The life stories of famous personalities from film, politics, music and sports by Mort Todd and John Severin. These are great capsule bios with art from the late legend, John Severin. So far they’ve done John Lennon, Bob Marley and others and these are great fun.
With a whacky family like his, is it any wonder he’s a mad scientist? By Bradley Mason Hamlin and Mort Todd.This is a fun Mad Scientist gag strip that will appeal to fans of The Munsters and The Addams Family.
An interactive soap opera about the experiences of a young model in New York City. By Mort Todd, Cliff Mott and Pat Redding. This strip is aimed squarely at the female comics fans and the interactive element is a cool innovation.
In order to save her life, Maxi Moilin must be reduced to microscopic size… but will that make her face even greater dangers? By Rene King Thompson and Sandy Carruthers. This strip is loads of fun, crossing elements of Fantastic Voyage with medical procedural drama and superhero-style adventure.
He was created in the future to be a Non-sequentially Evolving Organism, the ultimate defensive weapon…and the key to eternity! Written by Paul Kupperberg, art by P.D. Angel Gabriele. This cool sci-fi strip is intriguing adventure with a bit of time travel in the mix.
The Diabolikal Super-Kriminal and his partner in crime, Dana, evade the police as they commit their outrageous exploits! I’m going to be writing more about Sadistik in a couple of weeks. It’s too hard to describe it here.
The Golden Age hero returns! Part of The Skyman 75th Anniversary Celebration courtesy of ACE Comics! By Mort Todd and Steve Ditko. They had me at Ditko, inked by “Doofus” creator, Rick Altergott.
Is he arcane evil or a righter of serious wrongs? Horrific tales of weird justice written by Roger McKenzie and art by Sandy Carruthers. The highlight of The Charlton Arrow as McKenzie and Carruthers continue the creation of Pat Boyette, now serialized weekly.
A cavalcade of comics presented as done-in-one shorts, across a multitude of classic genres. Stories and art by Javier Hernandez. These wild, one-page stories are loads of fun and a perfect format for webcomics.
You get all nine strips, in weekly doses, just for kicking in a dollar a month. At higher levels you get all kinds of other goodies like posters and physical copies of the comics. Check out the Patreon site if you’re interested.