The PopCult Bookshelf
This week in our Bookshelf looks ahead to two comic books that haven’t been published yet.
First up we have “The Charlton Arrow,” a new comic that looks to recreate the feel of the late and lamented underacheiving comic book publisher, Charlton. a self-contained entity, which handled its editorial, printing and distribution in-house with a family-owned business atmosphere (rumored to be connected to another type of “family”) was the plucky little comic that flew under the radar, with a few spectacular high points before they ended with a whimper in the mid-1980s.
A lot of great talent got their start at Charlton. One of their high points was the period in the 1960s when Dick Giordano was promoted to editor and oversaw a brief foray into superhero comics for Charlton. Jim Aparo, and Don Newton, who both went on to become top “Batman” artists for DC, both worked on “The Phantom” for Charlton, first. John Byrne, the quintessential superstar artists of the 1980s on “X Men,” “Superman,” “Alpha Flight” and others, had his first professional jobs at Charlton on “Wheelie and The Chopper Bunch” and “Space: 1999.”
Back in the day, Charlton was never really a top comic book publisher. They may have been number five or six behind Marvel, DC, Archie, Gold Key or Harvey, yet, in the 1970s they still sold more books in a month than the entire industry does in a year now. Their mainstays were horror titles like “The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves” and licensed books from Hanna Barbera, King Features Syndicate as well as the odd TV tie-in like “Space: 1999” or “Emergency.”
However, Charlton comics have a certain charm. Part of that is due to the fact that they paid lower rates than anyone else in comics. In return, they offered greater creative freedom. Steve Ditko, after walking out on Stan Lee’s ego, returned to his home at Charlton and continued working for them until the end came.
Quoting now from theCharlton Arrow website, “When Charlton closed shop, they sold off most of their properties, with many left to languish in limbo. If anything, appreciation of their comics has grown over the years, with fan publications, such as “Charlton Spotlight,” dedicated to their memory. THE CHARLTON ARROW is the fruits of those labors and we hope it properly honors the Charlton legacy!”
We will be covering “Charlton Spotlight” in a few weeks here in the PopCult Bookshelf, but we’re really excited by the homage publication, “The Charlton Arrow.” “The Charlton Arrow” #1 is a 44 page color comic featuring stories and art by well-known comic book creators (including quite a few Charlton veterans) as well as work by some great new talent, just like in the old days when Charlton published work by then-unknown folks like Mike Zeck, Joe Staton, John Byrne and Eric Larson.
“The Charlton Arrow” will be released in March 2014, but will not be available in stores. The only way to get it is via mail order. If you order before the release date, you can get the first issue collector’s item for cover price with FREE shipping. The comic is $6.99 and after March, there will be an additional $2.95 charge for shipping & handling. Visit the website for ordering details. I’ve ordered mine and expect to have a blast reading it. While you’re there, you can check out the Charlton trading cards and preview some upcoming titles from ACE Comics.
Our second entry this week is a Kickstarter project for “Denver,” a graphic novel written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by Pier Britto. “Denver” is the story of one man going against all odds to get back the woman he loves, all set in the not too distant future.
You can learn more about it by watching this…
This is an adult-oriented graphic novel with the added bonus of a soundtrack score and an end theme. There are a variety of great rewards and four days in, the project is almost 90% funded. I’m going to kick in and if you like well-done graphic novels, you might want to as well.