Tuesday, July 24, 2012


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1692:

Here’s a strange one from 2000: Star Combat Tales #1 [ACG Comics;
$5.95]. Published in Canada by Avalon Communications, the 68-page,
black-and-white comic was one of over 140 titles reprinting stories
from Charlton and ACG.  Most of those didn’t see a second issue.
Avalon ceased publishing in 2003 and hasn’t been heard from since.

The cover shot of Lee Marvin is lifted from James Bama’s original
poster for The Dirty Dozen.  Inside the issue, the cover-advertised
Lee Marvin index is little more than a list of his films that was
likely cut-and-pasted from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

The stories are all Charlton reprints and they show the surprising
variety to be found in that company’s war comics of the late 1960s
and early 1970s.  Some spoilers ahead.

“The Fifty Mission Stare” (art by Demetrio Sánchez Gómez) focuses
on a World War II fighter pilot’s fear of being killed before he’s
completed the fifty missions that will get him a ticket back home.
It concludes with him being shot down, captured by the Germans, and
relieved that he’ll spend the rest of the war in a POW camp.  It’s
as weird an ending for a war story as I can recall.  Gómez also
drew “Who’s a Hero?”, a typical story about brave soldiers doing
their jobs without fanfare.

“Four Volunteers” (art probably by Rocco Mastroserio) is a gung-ho
adventure of four GIs taking on vast numbers of enemy soldiers to
capture a German officer.  “Channel Tag” is a more grim tale with
Allied patrol boats trying to travel between Britain and France,
their missions complicated by a traitor in the French Resistance.

The highlight of the issue are two stories by writer Will Franz and
artist Sam Glanzman.  Don’t look for gung-ho action in these tales
of The Iron Corporal or The Lonely War of Captain Willy Schultz.”
The former is an Australian soldier fighting in the Pacific while
the latter is a serial about an American officer unjustly accused
of a murder and, in this episode, working with Italian resistence
fighters behind enemy lines.  These are brilliant sequences, but
neither one will bring you to a happy place.

You might be able to find ACG comics from this era in bargain bins
at conventions and comic shops.  They’re worth the effort.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. I recall picking up a few of the ACG reprint books back then. Most were of various western stories from Charlton. Even in B&W it was interesting to see something other than the Bill Black reprints, although I was and remain a fan of those as well.

    Any idea where the license for the Charlton material has gone now?

  2. There is a school of thought that says Charlton material before around 1967 is public domain because it was never properly copyrighted. I'm clearly not a copyright lawyer, so I can't affirm or deny that.

    What Avalon owns or seems to own is a great deal of material after 1967, though it has also published material predating that year.

    I know John Lustig bought the rights to all the material in First Kiss and uses it as material for his hilarious Last Kiss comics.

    I recently saw an ad for a trade paperback that reprints the entire Reptilicus/Reptisaurus run under a different name.

    The Charlton copyrights situation strikes me as very complicated. Too much for my poor brain to sort through.