Saturday, 22 June 2019

Alan Class Presents Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents



This week just gone marked the anniversary of the birth of the one & only Wally Wood.
Woody was the first comic book artist I was ever a fan of, from the instant I saw his first issue of Daredevil reprinted in Mighty World Of Marvel.
But soon after that, I also discovered his magnificent T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series. However, rather than reading the adventures of Noman, Menthor & Dynamo in the original Tower comics, we on this side of the pond experienced this stuff in the glorious ( and shockingly badly printed ) Alan Class line.
Oh, you thought Charlton printed on bad paper?
As I've reminisced before, these comics ran to no publishing schedule known to man, each issue featuring completely different characters and stories, and were culled from Silver Age Marvel, Charlton, Tower, and god knows where else. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it.
In fact, they weren't even called Alan Class comics. They weren't called anything, except maybe 'Summer Holiday Comics', as that seemed to be when they mostly appeared.
In fact, even though Class obviously paid to reprint these stories, they do sort of feel like bootlegs these days.
So, as we head into summer, here's how Woody & Dynamo, and all the rest of the gang, were introduced to us.
For the full effect, read this on the beach while your parents repeatedly ask you if you're going to be spending the holiday doing nothing but reading comics.
























23 comments:

  1. Yeah, the printing was awful, but I suspect it might not have been as bad in the original '60s printings of the Alan Class comics. As time wore on, he kept reprinting the same stories and the plates he used wore out. I think he eventually used back issues as a source, because he advertised on the vack cover for certain issues that he obviously had no file copies of. Still, I yet have a fondness for these old Class comics and bought (and still own) this issue when it was priced at 10p, not 20p.

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  2. You can't help but love' em, can you?

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    1. Oops! What's a 'vack' cover? Knew I should've typed with the light on. That should (obviously) be back cover.

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  3. Just in case anyone gets the notion that UK comics printing was second rate, let me remind you that Eagle, a British weekly that boasted sales of a half million copies per weekly instalment in the '50s & '60s, had better quality colour than ANY comics of the US in the golden, silver, & bronze age:

    http://www.dandare.org/

    I am a fan of Wood, though his figures were a trifle stiff. The original Tower Comics are my preference for these stories, and his E.C. & Mad magazine work (until 1964) are his career best (his health was probably at its best in those days, too).

    Regards,
    Chris A.

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    1. Agreed and seconded all of the above, Chris, but again, I have to say the 'summer holiday comics' of Alan Class do have a charm all their own.

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  4. Just recently discovered this blog. And also recently come to appreciate its scholarship of the Bronze. Awesome.

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  5. Welcome aboard, Joe! I post a couple of times a week, so carry on dropping in.

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    1. Or drop in carrying on, as many of us do!

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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  6. I always found Dynamo, NoMan & the THUNDER Agents stuff to be fairly dull - but like so many, scooped them up regardless for the Wally Wood & Gil Kane art.

    I got a good laugh about parents giving their kids a hard time about reading comics in holiday. My parents liked taking long car trips - sometimes up to 3-4 hours at a stretch - and I ALWAYS brought a stack of comics along to stretch out in the back seat & read. Every so often, one of them would say "Get your nose out of that book & look at some of the lovely scenery" - which, more often than not, consisted of corn, cows and the occasional barn. SO much more interesting than, let's say, the Kree-Skrull War. :)

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    1. 'Scenery? What scenery? was always my response...

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  7. Though DC and Marvel had some larger page count books with a higher price in the 1960s most of their titles went for 12 cents in the US. The Tower titles, on the other hand, all had a higher page count and a 25 cents cover price.

    That was probably a mistake from a marketing standpoint, especially with new characters. DC could do that with Superman or Batman and sell well, because there was an established audience who enjoyed those characters.

    Gene Poole

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    1. Yeah, they were doomed from the startb really, I suppose. Still they kept Alan Class in canapes & caviar ( I have no evidence to back me up, but I always like to think of him as faded gentry for some reason )

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    2. Here's an interview with Alan Class:

      http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.com/2016/03/interview-with-alan-class-updated.html?m=1

      He was a Londoner who retired to Bristol, but I doubt he's a country squire, Pete. ;)

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    3. He'll always be one to me. ;)

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  8. The references in your intro to being on holiday were spot on Pete - I don't recall ever seeing an Alan Class comic on sale outside of a seaside town.

    -sean

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    1. I'm sure Clacton-on-Sea had more than its fair share of Class comics.

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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  9. Nope, never. And I've never heard anyone say any different!

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    1. I guess that was his target distribution.

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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  10. You could get Alan Class comics where i lived in the Glasgow and Hamilton areas, not exactly seaside resorts especially in the 70s. Although Blackpool was the place to get them, I recall stacks of them on sale all over the placebo the piers, newsagents, holiday gift shops etc etc in the early to mid 1970s.

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  11. It seems Class reached inland slightly, as somebody on twitter said similar, but he certainly never reached inland as far as our town. Mind you, I don't know if I would've gone hunting for issues. They were too haphazard, as I say.

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