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Charlton Comics was an American comic book publishing company that existed from 1946 to 1985, having begun under a different name (T.W.O. Charles Company) in 1944. It was based in Derby, Connecticut.
A division of Charlton Publications, which published magazines (most notably song-lyric magazines), puzzle books and, briefly, books (under the Monarch and Gold Star imprints), and had its own distribution company (Capital Distribution), Charlton Comics published a wide variety of genres including crime, science fiction, Western, horror, war, and romance comics, as well as funny animal, and superhero series. The company was known for its low-budget practices, often using unpublished material acquired from defunct companies and paying comics creators among the lowest rates in the industry. Charlton Comics were also the last of the American comics to raise their price from ten cents to 12 cents in mid 1962.
It was also unique among comic book companies in that it controlled all areas of its company, from editorial to printing to distribution, rather than partnering with any outside entities as most other publishers did, and that it did so all under one roof, at its headquarters in Derby.
The company was formed by John Santangelo, Sr. and Ed Levy in 1940 as T.W.O. Charles Company, named after the two publishers’ sons, both named Charles, and became Charlton Publications in 1945. The name Charlton Comics first appeared on Marvels of Science #1 (March 1946).Early years
Charlton Publications' first comic books were published under other imprints.
Its first title was Yellowjacket, an anthology of superhero and horror stories
published beginning September 1944 under the imprint Frank Comunale Publications,
with Ed Levy listed as publisher. Next was Zoo Funnies, under the imprint Children
Comics Publishing; Jack in the Box, under Frank Comunale; and TNT Comics, under
Charles Publishing Co.. Another imprint, Frank Publications, was also used.
Strange Suspense Stories #75 (June 1965), reprinting the Captain Atom stories from Space Adventures #33, 34 & 36 (1960). Art by Steve Ditko.
Following the adoption of the Charlton Comics name in 1946, the company over the next five years acquired material from freelance editor and comics packager Al Fago (brother of former Timely Comics editor Vincent Fago), Charlton additionally published Merry Comics, Cowboy Western, the Western title Tim McCoy, and Pictorial Love Stories. In 1951, Al Fago was brought in as in-house editor, and Charlton hired a staff of artists including its future managing editor, Dick Giordano. Others, either on staff or freelance, would eventually include Vince Alascia, Jon D'Agostino, Sam Glanzman, Rocco "Rocke" Mastroserio, Bill Molno, Charles Nicholas, and Sal Trapani. The primary writer was the remarkably prolific Joe Gill.
The company began a wide expansion of its comics line, which would include notoriously gory horror comics - the principal title of which being Steve Ditko's The Thing - and from 1954-55 acquired a stable of comic-book properties from the defunct Superior Comics, Mainline Publications, St. John Publications, and most significantly, Fawcett Publications, which was shutting down its Fawcett Comics division. (The superhero Captain Marvel, at the time the subject of a legal battle between Fawcett and DC Comics, was not part of that deal.)
Charlton continued publishing two of Fawcett's horror books — This Magazine Is Haunted and Strange Suspense Stories — under their original numbering, initially using unpublished material from Fawcett's inventory. Artistic chores were then handed to Ditko, whose moody, individualistic touch came to dominate Charlton's supernatural line. Beset by the circulation slump that swept the industry towards the end of the 1950s, Haunted struggled for another two years, published bi-monthly until May 1958. Strange Suspense Stories ran longer, lasting well into the 1960s before giving up the ghost in 1965. It was briefly revived as vol. 2, #1-9 (Oct. 1967 - Sept. 1969).
Al Fago left in the mid-1950s, and was succeeded by his assistant, Pat Masulli, who remained in the position for 10 years. Superheroes were a minor part of the company. At the beginning, Charlton's main characters were Yellowjacket, not to be confused with the later Marvel character, and Diana the Huntress. In the mid-1950s, Charlton briefly published a Blue Beetle title with new and reprinted stories, and in 1956, several short-lived titles written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, such as Mr. Muscles and Nature Boy (the latter with artist Mastroserio), and the Joe Gill-created Zaza the Mystic.
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