COVER STORIES for 01/21/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #89
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 89th installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme (unless I'm doing an installment of one of the sub-series of Cover Stories, 1-10 or this week's installment)!
This time around, it's time once again for...
And once again we return to another quartet of issues of the other-reality Charlton title, "Drive-In Movie Classics!"
As I said in the last installment of "Comics They Never Made," issue 21 is the rarest of the entire run of this book!
Why is that, you may ask? Well, therein lies a tale, one provided to me by Jerry Allen!
"Issues 18 and 19 were based on the first two Hercules movies, which Dell Comics had already done adaptations from. Dad (Joey Allen, writer) and Fred (Michaels, artist) had bought the Dell versions of those when they came out, and decided their version had to be even better than what Dell did... and then the next issue, 20, was based on a Hercules movie Dell never adapted.
"These three issues were lead-ins to issue 21, which was based on the current Hercules movie, Hercules Against the Moon Men! But according to dad, as that issue was on the presses, lawyers from Dell called Charlton and had them stop the presses! Apparently, Dell's contract with Warners on the Hercules adaptations stated that Dell had exclusive rights to adapting Hercules movies in current release!" He had no idea why Dell didn't then produce an adaptation themselves, but Joey apparently felt that Dell's editors got a bit hacked off by what Charlton did with the first two movie adaptations!
So what happened next? Jerry told me: "They didn't want what had been run on the presses already to go entirely to waste, so they basically just printed enough of the rest of the pages to make complete copies of the issue, stapled and trimmed them, and gave them away to employees."
This didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, given that it would've cost more money to set up the presses for the remaining signatures, but I would guess that the last signature must've been on the press when the call came in, and it was partially printed. Anyway, the story is that only 100 copies or so of this book were completely published, bound and trimmed, and most of those were given by employees to their children.
Quite a story... if, indeed it's true! But that's how Jerry told it to me!
So with issue 22, it was back to adapting an older, simply awful, movie, Target Earth. Here's the trailer for it, so you have an idea of what it was like:
I'm pretty sure that Joey and Fred embellished the movie a bit in their adaptation, if nothing else in order to make it at least visually match the cover of the book!
Now, here's a true classic of the giant monster genre... issue 23's adaptation of Them! And, so far as I can tell, in the first two years of this title, this issue was the first which could possibly have served the original purpose of "Drive-In Movie Classics" - which was to see if any issue sold well enough that it could be developed into a regular series, such as Charlton had previously done with Gorgo and Konga!
Like in the movie, the comic book adaptation basically doesn't completely guarantee that the giant ants had been destroyed... so there could easily have been a spin-off title continuing the battle!
Ah, but how did it sell? Quite well, apparently, because it was followed up with a "sequel" some time later (don't worry, I'll get around to showing you the cover for it and tell you what the story was like).
And here's issue 24, and the last one for this week's column... "Conquest of Space!" Never heard of this movie? Well, to be honest, neither have I... and the only video I could find of it on the net was part of a compilation of movie trailers that only included the title of each movie!
So, doing a bit of digging, I find that this 1955 movie was based on Werner von Braun's actual spaceship designs that appeared in a 1954 issue of Collier's, and that the acting in this movie was particularly wooden! I can only imagine that Joey and Fred tried to jazz things up when they adapted it.
So that's the four issues of this title for this edition of "Comics They Never Made," so let's shut down the Kurtzberg Alternate Reality device, and get ready to look at comics you can actually find at a local convention... next time around!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," in which I'll present some covers that revisit a previous topic, and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !