Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dell TV Comics

Comic books have been around since the mid-1800s, originating from pulp magazines, but it wasn't until 1938 with the publication of Action Comics No. 1 feature "Superman" that comic books - as we know them today - took off in popularity.

All these years later, they are still popular amongst kiddies and the young at heart, not only for their colorful stories and great drawings, but because - in my own humble opinion - some of them featured covers that were simply irresistible. This is certainly true when it comes to the television and movie-themed comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. One of the big daddies of the TV comic book publishing world, Dell, released some of the most eye-catching covers. 

Dell Publishing originally began as a pulp magazine publisher in the 1920s and so when comic books started hitting the market, it was easy to them to transform their business into a picture-publisher. In the 1950s, when public criticism was attacking comic books for their unwholesome stories, Dell began printing a Pledge to Parents inside their books announcing that their editorial process "eliminates, rather than regulates, objectionable material". During this time most children were already glued to their television sets watching western series with wholesome heroes such as The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, and so Dell Comics decided to put these same heroes into comic book form and began licensing television adaptations. With the success of these books, Dell expanded on the number of television titles that they licensed. 

Eventually, in the early 1960s, Western Publishing, with whom Dell was in partnership with, broke off and created their own label - Gold Key - which became Dell's key competitor. They too had some wonderful covers, especially among their movie titles. 

When the 1970s comic book slump came, both companies fizzled out and today these comic books are collector's items. Luckily, television-themed comics are not as pricey as some of the better known superhero comics so good deals can be had. We'd collect them for their covers alone...and for that reason, we thought we'd share with our dear readers - in gallery format - some of colorful covers Dell released between the mid-1950s and early 1970s. 

Westerns


                  

Colt .45 July 1960A short-lived series dating from 1960 with Wayne Preston in the starring role.
Wagon Train September 1961 This issue includes the "Dell Trading Post of Great Values". Hot diggity dog!

                  

Maverick - November 1961 - A young Roger Moore is grinning on the cover of this western classic.
Buffalo Bill Jr. - April 1959  - Dick Jones is featured here when the books were "still 10 cents".

                  

The Monroes - April 1967 - Another short lived western series, this time with Michael Anderson Jr.
Gunsmoke - September 1960 - James Arness is looking cool as Marshal Matt Dillon.

                  

Bat Masterson - February 1960 - Gene Barry as the debonair crime-solver.
Bat Masterson - May 1960 - Here Gene flashes his silver Colt. 

Sitcoms


                  


The Beverly Hillbillies - July 1963 - Crank her up, Jethro!
The Beverly Hillbillies - October 1964 - A hillybilly wedding, yee-hah!

                  

I'm Dickens He's Fenster - July 1963 - John Astin and Marty Ingels teamed up for this series about two carpenters. 
Leave it to Beaver - July 1962 - Even the Beav got his own comic book.

                  

I Love Lucy - October 1957 - Lucille tooting on her favorite saxophone.
I Love Lucy - April 1958 - The classic fishing episode brought to comic-splendor.

                  

The Andy Griffith Show - March 1962 - Opie doesn't seem happy here.
Petticoat Junction - March 1964 - a nice group shot of the whole cast.

                  

Nanny and the Professor - October 1970 - "there's something in the air.." it's Nanny magic!
The Brady Bunch - February 1970  - the first issue released.

                  

The Courtship of Eddie's Father - May 1970 - a series that only lasted a few issues. Great show though.
Lassie - April 1957 - if Lassie didn't have enough trouble with Timmy, now he has to encounter more in this series.


World War II Series


                  

The Rat Patrol - April 1967 - Rat attacks on paper? I just can't imagine that being very exciting.
12 O'Clock High - January 1965 - Another short-lived series.

                  

Hogan's Heroes - December 1966 - Hogan's Heroes was quite popular in comic book format.
Hogan's Heroes - September 1966 - "when Klink's away Schultz will play..."

Criminal Catchers


                  

The Untouchables - July 1962 - Robert Stack as Eliot Ness.
Car 54, Where are You? - December 1962 - Ooo, ooo, it's Tooty and Francis!

                  

Burke's Law - May 1965 - The Hollywood Monsters, now that's an issue not to miss.
77 Sunset Strip - July 1962 - Kookie and the gang looking rad on the cover.

                  

87th Precinct - September 1962 - This issue promises a smashing saga of action and adventure. Too bad the series wasn't a smashing success itself.
The Mod Squad - May 1970 - Caution! Very mod.


Misc. Series

                  

Walt Disney's Spin and Marty - July 1962 - these chapters sound good! 
Sea Hunt - October 1960 - Lloyd Bridges looks like he may have lost something.

                  


The Twilight Zone - May 1962 - another dimension in comic book history.
Dr. Kildare - November 1963 - Richard Chamberlain is giving himself a bath in preparation of more medical work.

                  


Cain's Hundred - September 1962 - this series starring Mark Richard ran but one season.
McKeever and the Colonel - February 1963 - McKeever and the Colonel played out like Dennis the Menace at military school.

To browse more comic book covers or to buy one yourself check out these great sites : comicbookplus.com; eBay Silver Age comics; and the Comic Book Database.

6 comments:

  1. These are awesome! I especially the ones for SPIN AND MARTY (which I'd really like to see again) and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. I had several of these as a kid...and wish I had them now. Thanks for a fun trip down memory lane.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Rick! I too would love to own some Spin and Marty comics.

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  2. I have a musty old Spin and Marty, and an Adam-12 in the back of the basement somewhere. These covers are wonderful to see. Thanks!

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    1. You should dig those out and start perusing them again. I always have such fun when I open up the old musty trunk and fish out my 1950s tv/movie magazines. We're glad you enjoyed the gallery!

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  3. Excellent post! I can still recall my first comic convention waaay back in 1981 where I saw a guy selling hundreds of these Dells and Gold Keys. I didn't realize that so many TV shows got comics. Not all the art was great, but yep, those covers were pretty darn cool.

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    1. What is it about seeing a whole pile of comic books that gets one so excited? My grandfather ( he worked at a junk yard ) once brought home two big boxes full of comic books and my sister and I enjoyed looking at those for weeks. We're glad you enjoyed our Dell post, Greg!

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