Friday, November 28, 2008

Volume Three, Number Twenty

Historical Overview
of the
MLJ Magazines/Archie Comic Publications
Superhero Lines!

Part Ten

Even though Archie Comic Publications/Radio Comics had launched "The Adventures of Young Dr. Masters" and "The Shadow" in 1964, the Archie Adventure Series line was dying a slow painful death. As mentioned in the previous installment, according to Rick Goldwater, son of one of MLJ Magazines' founders, John Goldwater, the main reason for the poor sales of the line was strictly distribution difficulties; a somewhat doubtful possibility as Archie Adventure Series was distributed by the same company that distributed Archie Comic Publications' Archie Series line which could be found just about everywhere in those days. Most comics fans and historians put the blame on the poor quality of the material, but a few people point the finger at the name of the line itself: ARCHIE Adventure Series.

While the Archie titles were big sellers in the 1960s-and are still quite successful today-they were and still are targeted at a certain type of readership. Also too anything with the name "Archie" on it signified good, wholesome fun. While there's nothing wrong with that, some comics readers were looking for something more challenging, something like, well, what was being given to them by Marvel and to a lesser extent DC/National and Gold Key (with Dr. Solar, Turok and other titles). And while the Archie Adventure Series titles weren't along the same lines as the Archie Series titles the mere mention of the name "Archie" on the cover was a turn-off to the very readers who might well have ordinarily bought "The Shadow" and "Adventures of The Fly" (though chances are they would have only bought one issue of "The Shadow"). Today's fans are a bit more sophisticated, but back in the 1960s Archie meant wholesomeness, and even in 1964 readers wanted their superheroes to have a bit of an edge.

Thus, the line was failing and by 1964 the Archie Adventure Series' flagship title, "Adventures of The Fly" was reduced to being published semi-annually. After issue #30 (October 1964) it vanished completely. But before it was canceled, the title-and the line-made one more attempt at reviving a long forgotten MLJ Magazines character; or in this case more of a revitalization.

In the Fly Girl story that appeared in "Adventures of The Fly" #30, The Fly's partner met up with The Comet. This was not though the same, brutal Comet who had appeared in the early issues of Pep Comics, but rather the ruler of a distant planet called Altron who had come to Earth to convince Fly Girl to be his bride. Even his powers and costume were different with this Comet wearing a rainbow-striped helmet and an extremely gaudy looking outfit. His powers included flight-which he was able to accomplish thanks to his "rainbow helmet"-and the ability to shoot ray beams from his gloves. The story, as with previous stories that had been appearing in "Adventures of The Fly", was fairly pedestrian. But what Fly-fans -and there were some including myself at the time-were totally unaware of was that this Comet was actually a harbinger of things to come in 1965. But that's a story for next month when we talk about Fly Man, Mighty Comics Group and The Mighty Crusaders. See you then.


That's all for this time out. Don't forget to check out The Groovy Agent's excellent blog on 1970s comics at, and feel free to comment on what you've read so far in E-Dispatches From The Great White North at its blogsite .

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