As a UK-based comic book collector writing for GoCollect, I feel it is sometimes my duty to highlight certain sub-cultures within the overall comic industry and its history. Especially when certain things only ever occurred over this side of the pond! My first Article, titled: Making Sense of Pence, explored this a little, and my 10th article: The Legend of Ballast Comics a little bit more… And so today, for my 20th article here at GoCollect, I’d like to tell you all about Alan Class Comics.
Alan Class Comics was a British comics publishing company that operated between 1959 and 1989.The company produced anthology titles, reprinting comic book stories from many U.S. publishers of the 1940s to 1960s. These comics were printed in a black and white format and sold as the main medium through which British children were introduced to American comics.
The Alan Class titles released during this time contained reprints of stories originally from U.S. comic book publishers.
Over the years, these reprinted books included the works of Timely, Atlas (and their later incarnation, Marvel) American Comics Group, Charlton Comics, Archie Comics, Fawcett Comics, Lev Gleason Publications, and Sterling Comics.These reprints consisted of many early Mystery, Superhero, and Monster stories by artists such as Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby and are now regarded as classics of the 1950s and early 1960s period.
Over the years, Alan Class put out more than 25 titles – but it was the company’s six core titles that lasted almost the entire publishing history of the company:
1. Astounding Stories 2. Creepy Worlds 3. Secrets of the Unknown
4. Sinister Tales 5. Suspense Stories 6. Uncanny Tales
But who was Alan Class and how did this all come about?
Alan Class (the individual businessman), began his business career simply as an importer for the UK distribution of American Magazines. In 1958, in order to avoid the cost and importation difficulties he had encountered over the years, Class set up a publishing business called Alan Class and Co. Ltd in order to produce his own magazines.
Class then followed this up by entering into an agreement with the American syndication company for the rights to reproduce U.S. comic books for a U.K audience and set up shop.
In 1963, Alan Class had made enough money to buy out the inventory of L. Miller & Son, Ltd (A fellow UK publisher since the 1940s that had also reprinted many U.S. comics in black-and-white format.) Business was good for a few more years. However, like many things, this wasn’t to last and in 1966, Alan Class Comics lost the rights to their leased Marvel Comic characters after Odhams Press began publishing its “Power Comics line” (Licensing the Marvel Comic superheroes for their own titles in 1967)
During these short few years, Alan Class published thousands of black and white reprinted comics, each featuring material from our favourite American publishers.
These comics included a relatively high proportion of art by Kirby & Ditko and so have found their way into the hearts of many UK Children and Collectors over the years.
True, they were printed on low quality paper stock for their time, but they did and still do provide an opportunity to obtain stories that can be difficult (and expensive) to get in their original format.
As the years have passed, these books are becoming more uncommon, although, traditionally, they have not been very expensive to purchase. They are now attracting a lot more collector interest, so grab them while you can!