Gold Key Comics - UK Price Variants
Here is a summary of the Gold Key UK Price Variants (UKPVs) that I have found hiding between the dates of March 1973 and November 1975 inclusive.
UK Price Variants were printed in the USA at the same time as their cents priced counterparts. They are part of the same first printing run and are not reprints. If you would like to know more about them, please click the picture below and you'll be magically transported to the Archie discussion thread in which we talk about them in more detail:
- Gold Key UK Price Variants have been found to exist between the cover dates of March 1973 to November 1975 inclusive. The total number of cents priced comic titles existing across those dates are too numerous to list – the salient point is that only 8 titles have pence copies. At the time of writing, 122 single printed price UKPVs are confirmed across those 8 titles.
- The first known Gold Key UKPV copies are Pink Panther #11 and Tweety and Sylvester #69 cover / indicia dated March 1973 and priced at 6p.
- The last known UKPV copies are Pink Panther #30, Star Trek #35 and Tweety & Sylvester #51, all cover / indicia dated November 1975 and priced at 8p.
Of the scores of titles in scope, only the following 8 are confirmed as having one or more UK Price Variant (the eligible issue numbers are shown in brackets):
- Beep Beep the Road Runner (#35-54)
- Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery (#46-64)
- Pink Panther (#11-30)
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not! (#39-58)
- Star Trek (#18-35)
- Tom and Jerry (#270-300)
- Tweety and Sylvester (#29-51)
- Yosemite Sam (#13-32)
All UKPVs are priced at either:
- 6p - cover dates March 1973 to June 1974 inclusive
- 7p - cover dates July 1974 to July 1975 inclusive
- 8p - cover dates August 1975 to November 1975 inclusive
- All known UKPVs are standard sized issues and no ‘oversize’ copies are known to exist e.g. double size, giant sized or annuals.
As a rule, only difference between a pence priced Gold Key UKPV and its cents priced equivalent is the cover price - the indicias and all other aspects are the same in both editions. The only exception to this is for the following UKPV issues which are missing the ‘16 Page Fun Catalogs’ that can be found in their US cents priced equivalent issues. The UKPV covers are also missing the ‘Fun Catalog’ cover wording and have masthead banners noting the comic title instead where applicable (or a missing bottom corner cover blurb in the case of Boris Karloff #58). The eight affected UKPV issues are:
- Beep Beep the Road Runner #40 & 47
- Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #51 & 58
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not! #44 & 51
- Yosemite Sam #18 & 25
- For the title Tom and Jerry, only seven consecutive UKPV issues have been found (#270 to 276) despite the title having eligible issues up to and including issue #300. It is possible that pence copies ceased with issue #276, dated November 1973, so as not to clash with an existing UK produced comic titled ‘Tom and Jerry Weekly’ (first issue dated October 1973). The total, continuing absence of UKPV issues between #277 and #300 seems to support this theory.
- Given the popularity of the TV show and films, the title Star Trek has been researched at length by various collectors over the years and the list of missing UKPV issues is widely accepted as being accurate. Consequently, UKPV copies are not expected to exist for issues #21, 24, 27, 30, 32 and 34. This shows that the distributor was clearly happy to miss issues and it therefore follows that the missing issues for the other seven titles may be permanent / by design.
Six of the 8 titles have ‘one on, one off’ gaps towards the end of their UKPV runs where pence issues are absent over an eight consecutive month period. For example, Beep Beep the Road Runner has the following pattern:
- Apr - #49 – 7p
- May – no issue this month
- Jun - #50 – 7p
- Jul - #51 – no pence copy found
- Aug - #52 – 8p
- Sep – #53 – no pence copy found
- Oct – #54 – 8p
- Nov – no issue this month
- The ‘on / off’ pattern appears to exist by design with only the Star Trek title breaking the pattern (Tom & Jerry has no UKPV issues in the date range so is out of scope). See the illustration below showing each title’s end of UKPV run gaps, and also the detailed explanation in the discussion thread (here):
I believe Williams Publishing were responsible for distributing Gold Key Comics in the UK. Whilst there is no direct printed evidence to support this on / in the comics themselves, a number of UK fanzines of the time state that to be the case and they are the logical candidate based on their publishing history. A number of copies exist just prior to the printed UKPV dates which have ‘official’ looking 6p price stickers on them, which mirror the eventual printed price font, indicating that Williams may have started this way prior to requesting printed priced copies.
Happy hunting, if you decide to build a set!
By Stephen Cranch based on v2.9 of the ‘Gold Key Comics – UK Price Variant Summary’
Here are eight cover examples - one from each known title