I'm not going to post a big explanatory preamble this time, but just note that in this journal I will be looking to see if I can find any pre-1960 dated comics which could reasonably be referred to as 'UK Price Variants'. As we now know, a UK Price Variant is a book made for distribution in the UK, with a single printed UK cover price, but which was printed in the US as a junior subset of the same original print run as the primary cents priced version. We know from my research that UKPVs were produced post 1960 for seven US publishers, but I wanted to see if I could find any books prior to that date, either from the US or another country.
I have a number of books to post about, so let's get started.
I recently picked up this copy of 'Skunky Shopkeeper', undated, which carries a stickered one shilling price and an indicia which notes that the book was printed in Canada and distributed in the UK by 'Streamlined Books' (a possible misprint of the 'Streamline' of 'Pictorial Romance' fame?):
I then picked up a second corner-nibbled copy, also with a sticker, and painstakingly removed it to reveal this apparently overprinted 6d price:
Here are the two prices, side by side:
So my first thought was 'could this be a UKPV of an original Canadian book?'
I know very little about Gold and pre-1960s books. I'm sure there are people I could ask, but where's the fun in that? It's something to do, to potter on, explore and learn for yourself.
That said, the GCD helpfully tells me that my Canadian Skunky reprints the US comic 'Funland Comics #1'
So I grab myself a copy of that book, also corner-nibbled:
Is corner nibbling a thing in Gold?
The obvious difference of course is the cover which is manifestly absent from 'Skunky'.
The indicia of Funland advises that the book was printed in the USA, c1945:
The interior story pages and content are the same as Skunky - here are the two books side by side:
A bit of Googling brings me to this image below, source unknown, which shows my Skunky as being one of a number of coverless Canadian comics, overprinted with UK prices by Superior/Century Publications for distribution in the UK by Streamlined of London:
It further says "The majority of these were remainders". Hold that thought.
The assumption is that I have two copies of a comic that was printed in the USA for Croydon Publishing, of which unsold copies were picked up by Superior/Century Publications of Canada, who then stripped them of their covers and then overprinted them with a UK price (which were then subsequently stickered at a higher price).
Incidentally, could the 6d overprinted price be for Canadian sales and the copies sent to the UK be marked up with the one shilling sticker? Mebbe.
Back to the pre-1960 UKPV search, can the coverless guts of an original US book, that is then overprinted with a UK/Canadian price in Canada be considered a variant? It can't really, can it. Now if there was a copy of Funland #1 with a printed UK single price, which came from the same print run, then yes. But amended guts? That's pushing it a bit.
Anyway, on inspection, the guts that comprise 'Skunky' do not actually appear to be remaindered copies of Funland #1 at all. If we look closely at these examples, we can see:
1. A very different print quality and colouring - Funland is clean, Skunky has got all the sloppy production marks that tend to indicate a crude reprinting:
The next two images show that clearly too - one clean, one with additional bits and bobs and an inferior production quality:
2. Next, we can see that the two sets of guts have different overall dimensions:
3. Any notion that that might be due to trimming evaporates when you see that the actual printed images are slightly bigger on the Skunky page than on the Funland original:
4. The staples location is different on the two books too, and the Skunky ones are much bigger than the Funland's:
My staple's bigger than yours mate!
All the evidence, which is much clearer in hand I might add, indicates that our Canadian Skunky was reprinted rather than being a cover-stripped, remaindered original US book. So the 'Printed in Canada' of the indicia refers not just to the price / logo overprinting, but the whole book. From a UKPV search perspective, that takes Funland #1 out of the equation, as a UKPV must come from the same print run as the headline country copy. That leaves us with Canadian Skunky.
Every copy of Skunky that I have seen has the 6d overprinted price. Now, if someone was going to reprint the guts, why would they then overprint a UK price? Why not do it all in one go? I say this, as I have noted that the 6d price moves from copy to copy (my copy vs GCD copy below):
In summary, it looks like Superior Publishers of Canada obtained the rights (?) to reprint the guts of Croydon Publishing's Funland #1, minus the cover, did so and then added their company livery, an indicia and a 6d price. They then either sent the whole lot to the UK, who promptly increased that price with a sticker, or sold some of the 6d copies locally in Canada.
Even if we view Skunky as its own thing, separate to Funland, there is only one reprinted/overprinted version in existence it seems, so it can't be a UK Price Variant. If there was a majority 6d printed Canadian copy and a lesser UK one shilling printed copy, both printed together, we could perhaps make an argument. But there isn't. It seems.
I rather enjoyed the exercise though, on this book, and it's fun to learn more about books of this age by mucking about with them directly and holding them in your hands. Especially when they include stories such as "Angel Pussy", the pages of which further illustrate the colour and quality contrast between the two books:
Play nicely, Angel Pussy!
Well, that's Funland vs Skunky out of the way, to get the ball rolling. Next up, Jeep Comics. Or Lucky Coyne. Or maybe K G Murray's Super Adventure Comic. Or another one of the various candidates I've amassed over recent years. I'll see which one takes my fancy before dropping Wonder Comics into the mix.
See you next time then, if you're interested....