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Marvel January 1962 'Black Circle' Repriced Editions
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127 posts in this topic

On 6/10/2019 at 5:31 PM, Get Marwood & I said:

Never say never, but I think it's a mock up. It just doesn't look right, and I would expect the price to be in black, and not the same as the cover background - agree?


The did use bold font/brown for the 10 cent JIM 70


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1 hour ago, Get Marwood & I said:

You've lost me Bob? 

You was questioning the colouring of the bold font  of the 12 cent JIM 76 being brown and not black,. I'm just pointing out that they did use the font and colour on a 10 cents copy of a book in the same series. So, this.......


Could still be a possibility

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7 hours ago, Mr. Spider-Woman said:

This is a fascinating thread. I love reading about publication and pricing quirks.

Very kind.

I sense a collective sigh of 'oh, not again' whenever I post it, but there's more such pricing shenanigans here Mr Spider-Woman:

I do like 'Mr Spider-Woman' as a board name by the way if I haven't mentioned it before Mr Spider-Woman. I remember my niece saying to me once "You be Spider-Man and I'll be Spider-Man-Girl" :grin:

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On 12/24/2019 at 3:50 AM, 143ksk said:

My only black circle book. Arrival date of November 9.


That's a cracker :)

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On 6/10/2019 at 6:20 PM, Get Marwood & I said:

In a similar vein, mistakes were still being made 10 years later. 

These two sit alone on their respective dates of October 1974 (JIM #13) and July 1976 (Marvel Classic Comics #7):

 13.jpg.f3299504c9832e0b2e9be71ea397de78.jpg  7.thumb.jpg.b01c996ca8d1c7b26b7b5dc1548b2cfc.jpg


I wonder what happened?

Possibly they had printed all the cents copies and even thrown the four plates in the bin (if that's what they do) when someone realised they had forgotten to run the pence copies. The foreman had gone off sick and the assistant had forgotten to stop the press and change the black plate. It was too late to print a new batch even if they had a fifth pence K plate, as they no longer had the three colour plates to work from (or perhaps one of the colour plates had got damaged and was unusable?). Anyway, the quick and dirty answer since they had a massive pile of cents covers and only needed a short run of pence covers was to go down to the far end of the press where all the cents covers were stacked, barrow back 25,000 (or whatever), quickly create a new black plate with just two elements - the oblong black overprint to hide the cents price, and a black pence price close by which could be reliably placed on a light area of the cover - then send the covers through again with fingers crossed.

Another possibility in a huge printing factory is that they might have had a much simpler, cheaper "overprinter" which they used purely for overprinting a single colour, such as black, onto already-printed material? Then the huge and expensive four-colour offset machines would not be tied up with a relatively simple disaster recovery job. I have no idea whether they did have such things but in a huge factory like World Color they must surely have had such capacity.

In the two examples above (admittedly two years apart) the pence prices are completely different in appearance, strongly suggesting that this was a rapid fix to get out of a hole and the last thing they would think about was consistency - the covers were already late! I can imagine the foreman screaming to get the plate in the press!

Another thing, which also refers back to the Black Circle variants, is that the black overprinted pence prices are as close to the blackout area as practicable and still be on a light-coloured part of the cover - this might help to get the registration of the overprinting onto the already-printed cover good enough - must have been something of a nightmare. The machines are set up to print covers from the four rollers sequentially with extremely close tolerances, but re-feeding in a stack of covers and getting the overprints in just the right place may have been a bit tricky, particlarly if it was done on a different machine. But the corrected covers were acceptable, which was all that mattered, and it got the books out of the door.

That's how I see it anyway. Once again, this may well have been laid out many times in many other threads - I just enjoy the speculation.

I know this was in the 1970s, but I assume that they did exactly the same thing in the early 60s for the Black Circle variants. The covers were already half printed and stacked - and this isn't just a petty pence run but maybe 150,000 or more of each title which are going to be dumped - inconceivable. So again, they made a very simple black plate and overprinted all the already printed covers. The same constraints applied - the 12c price had to be darned close to the black circle, but in a light part of the cover, to minimise the risk of getting out of register. In fact if you squint at several Black Circle JIM #76s you can see that the position of the "12c" overprint is a bit variable - a bit to the left, a bit to the right, so the lineup to the already-printed covers was not as reproducible as the pukka four-roller cover printing. In those three cases, as far as I can see the cents fonts are identical, suggesting those three new black plates were set up by the same person or team at the same time, or within days of each other. The covers may even have been being printed together on the same large sheets (like in that 1970s video from Sparta where the Marvel and DC covers were on the same sheets before guillotining). That would certainly explain how all three got caught by the same problem? They were indeed half-way through all three - in the same print run!

Well it's an idea. Once again, thanks for putting up this fascinating material.

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A new, potentially connected scenario to investigate! :)

2 minutes ago, Get Marwood & I said:

That's cool. Two different copies with the same printing scenario:


In both cases, the 12c of the price correction appear to sit behind the 'JO' of the title and yet both are placed differently indicating they were applied by hand. I can't find any others online after a quick search but will look out for them. 

My initial thought is they may be connected to the 'Black Circle' price variants, which would be cool - 75 & 76:

987874319_JIM7512f.thumb.jpeg.750ded94c17958f49183b4c36a927718.jpeg 1721118355_JourneyintoMystery7612cBlackCircleVariant(Jan62).thumb.jpg.d1f31c11c2e765bad2ae291d39a1dcf7.jpg


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48 minutes ago, KirbyJack said:

You are certainly the man for the job!


I've had a quick review of all the December 1961 titles and haven't found any other examples yet. Odd isn't it. I'll keep looking though - I'm in the middle of getting my next thread ready - First Distribution in the UK (don't pretend you're not excited) - so this will have to wait for now.

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This (JIM #75) is the oddest thing I have seen, in an admittedly extremely short exposure to 1950s cover variants.

It comes a month before the other black circle variants which cannot possibly be a coincidence - it has to be part of the price switchover - but as pointed out elsewhere, over a publication month, arrival and printing of the Atlas titles would be spread over days or even over the whole month depending on what was ready to go and what was delayed. It seems clear that the three genuine black circle variants including JIM #76 were exactly in the changeover spot, between the pukka 10c prices and the new 12c prices. So JIM #75 would have to have been printed way before the start of the changeover, and should have been out of the door and on newsstands with 10c prices.

The "overprinting" does indeed have a kind of "hand-stamped rubber block" look, as if someone had a manual rubber stamp made up. The choice of ink colour (not black, but a purple colour) again suggests someone just reached for whatever came with the stamp kit, when black would have been more sensible.

Then there's the issue Marwood points out that the 12c "overprint" actually resembles an underprint. I can't get my head around that at all in terms of process printing, so I suggest that these price corrections were done after the original covers were printed and not part of the usual process printing. The combination of the well-dried glossy covers and the amateur hand-stamping with a rubber stamp and "domestic ink" perhaps resulted in a poor takeup of the ink over the glossy red "JO" letters, giving the impression on a digital image that the hand-stamp lies underneath. The coverage of the 10c price is poor too. Without being able to examine the physical covers it is hard to say whether it really is underprinted. Also it would be good to see the back covers as well - if they were done by hand from a big pile of stapled books, one may be able to see the damp ink of one copy on the back cover of another? That would never happen during process printing.

Maybe, just maybe, Atlas knew they wanted to try for a cover price increase in the near future and wanted to do a price test, as carried out famously much later on with 30c/35c and so on. So perhaps JIM #75 was chosen (after the 10c covers had been printed and possibly even after they had left Sparta) for a short run of manually-overprinted 12c covers to be used in test marketing. Maybe 1-2% of the stapled books were set aside, someone given the job of overprinting and they were then shipped to selected newsstands for the test, with instructions to the outlet owners to get feedback. If so, the person doing the stamping probably had nightmares about Lo-Karr for some considerable time afterwards...

All this assumes that they would get feedback within say 2-3 weeks as to whether the price hike was commercial suicide or not. In the meantime most of the issues for the next month had to run through the presses with 10c prices, but during the course of printing the three black circle covers, word arrived that the JIM #75 test marketing had been successful, so the black circle overprinting was carried out at Sparta.

It's a ramshackle theory but if it might be true, it makes these apparently rare JIM #57s the unique forerunners of all Atlas 12c books - Pre-Black Circle Price Variants. Purple Box Variants anyone? I could only find one image looking through Google images but I expect there are other places to look.

Best wishes, Geoff

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3 minutes ago, Pinkerton said:

I could only find one image looking through Google images but I expect there are other places to look

Was it one of the two examples I posted above or a different one Geoff? Nice hypothesising by the way :grin:

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5 hours ago, Get Marwood & I said:
5 hours ago, Pinkerton said:

I could only find one image looking through Google images but I expect there are other places to look

Was it one of the two examples I posted above or a different one Geoff? Nice hypothesising by the way :grin:

Oh, and look what I found over here:


17 minutes ago, Get Marwood & I said:

New number 4 :headbang:


Three years that book has been in hiding. I'm speechless! :bigsmile:

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