Back in the day, comic books offered a cheap form of escapism. Throughout my childhood (and into adulthood), comics gave a glimpse into another world of action, intrigue and absurdity. While most look at the modern comic book as social commentary or raw material for a big budget feature film, for me comics are flimsy paper scrolls jammed into a plastic bag. I would tear the bag open greedily in my bedroom and spill out the contents. But the characters in these books were not Iron Man, Spider-Man or Batman… they were Dr. Graves, the Blue Beetle, Peacemaker or the Question.
Charlton Comics remain an oddity in the medium of funny books, but it was home to some of the best and brightest in the industry. Poorly printed on cheap paper, they may be an obscure kind of escapism, but they are no less valid than anything published by Marvel or DC. And the story behind Charlton is about to be told.
It’s been called the 3 legged dog of comics, and the scrappy, street-fighting cousin of Marvel and DC and even hailed as the comic book equivalent of Roger Corman and American International Pictures. Maybe you’ve heard of it? …probably not.
But, you do know the industry legends that called it home. This is Charlton Comics.
Charlton employed guys like Steve Ditko and Dick Giordano. Ditko went on to co-create Spider-Man. Giordano, a Charlton editor, became a legend as an executive at DC comics. But that’s just a taste of the list. A few other names you know are: Denny O’Neil, Bob Layton, Paul Kupperberg, Joe Sinnott, Roy Thomas, Frank McLaughlin, John Byrne and even Neal Adams.
That’s just scratching the surface.
Now their characters are a different entity of their own. “The Watchmen,” a critically acclaimed and hugely influential comic that was adopted into a movie in 2009, was based on Charlton Comics characters.
A year ago, we might have asked the same thing!
We knew of Charlton, but honestly, not much. Then we attended a panel about Charlton Comics, and we couldn’t believe that someone hadn’t told their story. You see, their tale doesn’t begin and end with the legends that worked there, or even the characters that went on superstar… err…superhero status.
The captivating story of Charlton starts with a prologue, and that’s the story of one of its co-founders, John Santangelo. We can’t give you spoilers, but in the age of TMZ and tabloids, Charlton fits right in.
It’s positively scandalous!