Thursday, April 13, 2006

gold key was like saturday morning comic books

Any good PopCereal kid worth his Sugar Smacks will surely recognize that familiar Gold Key comic book logo. For Mr. Miller here, those Gold Key treasures were like Saturday morning comic books, with all the bubblicious goodness of your favorite retro-cartoons. To sweeten the cereal bowl, many of the titles put out under Gold Key in the 70s were from the Saturday morning stable of cartoons, such as The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Wacky Races, and of course Scooby Doo.

the gold key story

The Western Printing and Lithographing Co. -- headed up by Disney marketing genius Herman "Kay" Kamen -- built a solid reputation putting out comic book versions of familiar newspaper comic strips. Using his pull at his former employee Walt Disney Studios, Kamen acquired the rights to characters from Disney cartoons in 1939. Soon he snatched up the rights to characters from Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera and Walter Lantz, as well, and, along with adaptations of popular movies and TV shows, released them all in comic book form through Dell. These comic books experienced tremendous sales, but when the contract with Dell expired in 1962, the WPLC launched their own imprint -- Gold Key.
Throughout the 60s and early 70s, Dell grew in popularity, and with sales in the millions they created their own original charactersand titles, such as Turok, Son of Stone; Wacky Witch; and Space Family Robinson (which was to be the pre-cursor and inspiration to Lost in Space). But by the 80s the comic book biz, in general, was in a slump, and Gold Key couldn't keep sales up. They made a last ditch attempt to increase the visibility of their titles by marketing themselves in non-traditional outlets, like toy stores. But by 1981, Gold Key was done. What titles were left over from Gold Key were put out under the Whitman imprint (mostly known for coloring books), and Gold Key became a thing of PopCereal past. Ironically, with a licensing genius like Kay Kamen as the company's creator, Gold Key failed to license their own original characters. So with the eventual demise of Whitman comics in 1984, kooky characters like Baby Snoots and The Little Monsters were gone forever.

the little monsters

With the 60s monster craze in full force, Mr. Miller took to everything creature related like Dracula to a blood bank. And to add more voltage to his neck bolts came the Gold Key comic book The Little Monsters, a gruesome clan of monster misfits who lived in a creepy castle and who slept on beds of nails. Following on the rotted heels of cartoons like Milton the Monster and Melvin Monster, but knocking on the crypt door before such TV notables as The Addams Family and The Munsters, The Little Monsters were unleashed upon the public within an issue of The Three Stooges (#17 to be exact). From then on Mr. Miller here was hooked on the misadventures of the monster kiddies 'Orrible Orvie and Awful Annie Monster, and their monstrous parents Mildew and Demonica.

Issue #12 (1970) finds our frightening fiends in all sorts of monster sitcom-like trouble. The generation gap hits the Monster household when Scarella, the cute "scream-aged" ghost next door starts dating, then a robotic witch comes to life to stir up trouble, and finally little 'Orrible Orvie comes up with a perfectly demented solution to help his Dad, Mildew, build a moat around the castle. Also, there's the dimwitted tale of a criminal Bat, named Batty, as well as some jokes, riddles and scary tales... Oh, and some really cool 70s style comic book ads.

Download and read issue #12

3 comments:

Ben T. said...

I used to love Gold Key's Pink Panther comics, and still have a few, but my all time favorites from that line were the monster titles. One you neglect here is even the source of a pen-name I use on some message boards.

"Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist"

There were only four issues that I know of, and they were published annually from 61 to 64. Prized in my collection.

PopCereal said...

i'm sorry to say that i never ran into that comic. it does sound like a good one. anything monster has got to be good. i'd sure love to see a still or two of Mr. & Mrs. J., if you have some.

mr. miller

wicked said...

I had this comic in Spanish when I lived in mexico! I have searched every where for it for years and only found this when I found another post about Mr & Mrs J. Evil Scientist.
I tried to download the copy you had, but obviously it was no longer there. Is there any chance of getting a download?

(Oh great I can see more money going to ebay now LOL)

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