Curtis Magazines Parent company Magazine Management (Marvel Comics) Status defunct (1980) Founded 1971 Country of origin United States of America Headquarters location New York Key people Doug Moench, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Archie Goodwin, John Warner Publication types Comic magazines Fiction genres Horror, Superheroes, Adventure Imprints Marvel Monster Group
Curtis Magazines was an imprint of Marvel Comics that existed from 1971 to 1980. The imprint published black-and-white magazines that did not carry the Comics Code Authority seal. Initially, page counts varied between 68, 76 and 84 pages.
Curtis's name was derived from Marvel's distributor and affiliated company Curtis Circulation Company, whose logo appeared on the magazines. The Marvel brand and logo did not appear anywhere on the cover or in the indicia, the only relation to the company being the publisher's name, Magazine Management, a name that the four-color comics stopped using in 1973 but was retained for the black-and-white magazines. Although the Marvel name did not appear on the magazines until 1981, the Curtis imprint was regularly advertised in Marvel publications, and Marvel characters appeared in Curtis magazines.
Curtis used the magazine format, which did not fall under the purview of the Comics Code, to feature stronger content, such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence, than Marvel's comics. Most titles were anthologies, many of them featuring creator-owned material alongside regular Marvel characters. Sword and sorcery, science fiction, horror and crime fiction were prominent genres. Lead editors for the Curtis titles were Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, and later Archie Goodwin and John Warner. Tony Isabella, Don McGregor, and David Anthony Kraft also spent stints editing Curtis titles.
Marv Wolfman commented in an 1981 interview that "Marvel never gave their full commitment to it, that was the problem. No one wanted to commit themselves to the staff." He also revealed that "We used to farm the books out to Harry Chester Studios [sic] and whatever they pasted up, they pasted up. I formed the first production staff, hired the first layout people, paste-up people."
Writer Doug Moench, already a veteran of Marvel's martial arts and horror/suspense comics (Master of Kung Fu and Werewolf by Night respectively), was Curtis's de facto lead writer. He contributed to the entire runs of Planet of the Apes, Rampaging Hulk (continuing on the title when it changed its name to The Hulk!), and Doc Savage, while also serving as a regular scribe for virtually every other Curtis title during the course of the imprint's existence.
Curtis publications all featured fully painted covers, giving illustrators like Earl Norem, Bob Larkin, Ken Barr, Luis Dominguez, Neal Adams, Frank Brunner, Boris Vallejo, and Joe Jusko plenty of work during this period.
As the magazines were in a larger format than regular comics, the interior artists could "stretch out" a bit more; and some critics feel they produced better work in these magazines than they did in Marvel's regular comic line. Artists like John Buscema in Rampaging Hulk, and Gene Colan in Dracula Lives!, preferred the black-and-white medium, and used it to its fullest in these titles.
In 1975 the line was revamped, with every current title except for Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Planet of the Apes and Savage Sword of Conan cancelled, although several would then get an all-reprint, extra-thick "Annual" #1 (DHOKF also got one, albeit within its regular numbering sequence). Quite a few new titles were announced, promoted, and listed in the regular subscription ads, but almost none were released as ongoing publications. Marvel Super Action and Marvel Movie Premiere became one-shots, while Sherlock Holmes and Star-Lord surfaced in the Marvel Preview anthology. Some of the material intended for a self-titled magazine for martial arts/superhero hybrid Iron Fist, whose four-color feature was at this time still appearing under the Marvel Premiere title, saw the light of publishing day in DHOKF #10. Masters of Terror and Doc Savage did manage two and eight issues respectively. The line would never again consist at one time of more titles than could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Some of the longer-running titles published by Curtis included Savage Sword of Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Marvel Preview, and Planet of the Apes. Three Curtis titles — Dracula Lives!, Vampire Tales, and Monsters Unleashed — were published under the "sub-imprint" Marvel Monster Group. The Curtis imprint was reduced to "CC" in 1975, and starting with 1981 cover dates Marvel finally put their own name (as Marvel Magazine Group) on new titles like the "Howard the Duck" magazine as well as surviving titles, including Savage Sword of Conan, the longest-lived Curtis-born title, which lasted a total of 235 issues until 1995.
The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu
In the summer of 1975, Curtis published one issue of The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu, a martial arts magazine with no comic book elements. Instead, The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu contained instructional features by comics illustrator/martial artist Frank McLaughlin. The magazine also had the distinction of not having a single advertisement within its pages. Editor John Warner explained in the magazine's editorial page that the extended reprint — a discussion of the film Enter the Dragon originally published in three parts in Curtis's Deadly Hands of Kung Fu — allowed the magazine to go without ads. Warner's editorial also posited that The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu was a trial balloon for an all-articles companion to Deadly Hands, but it is generally believed that a page-count cutback across Marvel's black-and-white magazine line came entirely out of the article section for Hands, leading to an inventory backlog, which this one-shot cleared.
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu
Edited by Roy Thomas (issues #1 & 2), Tony Isabella (#3–6), Don McGregor (#7, 8, 10, 11, 16), David Anthony Kraft (#9 & 10), Archie Goodwin (#12–15, 18–25), and John Warner (#26–33), Deadly Hands was published in response to the mid-1970s "Chopsocky" movie craze.
Edited by Marv Wolfman (issues #1 & 2), Archie Goodwin (#2–4), and John Warner (#5–8), eight issues featuring the "Man of Bronze" were published from 1975–1977.
Edited by Roy Thomas (issues #1–7) and Marv Wolfman (#3, 8–13), Dracula Lives! ran 13 issues plus a reprint annual. Running concurrently with the longer-running Marvel comic Tomb of Dracula, the continuities of the two titles occasionally overlapped, with storylines weaving between the two. Most of the time, however, the stories in Dracula Lives! were standalone tales. The title published Dracula stories by various creative teams, including (in #5-8 and 10-11) a serialized adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel, in 10- to 12-page installments written by Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano. Following the magazine's cancellation, an additional installment appeared in Marvel Preview #8 ("The Legion of Monsters"), for a total of 76 pages comprising roughly one-third of the novel. After a 30-year hiatus, Marvel arranged for Thomas and Giordano to finish the adaptation and ran the reprinted and new material as the four-issue miniseries Stoker's Dracula (Oct. 2004 - May 2005).
Text and photo articles were mostly on the Count's various film appearances.
Gothic Tales of Love
Like The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu, Gothic Tales of Love, which published three issues in 1975, was a prose magazine with some spot illustrations; it didn't contain any comics. Each issue featured three "book-length thrillers" by contemporary gothic romance writers.
Haunt of Horror
Edited by Roy Thomas (issues #1 & 2), Marv Wolfman (2–4), Tony Isabella (#3 & 4), David Anthony Kraft (#5), and Don McGregor (#5).
Kull and the Barbarians
Edited by Roy Thomas, Curtis published three issues of the sword-and-sorcery title starring the Robert E. Howard hero Kull of Atlantis. The storyline, which involved Kull going on a quest to regain his lost kingdom, picked up from the cancelled Marvel title Kull the Congueror. (After the cancellation of Kull and the Barbarians, the storyline was picked up again in the Marvel title Kull the Destroyer.)
Legion Of Monsters
one-shot; title was continued again for one issue of Marvel Preview (#8)
Marvel Movie Premiere
Edited by Marv Wolfman, Archie Goodwin, and John Warner, Marvel Movie Premiere published one issue, featuring Wolfman and Sonny Trinidad's adaptation of the 1975 movie The Land That Time Forgot.
Edited by Roy Thomas (issue #1, 9, & 19), Marv Wolfman (#2 & 3), Archie Goodwin (#4–6), John Warner (#5–8, 10, 11, & 14), Ralph Macchio (#8, 10–19, & 21–24), Roger Slifer (#12), David Anthony Kraft (#13), Rick Marschall (#14–18), Mark Gruenwald (#19), and Roger Stern (#20), Lynn Graeme (#20–24), Marvel Preview was a showcase book, notable for publishing first and/or early appearances of Marvel characters like Blade (issue #3), Star-Lord (#4), Dominic Fortune (#2), Satana (#7), and many more. It also featured the first teaming of the celebrated X-Men creative trio of writer Chris Claremont, penciller John Byrne, and inker Terry Austin (in issue #11, featuring Star-Lord.) Marvel Preview published 23 issues under the Curtis imprint and one issue as a Marvel Magazines Group publication. It then changed its title to Bizarre Adventures and published ten more issues before folding in 1983.
Marvel Super Action
Curtis only published one issue of this title (edited by Archie Goodwin), which featured The Punisher on the cover, the second appearance of Howard Chaykin's Dominic Fortune, Bobbi Morse's first appearance as a costumed heroine, here called the Huntress but soon rechristened Mockingbird, and Doug Moench and Mike Ploog's first "Weirdworld" story. The last, according to the editorial, was pulled from inventory when the magazine was reduced from an ongoing series to an advertising-less one-shot.
Masters of Terror
Edited by Tony Isabella, Masters of Terror published black-and-white reprints of stories from late 1960s/early 1970s Marvel horror and suspense titles. The title lasted two issues.
Monsters of the Movies
Covering classic and contemporary horror movies, Monsters of the Movies included interviews, articles and photo features. The magazine was an attempt to cash in on the success of Warren's Famous Monsters of Filmland (Another Curtis title with a similar goal was Monsters Unleashed.)
The Monsters of the Movies staff was roughly composed of half freelancing West Coast horror fans, and half members of the Marvel bullpen located on the East Coast. The West Coast editor was short story author and popular culture historian Jim Harmon.  Over time, tensions developed between the West Coast and East Coast staff cliques, a factor that may have contributed to the series ending after just nine issues. A postmortem by Curtis assistant editor Ralph Macchio, appeared the following year in the pages of Marvel Preview #8: The Legion of Monsters (1976) (one of Marvel's final stabs at launching a magazine starring horror characters), and seemed to blame the West Coasters for the failure, and left ill feelings among them in its wake, especially as Macchio was not even on Marvel's staff during the events he described.
Edited by Roy Thomas (issues #1–6), Tony Isabella (7–9), and Don McGregor (#10 & 11), Monsters Unleashed focused on Marvel's own monsters: Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, and Frankenstein's monster. A Marvel Monster Group publication, Monsters Unleashed published 11 issues plus one annual.
Planet of the Apes
Edited by Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman, and Don McGregor, Planet of the Apes published 29 issues with adaptations of all five Apes movies, plus original stories set in the Ape Universe, and articles about the making of the movies and the short-lived TV series. Marvel reprinted in color the first two film adaptations in the newsstand-distributed comic book Adventures On The Planet Of The Apes over eleven issues in 1975. Stories friom the magazine were also reprinted in England by Marvel UK in a weekly title of 123 issues from 1974-1977.
Edited by John Warner (issues #1–4), Roger Slifer (#5–7), and David Anthony Kraft (#8 & 9), the title continued with issue #10 as The Hulk! (in "MarvelColor"), and then became an official Marvel title for its last three issues. As the The Hulk! (from 1978–1981), it was edited by David Anthony Kraft (#10), Rick Marschall (#11–18), and Lynn Graeme (19–27).
Savage Sword of Conan
Edited by Roy Thomas while a Curtis title, Savage Sword of Conan continued as an official Marvel publication from 1980 'til its demise in 1995.
- 1971, 1973–1975
Edited by Stan Lee (issue #1) Roy Thomas (#2–6), Gerry Conway (7–11), Marv Wolfman (#11), and Archie Goodwin (#11), Savage Tales starred such sword-and-sorcery characters as Conan, Kull, and John Jakes' barbarian creation, Brak.
Tales of the Zombie
Edited by Roy Thomas (issues #1–10), Marv Wolfman (3–10), Tony Isabella (7 & 8), David Anthony Kraft (#9 & 10), Don McGregor (#9 & 10), and John Warner (#10), the magazine published ten issues and one annual (which was co-edited by Archie Goodwin).
Tomb Of Dracula
Ran for six issues through August 1980
Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction
Edited by Roy Thomas, this anthology title featured original stories and literary adaptations by writers and artists including Frank Brunner, Howard Chaykin, Gene Colan, Gerry Conway, Richard Corben, Bruce Jones, Gray Morrow, Denny O'Neil, Thomas, and others; as well as non-fiction articles about science fiction and interviews with such authors as Alfred Bester, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, and A. E. van Vogt, some of whom had their works adapted here. Cover artists included Brunner, Frank Kelly Freas, Michael Kaluta, Michael Whelan, and Sebastià Boada. The title published six issues and one special.
Edited by Roy Thomas (issues #1–5), Marv Wolfman (#6–10), and Archie Goodwin (#11), Vampire Tales featured vampires as both protagonists and antagonists.
- ^ Welles, Chris (Feb 10, 1969). "Post-Mortem". New York Magazine: pp. 32–36. http://books.google.com/books?id=nOECAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA36&lpg=PA36&dq=Magazine+Management+CO.,+Inc.&source=bl&ots=XukfyPaKqy&sig=YnM8PwX6QD7yy8mtgU258WcDh84&hl=en&ei=wFs8Ts78EZOLsAK50uEZ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDUQ6AEwBTgy#v=onepage&q=Magazine%20Management%20CO.%2C%20Inc.&f=false. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- ^ Sanderson, Peter and Peter B. Gillis "Comics Feature Interviews Marv Wolfman" Comics Feature #12/13 (September/October 1981) p. 44
- ^ Warner, John (June 1975). "Editorial". Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu (Curtis Magazines) 1 (1): 2.
- ^ Marvel Preview #8 (Fall 1976) at the Grand Comics Database
- ^ a b Weiland, Jonah (September 30, 2004). "30 Years of Horror: Editor Beazley talks the return of Stoker's Dracula". ComicBookResources.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2011. http://liveweb.archive.org/http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=4084. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- ^ Stoker's Dracula (Marvel, 2004 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
- ^ "Marvel Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel comics cover-dated December 1974.
- ^ Kracalik, Al. "Monsters of the Movies: The True Story — How to Make a Monster Magazine... Or Maybe Not!" Scary Monster Magazine #36 (Sept. 2000), pp.18-23.
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