Arnold Book Company

Arnold Book Company (ABC) was a British publisher of comic books that operated in the late 1940s and 1950s, most actively in the period 1950 to 1954. ABC published original titles like the war comic Ace Malloy of the Special Squadron and the science fiction title Space Comics, and reprints of American horror and crime titles (many featuring the work of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) like Adventures into the Unknown, Black Magic Comics, and Justice Traps the Guilty. British contributors to the company's titles include Mick Anglo and Denis Gifford.[2] Arnold Book Company was closely connected to the fellow British comics publisher L. Miller & Son.

Arnold Book Company
StatusAcquired by Thorpe & Porter (1958)[1]
Founded1948
FounderArnold L. Miller
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters location2 Lower James Street
London W1
Key peopleMick Anglo
Denis Gifford
Publication typesComics
Fiction genresHorror/suspense, Crime, Romance
ImprintsPrize

In the 1950s, Arnold Book Company suffered from a backlash against some of its horror comics reprints, leading to the company's closure in 1958. ABC's founder, Arnold L. Miller, later became a filmmaker and film producer, primarily in the nudist and sexploitation genre.

HistoryEdit

The company was founded in 1948 by Arnold Louis Miller,[3] the "Son" in L. Miller & Son, Ltd. a British reprint publisher (founded in 1943) of many American comic books, primarily those of Fawcett Comics. (L. Miller & Son became known later on for the 1954 creation [by British writer/artist Mick Anglo] of Marvelman – a blatant imitation of Fawcett's Captain Marvel.)

Between 1950 and 1952, Mick Anglo produced a number of strips for Arnold Book Company, on stories such as "Captain Valiant" (in Space Comics) and Ace Malloy of the Special Squadron, while concurrently producing Space Commando Comics, featuring "Space Commander Kerry," for L. Miller & Son.[4] In 1954, Anglo created one issue of Captain Universe[5] for ABC, a near-identical character to Captain Marvel and Marvelman.[a]

Relationship with Thorpe & PorterEdit

In the period 1951 to 1953, the British distributor/publisher Thorpe & Porter (T & P) acquired a number of ABC's reprint titles, including Justice Traps the Guilty, Young Brides, Young Eagle, and Young Love. (When T & P acquired Justice Traps the Guilty, it continued the numbering of the ABC version; with the other titles, T & P restarted the numbering at #1.)

In 1953, Thorpe & Porter seems to have acquired the Arnold Book Company as a separate line; Arnold Book Company appears as an imprint on the T & P titles Justice Traps the Guilty, Kid Colt, Outlaw, Young Brides, and Young Romance from that point until 1958.[6] (T & P later published a second volume of 13 issues of Justice Traps the Guilty.)

Horror comics controversy and closureEdit

Starting around 1950, "lurid American 'crime' and 'horror comics' reached Britain." Titles such as EC Comics' The Haunt of Fear, Tales from the Crypt, and The Vault of Horror first arrived as ballast in ships from the United States, and at first were only available in the "environs of the great ports of Liverpool, Manchester, Belfast and London." EC's comics, which exhibited a gruesome joie de vivre, with grimly ironic fates meted out to many of the stories' protagonists, prompted what in retrospect has been characterised as a moral panic.[7]

In 1952, Arnold Book Company cashed in on the popularity of horror comics with reprints of the (relatively gore-free) Prize Comics title Black Magic Comics, publishing that title into 1954. Around that same time, in 1952 and again in 1954, "using blocks made from imported American matrices," ABC printed British single-issue editions of EC's The Haunt of Fear, Tales from the Crypt, and The Vault of Horror, selling them in "small back-street newsagents."[7] The ensuing outcry was heard in the British press; an article in The Times of April 22, 1955, accused horror comics of deranging young readers, pushing the most susceptible to desecrate local cemeteries. Shortly, at the urging of the Most Reverend Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Major Gwilym Lloyd George, the Home Secretary and Minister of Welsh Affairs, and the National Union of Teachers, Parliament passed the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955.[8] The act targeted horror comics[8] — especially ABC's EC reprint titles.

As a result of this backlash, Arnold Book Company had mostly shut down its comic book activities after 1954,[9][10] and was closed down entirely in 1958.[1]

Arnold Miller's later careerEdit

Arnold Miller moved on to publishing the glamour magazine Photo Studio,[3] and then transitioned to a career in filmmaking, particularly nudist and sexploitation movies. Arnold Miller's father Leonard was against his son's new career, and as a result of their dispute, he ejected Arnold from L. Miller & Son, which became simply L. Miller & Co.[1]

Arnold Miller directed seven films in the period 1959 to 1970, produced several movies with Stanley Long,[11] and worked with Tigon British Film Productions.[3] Films directed by Miller include:

Titles published (selected)Edit

Original titlesEdit

Reprint titlesEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Captain Universe uses a magic word, "Galap", to gain superhuman powers, just as Captain Marvel's "Shazam" and Marvelman's "Kimota."

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b c (French) Depelley, Jean. "Miller & Son (2ème et dernière partie)," BDZoom.com (March 18, 2014).
  2. ^ Darlington, Andrew (October 1995). "Daredevils of the Stratosphere" (PDF). The Mentor (88): 10. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Fowler, William. "Miller, Arnold Louis (1922-) Biography". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  4. ^ Holland, Steve, "Who's Who in British Comics", Comics World #43, Aceville Publications Ltd. (September–October 1995).
  5. ^ "Captain Universe". the International Catalogue of Superheroes. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Thorpe & Porter : Arnold Book Co. (Indicia / Colophon Publisher)," Grand Comics Database. Retrieved Dec. 21, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Sringhall, John (July 1994). "Horror Comics: The Nasties of the 1950s". History Today. 44 (7).[dead link]
  8. ^ a b "22 February 1955 → Commons Sitting → Orders of the Day". Hansard. millbanksystems.com. 22 February 1955. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  9. ^ Barker, Martin. A Haunt of Fears (London: Pluto Press, 1984), pp. 15, 146.
  10. ^ Lent, John A., editor. Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-Comics Campaign (Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999), pp. 73, 86.
  11. ^ Morse, Erik. "The sex files: a history of erotic films from slo-mo frolics to romping stags: The British once took their titillation from heavily censored softcore films. Forty are now in the BFI’s new erotic archive," The Guardian (12 Jan 2017).
  12. ^ "Archive for the 'Arnold Book Company' Category: Space Comics". The Magic Robot: A Digital Scrapbook. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  13. ^ Gifford, Denis (1985). Complete Catalogue of British Comics. Exeter, England: Webb & Bower. p. 197. ISBN 0-86350-079-X.
  14. ^ "Arnold Book Company : Prize (Brand Groups)," Grand Comics Database. Retrieved Dec. 21, 2020.

Sources consultedEdit