The Charlton Companion by Jon B. Cooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've long been fascinated by Charlton Comics, the second tier comic company that finally went under not long after I really got into reading comics. This book contains everything you want to know about the operation and then some. There are tons of cover shots but more interesting are all the quotes from people who worked there.
From the founder's prison stint and probable mob connections to paying the lowest page rate possible, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. I can't imagine running my own printing operation and shooting for putting out as much passable material as possible instead of a handful of quality titles but I'm not in the printing business either.
On the other hand, the creative freedom compared to Marvel or DC had to be a big attraction. Still, Santangelo seems like the shifted prick this side of J. Jonah Jameson. Imagine having flood insurance on your building, collecting on it, and still cutting your employee's page rates IN HALF to compensate for damages. Dick Giordano's assertion that Charlton was more interested in saving five dollars than making five dollars pretty much sums up the Charlton philosophy.
A lot of pros cut their teeth at Charlton, like Steve Ditko and Denny O'Neil, so they had some value. On the other hand, imagine cluttering up your printing area so much with old engraving plates that no one could get past them while you're waiting for scrap metal prices to go up?
I've strayed far from whatever point it was I was trying to make. This is a great look at a shitty operation that somehow remained open for decades and spawned a lot of great talent. Five out of five stars.
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