Scott's Classic Comics Corner: Shedding Some Light on Dynabrite

This week, I’m taking a look at those 69 cent oddities known as Dynabrite comics:

A few years ago, I was flipping through a dealer’s dollar bin at a local convention, and I spotted a Star Trek comic book that I’d not seen before. I then stumble upon a few more seemingly random issues with the Whitman logo and the truly oddball price of 69 cents. I got home and flipped through my purchases, quickly realizing that I had seen one of these before, as a long buried memory of the other Star Trek issue was unearthed.

What is a Dynabrite comic, you ask? Well, it was a 1978 experiment in ‘high quality’ comic books that pre-dated the Baxter paper era at DC by several years. Whitman was an imprint of Western Publishing, the company responsible for Gold Key comics and Little Golden Books. The covers are printed on cardboard stock and the interior pages are on a high quality semi-glossy paper that really enhances the nice colours. The books typically contained reprint material, combined from two previously published Gold Key or Dell comic books. They are typically 48 pages in length and measure 10" x 7 1/8" By my count, there were 14 books published in this format. There are no ads, and the interior covers are blank. The back covers feature ads for the Dynabrite line. I have a feeling that these were distributed to bookstores rather than newsstands, but I am not certain. I’ve broken them down as follows:

The majority of the Dynabrite were reprints from Disney licensed comics and half of those were ‘Duck’ based. Over the years, I’ve bought a few of these and I’m happy to report that they reprinted some of the most charming Ducks stories ever put to paper. Donald Duck: No Such Varmint treasure trove of Carl Barks classics, with the cover story originally published in Dell’s Four Color #318 (March, 1951), Knightly Rivals from Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #128 (May, 1951) and Operation St. Bernard from Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #125 (February, 1951). Another one I picked up a while back is a must have for Barks fans. Gyro Gearloose and the Disney Ducks features no fewer than 6 Gyro Gearloose stories published in the Four Color series between 1959 and 1961. The other Duck-themed Dynabrites are as follows: Donald Duck and the Golden Helmet , Uncle Scrooge Classics , Uncle Scrooge and the Golden Fleecing and Daisy and Donald: 7 From Daisy’s Diary.

There is another handful of Disney licensed titles, including the terrific Mickey Mouse and the Beanstalk , a 39-page classic from Four Color #157 (July, 1947) drawn by the legendary Harvey Eisenberg. Another one I snagged from a dollar bin was Super Goof Meets Super Thief , reprinting two mid-60s Super Goof stories. My kids (ages 3 and 4) love flipping through this book, and it is sturdy enough to withstand it. There are two more Mickey Mouse volumes: Mickey Mouse Album – a collection of stories from the Four Color, series between 1959 and 1961 and Mickey Mouse and His Sky Adventure , which features an abbreviated version of the story which ran as a daily strip from 1936 to 1937, and later appeared in Four Color #218 (February, 1949). There’s another Goofy installment, as well as a collection of contemporary (1977 and 1978) Winnie the Pooh stories.

Aside from Disney, there was a Bugs Bunny volume; the only Warner Brothers licensed issue. The indicia states that these stories are from 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1964. I’m not all that familiar with Bugs Bunny comics from that era, but these are all enjoyable stories especially The Champion Chump co-starring Daffy Duck and Mutiny, But No Bounty with co-starring Yosemite Sam.

For me, the real highlight of the Dynabrite line are the two Star Trek issues, both published in 1976 with contemporary reprints. The first one reprints issues #33 and #41 from the Gold Key series, while the second volume reprints issues #34 and #36. These look great, with terrific artwork by Albert Giolitti and Alden McWilliams and stylish George Wilson covers. I now know that I owned the A Bomb in Time/Psychocrystals issue at some point during my childhood, but I have no idea what happened to it.

Tracking these down shouldn’t be too difficult, and I think they are an affordable source of high quality reprints. For more comic book chat, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent

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