Monday, January 21, 2008

Charlton Notebook: Charlton Bullseye #8

After some time as a quasi-dormant reprint factory, Charlton came up with a pretty unique idea in 1981. They’d publish an anthology series (much like DC’s Showcase) but feature unknown talent (much like DC’s New Talent Showcase). It was a pretty risky experiment, and I’m assuming that it failed quite miserably, but it is quite interesting to check out all of these years later. It does seem odd that this series hit the stands at the zenith of Miller’s Daredevil, Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men and Wolfman and Perez’s Teen Titans. The Big Two were cranking out very professional looking opuses, and Charlton decided to counter with what amounts to a comic book one notch above a fanzine. The funny thing is; it works – at least for this issue.

While the book may appear to be a typical Charlton horror, it actually features two very nice science fiction stories. The first story, written by Bill Anderson and drawn by Mark Heike (who stuck around in funnybooks for quite some time), is a great little tip of the hat to EC, as it features an eerie lead up to a funny twist ending. It is very nicely executed. The second story “Escape From the Rock” is a very entertaining story with story and art by Michael Grace involving a prison run by aliens. Whatever happened to him? He had some real talent, as this is a very impressive debut. The final story is a bit more of a ‘paint by numbers’ Atlas-like horror story by Mark Heike involving a portal to hell. It’s not as good as the others, but still a solid piece of bronze-age horror. All in all, this book was a pleasant surprise that ended up being more than just another Charlton oddity.

1 comment:

macsnafu said...

I thought the Charlton Bullseye series was quite interesting. Admittedly, the first issue with The Question and Blue Beetle was pretty absymal, and the later Captain Atom issue wasn't very good, but I liked how they tried different genres each issue. The funny animials issue was enjoyable, as was the sword-and-science issue.
Interestingly, Charlton Bullseye was retitled Charlton Action and published 2, maybe 3 issues featuring Ditko's Static.