It's been called the 3-legged dog of comics. The street-fighting cousin of Marvel and DC.
Maybe you've heard of them? ...probably not.
But, you do know the industry legends that called it home.
This is Charlton Comics.
Charlton employed guys like Steve Ditko and Dick Giordano. Ditko went on to co-create Spider-Man, and Giordano achieved iconic status as an artist and editor over at DC. But, there are so many others: Denny O’Neil, Bob Layton, Paul Kupperberg, Joe Sinnott, Roy Thomas, Frank McLaughlin, John Byrne and even Neal Adams.
That's just scratching the surface.
On the flip side, their characters are a different entity of their own. “The Watchmen,” a critically acclaimed and hugely influential comic that was adopted into a movie in 2009, was based on Charlton Comics characters.
It doesn’t even finish there.
You see, Charlton’s legacy doesn't begin and end with the legends that worked there, or even the characters that went on superstar... err...superhero status.
The captivating story of Charlton starts with a prologue, and that's the story of one of its co-founders, John Santangelo. We can't give you spoilers, but in the age of TMZ and tabloids, Charlton fits right in. It's positively scandalous!
Charlton offers up an extraordinary piece of pop culture history, but sadly it has nearly been forgotten.
We can’t let that happen. Charlton was an expansive publishing factory located in Derby, CT, and for decades was a rival to Marvel and DC during its run. They did what others didn’t dare to try.
We think it’s about time someone honored Charlton and their tremendous contributions to the comic book world.
So what’s our origin story? It’s not spectacular, or even exciting.
Tired feet and washing dishes.
We were at the 2014 ComiCONN in Bridegeport, CT. It was an awesome venue with lots to do, but after a few hours, we really needed a break off our feet. Keith noticed a ticker ribbon message advertising a panel featuring Denny O'Neil, Bob Layton, and Paul Kupperberg.
Perfect! Comic book legends and our excuse to sit!
The Ticker Ribbon from the 2014 CT ComiCONN
We snuck into the panel room as Paul Kupperberg took the stage and announced the panel topic: Charlton Comics!
Huh...what? Charlton? Didn't they go away like, 30 years ago? "And, what the heck is a Charlton? One of those candies you put in the freezer...?"
What about Batman, Denny? What about Iron Man, Bob? Why did you kill Archie, Paul? Charlton?!?!?
But, what the heck, we’re nerds who like comics, and the room is pretty packed, so let’s give it 10 minutes and then get back to walking the floor. The whole panel included Paul Kupperberg, Bob Layton, Denny O'Neil, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, & Frank McLaughlin.
Charlton Comics panel at 2014 CT ComiCONN
L to R: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Frank McLaughlin, Paul Kupperberg, Denny O'Neil, and
After maybe 2 minutes, we moved from the back of the room to the second row. By the end of the hour, we were hooked. These guys had some hilarious stories… which we’d tell you now, but then you won’t watch the movie!
Cut to the next morning: Keith is doing dishes thinking about the Charlton panel….. wait a minute!!!! Why not do a documentary about Charlton!
Keith called Jackie with the idea. To get things going, Keith would call Mitch Hallock, who Produces TerrifiCon. Mitch knew some of the guys from Charlton, so maybe he could help us track them down!
Jackie’s response: “Nope, I’ll be there in 20 minutes. We’re driving back down to the con and cold pitching these guys.”
Jackie & Keith with Bob Layton after the original Charlton Comics panel
It’s been over 2 years since that day. The guys obviously said ‘Yes’ to the pitched idea. Since then, we’ve expanded the team, done more interviews, and have been hitting the books to crack the whole saga wide open. Stay tuned (and make sure to sign up for updates) as we continue our journey on Charlton Comics: The Movie!
Up and Atom
... Captain Atom that is!
- Jackie and Keith