Murray

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Murray Comics

Murray Comics Logo

In 1979, a new short-lived "Murray Publishers" logo appeared, which was revamped into the "Murray the Cat" branding in mid-1980.

This ushered in a distinctive period of marketing experimentation and, in my mind, it signalled the beginning of the end for Australian DC reprints.

Murray Comics Logo

Cancellations

Within a few months of the change to the second Murray Comics logo, all existing comic titles ceased publication. What had been a relatively organised system of reprints became a chaotic array of one-shots.

Kara from Krypton
A collector's nightmare: Stories continued between issues with eclectic titles and no numbering. (Kara From Krypton, 1983)

New comics were published with one-off titles such as Kara from Krypton, Supergirl and Superboy, Assault on Titan's Tower, Rose and the Thorn, and Tales of the Supernatural.

Each month, stories from the various US series would appear under new titles, without any sequential numbering. Until that time, all of the titles had been numbered.

While 68 page and 84 pagers continued for a time, soon all new titles increased to 100 pages (including covers) for 90 cents and then 95 cents. The comics were printed on a larger page size than the US originals, closer in dimensions to a magazine than a comic.

The changing titles and lack of numbering made it difficult to follow continuing stories month by month. However, a new approach meant that each issue included multiple stories of the same character, generally from sequential issues of the US originals, and only occasionally using short older reprints to meet the page count.

Toward the end of this period, it appears that the publishers may have considered this approach was a mistake and later Murray Comics titles were again numbered, generally starting with issue 1. Series with restarted numbering included titles such as Supergirl and Super Heroes, which reprinted Justice League of America and, subsequently, the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Murray the Cat Fan Club
Murray the who?: A children's oriented marketing campaign missed the mark.

Strengths Abandoned

The traditional diversity of reprint stories—previously a strength of the Murray line—was abandoned at the same time as US comics become increasingly available in Australia, particularly through the new comic specialty shops that were appearing in capital cities.

Although the Australian reprints provided better "bang for buck" that the US imports, the appeal of the reprints was limited for fans as they were printed up to twelve months after the originals, in black and white, with lower production values.

KG Murray also began marketing subscriptions for the first time with the "Murray the Cat Fan Club" in 1983. The campaign seems intended to appeal to children and parents, at a time when adult fandom was developing in Australia and adult fans had access to US originals through comic shops.

Selling Out

Perhaps the changes meant that there was no money to be made in Australian DC reprints. In 1983, Kerry Packer purchased back all of the shares in ACP and turned it into a private company—and sold out the comics division to Federal Publishers.

It is interesting to note that during this transition period the reprint comics were distributed by Network Distribution Company, a division of ACP. However, distribution quickly returned to the dominant Gordon & Gotch.


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