Below is a revised version of an article I had published in MAD SCIENTIST magazine. I thought I did a pretty good job, but I would love to get some feedback. I also want to share this information with anyone who might be interested. I apologize if it's a bit long.
The following stores are all stores that I've dealt with or have become friends with through the forums and I highly recommend them all.Comics Castle-AKA Pat McCauslinAlpha Comics--ComicVortex--Comic Cellar--Hall of Heroes--Swifty's Olde Tyme Comic Shoppe
Turok, Son of Stone---The Greatest Dinosaur Comic of all Time
As a child of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s most of my allowance money, and later my paper route earnings, went to the purchase of comic books. I was there at the beginning of the superhero revival. I remember reading the adventures of Flash & Green Lantern in SHOWCASE and the Justice League in BRAVE & BOLD from DC Comics. I remember the Fly and Jaguar from Archie Comics, and I remember buying AMAZING FANTASY #15 with the first appearance of Spider-Man when it came out in 1962. I remember them all and I loved them all, but none ever held a higher place in my heart than TUROK, SON OF STONE.
When I was very young my parents would buy me comic books. It was from these that I learned to read. While I’m sure they must have bought me Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny I don’t remember any of them. The earliest comic that I can remember owning was TUROK #7 from early 1956. I can also remember almost every issue from that time on as well. No comic made more of an impression on my young mind. It had everything a young boy could want, good stories, good art, a great hero, and DINOSAURS.
Turok wasn’t the first comic to feature dinosaurs on the cover or in the stories. It wasn't even the first series featuring dinosaurs, but it was by far the longest running dinosaur comic of all time. To this day nothing else has come close. Turok was quite simply the greatest dinosaur comic of all time.
Turok, Son of Stone was published from December 1954 until April 1982. Issues #1 and #2 were published as Four Color Comics #596 and #656 as test issues to determine the popularity of the comic. Those issues as well as #3-29 were published by Dell Comics. Issues #30-85 were published by Gold Key, issues #86-125 were published by Gold Key with some issues also being done by Whitman. The final 5 issues #126-130 were done solely by Whitman.
For many years Dell comics were published by Western Printing and Lithographing. In March of 1961 with issue #23 Dell raised its prices from $.10 to $.15. Most other companies didn’t raise their prices until the end of 1961, and then only to $.12. This price difference had a major effect on Dell sales. Before lowering their price to $.12 with issue #29 Dell started to publish their books themselves in an attempt to save money. In retaliation Western went out and secured the rights to a number of titles previously held by Dell. These included Tarzan, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Lone Ranger, Turok and others. These were then published under the Gold Key banner. In later years Western started selling bagged 3 comic sets in areas not serviced by magazine distributors. This included the children’s section of department stores, 5 & dime stores etc. Since these were sold at a reduced price in the bagged set there had to be a way to keep them separate from their regular line of comics for return purposes. To do this they printed them with the Whitman logo. Many people think that the Whitman issues are 2nd printings. This is not so, they were printed at the same time as the Gold Key issues but packaged and distributed differently.
Turok was created by Matthew H. Murphy and Rex Maxon and contained some of the finest painted covers to ever grace a comic book. The first issue was painted by Robert C. Susor. Most of the other Dell covers were done by Morris Gollub. Morris Gollub started working for Dell in the mid 1940’s and continued with them until the early 1970’s. He was probably their finest cover artist, and painted covers for Indian Chief, Lassie, Tarzan and others. Most of the Gold Key/Whitman covers were painted by George Wilson who did most of the painted covers for all of Gold Key’s line of comics. His work can be seen on Tarzan, Korak, Space Family Robinson, Magnus and many more. The interior art for the entire run has been identified and I’ll gladly share this information with anyone who’s interested, but I don’t want to take up too much space here listing names and numbers. Suffice it to say that Rex Maxon did the first issue and Joe Certa, Bob Correa, Ray Bailey, Lee Elias, Jose Delbo, Bob Fujitani, Rex Maxon, Oscar Novelle, Jack Sparling and Alberto Giolitti did the rest. Most of the issues (88 of them) were done by Alberto Giolitti. The scripts are a bit harder to identify but most were done by the most prolific comic book writer of all time Paul S. Newman who took over the writing chores from Gaylord Dubois in issue #9. Paul S. Newman is credited with having written over 4,000 comic stories, more than any other writer ever. Besides his work on Turok he wrote for Bonanza, Doctor Solar, Indian Chief, Tarzan, Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon as well as Archie and Superman among others.
Turok and his young friend Andar were American Indian braves of the Mandan tribe who, while searching for water, became lost in a series of underground caves. Upon exiting the caves they found themselves trapped in a sunken valley filled with strange animals and often stranger people. The Lost valley is located north of the Rio Grande in the Carlsbad region of New Mexico. Their adventures take place several hundred years before the coming of the white man. This time reference could be argued since there are a couple times when reference is made to riding horses back at the tribe, and horses didn’t exist in America until the advent of the white man. I tend to think of the time period as late 1700’s. This is well after the horse was introduced to America, but before the white man had made any contact with the Mandan tribe in the south western desert region. This of course is immaterial to the story since the Lost Land is populated by all forms of prehistoric animals. In the earliest issues, while the series was struggling to find direction, prehistoric mammals were often featured. The last of these appeared in issue #11. I assume they were either killed off by the dinosaurs or weren’t found in any of the caverns that Turok visited from issue #12 on.
In the earliest issues dinosaurs were called “hoppers”. In issue #9 they were called “honkers” after the sound they made. Issue #12 was the last time they were referred to as “hoppers”. The advantage that Turok and Andar had that enabled them to stay alive in their hostile surroundings was their intellect, their bow and arrows, and the ability to make fire. All three of these were things that the cave tribes of the Lost Valley didn’t have. In the earliest issues Turok made friends with a cave tribe and shared this knowledge with them, but in later issues this knowledge was kept a closely guarded secret. While it often got them in trouble they realized that it was this small advantage that kept them alive. Their arrows were made powerful enough to kill the largest dinosaurs by tipping the points in poison. The poison came from root juice of special bushes in issue #1, then from poison leaves in issue #10, and finally from red berries in a poison berry patch. The early poison worked slowly, but after the berries were found the poison worked almost instantly. I often thought it was interesting that the poison would kill the dinosaurs but that eating the poisoned animals afterward was never a problem. This was never explained. I sometimes thought that cooking the meat killed the effects of the poison, but the cave tribes ate their meat raw and often ate Turok’s kill. If anyone has a good explanation please let me know.
In issue #39 it is stated that Turok is 25 winters old and Andar is 15. I’m not sure if that is their age at the time they entered Lost Valley or their age at that point in the series. Since time seems to move slower in Lost Valley perhaps it’s both.
Throughout the entire run of Turok there were very few continuing characters. In the early issues there was a friendly caveman named Lanok who appeared in several issues. This was while the series was still struggling to find its direction. It wasn’t until issue #84 that Turok and Andar met someone they could truly call a friend. He was either an Incan or Aztec warrior named Hutec. In the comic he was said to be from the Tolnac tribe. Hutec appeared in issues 84, 85, 86 & 95. What made him special was that he was more advanced than Turok and Andar. One of the things that helped keep Turok alive was his intellectual edge on his counterparts. In dealing with Hutec he didn’t have this edge. Luckily Hutec was smart enough to realize that Turok would make a valuable ally, and a dangerous enemy. These four issues are among my personal favorites, and in talking to other Turok fans over the years I know I’m not alone.
RARITIES AND ODDITIES
As mentioned before Turok ran for 130 issues. The covers to issues 131 and 132 and story art to 131-134 also exist. There was also a Gold Key Giant #1. This issue is listed in the Overstreet Price Guide as having two different cover stocks. This is NOT true. The person that gave this information to Overstreet assumed that since Gold Key published some of their Giants with a plain paper cover made of the same paper stock as the interior pages that they did it with all of them. This was not the case. While "Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle" and "Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck" were published in this format they were not published with glossy covers. Also, the issues that had plain paper covers came with three staples while the glossy covers only had two. This shows that it wasn’t just a matter of changing the paper, the entire printing process would have to be changed.
Turok also appeared in March of Comics #378, 399 & 408. These were half size giveaway comics that contained new stories. Issue #408 did have a reprint cover from issue #20, but with one dinosaur and a volcano missing. This reprinting and changing of the cover can also be seen in issues 19/93, 28/94, 31/97, 52/99, 58/98 & 72/126.
Two reprint books featuring Turok were Golden Comics Digest #31 which, as the title suggests, was a digest sized comic that reprinted the first two issues and Dan Curtis Giveaways #5 which was about the size of a dollar bill and contained a shortened reprint of issue #78.
The first issue with a Whitman logo was #86, but not all issues were published by both Gold Key & Whitman. The Whitman editions were #86, 89-95, 97-99, 101, 102, 104, 105, 110, 111, 116-119 and of course #126-130 that are only available as Whitman editions. Other editions may exist, but so far I have no proof, and I've been looking for years.
There were a number of issues with variant prices. Issue #62 was published as a $.12 comic and as a $.15 comic. The higher priced version is the scarcest. Issues #7-12 were published with a $.10 and a $.15 cover price, presumably to test the market with the higher price. The $.15 version is by far the scarcest version and isn’t even mentioned in the Overstreet Price Guide. They were only sold in the San Francisco Bay area. Issues #78-83 were published as both $.15 and $.20 editions. The $.20 versions were sold in Canada, although there is no other difference.
Throughout its entire run Turok never tried to be anything more than what it was. It was a simple but fun title that reached the heart of every child and adult with a love of dinosaurs. It never talked down to the readers and never changed its basic premise. At the time of its demise it was one of the longest running titles of all time. Truly a classic of the Silver Age of comics.[/left]