Shock Gibson vs an Army of the Dead in Speed Comics #1, Up for Auction

Speed Comics was the first and only periodical title of any kind ever put out by a forgotten publisher named Brookwood.  The company is part of a string of little-remembered publishers associated with Frank Z. Temerson and Isaac W. Ullman.  Ullman was essentially a business investor who had come into publishing from the early film industry (among other endeavors), and he and Temerson were quick to buy and sell publishing assets when they felt the situation merited it.  Historically, the best-remembered example of this is their magazine publishing company Ulltem buying distressed Comics Magazine Company assets in mid-1937, publishing them for five months, and then flipping them to Centaur. While this and other efforts by Ullman and/or Temerson have widely been regarded as a failures in the comic book business, taken in the context of Ullman's career, it may simply have been an extension of his business strategy. Centaur turned the Ulltem titles into a solid and well-remembered comic book publishing company.  Ullman and Temerson jumped right back into the business less than two years later with another corporate shell and the made-for-the-moment title Speed Comics, put it out for 11 months, and then flipped it to Leo Greenwald, who was also publishing Champ Comics.  Greenwald soon gave way to Harvey (via history that is not yet clear) who turned Speed Comics into a successful and historically important title that would go on to last for eight years.  There's a Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939) Condition: VG and a bunch of other issues of Speed Comics up for auction in the 2022 August 28-29 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122235 at Heritage Auctions.

Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939)
Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939)

The April, 1940 Writer's Digest explained the emergence of Brookwood for Speed Comics, spinning out of the comings and goings of Ulltem and other Temerson/Ullman publishing shells. "Lex Publications, 381 Fourth Avenue, which superseded Ultem and Resolute Publications, is in its turn out. Psychology and Psychology Digest have gone to new owners at Steinway Hall. The former continues publication with Miss Eldorado Field as editor, but is undergoing a change in policy and is not open to outside contributions now. Silk Stocking Stories, which was also put out by Lex, is out of the market, having enough paid-up material on 'hand for months. But there are plans afoot for new pulps and some comics, under various new, corporation names. Brookwood Publishing Company is one of these, issuing Speed Comics. No outside market on this. Tem Publishing Company is another of the names to be used. The new corporations continue at 381 Fourth Avenue."

Brookwood itself is named after a small town near Birmingham, Alabama. While it was officially incorporated in 1977, comics industry pioneer Frank Z. Temerson considered it his hometown when he graduated from the Chattanooga College of Law in 1913. Ullman was also from the area, and their families knew each other. Temerson must have had fond memories of the place, because he named the comic book publisher he formed with Maurice Rosenfield and Maurice's father J. A. Rosenfield Brookwood, after that small Alabama town.  It's widely known that comics publisher Et-Es-Go as a company name was inspired by shorthand for Temerson's younger sisters Ethel, Esther, and Goldie, and lesser known that publisher Helnit is named after Temerson's nieces, Helen and Anita. Temerson had yet another imprint called Nita as well.  Temerson's roots were obviously important to him.

Speed Comics star Shock Gibson was a superhero in the Superman mold.  An experiment involving chemistry and electricity went awry and transformed a scientist into a superhuman.  Shock Gibson had incredible strength, but interestingly, he could not fly and seemed to have a limited degree of invulnerability.  While the character was not particularly unique, he was used in ways that made Speed Comics stand out.  The title generated a number of great covers, and stories such as Shock Gibson fighting an army of zombies under the control of a mad scientist were memorable. While the historically important comic book title Speed Comics is usually associated with Harvey Publications, the title actually got its start at Temerson and Ullman's Brookwood. There's a Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939) Condition: VG and a bunch of other issues of Speed Comics up for auction in the 2022 August 28-29 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122235 at Heritage Auctions.

Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939)
Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939)

Speed Comics #1 (Harvey, 1939) Condition: VG. The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books rates this issue a "7" ("scarce") in its Scarcity Index. Origin and first appearance of Shock Gibson. Dick Briefer story and art. Bob Powell, Klaus Nordling, and George Tuska art. Piece missing from cover, spine tear. Overstreet 2022 VG 4.0 value = $918.

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Mark SeifertAbout Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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