Murray Comics—A Brief History by Kevin Patrick

During this period KG Murray dominated Australian comics

Australian reprints of American comic books published between 1950s-1980s have become popular items with modern-day collectors.

During this period, the K. G. Murray Company (KGM) dominated Australian comics publishing, yet comic books were just one part of this phenomenally successful publishing enterprise.

Kenneth G. Murray was a Sydney-based advertising agent who also published two trade journals when he decided to launch Man ('The Australian Magazine for Men') in December 1936. Modelled after America's Esquire magazine, Man proved to be a surprising success in Depression-era Australia. By 1939, Man was selling 60,000 copies per month. Murray was sufficiently confident of the title's success to launch a digest-sized companion, Man Junior, in 1937.

With the end of World War Two and the easing of paper rationing and new publication embargoes, the K. G. Murray Company entered the comic book market in 1946.

Between 1946-47, KGM published several one-shot comics written and illustrated by Australian cartoonists. These included Flameman (c.1946), a superhero strip by Moira Bertram, High Compression (c.1947), an Italian Grand Prix mystery drawn by Albert De Vine and The Lost Patrol (c.1946), an adventure set in postwar New Guinea, written & drawn by Hart Amos.

Several of KGM's early comics appeared under the short-lived "Blue Star" logo, including Vernon Hayle's sci-fi comic, Man Out of Space (1 issue/1946), Noel Cook's Treasure Planet (1 issue/c.1947) and Royce Bradford's Valley of Doom (1 issue/c.1947). These early KGM titles are extremely rare and today are worth upwards of $100 each.

KGM took a major gamble in 1947 with the launch of Climax Color Comic, the first full-colour, original Australian comic magazine. Considered by critics and collectors to be amongst the best Australian comics of the 1940s, the Climax series showcased work by the some of the country's best cartoonists, including Hart Amos (Nos. 1, 3 & 8), Moira Bertram (Nos. 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 12) and Len Lawson (Nos. 6 & 13).

(It's worth noting that this colour series was actually preceded by KGM's black & white, one-shot title, Climax All-Australian Comic, which also featured strips by Noel Cook and Hart Amos.)