By Stephen Cranch, September 2022
“We have sixty 75c Canadian Price Variants spread over the twelve titles that Charlton were putting out during the eleven months comprising September 1983 to July 1984. They’re not the easiest set of variants to collect and some appear to be quite scarce. This may be due to the fact that few collectors go for Charlton and more copies might come to market if there was a greater enthusiasm for them. I love Charlton myself, so will be slowly picking off those remaining books until I hopefully one day complete the set.”
A total of sixty Charlton Canadian Price Variants are confirmed to exist between the cover months of September 1983 to July 1984 inclusive. All sixty of them are priced at 75c compared to the regular US price of 60c. Below are the two versions of Scary Tales #40, to illustrate:
Charlton had a total of twelve ongoing bi-monthly titles running during the CPV cover date window, comprising a total of 64 books. All but four of them exist as CPVs for reasons that I will explain later in this article.
The table below shows each of the twelve titles, the standard issue range based on the September 1983 ~ July 1984 cover date range and the sixty confirmed CPV issues – note that there is a nice, uniform five CPVs for each title:
I currently own about forty of the known CPV issues and in each case the only difference I have found between them and their 60c US priced cousins is the cover price. There are no other elements that differ and both issue types have the same internal pages. In the photo below of my 60c and 75c copies of Scary Tales #40, you can see that the indicia text says “…price per copy 60c U.S.A. 75c Canada” in both issues:
There are two additional elements relating to the pricing on the Canadian copies that are worth mentioning. Firstly, each Canadian priced issue also carries a UK price of 25p. Apart from it not making much sense, to have a UK price included on a book destined for Canada, the printer clearly had the notion of dual pricing in mind at this point. If you print all the required prices on the same issue there is no need for plate changes and any associated operational controls and costs, so it’s a wonder that it took them twelve months to cotton on to the benefits of extending that dual pricing arrangement to triple US/UK/CAN pricing.
The second interesting point on pricing is that you can still see the original US 60c price underneath the presumably overprinted Canadian price on a number of the 75c Canadian issues:
You don’t often see this effect on price variants, as most were produced, as I understand it, by having the US price ‘scratched off’ the print plate and replaced with the required variant price slug to then continue the run. You can see that more standard printing approach illustrated here on Ghost Manor #75, where a slither of the left edge of the 60c price is still showing:
When I decide to study variant subsets for the first time, the very first thing I try to do is establish the start and end cover dates which represent the variant production window. Sometimes, every ongoing title in the start month, once established, will have a variant copy printed. Sometimes not. We know that a comic publisher’s monthly titles weren’t all printed at the same time but staggered across a monthly production cycle – usually around three months prior to the cover date. It doesn’t always follow therefore that every title produced with a given cover month will have a variant produced for that month – there has to be start and end point for the instruction to reach the printers, and that instruction can come at any point in the production cycle of the overall title output for that particular cover month.
Theorising, the instruction to produce a variant set may have specified that every title planned for a given month should have a price variant made. Or, it may just have been a date driven instruction – the printer starts making them from the point of advice and, by definition, some books dated a particular month may have already been printed. This latter scenario is the likely reason that four of the September 1983 dated books do not have corresponding 75c CPVs – they had already been printed at the point the instruction was received. The evidence to back this up can be seen in the table below which shows the order of production based on the dates provided by Mike’s Comic Newsstand (“On Sale” dates):
That’s one hell of a coincidence isn’t it, and even if it wasn’t directly relevant to the CPV production, no one has found a 75c priced copy for any of the four books produced prior to the 9th of June anyway.
The final cover month for CPVs is July 1984 and for the books cover dated August 1984, the penny finally drops and the printers adopt triple US/UK/CAN pricing, effectively ending the need for separate Canadian versions. Here’s War #45 and 46, to illustrate the change:
Charlton then went on to change the US price to 75c for titles cover dated September 1984, which I think created some confusion as to when the CPV window ended.
So, to recap, we have sixty 75c Canadian Price Variants spread over the twelve titles that Charlton were putting out during the eleven months comprising September 1983 to July 1984. They’re not the easiest set of variants to collect and some appear to be quite scarce. This may be due to the fact that few collectors go for Charlton and more copies might come to market if there was a greater enthusiasm for them. I love Charlton myself, so will be slowly picking off those remaining books until I hopefully one day complete the set.
Thanks for reading, and here to close are a few of my favourite copies – one for each title: