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Thriller Picture Library History

Thriller Picture Library - swashes buckled, pistols brandished and villains slain - the background to this splendid comic book series.

Thriller Comics Library first appeared in the Knockout comic in the 1940s as a series of episodic strips based on classic adventure tales. This was the result of the imagination and enterprise of Edward Holmes and Leonard Matthews, editors of Amalgamated Press. Holmes and, later, Matthews were both editors of the Knockout comic and the interest in the strips therein formed the basis on which this small comic book series evolved (also known as Told in Pictures).

Matthews became editor of the series and it was his ideas and leadership which developed the stories and story adaptations that made them so popular with young (and nowadays, not so young) people. He engaged the scriptwriters and artists and fashioned the tales into a readable format and could be likened to Albert E. Kanter, the father of Classics Illustrated (see www.classicsillustrated.co.uk), as the energy and drive behind a series that ran to 450 different issues.

From the beginning, the stories concentrated on classic adventures and historical figures such as the Three Musketeers (an adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask), Robin Hood and Dick Turpin and new stories were written for them throughout the series.

Classic novels were adapted, with Treasure Island the second up after the Musketeers - a reprint of the 1945 Knockout serial drawn by Michael Hubbard and based on the 1934 film.

Whilst a number of Detective stories appeared in the series - The Secret of Monte Cristo and The Green Archer, for example, these were discontinued early on as the Super Detective Library series came into being (see www.superdetectivelibrary.co.uk).

The Pocket Book series had come into being with Cowboy Comics (see www.cowboypicturelibrary.co.uk) in April 1950, and although the Cowboy Comics series specialised on western stories, the Thriller series included many westerns and, later, a large number of war stories.

The series first appeared in 1951 when there were two issues published each month, rising to four in November 1955 and it continued until March 1963 with issue number 450. From issue number 1 through to issue 17 the series was just known as Thriller Comics Library and then a strap heading of Told in Thrilling Pictures occurred on issue 18 which was then shortened to Told in Pictures with issue 19 - that was then retained through to issue 190 when it was dropped (the series was known as Thriller Comics Library through to issue 162 and then changed simply to Thriller Picture Library from issue 163 onwards).

So it can be referred to by three different names and is - you may well have your own favourite, but I have covered all names within my websites and a Google search should have brought you to www.thrillerpicturelibrary.co.uk whichever name you typed in.

As time passed, the series introduced several war heroes including Dogfight Dixon from the Great War and Battler Britton from the Second World War as well as spy heroes including John Steel and Spy 13.

Children, particularly boys, were fascinated by stories of the Second World War in the 1960s and the Thriller series devoted more and more issues to these characters.

As their other war series became more popular (Battle Picture Library and War Picture Library, for instance (see links to the left)) the Thriller Picture Library series lost ground and ended with Flight from the Sun a Jet-Ace Logan story (Logan was a science fiction character first introduced in issue 383).

As we look back on this series and those times, we remember a gentler age, much less complicated and frenetic than today and, in collecting these lovely comic books, we perhaps seek to remind ourselves of an era which framed our lives and futures and inspired our imaginations and creativity.

I hope you have found this brief history of value - for a much more comprehensive background to this series click on the Reference Book link to the left.
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