1971/1974  “Dan Curtis” “Giveaway” Mini Comics

Today’s featured collectible is a pair of Star Trek mini comics:

It was surprisingly hard to dig up information on these comics. Here’s what I was able to gather:

  • These were from a series of nine mini comics (the rest all non-Star Trek).
  • The Star Trek comics in the series were excerpted from two Gold Key Star Trek comics.
  • They are often referred to as “Dan Curtis” comics, because the first comic in the series was a Dark Shadows comic. Dan Curtis was the creator of Dark Shadows, so “Dan Curtis Productions” is credited in the front of that first comic. Thus, although he had not a thing to do with these comics, because his name appeared in the front of the first comic people began referring to the whole series by his name.
  • They are commonly called “giveaways”.  I found one website that says they were “intended to be sold with bubble gum, like baseball cards, but never used.” This forum shows that they were eventually sold for 25 cents each in vending machines.
  • According to this site the “WS” on the covers stands for “Watkins Strathmore”, a company that Western Publishing (parent company of Gold Key Comics) had acquired in 1957.

While the “Dan Curtis” name may be inaccurate, I’ll admit that “Dan Curtis Giveaway comics” flows a lot better than “Watkins Strathmore Vending Machine comics”.

Oddly, the second Star Trek comic, which is number six in the series, is dated 1971, while the other, which is number two in the series, is dated 1974.

Now that we know a little more about their history, let’s actually take a closer look at the comics themselves:

The first comic is “The Enterprise Mutiny”.
Just before escorting a sensitive diplomat, Kirk is injured on an away mission. Apparently in the 23rd century, treatment for a potential concussion is a bandage around the head.
When Kirk begins acting irrationally, Spock and McCoy attempt to relieve him of command. He makes his escape via a conveniently marked elevator (not a “turbolift”?), then steals a rather unfamiliar looking shuttle.
The Enterprise follows Kirk back to the planet they’d come from to find that it was not Kirk at all, but an imposter, planted by the Klingons to disrupt the diplomatic mission. The real Kirk is rescued from an underground facility. While Kirk’s captors are not specifically called Klingons (they could be some other race employed by the Klingons), it’s implied, making them as unfamiliar looking as the shuttle.
After reading your comic, you could send off for a free roll of color film (we’re just a bit past that expiration date).
In our next comic, “Dark Traveler”, the Enterprise has some afterburners. Notice that the cover image is just the title page image reversed — but they didn’t bother to unflip the lettering on the warp nacelle.
In this comic, the Enterprise is boarded by a mysterious traveler who calls himself Nimrod. He belongs to a powerful race of aliens who had created themselves such a paradise that he got bored of it and left to roam the universe. Now ready to return, he takes control of the Enterprise to take him there.
Upon reaching Nimrod’s home world, they find that his deformed brother Niklon has built an army of robots and laid waste to the planet as revenge for being shunned.
With some help from the crew of the Enterprise, Nimrod disables Niklon’s robots, ending his reign over the planet. What intrigues me here is that there is absolutely no sympathy for Niklon. Obviously what he did was wrong, but he did it in response to mistreatment at the hands of his people. A Star Trek TV episode would certainly have explored that.
Oddly, after a comic that seems like it was written by someone not very familiar with Star Trek, it ends with a classic McCoy/Spock joke.
After this comic, you can collect some stamps. I missed that expiration again.
Here is the Dark Shadows comic that lent Dan Curtis’ name to the entire series…
…and here is the entire series. The matching color stripes make me wonder if the comics were printed together in sets of three, then cut apart.

Story-wise, these comics were not very good, even allowing for their being severely abridged. Both of them, but especially the second, seemed like they were written and illustrated by someone only very vaguely familiar with Star Trek. However, the somewhat mysterious background of the comics themselves, the set that they’re a part of, and the fact that they’re some of the earlier and more unique Star Trek items available make them pretty neat Star Trek collectibles, in my opinion.

Coming Soon on Zach Trek: Remember the Randoms we’ve had so far? Forget about that, buckle in for something Fascinating!

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