Top Three

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Top Three

Post by davidandrewsimpson » 08 Sep 2015, 14:42

Over in the What Comics Did You Buy Today thread, Paw Broon mentioned a pocket comic called Top Three, and I promised I'd write a little something about it. Here it is, in what I think is an appropriate forum.

Top Three was a 64-page pocket-sized comic published by Famepress from 1961 to 1966 for 131 issues.
Early issues contained three longish short stories, mostly period adventure stories judging by the three issues I have, plus filler shorts. Half the pages were in colour, on alternate spreads ie pages 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, etc to 64 were I colour while pages 2, 3, 6, 7, etc were black and white. Release was at the rate of one per month.
Somewhere between issues 21 and 35 the format changed to one full-length story per issue featuring one of a rotating cast of characters in black and white.

The characters featured were as follows:

Captain Moko (adventures in south seas in 18th century. From part way through the second story, drawn by Stelio Fenzo. These first two stories are available in French in an album called Capitaine Cormorant, judging by which these stories were originally published in a large format (possibly tabloid), then edited down to pocket size. I suspect that the editing was done in Italy, and Famepress bought in the camera ready artwork, doing only the (crude) lettering. I think this because of the odd page numbering: the first half of an issue would be numbered, say, 15/01 to 15/32, then 16/01 to 16/32. That suggests to me that these stories appeared in this form in issues 15 and 16 of a pocket sized anthology comic. Some of the page numbers suggest quite a thick comic, heading towards 200 pages
There's lots more online about Captain Moko but, sigh, most of it's in Italian, which I can't read very well. Moko was a regular in Top Three. It looks like he appeared every two months for two or three years.

Kiwi, Son Of The Jungle was also drawn by Stelio Fenzo. Kiwi was a junior Tarzan in a south sea island setting.

These are the two main characters I know through having read their adventures, bought largely for the artwork.
The following characters mostly seem to have appeared every two month:

Cris And Carry -- period adventure. Seems to have been short lived. The two issues I have aren't very good.

Sword Of Fire -- sort of The One Musketeer. A swordsman in Europe in the 18th century. Again, the one or two stories I have aren't very good.

The following I'm only familiar with from advertisements:

Prof Toppy seems to have been a madcap inventor.

The Hermit seems to have been some sort of mysterious crimebuster.

Anthony Audacious was a former pilot turned spy.

Most of these characters seem to have appeared in the Italian comic Radar. Famepress also published a comic called Radar, but it seems to have starred some sort of superhero, possibly transitioning to thriller stories (hey, I'm going off covers seen on Abebooks here)
I found this entry ... 0804533708 on Ebay which says that the Italian comic Radar featured "Tony L’audace, Professor Toppy E Soci, Kiwi, Tarvin Il Solitario, La Spada Di Fuoco." Even my limited Italian can translate those names.

As far as I can tell, these stories were bought in from the Italian publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, sort of an Italian Associated Press/Fleetway/IPC who still publish many magazines in Italy, including a line of comic books.

Frequency of publication climbed from one a month, to two a month by issue 36, four a month by issue 52, then back down to two a month by issue 103.

The last issue I have is 112, which has a World Distributors seal on the cover, because WD distributed it. Famepress ended in 1967, in which year WD started their short-lived World Adventure Library line of pocket comics which, like Famepress, were printed in Italy. I'm wondering if WD took over Famepress, and replaced their fading line of adventure, western, war and romance titles with a new line starring such American characters as Flash Gordon, Man From UNCLE, The Phantom, Superman and Batman.

The series ended with issue 131.

If anyone's interested in buying Top Three, though apart from the Kiwi and Captain Moko issues I wouldn't bother, 30th Century Comics always seem to have some in stock, and issues pop up on E Bay.

Various Famepress titles are listed on the Grand Comics Database, though with very little information. The relevant page is

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