Gold Key and Whitman comics were produced by Western Publishing. Information about the company, its printing and distribution practices, writers and artists, is sketchy. I don't have access to authoritative reference material. These notes are based on examination of comics, discussion with other collectors, articles about Western Publishing and Star Trek comics, auction and sales listings, and of course, the usual spurious subspace transmissions.
All sixty-one issues of the Star Trek series were published with the Gold Key logo. Gold Key titles are coded with an eight digit number printed below the logo. Star Trek codes are 10210-YMM for issues #1-13 and 90210-YMM for the rest, where 210 is the identification number assigned to Star Trek in Western's large stable of licensed titles, Y is the last digit of the publication year, and MM is the two digit publication month.
Issues #1-9 have photo covers. Issues #10-29 and #31-44 have painted covers with inset b&w photos of Kirk and Spock. Issue #30 has a line art cover. Issues #29, #35, and #37 reprint issues #1, #4, and #5, with painted covers. Issue #45 reprints #7 including the photo cover and is the first issue with a barcode. Issues #46-48 have painted covers without inset photos. Color inset photos return on the painted covers of issues #49-59. Issues #60-61 have line art covers without inset photos.
Issue #1 was published Oct 1967 according to the publisher code, but most references use the internal publisher date, Jul 1967, found on the bottom edge of the splash page. Issue #2 appeared the following year Jun 1968 and issue #3 Dec 1968. Gold Key Star Trek comics were published on a quarterly schedule beginning with issue #4 (Jun 1969), bi-monthly with issue #19 (Mar 1975), and roughly eight times a year beginning issue #35 (Nov 1975). Reprints were occasionally used to fill out the schedule. The series became a monthly publication with issue #53 (Jul 1978) until cancellation.
Writer and artist credits appeared for the first time in issue #47 (Sep 1977) and cover artists were never credited. The names of uncredited writers and artists are discussed in articles about Gold Key comics and occasionally in auction descriptions. Anecdotal references from people who also worked on Gold Key comics are probably the most reliable sources of information, but I've included all names.
Writers (credited and uncredited) include Dick Wood, Len Wein, Arnold Drake, Gerry Boudreau, Allan Moniz, George Kashdan, Doug Drexler, Paul S. Newman and John Warner. Warner also wrote a script which was intended for publication as issue #62.
The first two issues of Star Trek were drawn by Italian artist Nevio Zeccara working from photos of the actors and starship. There appears to be some confusion about the spelling of his last name which also appears as Zacarra, Zecarra, Zaccara, Zaccaro and Zeccarra in various references.
Alberto Giolitti took over artwork with issue #3 (Sep 1968) and provided artwork for 25 issues. Giolitti spent 33 years working for Western Publishing. He worked in the US for several years then returned to Italy in 1962 where he established a studio. Giolitti never saw an episode of Star Trek and worked from photographs. He was assisted by other artists in his studio, including Giovanni Ticci, Massimo Belardinelli, Giorgio Cambiotti, Mario Pedrazzi, and Angelo Todaro.
Alden McWilliams took over art duties in 1976, probably with issue #38 (Jul 1976) and remained the regular artist until the end of the series. McWilliams worked for all of the prominent comics publishers and on many titles. He was also the artist for several newspaper comic strips. Some of his work is credited as Al McWilliams. McWilliams may have inked some of Giolitti's pencils. Additional artwork has been attributed to Mike Roy.
George Wilson painted the cover of issue #10 (May 1971) and his fantasy-style artwork appears on many of the 48 issues with a painted cover (#10-29, #31-44, and #46-59). Wilson only painted covers. He worked on other Gold Key comics including the Phantom, Turok, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits; Classics Illustrated comics; the Avon Phantom novels; and many other paperback books.
The line art covers of issues #60 (Feb 1979) and #61 (Mar 1979) are attributed to Frank Bolle, another artist who frequently worked for Western Publishing. Bolle was the artist scheduled to work on John Warner's unpublished script for issue #62.
Initially, captions and dialogue text were limited to a maximum of twenty-five words per panel. Star Trek characters who weren't televison series regulars couldn't be used. These limitations were relaxed toward the end of the series run.
Until recently, most comic book price guides indicated that variant issues of Gold Key Star Trek #1-3 were published. These issues have pin-up photos on the back cover instead of ads, and additional photos or features on the inside covers. The variant issues are identified in some price guides as #1A, #2A, and #3A. With the 2010 publication of the 40th edition of Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, some confusion has been clarified by comics historian Jon McClure. Star Trek #1 with a pin-up photo on the back cover is the only version that exists and is not a variant. Star Trek #2 was published with ads on the back cover and also a pin-up photo back cover. Both versions of Star Trek #2 exist with 15¢ covers. Star Trek #2 with a 12¢ cover and back cover ad exists. Star Trek #2 with a 12¢ cover and pin-up photo back cover may not exist. The regular edition of Star Trek #3 has ads on the back cover and is also available with a pin-up photo back cover. Based on CGC census figures available online, Star Trek #2 with a photo back cover is scarce and Star Trek #3 with a photo back cover is very scarce, accounting for 16% and 11% of the CGC-graded population respectively.
|Star Trek #1 12c (photo)|
|Star Trek #2 12c (ad)||Star Trek #2 12c (photo)||Star Trek #2 15c (ad)||Star Trek #2 15c (photo)|
|Star Trek #3 15c (ad)||Star Trek #3 15c (photo)|
McClure also writes that some Gold Key comics have variants with higher cover prices. These issues were published during periods when Western Publishing distributed comics with a higher cover price in Canada. Canadian cover price variants exist with cover dates ranging from Apr 1968 to Aug 1968 for 15¢ covers of 12¢ issues and from Mar 1972 to Apr 1973 for 20¢ covers of 15¢ issues. Gold Key Star Trek comics with cover price variants are Star Trek #2 (12¢ and 15¢ covers) and issues #14-18 (15¢ and 20¢ covers).
There are also Gold Key Star Trek comics with cover prices in British pence which are identical to US editions except for the cover price. These comics were probably printed at the same time as comics with US cover prices, but the quantities produced aren't known. Since the UK comic book market is much smaller, the entire print run is probably similar to the Whitman editions, no more than 10%. Gold Key pence cover price variants are known to exist for issues published between May 1973 and Nov 1975, but earlier or later examples may exist.
30¢ reverse price variants of 35¢ Gold Key comics were published from Dec 1977 to Mar 1978. A reverse variant issue of Star Trek #50 has a 30¢ cover price instead of the more common 35¢ cover price.
Western Publishing also printed Star Trek comics with Whitman logos. The Gold Key logo was used for newsstand distribution and the Whitman logo for retail shops. Whitman Star Trek comics don't have the eight digit number below the logo, otherwise they are identical. Whitman editions were typically distributed in bagged lots of three comics, called three-packs, from late 1971 to the early 1980's, and account for an estimated 5-10% of existing copies. Whitman Star Trek comics may exist for issues #12 (Nov 1971) through #61 (Mar 1979). The earliest Whitman Star Trek issue I'm aware of is #20 (Sep 1973) and the latest is #61 (Mar 1979). Whitman editions of Star Trek comics are indicated in the table below and a Whitman Star Trek comics cover gallery is also available. The early Whitman editions are probably reprints. Later Whitman editions may have been printed and distributed simultaneously with Gold Key editions. As a side note, some Gold Key Star Trek comics were distributed in bags, like the Whitman Star Trek comics.
The date ranges noted above are not exact. Undiscovered variants may exist. There are also reports that some issues of Gold Key Star Trek comics were printed with different background colors, reversed cover art, additional photos, and multiple covers. Any help illuminating the history of Gold Key and Whitman Star Trek comics would be appreciated.
You look at a gallery of known Gold Key and Whitman cover variants or the spreadsheet below. There are still questions that need answers.
I'm working on a list of Gold Key Star Trek comics from around the world. Here are a few websites with information about international editions of Gold Key Star Trek comics.
Alberto Giolitti, comic book artist http://www.albertogiolitti.com/bio.php
Angelo Todaro, comic book artist http://www.angelotodaro.it/bio.php
Alexander, John. Star Trek Comic Variants Gallery. http://www.startrektrekie.com/
Becattini, Alberto. Giolitti, Father of Turok. Comic Book Artist #22, Oct 2002. pp 38-43. Review of artist Alberto Giolitti's career.
Becattini, Alberto. Western's Top Ten. Comic Book Artist #22, Oct 2002. pp 120-121. Overview of artist Alden McWilliams' Gold Key work.
Benton, Mike. Science Fiction Comics: The Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1992. The Taylor History of Comics Number 3. ISBN 0-87833-789-X.
Collectables - Gold Key Comics: Star Trek's Original Comics. Star Trek: The Magazine, Vol. 1, Iss. 22, Feb 2000. pp 103-106.
Comics Guaranty, LLC. CGC census and population report. http://www.cgccomics.com/census/issues_bytitle.asp?title=Star+Trek&publisher=Gold+Key
Evanier, Mark. What was the relationship between Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics? http://povonline.com/iaq/IAQ07.htm
Giberti, Andrea. The Trek of Nevio Zeccara. Comic Book Artist #22, Oct 2002. pp 79. Interview of artist Nevio Zeccara.
I.N.D.U.C.K.S: The Disney Comics Database. Article on Western production. http://bolderbast.inducks.org/xpw.html
McClure, Jon. Solving the Whitman mystery, part one. Comic Book Marketplace #85, Sep 2001. pp 45-49.
McClure, Jon. Solving the Whitman mystery, part two. Comic Book Marketplace #86, Oct 2001. pp 46-51.
McClure, Jon. A history of publisher experimentation and variant comic books. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide 40th Edition, 2010-2011, Gemstone Publishing, July 2010. pp 1010-1038.
O'Neill, Patrick Daniel. The first 'Star Trek' comics: Less than gold? Comics Buyer's Guide 1240, Krause Publications, 22 Aug 1997. pp 26, 28, and 30 with b&w artwork.
Rhoades, Ed. The Phantom Painter. Comic Book Artist #22, Oct 2002. pp 74-75. Interview of cover artist George Wilson.
Simpson, Patrick. Gold Key/Whitman comics spreadsheet, 2010.
Wein, Len. Writing Star Trek for fun and profit; or you try thinking like a know-it-all alien with green blood and pointed ears and see what it does to your head. The Monster Times Vol. 1 #2, 16 Feb 1972. pp 7-11.