When I collect something, I am very much a completist, which is why I limit what I allow myself to collect. If I ever were to collect Batman comics, for instance, I would need to find them all, and there are thousands of them, many quite rare. That would mean losing my house, my retirement savings, and my wife—and I want to keep them all, so adios, Batman.
Instead, I’ve primarily focused my obsessive comics collecting on three science fiction franchises: Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and Battlestar Galactica. I do read other titles (Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Watchmen, Preacher, Books of Magic, Sandman, Lucifer, Star Wars, and some other odds and ends), but those three are my main fascinations from a collecting standpoint, and I take them seriously, as evidenced by the indexes I maintain for Trek, POTA, and BSG comics. As you can see from those linked indexes, there’s a lot on my shelves. I pride myself on finding everything if I can.
It’s that obsessive-compulsive mindset that brought my notice to a branch of comics collecting I had long overlooked: international comics. For years, I had focused on collecting U.S. comics, but I soon learned there were issues released outside the United States—so naturally, I had to find them as well. What I quickly discovered is that this is a rabbit hole down which it is alarmingly easy to plummet. That didn’t stop me, though, and after an exhaustive and staggering amount of research, I ended up tracking down every international comic (original stories, not translated reprints of U.S. comics) I could find for those three franchises, with only a couple minor exceptions (which I’ll discuss below).
As far as I know, I now have on my shelves every story ever published for all three properties in comic book or strip form. Still, every time I convince myself that’s the case, another one I hadn’t known about shows up on my radar and the search begins anew. With that in mind, I’ve decided to crowdsource my collection by offering a contest to my fellow collectors. The contest is this: If you can find something I do not have (keeping in mind the criteria outlined below), I will send you a free, personalized book I’ve written or edited.
The criteria: I only collect a single version of each comic—for me, it’s all about the stories, so having dozens of different versions of the same comic holds little appeal. I also focus on in-universe comics. So if you were to find a variant cover or a reprint or a foreign translation of a U.S. comic, it wouldn’t count for the contest since I already have that story in a different format. Also, it needs to be something in print (not webstrips), and I don’t collect parodies (MAD, Cracked, etc.), fanzines, or comics that are not presented as in-universe—so no biographical comics about Gene Roddenberry’s life, for instance, and no non-Star Trek tales written by Leonard Nimoy.
I should note that I don’t worry about concepts like “canon,” “non-canon,” “authorized,” or “unauthorized,” for two reasons: 1) I have several unlicensed comics in my collection and they’re fun, and 2) I think fans tend to spend too much time worrying whether or not stories are canon and not enough time simply enjoying them. If I had my way, the word “canon” would be shot out a cannon. So feel free to suggest unlicensed and unauthorized comics. If they fit the criteria, I still want them. And to make it easier for anyone interested in the contest, I am pasting images below of the non-U.S. comics I already have on my shelves.
Original Star Trek comics have been published in numerous countries outside the United States. In the 1960s and ’70s, Trek strips appeared in 256 issues of Joe 90: Top Secret, TV21, and Valiant, as well in associated annuals. I have the complete set, and I worked with IDW to package them in a three-volume set of hardcover books. In the 1970s, Brazilian publisher Editora Abril reprinted a handful of Gold Key issues under the title Jornada Nas Estrelas, and they included two original tales that didn’t appear in Gold Key.
In Germany, Gong magazine offered photocomic adaptations of Trek episodes and films from 1973 to 1984. I have scans of the Gong strips but not the original issues in which they appeared; if anyone has a full set to sell, feel free to let me know. The Indonesian market, meanwhile, produced at least three original Star Trek stories, though none were licensed or authorized. Published by Penerbit Cypress, they were titled Planet Kembar, Death Duel on Vulcan, and Kedundorn. In addition, a pair of uncut comic strip cards (a popular branch of Indonesian comics collecting) offered original Trek tales aimed at children. They’re goofy and silly, and I was happy to get my hands on them.
The Galactica franchise has seen numerous non-U.S. comics in print—and surprisingly, most were licensed works. Back in the 1970s, Britain’s Look-in magazine published 52 installments of a weekly BSG comic strip, spanning four 13-part storylines. Meanwhile, France’s Télé Junior magazine and its Belgian sister-magazine, Super J, published a 28-chapter serialized strip, with the same stories appearing in Télé Junior and Super J. (Yes, I have all 80 issues) Some of the French strips were collected in a pair of books titled Galactica: 8 Histoires Completes. A pair of hardcover annuals was also produced in Britain, courtesy of Grandreams.
All of the above were licensed products. On the unauthorized side, a one-page strip appeared in Holland’s Eppo magazine, while an unknown Indonesian publisher created at least one comic with the misspelled title Galatica.
Planet of the Apes:
There were a few licensed Apes comics published in the United Kingdom. Marvel UK’s weekly Planet of the Apes magazine repackaged Marvel’s monthly Apes magazines from the United States, but it briefly ran out of material so the editors turned a storyline from its own Killraven comic into an Apes tale about a rebel named Apeslayer. The Apeslayer saga appeared in issues #23-30 of the British run… and, frankly, it’s not good. Grandreams, meanwhile, produced a trio of hardcover annuals based on the Planet of the Apes television show, which provide much better reads than Apeslayer.
But it’s in the unlicensed arena that Apes comics truly exploded. Argentina saw the publication of seven Spanish-language comics based on the TV show, titled El Planeta de Los Simios. Hungarian readers were treated to A Majmok Bolygõja, a comic adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s source novel, Monkey Planet. And Indonesian publisher Maranatha produced six Indo POTA comics (with eight covers since issues #1-2 each had two covers), which are surprisingly good stories. (I always have my foreign-language comics translated so I can read them—there’s no point in owning them otherwise.)
A trio of Japanese mangas exist, adapting the classic Apes films. I don’t have these, unfortunately, but I do have scans of all three. Given how scarce these are, I likely won’t ever find the physical comics. As much as I’d love to, I’m OK with the scans since they’re just movie adaptations—though they would definitely count for the contest if anyone was able to procure the actual issues for me. Finally, Mexican publisher MACC Child Division included an Apes-related Spider-Man comic in Arañita Super Historias #88, and I’m happy to say I have that one—even though it violates my own in-universe rule since it’s a Spider-Man story.
So there you go. Everything discussed above sits on my shelves other than the Apes mangas and the Gong Trek magazines (though as I said, I have scans of each). If you can find something not listed above that meets my collecting criteria, you can either mention it in the comments section below or contact me via email. If it qualifies, I’ll send you a free book! Let the sleuthing begin.