Deadly Hands of Kung Fu
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu is a martial arts comic book magazine published by Curtis Magazines, a short-lived imprint of Marvel Comics. There were a total of 33 issues published, plus one "Special Album Edition," before the series was cancelled.
This magazine was published in the early 1970s amidst the "Kung Fu" or "Chopsocky" movie craze. Bruce Lee movies were scoring huge box-office grosses, and the Kung-Fu television series was being watched by millions. Billy Jack the half-Indian, Green Beret martial arts hero was making his appearance, and people were "shaking their booty" to Carl Douglas's hit "Kung Fu Fighting". Kung-Fu was on many people's lips and the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu was there to capitalize on it. The Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu magazine was launched in 1974 and ended 33 issues later in 1977. Some of the core recurring characters of the magazine were:
- Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu (from Marvel's color line)
- Iron Fist, The Living Weapon (also from the color line)
- The Sons of the Tiger - Three men linked by mystical amulets (a feature created for "DHOKF")
- The White Tiger - Heir to the amulets of "Sons of the Tiger"
- Daughters of the Dragon - Colleen Wing and Misty Knight (characters derived from the Iron Fist series)
Each issue had various comic stories from the above mentioned characters, both single issues stories and multi-issue arcs. Most of the issues had some kind of martial arts movie review from a recently released film. Other issues had interviews with authentic Martial arts instructors, while others had interviews with movie or television celebrities related to martial arts.
The early issues had a martial arts instructional section which described some elementary fighting techniques. These were provided by comics illustrator/martial artist Frank McLaughlin. The magazine was strictly black-and-white with no color except for the cover. The cost of the magazine was 75 cents for issues #1-14. Issue #15 was a "Super Annual" (all reprints) issue and cost $1.25. Issues #16-33 were $1.00, as well as the "Special Album Edition" (June) 1974.
When the magazine's run reached the mid-70s, the editors began experimenting by setting some of the comic stories in feudal Japan and starring samurai-type characters, including a four-part story arc called "Sword Quest". The Sons of the Tiger/White Tiger feature ran until the penultimate issue. By 1977 the "Chop-socky" movie craze was beginning to lose steam, which no doubt contributed to the poor sales of the magazine and its cancellation as of its 33rd issue.
The magazine had various editors throughout its run; below is each editor and the issues he oversaw:
- Roy Thomas: #s 1, 2
- Tony Isabella: #s 3–6 & "Special Album Edition"
- David Anthony Kraft: #s 9, 10 (co-edited with Don McGregor)
- Don McGregor: #s 7, 8, 10 (co-edited with David Anthony Kraft), 11, 16, 17
- Archie Goodwin: #s 12–15, 18–25
- John Warner: #s 26–33
The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu
As a historical footnote, Curtis Magazines published one issue of an offshoot magazine entitled The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu. The single issue mimicked The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine's format in almost every way except it did not contain any comic book elements, but instead instructional features by Frank McLaughlin.
The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu also ran without a single advertisement in its pages, which was rare for such a magazine. Editor John Warner explained in the issue's editorial that the extended reprint — a discussion of the film Enter the Dragon originally published in the parent magazine and serialized in three parts there — allowed him to go without ads. Warner's editorial also posited that The Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu was a trial balloon for an all-articles companion to Deadly Hands, but it is generally believed that a page-count cutback across Marvel's black-and-white magazine line came entirely out of the article section for Hands, leading to an inventory backlog, which this one-shot cleared.
- Thomas, Roy; Tony Isabella, Don McGregor, Archie Goodwin (Apr. 1974 - Nov. 1975). "Copyright Notice". Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (Curtis Magazines) 1 (1–18): P. 2.
- The publisher's name was listed as Magazine Management Co., Inc. As of issue #19 the "Curtis" name logo which appeared on the top left-hand side was changed to "CC," which stood for "Curtis Circulation".) Although Curtis Magazines was an imprint of Marvel Comics the Marvel name was never officially on the magazine, but could be found in advertising of Marvel publications, including in the titles of a few other "Curtis" black-and-white magazines promoted herein (Marvel Preview, Marvel Super Action, and Marvel Movie Premiere), and was openly acknowledged by the editors in the editorials and letter columns. Within a few years of the cancellation of this series, Marvel did put their name on the covers and in the indicia of periodicals that they were producing then and thereafter including Savage Sword of Conan and Marvel Preview, which were initially put out contemporaneously with DHOKF.
- Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Special #1 at CMRO
- Deadly Hands of Kung Fu at the Grand Comics Database
- Warner, John (Jun. 1975). "Editorial". Deadliest Heroes of Kung Fu (Curtis Magazines) 1 (1): P. 2.
- Deadly Hands of Kung Fu at the Comic Book DB