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Notable Christian Comics Series
Spire/Barbour comics
Adapted, written, and drawn by the late Al Hartley

Biographical and autobiographical titles [12]
"Archie" titles [19]
Bible story adaptations [6]
Other book or movie adaptations [4]
"Kiddies Christian Comic" [10] and "Growth Series" titles [1]
Other titles [5]

19 of the Spire/Barbour titles featured 'Archie Andrews'

The Spire Christian Comics logo

This well-known and widely distributed comics series was first printed as Spire Christian Comics by Fleming H. Revell Company of Old Tappan, New Jersey USA in the 1970s and early 1980s. Later in the '80s a number of these booklets were reprinted as NEW Barbour Christian Comics by Barbour & Company of Uhrichsville, Ohio USA, two or more of them with different titles. Several of the books were translated into Spanish and possibly other languages as well.
The story of Brother Andrew 'God's Smuggler'

The first Spire comic books ("The Cross & the Switchblade" and "God's Smuggler") were published in Sept 1972. All the books were 32 pages + cover, in full mechanical color (except for "Barney Bear: Tell It on the Mountain," which was hand-painted).

Overall sales of Mr. Hartley's comics are said to be more than 40 million copies, including international sales ("at least 60% of which were true US sales" or 24 million comics). 30-50% of that figure, or approximately 7.2 to 12 million copies, may represent just the "Archie" titles. (From information supplied by Al Hartley to Breakaway Magazine in their October '92 issue, confirmed/expanded by a source working with Barbour, with "Archie" supposition by Nate Butler.)

Mitsuo Fuchida's story entitled 'Attack!' with art by Dick Ayers

Mr. Hartley wrote/adapted and drew the majority of the comics by himself. However, apparently he required occasional assistance and called on associates from Marvel or Archie to help him. Two of these artists were Dick Ayers in 1975 (on "Attack!" and "Tom Skinner: Up From Harlem") and Dan DeCarlo in 1979 (on "Jughead's Soul Food"). At least two other books are clearly inked by different artists–the 1974 title "Hal Lindsey's There's A New World Coming" (multiple unknown inkers, resembling the work of Jack Abel and possibly Vince Colletta) and the 1975 title "Archie's Something Else" (possibly Chic Stone). Two 1979 titles appear to be inked by others as well: Archie's Car (possibly Rudy Lapick) and Adventure with the Brothers: Hang in There (by Chic Stone).

Victor Gorelick, editor of the secular Archie Comics titles, reports that he colored a few of the Christian "Archie" comics but that regular "Archie" colorist Barry Grossman did most of them. The majority were lettered by the late Bill Yoshida, who was also a regular letterer on the secular "Archie" titles.

Two different 'Tom Landry' editions

The 57 titles below may be an incomplete list. Mr. Hartley once said in print that he did 59 different comics titles, and others have reported that he told them 60 titles. It is possible he may have included his two hardcover "Yankee Doodle" storybooks in his totals. However, a CCI site visitor named Dave Treber believes that one of the "missing" titles may be a second version of "Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys." He writes: "The first was after they defeated Miami in a Super Bowl ... the second was a revised version later in the '70s to have their game against the Denver Broncos as the featured game ... their 2nd Super Bowl win."

The Barbour Christian Comics logo
You can find a few additional details about the Spire/Barbour Comics here. You can read Al Hartley's biography here.

(Cartoonist Al Bohl also drew some Barbour Christian comics after Al Hartley retired that are not listed here.)


A History of
Spire and Barbour
and their
Christian Comics Titles

The "Spire Christian Comics" were first published by in the 1970s by the Fleming H. Revell Company which was founded originally in 1870.

Founder Fleming H. Revell (1849-1931) was the brother-in-law of Dwight L. Moody, the famous evangelist from Chicago. Moody had established a Sunday school publication and convinced Revell to take it over. Eventually the company became one of the largest and most influential publishers of evangelical books in North America.

Fleming Revell married Josephine Barbour and their son, Fleming Jr., joined the company in 1907. Fleming Sr. retired from the presidency in 1929, named Fleming Jr. his successor. William Barbour, Fleming Sr.'s nephew, became president in 1931, replacing Fleming Jr.

Both of Barbour's sons, William Barbour Jr. and Hugh Revell Barbour, became principals in the Revell-Barbour family business for many years.

After the death of William Sr., Wilbur Davies became president and launched a line of religious mass-market paperbacks, "Spire Books," in 1963. Spire became the top mass-market religious paperback imprint. Davies retired in 1968 and was succeeded by William Barbour Jr. At the same time the company moved to Old Tappan, New Jersey.

During the 1970s the Revell Company was a pioneer among evangelical publishers in getting its books into secular bookstores. By 1977 sales to these stores accounted for about half of the company's sales. It was during this period that the "Spire Christian Comics" titles were published. Many of the biographical comics were adapted from best-selling books in Revell's "Spire Books" and "Chosen Books" lines.

Financial pressures led to the Revell Company being sold in 1978, and again in 1983, 1986, and finally (to current owner Baker Book House) in 1992.

In 1981 Hugh Barbour left Revell and started his own company "Book Bargains" which bought and resold other publishers' excess stock. Soon the new company began publishing its own titles and became Barbour & Company. During this time it acquired the rights to republish many of the titles in the "Spire Christian Comics" line and did so under the "NEW Barbour Christian Comics" imprint.

Later the company became known as Barbour Publishing, Inc. After Hugh Barbour retired, it was acquired by president & CEO Tim Martins.



Sources:
Barbour Publishing website
Baker Publishing website

Biographical and Autobiographical (12 titles)

David Wilkerson's
The Cross and
the Switchblade

(1972)

God's Smuggler
(Brother Andrew)
(1972)

Corrie ten Boom's
The Hiding Place
(1973)

In the Presence
of Mine Enemies

(Howard Rutledge)
(1973)

Tom Landry and
the Dallas Cowboys

(1973)

Through Gates of Splendor
(Nate Saint)
(1974)

Attack!
(Mitsuo Fuchida)
(1975)

[Interior art & lettering by Dick Ayers]
Tom Skinner's
Up from Harlem
(1975)

[Art assist by Dick Ayers]
Hansi, the Girl who
Loved the Swastika

(Maria Anne Hirschmann)
(1976)

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
(1976)

On the Road with
Andrae Crouch

(1977)

Chuck Colson's
Born Again
(1978)


"Archie" Series (19 titles)

Archie's One Way
(1973)

Archie's Love Scene
(1973)

Archie's Clean Slate
(1973)

Archie's Sonshine
(1974)

Christmas with Archie
(1974)

Archie's Something Else!
(1975)

[Inking by Chic Stone?]
Archie's Parables
(1975)

Archie's World
(1976)

Archie and Mr. Weatherbee
(1976?)

Archie's Festival
(1976?)

Archie Gets a Job
(1977)

Archie's Family Album
(1978)

Archie's Car
(1979)

Jughead's Soul Food
(1979)

[Art assist by Dan DeCarlo]

Archie's Date Book
(1981)

Archie's Roller Coaster
(1981)

Archie's Sports Scene
(1982)

Archie and Big Ethel
(1982)

Archie's Circus
(1984)


Bible Story Adaptations (6 titles)

My Brother's Keeper
(1974)

(modernized story of Joseph)

Adam & Eve
(1975)

(modernized story)

Live It Up
(1976)

(reprinted as "The Prodigal Son")

Alpha and Omega
(1978)

(futuristic Adam & Eve/Jonah story)

Paul: Close Encounter
of a Real Kind

(1978)

(modernized story of Paul)

Jesus
(1979)

(reprinted as "He's the Greatest!)


Other Book/Movie Adaptations (4 titles)

Joseph P. Bayly's
The Gospel Blimp
(1974)

Hal Lindsey's
There's A New World Coming
(1974)

[Inking by Jack Abel, others?]
Time to Run
(1975)

In His Steps
(1977)


"Kiddies Christian Comic" (10 titles) and "Growth Series" (1 title)

God Is...
(1975)

Noah's Ark
(1975)

Barney Bear
Wakes Up!

(1977)

Barney Bear:
Lost & Found

(1979)

Barney Bear:
Home Plate

(1979)

Barney Bear:
Out of the Woods
(1980)

Barney Bear:
The Swamp Gang

(1980)

Barney Bear:
Sunday School Picnic

(1981)

Barney Bear:
Family Tree

(1982)

Barney Bear
in Toyland

(1982?)

Barney Bear:
Tell It on the Mountain
(1988)


Misc./Others (including "Adventure with the Brothers" Series) (5 titles)

CrossFire
(1976)

Adventure with the Brothers:
Hang in There

(1979)

Adventure with the Brothers:
The Cult Escape

(1980)

Adventure with the Brothers: Smashing the Smugglers' Ring
(1982)

Yankee Doodle,
the Spirit of Liberty

(1984)


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