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May 15, 2024


Did you know that comic books were invented in Connecticut? Well, sort of. There are lots of precedents for printing texts with images. But the origin of mass market comic book printing is 1930s Waterbury, where Eastern Color printing began by re-publishing comic strips from newspapers in magazine form. Eventually they partnered with Dell publishing to print the first original content American comic books. But today’s episode takes us a ways down Route 8 from Waterbury to Derby. From the 1940s to 1991, Derby was the home of Charlton Comics, unique for being a one-stop shop that included writers, artists, publishing, and distribution under one roof. The story of Charlton is colorful in more than one way. In this episode, Natalie Belanger of the Connecticut Museum talks to Jon B. Cooke, author of The Charlton Companion. Learn about the seedy origins of the company, its often lackadaisical approach to quality control, and why there was nothing else like it in American comics.

Learn more about the Nutmeg state’s connection to the comic industry by visiting the Connecticut Museum’s exhibition, Connecticut’s Bookshelf now on display at the museum in Hartford. Jon B. Cooke’s book, The Charlton Companion, is available in digital form online at 



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This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Natalie Belanger and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan at


Join us in two weeks for our next episode of Grating the Nutmeg, the podcast of Connecticut history. Help us produce the podcast by donating to non-profit Connecticut Explored at


Photo Credit: My Secret Life, Charlton Publications, Vol. 1, No. 25, Sept. 1958. Connecticut Museum Collection.