Monday, July 12, 2010

Cancelled Comics Cavalcade

DC did very well during the Silver Age, although the seed were sewn that would result in their well-documented struggles in the 1970s. But life for DC, as for all of us, was a process of death and regeneration, and so it might be interesting to look at the comics that dropped by the wayside in the Silver Age.

1955: Congo Bill. Short-lived effort to graduate the Action Comics feature to his own magazine.

1956: Frontier Fighters. DC's attempt to make money off famous Old West characters like Davy Crockett, Buffalo Bill and Kit Carson fails.

1956: It's Game Time. DC's bizarre entry into the puzzle magazine line lasts only four issues.

1956: Legends of Daniel Boone. Another Old West character fails to make a successful transition to comics.

1957: Dodo and the Frog. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, DC's funny animal series all crashed and burned with the exception of the Fox and the Crow.

1957; Nutsy Squirrel. Another funny animal series reaches its expiration date.

1957: Raccoon Kids. Bad year for funny animals.

1958: Big Town. One of DC's licensed series. Big Town featured the adventures of a crusading newspaper editor named Steve Wilson. The radio show lasted for 15 years, with the first five seasons featuring Edward G. Robinson in the leading role. The TV series picked up the tales in 1950 and lasted until 1956. The comic thus outlasted the TV series by well over a year.

1958: Buzzy. DC's long-running teen title comes to a close.

1958: Gang Busters. Another licensed series that had bit the dust a year earlier on the radio.

1958: Jackie Gleason and the Honeymooners. A licensed series that actually started after the TV show had gone off the air, although it would remain in syndication for many years and skits often appeared on Gleason's variety show in the 1960s.

1958: Leave it to Binky. Another teen title ends its run (it was brought back in the late 1960s for another brief series).

1958: Mutt and Jeff. DC's long association with the original comic strip characters comes to an end.

1958: Peter Panda. I talked about this funny animal series here.

1958: Robin Hood Tales. Public domain characters were even less successful than licensed characters.

1959: Adventures of Rex, the Wonder Dog. I commented on why comics featuring dogs were so popular in the 1950s; the cancellation of this title (after 46 issues) is a sign that the bloom was off the rose.

1959: Hopalong Cassidy. The film series ended in 1948, while the TV show disappeared in 1954.

1959: Mr District Attorney. Licensed title, dead show.

1959: New Adventures of Charlie Chan. Yet another licensed title.

1960: A Date With Judy. Another licensed title that had outlived the radio and TV shows it was based on.

1960: Flippety and Flop. Another DC funny animal comic drops by the wayside. This one was basically a rip-off of Sylvester and Tweety-Pie.

1960: Pat Boone. A teen idol for whom the hits stopped coming. I talked about the Pat Boone series here.

1960: Peter Porkchops. Another funny animal comic ends.

1960: The Three Mouseketeers. No, not Annette Funnicello and two of her buddies; this was a funny animal comic featuring rodent versions of Athos, Porthos and Aramis. (Corrected)

1960: Sergeant Bilko and Sergeant Bilko's Private Doberman. Two more licensed titles end after the TV show.

1961: All-Star Western. The comic that had early on been the home of the Justice Society (and featured the first Wonder Woman story), found its grave on Boot Hill, along with the rest of the Westerns.

1961: TV Screen Cartoons. Last issue of this variety funny animal title, which usually featured the Fox and the Crow on the cover.

1961: Western Comics. DC's Western variety series comes to a close, leaving Tomahawk as DC's only arguable oater (although the series was set in the Revolutionary days it shared many attributes with Western-style comics).

1962: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. These comics were Christmas annuals, intended as stocking suffers.

1964: The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Yet another licensed series that had outlasted its original inspiration.

1965: Rip Hunter, Time Master. First failure of a Showcase-launched comic.

1966: All-American Men of War. This long-running magazine (originally derived from All-American Comics) never established a strong lead feature. Johnny Cloud, a Navajo pilot, seemed like a natural, but his series also ran into Batmania.

1966: Mystery in Space. Science fiction wilts from the pressure of Batmania.

1967: Captain Storm. Another of DC's war titles strikes out. I talked briefly about Captain Storm here.

1967: Sea Devils. The skin-diving fad exemplified by shows like Sea Hunt had faded.

1968: Adventures of Bob Hope. Another licensed title that had gotten a little long in the tooth. Hope's long and successful movie career was ending; it was getting hard for a 65-year-old man to credibly play the horny single guy that Hope had been typecast as at that point. Many of the Bob Hope comics are an absolute hoot, including some by Mort Drucker. I reviewed Bob Hope #85 here.

1968 Blackhawk. DC had inherited this title from the Quality Comics line, and basically ran it into the ground, with an ill-advised attempt to turn the Magnificent 7 into 007.

1968 Bomba the Jungle Boy. A short-lived effort to bring back a Tarzan knock-off from the 1920s.

1968: Doom Patrol. DC's version of the Fantastic Four turns out not to have staying power.

1968: Fox and Crow (last four issues named Stanley and his Monster). DC's longest-running and most successful funny animal strip finally meets its maker.

1968: Hawkman. Briefly continued in Atom-Hawkman. DC's flying hero is grounded.

1968: Inferior Five. DC's effort at a humorous knock-off of their superhero teams proves unfunny at the cash register.

1968: Metamorpho. DC's version of the tormented superhero/freak lasts only 17 issues.

1968: Plastic Man. DC's failed revival of the hugely popular and influential Golden Age classic probably ran into the revolt against camp.

1968: Teen Beat/Teen Beam. DC's ill-fated venture into teenybopper mags. I talked about these two issues last year.

1969 Angel and the Ape (last issue titled Meet the Angel). A platinum blonde and an ape try to make their detective agency work. A silly effort at humor, although I remember that at least one issue had Wally Wood art.

1969 Anthro. Howard Post's caveboy vanishes into history. I have not read any Anthro although it's been recommended to me a few times. (Note: The original post credited Joe Kubert; I should have remembered to look that one up, especially since I knew I wasn't familiar with the feature.)

1969 Atom and Hawkman. With sales of the two titles dwindling, DC hit on the novel idea of having the two share a magazine; in several of the issues the stories were teamups, while in others they were separate.

1969 Bat-Lash. A hippie in the old West? I've enjoyed the few Bat-Lash issues I read; they're funny and well-drawn by Cardy.

1969 Captain Action. DC's first foray into a comic based on an action figure. The comics actually weren't bad.

1969: Beware the Creeper. DC's short run with Ditko ends.

1969: Hawk and the Dove. Another Ditko title, this one exploring the lives of two brothers, one a ruffian and the other a peacenik.

1969: Metal Men. DC's offbeat robot title had been very successful in the mid-1960s, actually selling almost 400,000 copies per issue in 1966. But it crashed and burned to only 230,000 copies the following year, a staggering decline, which led to the inevitable (in the late 1960s) effort to turn it into a spy-oriented title.

1969: Secret Six. Yet another spy title fails to find its readership.

1969: Spectre. The last revival of a GA character comes to a close.

1969: Windy and Willy. DC updated some Dobie Gillis stories to try to cash in on the Archie teen craze inspired by the TV cartoon.

1970: Showcase. The launching pad had mostly sputtered lately.

As you can see, the 1968-69 period was a very bad one for DC. In mid-1969, DC raised its cover prices from 12 cents to 15 cents; this resulted in steep declines in circulation, which led to many of the titles being canceled or dramatically revamped.


bob said...

"1960: The Three Mouseketeers. No, not Annette Funnicello and two of her buddies; this was a funny animal comic featuring feline versions of Athos, Porthos and Aramis."

Two things. Mice aren't felines, and this version of the Three Mousketeers weren't the ones based on the Musketeers of Dumas fame. That version ran in FUNNY STUFF in the 1940s (or another version in MGM'S MOUSE MUSKETEERS from Dell, which looks like a weird Tom and Jerry spin-off). This version was a mouse version of a kid gang, created and drawn for the first year by Sheldon Mayer, later issues by Rube Grossman.

"1969 Anthro. Joe Kubert's caveboy vanishes into history."

Howard Post, not Joe Kubert. You're probably getting it confused with Kubert's TOR from St. John in the 1950s, published by DC a few years later.

吳婷婷 said...
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Pat said...

DOH! How did I miss the "Mouse" part of Mouseketeers? And I had a sinking feeling when I reread the post tonight that I was wrong about Kubert doing Anthro.

Thanks for the corrections, Bob!

Anonymous said...

"1968: Doom Patrol. DC's version of the Fantastic Four turns out not to have staying power."

Don't you mean Marvel's version of the X-Men?

Actually, you could say that the X-Men were the Marvel version of the Doom Patrol.

Pat said...

Anonymous, I noted the similarity between the DP and the X-Men in an earlier post, but really there's not much question that the DP itself was largely fashioned after the FF. One guy flies around in a different form, one guy's body changes dramatically (and becomes orange in color), and Mr Fantastic and Elastigirl obviously have some similarity in their powers.

hobbyfan said...

A number of the books on your list would eventually return, including Showcase, Blackhawk, All Star Western, & Mystery in Space.

With today's books carrying cover prices of $2.99 or $3.99 or (shudder) higher, I'm surprised they don't cancel more books than they have because of the over-pricing.

"T.V. Barnum" said...

When Jackie Gleason went back to the live hour variety show format after a year of filmed HONEYMOONERS ,he continued doing "Honeymooners" segments (Including original musical episodes!) durring this final 1957-1958 season.