Sunday, November 01, 2009

Number 621

The Last Whiz

Whiz Comics, which had been a top seller for Fawcett Comics from its first appearance in 1940, went out with a whimper, not a bang--not even a Whizbang*--in 1953. After more than a decade, a protracted lawsuit from DC Comics claiming Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman, and low sales in the comic book industry in general, Fawcett got out of the comic book business. Whiz Comics #155, with its lead Captain Marvel story drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger, was the last issue.

I thought back to how many comics I followed that suddenly just didn't appear anymore. There was no way a kid had knowledge of what was canceled, so I would check the stands, hoping there would be another issue. Back in 1953 there were many Captain Marvel/Marvel Family/Fawcett Comics fans who wondered what happened. They had to wait until DC Comics licensed the Fawcett characters and started republishing them in 1974. Unlike the quiet, unannounced way the Marvel Family of comics went out, they were revived with a lot of advance publicity from DC. Shazam! #1 was a collector event, ensuring a sell out.

*Captain Billy's Whizbang, a jokebook started after World War I by William "Captain Billy" Fawcett, was the foundation of the Fawcett Publishing Company.


Chuck Wells said...

The golden age of comics produced many original, terrific heroes, but there really wasn't much else like Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family.

The lawsuit that ended Fawcetts run is a sad booknote in comics history, and I've always lamented the fact that DC ended up purchasing their characters.

There just didn't seem to be any true justice in that!


I agree w/Chuck - I never saw the similarity to Superman, they didn't really look alike, one's an alien and the other one a human boy...SHAZAM!!



Richard said...

I've always felt the Marvel Family stories were, on the whole, generally superior in writing and art to the contemporaneous Superman tales of the same era. It's too bad the Seventies revival allowed DC to recast the original series as too silly and childish to function as anything other than a pastiche, and the character still labors under that misunderstanding to this day!

That said, this story seems an uncharacteristic and awkward note for the book to end on. It feels like they were surrendering to the rise of horror comics by retrofitting some of those elements onto a Cap story, but hadn't figured out how to make the new combination work. Even so, given Captain Marvel's magic-based origin and long history fighting monsters and the occult, it still works somewhat better than it did when the same trick was attempted with Captain America in 1949!

sandy said...

The last year or so of the Marvels titles occasional horror and commie bashing stories often fell on their faces. But there was still awesomeness amongst the desperation.

Most nights I read my son a single Captain Marvel Adventure, trying to make them last since they're finite. There's never been a better kid comic. Ironically, Binder's Superman family work is the only thing that comes close.

Anonymous said...

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Cheryl Spoehr said...

umm,best comic was "viagra online"?Did someone hack in here?