Monday, August 15, 2011
One thousand Pappy postings. And here my mom told me I never stick with anything I do.
There's some discussion here and there within comic book fan circles as to whether Double Action Comics #2 is a true ashcan. If it is it would mean it was printed by DC and submitted to the Library of Congress to secure the rights to the title. Some say it looks like it was sold on newsstands, because the copies found so far have been in different grading conditions. Someone else said it may have been printed to test whether a black and white comic book would sell. All interesting theories, so I'll add my own.
To my knowledge there have been no sightings of a Double Action Comics #1, which may mean it does not exist, or did once and there are no copies left. It could be that #2 was an ashcan that was placed on a newsstand or two, also for the purposes of securing the title. (Jim Warren put an ashcan edition of Eerie #1 on a newsstand to keep another publisher from claiming the title Eerie.) The contents of Double Action Comics #2 are reprinted from old DC comics. At the time of its publication DC had Superman and Batman in print, but there are no superheroes in Double Action (unless you count the pre-Superman "Dr. Occult" by Siegel and Shuster).
I downloaded this copy from the Internet, but in its raw scanned form it looked like a real fast-and-dirty print job, pages printed way off true. Here's a page which was typical of what I encountered when I decided to clean it up for showing here. (I would like to thank the scanner who put it online.)
Heritage Auctions says it is the rarest DC comic of all. Since it was published over 70 years ago and all associated with it are likely deceased, we may never know with certainty what plans DC had for it. Heritage said it was assembled and bound by hand, the cover was slightly bigger than the contents (like an old pulp magazine), so to me the ashcan edition theory seems to be the most likely. The fact that Double Action Comics was never used as a title by any publisher, including DC, doesn't mean that DC didn't think it was worth getting that title made their property. Whatever the long ago purpose of Double Action Comics #2 was, it's interesting for the fact of its existence and for providing a comic fans' version of water cooler conversation.