Comic Book Detectives: Comic Book Breaking the Fourth Wall...in 1951!

This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for the names of comic books that they remembered reading years ago and I try to find them for them! Send any future requests to brianc@cbr.com!

Reader John H. wrote in to ask a slightly different question than usual:

Last century, when I was but a budding geek, I had tonsillitis and my mom got me comic books. Alas, not superhero, but “funny” comics. Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Dobie Gillis. About as funny as their actual shticks, which is to say not at all. But she did get me Fox And Crow, which had an absolutely mind blowing story, of how, if I recall correctly, Fox was able to thwart Crow’s attempts to best him by referring to his stack of Fox And Crow comics, thereby anticipating Grant Morrison and MULTIVERSITY by a good 60 years. Can you exhume this one and share the story?

Sure thing!

Fox and the Crow was a short-lived cartoon series for Screen Gems (working for Columbia Pictures). In 1945, DC Comics licensed the Screen Gems characters for a new funny animals comic book series. Eventually, the two most popular characters, Fox and the Crow, got their own comic book in the early 1950s that lasted until the late 1960s (where they were then taken over in their own comic book by back-up feature, Stanley and his Monster).

Before heading to their own series, though, 1951's Real Screen Comics #42 featured a comic story by Jim Davis that broke the fourth wall well before most characters began doing the same.

The story opens with Crawford Crow trying to "chisel" some money out of his "friend," Fauntleroy Fox, who is always trying to con for money. He convinces Fox that he has to pay Crow for the air that he breathes. Just when the Fox is about to pay, he remembers something - he saw this in an old issue of The Fox and the Crow!!

Very clever stuff. This comic was actually included in an early collection of comics by Les Daniels called Comix.

There you go, John H., you got your wish!

Okay, that's it for this installment of the Great Comic Book Detectives! If anyone else has a story that they'd like me to track down, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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