Continuing from last week’s entry, here’s a further look at what was happening in funnybooks in 1949. To do justice to this year (which gets more and more interesting the more I peel away at the onion), I’ve divided into 3 parts:
1949 was a year of real transition at Timely/Atlas, as many of their most significant titles came to an end, including Sub-Mariner and Captain America. Even the flagship Marvel Mysery Comics switched to Marvel Tales with issue #93. Their roster spots were filled mostly by a number of short-lived titles in the romance, western, crime and teen humor genres.
There were some success stories among the glut of books published by Martin Goodman and Co. in 1949. A few Atlas romances titles, such as Love Romances, had successful runs. 1949 also saw the publication of the influential and highly desired Suspense Comics. Man Comics also saw light of day. It was a strange, yet successful adventure series that had more in common with some of the men’s magazines put out by Goodman during this era andinton the 70s
Aside from Novelty Press, which transitioned into Star Comics (as discussed last week), it was the end of the line for two important Golden Age publishers. David McKay Publications, one of the earliest entrants into the comic book field, closed up shop. In a sense, it was the final nail in the coffin for the repackaged newspaper strip comic – a format which had kick started the industry. In a similar vein, Columbia Comics published its final comics in 1949. Columbia was a joint venture between Vin Sullivan (who was crucial in the early days of DC/National and would go on to Magazine Enterprises) and the McNaught Newspaper strip. By the time Columbia folded, many of the McNaught properties, such as Joe Palooka, had long since switched publishers.
Harvey had an interesting year, launching the very successful Sad Sack; which lasted 287 issues and had countless spin-offs. They also entered the romance field with the long running First Love Illustrated (90 issues) and Hi School Romance (75 issues). We were still a year or two away from Boys Ranch and the horror series such as Witches Tales. Black Cat continued her wild ride, becoming a western focused heroine for the year. She revert briefly to pure superheroic before making a horrific turn.
Dell was running on all cylinders in 1949, with the Four Color series alone accounting for more than 50 issues. As my good pal Ray pointed out, it was a good year for Barks fans as a few classic stories, including Lost in the Andes hits spinner racks. Dell also launched a number of successful titles, including Tom and Jerry, which had a 285 issue run, when you include the Gold Key and Whitman versions. The relatively short, but very memorable run of Walt Kelly’s Pogo Possum also began in 1949.
Lev Gleason had found success with its Crime comics, and decided to dip its toes in the waters of the romance and western genres by launching titles such as Lovers Lane and Black Diamond Western. Magazine Enterprises also went western with the licensed series Durango Kid and Tim Holt, both of which had 41 issue runs. EC was just months away from the horror boom, publishing the end of Gunfighter’s run and taking readers through Moon Girl’s identity crisis.
Overall, the industry was quite healthy and the shift away from superheroes was nearly complete. Crime comics had been introduced by horror comics lurked just around the corner. Western, Romance, Funny Animal and Teen Humor were all very popular, and there really was a wonderful selection of titles from a variety of publishers.
Next Week: A bit of a break for a Black History Month spotlight and then I’ll be back with a look at 1949 for Archie, Standard/Nedor and a few others.
For more comic talk – stop by my blog – Seduction of the Indifferent
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