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Some of Fawcett's Characters



An Story of Triumph and Tragedy

Try to talk about Fawcett Comics, The Publisher House is talk of tragedy and triumph. Why? Because I like to think that in many ways, Fawcett contributed to the way comics are done in modern ways very much as we like to think, we can find their heritage in the most unimaginable place!

I must confess than when I began to research what was behind Captain Marvel and his family, I was very ignorant, and I'm still an ignorant, there are a lot of persons who know way much than me, some of these extraordinary people can be contacted by different ways, via Internet going to some Yahoo Clubs and to the DC Message Boards, which I linked this web site in the Interesting Links section of the Main Menu; as I was saying, there was so many things that I ignored about Fawcett Comics that I think it will be interesting to address some of these topics. Another thing I would like to add, is that very much of Fawcett has been already treated on the Introduction, so I apologize if the reader finds this section redundant.

Ashcan Edition

First of all, Fawcett seems to appear only until 1940, when Captain Marvel first appeared on a comic book (talking of Fawcett Comics is unavoidably, talk of the World's Mightiest Mortal), and the problems they ever have since the creation of such a powerful icon.

In reality, Fawcett Publications were pretty young on this business, they entered into the comic book field until 1939, but they have experience since the late 30's with humor magazines such as Captain Billy Whizbang, Motion Picture, Mechanics Illustrated, True Confessions, etc., that when they decided to get into the Super Hero business, they had the experience to plan it very well.

The two artists who were working on this new project of Mr. Roscoe K. Fawcett's company were Charles Clarence Beck (who was the artist) and Bill Parker (who was the writer), as they produced a first comic named Thrill Comics, and so, the "Big Three" of Fawcett were created by the same extraordinary team: Captain Marvel, Spy Smasher and Ibis, The Invincible, and debuted in Whiz Comics. Whiz Comics 2

Presenting stories in a very high quality, Fawcett attracted the spotlight on them, when they outsold the very successful Superman, edited then by National Periodicals (now DC Comics) with the presentation of a new hero that every kid could dream to be. After all, in those innocent days, comic books were published for kids. The kid could dream to be The World's Mightiest Mortal.

The Scarlett Speedster, Jay Garrick!

The process of creation of Captain Marvel was curious, he was the amalgam of a group of kids who were going to possess the powers of each or the letters of the Mystic Sextet, but was made one. Thrill Comics and Whiz Comics were going to be at first Flash Comics but DC won the race with their comic featuring the adventures of the Scarlett Speedster, Jay Garrick (The Golden Age Flash), who by the way, wears a costume that reminds to the one that Captain Marvel uses, or vice versa. The original name intended for Captain Marvel was Captain Thunder but there was also another character with that name.

Another curious fact, is that C.C. Beck and Parker based their characters (and their names), in some others names or appearances, as a matter of fact, Beck knew someone who looked just like Sivana (!), and modeled the World's Mightiest Mortal on actor Fred MacMurray.

But... what other facts made of Captain Marvel the World's Best Selling Hero?

Well, there are several other reasons. First, the human resources behind the creative team behind the magazines.

C.C. Parker and Otto Binder, who were really passionate in telling stories filled with true heroism, wonderment, magic and respect, for the characters portrayed, and for the reader, who could always expect a surprising twist (if not, try to imagine what the readers of the adventures of the Big Red Cheese felt when they found out who was behind that "radio voice" on the maxi-series, The Society of Monsters Saga.)

The World's Mightiest Family!

Another thing, was the politics and strategy followed by Fawcett. The respect was extensive not only to their readers and characters, but to their personal. Following strict rules of storytelling and editorial, Fawcett were from the first Publishers that created a Writer's Department and an Artistic Studio (that was headed by the very same C.C. Beck). The made innovations, such as crossovers and long term series within their stories (as an example, we have, once more, the very famous, Society of Monsters Saga). Another thing, was their vision, into introducing a whole new universe who were direct spin-offs of the first Captain Marvel, such as, Mary Marvel (the sister of the first one) and Captain Marvel Jr., who was created to be the direct competition of Robin and Bucky, both sidekicks of established and well known characters, Batman and Captain America, respectively.

But the Captain Marvel's phenomena extended to some other "new" members for the Marvel Family, such as Uncle Marvel, the uncle of Mary, who dressed with a costume alike the one used by The World's Mightiest Mortal and accompanied the Mighty Mortals into many adventures, he didn't have any power, but still managed to save sometimes the situation!

He was the first comic book hero on the Silver Screen!

Having made a name for themselves in the publishing business, Fawcett had enormous success with some other characters, such as Ibis, The Invincible, the immortal magician and Spy Smasher, a very well used character spy-like of the Cold War. Not very much after, some other heroes appeared, namely Bulletman and Bulletgirl, with a origins of their powers and skill very much alike those of Captain America and The Flash I, and Fawcett's alternative to Batman and Robin, Mr. Scarlett and Pinky.

Captain Marvel was also the first comic super hero featured in a movie, in the serials by Republic of 12 chapters, played by the actor Tom Tyler. This happened in 1941, the very same year when Captain Marvel obtained his solo title. On this year, Captain Marvel began his most difficult battle, one that he ultimately will loose, his fight against the lawsuit of DC Comics for infringement of trademarks.

But during this "Golden Age" for the Marvel Family, and while fighting in the Court against National Publications, the editorial remained as one of the most successful publishing house on this business, having on top of the sellings some other titles not only related directly to the Marvel Family, such as, Captain Midnight, Bulletman and Spy Smasher. Their licensing for their characters into the movies went beyond superheroing, and Tom Mix, of western gala, romance, horror comics, and publishing a "furry" version of the Captain Marvel mythos, in the person (?) of Hoppy, The Marvel Bunny, who appeared monthly in Fawcett's Funny Animals magazine.

From 1942 through the early fifties, the success of Captain Marvel was undeniable, by 1946, he was published bi-weekly on his title, Captain Marvel's Adventures, which almost reached the 1.4 million copies per issue.

Bad Times Reached Him Too Soon

Claiming that Captain Marvel was a carbon copy of their character, DC lost their first legal fight in 1948 to Fawcett, when the Court resolved that Superman's characteristics weren't really specified in their copyright. DC appealed. The case came into the Court once more in 1951. Once more, Fawcett won the case. And once more, DC appealed.

By 1953, the Comic Book Industry was in the middle of a great crisis, which brought to an abrupt end the Golden Era of the Comic Books, by the way. The sales declined dramatically. Fawcett decided to quit the fight, even though they had a great chance of winning once more the case.

Fawcett decided to stop one of the most successful and great inventions of the Comics Iconography, for $400,000, that DC paid, but not only for Captain Marvel, but some other characters of the Publishing House, such as, Shazam, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Uncle Dudley, Mr. Scarlett, Commando Yank, Pinky, Mr. Tawky Tawny, Black Adam, Mr. Atom, Mr. Mind, Dr. Sivana, Ibis The Invincible, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, among the most remarkable and memorable characters.

Truth to tell, Fawcett didn't stopped to participate in the Comic Book industry, they remained in the business, publishing from 1958 to 1980, Hank Ketcham's Dennis The Menace, ironically, surviving to see a revitalization of their characters in the 70's.

The remaining characters and magazines of Fawcett were acquired by Charlton Comics, like Lash Larue, Strange Suspense Stories, Nyoka and Hoppy, the now "Magic" Bunny who soon dissappeared in the limbo.

Otto Binder went to work for DC Comics, while C.C. Parker worked in the Commercial Art field, both joined once more creative efforts in the creation of Fatman, The Flying Human Saucer, for Lightning Comics in 1967. Later, Parker participated for a short time in DC's revitalization of Captain Marvel, who by then, faced, yet (!) another lawsuit, this time, for his name on behalf of Timely Comics, who changed its name to Marvel Comics and published by the time a magazine with that title, once more, Captain Marvel lost in this occassion.

Fawcett dissappeared, but it's heritage can be found in every comic book published today, with the great characters that gave us, the way to tell the stories, and some other signs that can be found in today's cartoons and movies, Fawcett is the name that received the mythic city where the Fawcett characters live today in the DCU, a good memorial, but not good enough for this extraordinary publishing house.

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