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April 22, 2008

Comments

Posterboy

That ws great but I wanna know what happened with Whiz Comics #1 that was apparently so extraordinary that they couldn't even re-use the number!

Mark Engblom

I did a little digging and came up with this (from a "Whiz Comics" Wikipedia entry):

"Fawcett (Comics) created two black-and-white ashcan #1 issues to solicit advertisers and to secure the copyrights to the material. The two copies were identical but carried different titles: Flash Comics and Thrill Comics; the Captain Marvel character was called Captain Thunder. When Fawcett went to press with the magazine, the first issue was retitled as Whiz Comics #2, a name inspired by the company's bawdy humor magazine, Captain Billy's Whiz Bang. The cover art for the first issue showed Captain Marvel throwing a vehicle and was inspired by the cover of Action Comics #1."

So there you have it. It was apparently due to some finagling with the ashcan (or prototype/copyright securing) versions of the title. It still doesn't make complete sense to me, since the eventual name of the title was neither Flash Comics nor Thrill Comics...so I'm not tracking why Whiz Comics had to be started as #2. Maybe a lawyer out there can explain it. Lawyers?

Posterboy

Thanks. That's pretty darn definitive at shedding light on the confusion that swirled around the question.

BTW, I wonder if, after the Nazi spies in the story were humiliated, they were then shot? (Maybe it was implied and they didn't bother to depict it.)

Spy Smasher's battle cry for death seems bloodthirsty by today's standards, but would certainly have been in line with the official penalty for espionage at the time.

Of course that would mean that his adversaries, once caught, wouldn't return in future issues for revenge, etc. So long, Herr Von Fere!

John Nowak

I remember reading somewhere that you have to pay a fee to the Post Office every time you start mailing out a new magazine at the special reduced magazine rate, so a common trick was to start a new magazine by "retitling" an old one, while maintaining the consecutive numbers.

So, for example, "Moon Girl Adventures #3" would be followed by "Moon Girl Romances #4" -- two completely different magazines, except as far as the Post Office was concerned.

Since there was no significant collectors market out to grab #1 issues, it saved some money.

Mark Engblom

Thanks for the added insight, John! I would add to your comments that there was a time when #1 issues were thought to be a negative influence on sales and that a high issue count conveyed popularity and stable longevity. This was the thinking behind the numbering of DC's second Flash series that launched in 1959. Instead of re-starting with a #1 issue (as is so common today), they chose to continue the numbering of the previous Flash series that ended a decade earlier...despite the fact that this second version was a completely different person with a whole new origin and costume.

It's hard to comprehend that trend in today's "First Issue Collector's Item!" market, isn't it?

Dr. Retro

Since DC now owns the rights to the Fawcett characters, I wonder if Spy Smasher will be returning. If so, on which earth will he be a resident? Perhaps Earth-5, which bears resemblance to the pre-crisis Earth S.

Mark Engblom

Well, Spy Smasher was used very briefly in a few of Jerry Ordway's Shazam issues, but yeah, I would love to see Spy Smasher and the rest of the old Earth-S characters in their own environment, instead of lost in the crowd like they are now.

John Nowak

A new Spy Smasher showed up in a recent [i]Birds of Prey[/i] arc.

And yeah, it's hard to believe that people used to avoid #1 issues...

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