Quality Comics

Quality Comics was an American comic book publishing company which operated from 1937 to 1956 and was a creative, influential force in what historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Notable, long-running titles published by Quality include Blackhawk, Feature Comics, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs, Military Comics, Modern Comics, Plastic Man, Police Comics, Smash Comics, and The Spirit. While most of their titles were published by a company named Comic Magazines, from 1940 onwards all publications bore a logo that included the word "Quality". Notable creators associated with the company included Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, Lou Fine, Gill Fox, Paul Gustavson, Bob Powell, and Wally Wood.

Quality Comics
GenreSuperhero, war, humor, romance, horror
PredecessorComic Favorites, Inc.
Founded1937
FounderEverett M. "Busy" Arnold
DefunctDecember 1956
HeadquartersNew York City, U.S.
Key people
Eisner & Iger
ProductsComic books
ParentComic Magazines, Inc.

History

Quality Comics was founded by Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, a printer who saw the rapidly rising popularity of the comic book medium in the late 1930s. Deducing that Depression-era audiences wanted established quality and familiar comic strips for their hard-earned dimes, in 1937 the enterprising Arnold, formed the suitably titled Comic Favorites, Inc. (in collaboration with three newspaper syndicates: the McNaught Syndicate, the Frank J. Markey Syndicate, and Iowa's Register and Tribune Syndicate).[1]

Comic Favorites, Inc.'s first publication was Feature Funnies, which began primarily with color reprints of hit strips from all three co-owning syndicates (including Joe Palooka, Mickey Finn, and Dixie Dugan [all three from McNaught]) alongside a small number of original features.[2] The original material came from various sources, including the company's in-house staff and/or freelancers (from the first issue)[3] and the Eisner & Iger shop (from issue #3).[4]

A frequent point of confusion is whether and how comic packaging shop Harry "A" Chesler was involved with the company's early days. Several sources[5][6] list Chesler as the publisher of Feature Funnies, but the only primary source to mention Chesler is an interview with Arnold in which he describes purchasing content from the shop for Military Comics and Police Comics,[7] neither of which began until 1941. An interview with Will Eisner quoted in The Quality Companion indicates that Arnold was not always an owner of Comic Favorites, Inc., but the authors of that reference were unable to find any corroborating evidence amidst a large volume of evidence to the contrary.[8]

In 1939, Arnold and the owners of the Register & Tribune Syndicate's parent company, brothers John Cowles, Sr. and Gardner Cowles, Jr., bought out the McNaught and Markey interests. Arnold became 50% owner of the newly formed Comic Magazines, Inc., the corporate entity that would publish the Quality Comics line. That year Quality released Smash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939), the company's first comic book with exclusively new material.

Initially buying features from Eisner & Iger, a prominent "packager" that produced comics on demand for publishers entering the new medium, Quality introduced such superheroes as Plastic Man and Kid Eternity, and non-superhero characters including the aviator hero Blackhawk. Quality also published comic-book reprints of Will Eisner's "The Spirit", the seven-page lead feature in a weekly 16-page, tabloid-sized, newsprint comic book, known colloquially as "The Spirit Section", distributed through Sunday newspapers.

CrackComics5
Crack Comics #5 (Sept. 1940), first use of the "Quality Comic Group" logo (to right of "COMICS"). Cover art by Gill Fox.

The name Quality Comics debuted on the cover of Crack Comics #5 (Sept. 1940; see at right). "Seemingly never an official publishing title," the Connecticut Historical Society noted, "the Quality Comics Group is a trademarked name (presumably taking its name from Stamford's nickname of 'the Quality City') encompassing Comic Favorites Inc., E.M. Arnold Publications, Smash Comics, and any other imprints owned by Arnold".[9] A 1954 federal document[10] noted that the Quality Romance Group, owned by Everett M. and Claire C. Arnold, with an office at 347 Madison Avenue, in New York City, published two titles as Arnold Publications, Inc., two titles as Comic Favorites, Inc., and 14 titles as Comic Magazines, Inc.

By the mid-1950s, with television and paperback books drawing readers away from comic books in general and superheroes in particular, interest in Quality's characters had declined considerably. After a foray into other genres such as war, humor, romance and horror, the company ceased operations with comics cover-dated December 1956.

Continuation of characters at other publishers

Many of Quality's character and title trademarks were sold to National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics), which chose to keep only four series running: Blackhawk, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs (each for another 100 or more issues) and Robin Hood Tales (for 8 issues). There has been much confusion over whether the original Quality Comics and/or the characters they published are in public domain. The original copyrights for Quality's publications have never been renewed by either Arnold or DC (as no such renewal is on file with the Library of Congress), leaving those original stories in the public domain. However, the trademarks to the characters, and to the titles of the various comic book series, were sold to DC, which has periodically published stories with them in order to keep their claims alive.[11]

Over the decades, DC revived other Quality characters. Plastic Man has starred in several short-lived series starting in 1966,[12] as well as a Saturday morning cartoon from 1979–1981.[13] He went on to become a member of the Justice League in the 1990s.

According to DC canon, the Quality characters, before the DC revamping event called Crisis on Infinite Earths, existed on two separate realities in the DC Multiverse: Earth-Quality and Earth-X.[14] While Earth-Quality followed much the same history as the main Earths, Earth-X was radically different from most Earths, in that World War II continued there until 1973, enabling the Freedom Fighters to continue their fight against the Nazis. Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 established a new "Post-Crisis" continuity in which the Quality and other DC characters have instead always lived on the single, unified DC Earth.

New, successor versions of the characters Black Condor and The Ray were introduced in 1992. Both were recruited into the Justice League. The new Ray had his own 1994–1996 series and occasionally appears as a reserve League member.

Some Quality Comics titles, including Blackhawk and Plastic Man, have been reprinted by DC, while lesser-known ones have been reprinted by AC Comics.

Characters/features

List of titles published by Quality Comics

[16]

Quality characters and titles.

MilitaryComicsNo21
DollMan40
NationalComics26
HitComicsNumber25
SmashComicsNumber43
HitComicsNo19
PoliceComicNo15
SpiritNo18
HitComicsNumber5
HitComicsNo26
  • All Humor Comics #1–17 (1946–1949)
  • The Barker #1–15 (1946–1949)
  • Blackhawk #9–107 (1944–1956; formerly Uncle Sam Quarterly #1–8;[17] Blackhawk #108–273 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957–1983)
  • Bride's Romance #1–23 (1953–1956)
  • Broadway Romances #1–5 (1950)
  • Buccaneers #19–27 (1950–1951; formerly Kid Eternity #1–18)
  • Buster Bear #1–10 (1953–1955)
  • Campus Loves #1–5 (1949–1950)
  • Candy #1–64 (1947–1956)
  • Crack Comics #1–62 (1940–1949; Crack Comics[Ashcan] #1)
  • Crack Western #63–84 (1949–1953; formerly Crack Comics #1–62; Jonesy #85(1) 2-8)
  • Diary Loves #2–31 (1949–1953; formerly Love Diary #1; G.I. Sweethearts #32-45 Girls in Love #46-57)
  • Doll Man #1–47 (1941–1953)
  • Egbert #1-20 (1946–1950)
  • Exotic Romances #22–31 (1955–1956; formerly True War Romances #1–21)
  • Exploits of Daniel Boone #1–6 (1955–?)
  • Feature Funnies #1–20 (1937–1939);[18][19] Feature Comics #21-144 (1939–1950)
  • Flaming Love #1–6 (1949–1950)
  • Forbidden Love #1–4 (1950)
  • Gabby #11; issue numbering restarts,[20] #2–9 (1953–1954; formerly Ken Shannon #1-10)
  • G.I. Combat #1–43 (1952–1956; #44-288 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957–1987)
  • G.I. Sweethearts #32–45 (1953–1955; formerly Diary Loves #2–31; #46 onward Girls in Love #46-57)
  • Girls in Love #46–57 (1955–1956; formerly G.I. Sweethearts #32–45)
  • Heart Throbs #1–46 (1949; #47–146 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957–1972; retitled Love Stories, #147–152, 1972–1973)
  • Hickory #1-6 (1949–1950)
  • Hit Comics #1–65 (1940–1950)
  • Hollywood Diary #1–5 (1949–1950)
  • Hollywood Secrets #1–6 (1949–1950)
  • Intrigue #1 (1955)
  • Jonesy #85; issue numbering restarts, 2–8 (1953–1954; formerly Crack Western #1–84)
  • Ken Shannon #1–10 (1951–1953; Gabby #11 onward)
  • Kid Eternity #1–18 (1946–1949; Buccaneers #19 onward)
  • Lady Luck #86–90 (1949–1950; formerly Smash Comics #1–85)
  • Love Confessions #1–54 (1949–1956)
  • Love Diary #1 (1949; Diary Loves #2 onward)
  • Love Letters #1–51 (1949–1956)
  • Love Scandals #1–5 (1950)
  • Love Secrets #32–56 (1953–1956)
  • Marmaduke Mouse #1–65 (1946–1956)
  • Military Comics #1–43 (1941–1945; Modern Comics #44 onward)
  • Modern Comics #44–102 (1945–1950; previously Military Comics #1–43)
  • National Comics #1–75 (1940–1949)
  • Plastic Man #1–64 (1943–1956)
  • Police Comics #1–127 (1941–1953)
  • Range Romances #1–5 (1949–1950)
  • Robin Hood Tales #1–6 (1956; #7–14 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957–1958)
  • Secret Loves #1–6 (1949–1950)
  • Smash Comics #1–85 (1939–1949; Lady Luck #86 onward)
  • The Spirit #1–22 (1944–1950)
  • T-Man #1–38 (1951–1956)
  • Torchy 1–6 (1949–1950)
  • True War Romances #1–21 (1952–1955; Exotic Romances #22 onward)
  • Uncle Sam Quarterly #1–8 (1941–1943; Blackhawk #9 onward)
  • Untamed Love #1–5 (1950)
  • Web of Evil #1–21 (1952–1954)
  • Wedding Bells #1–19 (1954–1956)
  • Yanks in Battle #1–4 (1956)

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Steranko, Jim (1972). The Steranko History of Comics 2. Reading, PA: Supergraphics. p. 92.
  2. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
  3. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 8, 11. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
  4. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
  5. ^ Benton, Mike (1989). The Comic Book in America, Updated Edition. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 142. ISBN 0-87833-835-7.
  6. ^ Beerbohm, Robert Lee; Richard D. Olson (2006). Robert M. Overstreet (ed.). The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (37th ed.). New York, NY: Gemstone Publishing. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-375-72108-3.
  7. ^ Steranko, Jim (1972). The Steranko History of Comics 2. Reading, PA: Supergraphics. pp. 92–93.
  8. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
  9. ^ "Quality Comic Group: A Brief History". Connecticut Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  10. ^ Archive of Comic Books and Juvenile Delinquency Interim Report of the Committee on the Judiciary Pursuant to S. Res. 89 and S. Res. 190. Reocities archive of original.
  11. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). The Quality Companion. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 32–33. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
  12. ^ ""Plastic Man" series search". Grand Comics Database.
  13. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). The Quality Companion. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
  14. ^ Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Cross-Over Index (DC Comics, 1986).
  15. ^ Atomictot at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived 2012-04-07 at WebCite from the original on April 7, 2012.
  16. ^ https://www.comics.org/publisher/67/
  17. ^ As new periodical titles were subject to an expensive registration fee by the U.S. Postal Service to receive a second-class mail permit, Golden Age comic book publishers frequently continued the numbering of old titles on new ones, hence one comic book title "becoming" another with completely unrelated content.
  18. ^ Per Andrews, Henry, at Quality Comics : Comic Favorites, Inc. (Indicia Publisher) at the Grand Comics Database: "Contrary to what is often reported, there is no evidence that Harry 'A' Chesler was ever an owner of this company or in any way a 'pre-Quality' publisher. He is not mentioned anywhere in Feature Funnies #1 or #2, and the earliest available statement of ownership (from #16) lists Everett M. Arnold, Frank J. Markey, Henry P. Martin, Jr. and Frank J. Murphy as co-owners."
  19. ^ Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 207–8, 216.
  20. ^ Such renumbering occurred when the U.S. Postal Service discovered a new title distributed under old numbering; the publisher was then forced to not only pay the registration fee, but also to list the correct issue number.

References

External links

← The character Slam Bradley is created by Malcom-Wheeler Nicholson, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. See Slam Bradley for more detail and the previous timeline. Timeline of DC Comics (1930s)
1937
Feature Funnies, later retitled Feature Comics series was debuted by Quality Comics. See Feature Funnies and Feature Comics for more info and next timeline. →
Black Condor

Black Condor is the super hero name used by three different fictional characters in the DC Comics universe. All three incarnations of Black Condor have been members of the Freedom Fighters and each has been featured in Freedom Fighter comic books published by DC Comics.

The first Black Condor, Richard Grey Jr., was created by Quality Comics writer Will Eisner and artist Lou Fine. He moved to the DC universe when DC Comics bought the rights to Quality Comics characters. The first Black Condor was a World War II era super hero along with the rest of the Freedom Fighters. The second Black Condor, Ryan Kendall, gained the power of flight due to genetic manipulation and initially did not believe he was a super hero. He would later join the Freedom Fighters, but was killed at the beginning of the Infinite Crisis storyline. The third Black Condor, John Trujillo, is of Mayan descent and was given his powers by the Mayan Spider Goddess Tocotl. Seeing himself as a protector of the universe he joins forces with the Freedom Fighters.

Bozo the Iron Man

Hugh Hazzard and his Robot, Bozo the Iron Man is a fictional character, first appearing in Quality Comics series, Smash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939). The character's adventures were written and crudely drawn by Quality Comics editor George Brenner.

Clock (comics)

The Clock is a fictional masked crime-fighter character created in 1936, during the Golden Age of Comic Books. According to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, he was the first masked hero to appear in American comic books.

Doll Man

Doll Man is a fictional superhero from the Golden Age of Comics, originally published by Quality Comics and currently part of the DC Comics universe of characters. Doll Man was created by cartoonist Will Eisner and first appeared in a four-page story entitled "Meet the Doll Man" in Feature Comics #27. The issue's December, 1939 cover date indicates that Doll Man is the first comic book superhero with a shrinking power. He notably predates the more-famous Ray Palmer and Hank Pym by two decades.

Human Bomb

The Human Bomb is a fictional superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Police Comics #1 (August 1941), and was created by writer and artist Paul Gustavson.

Invisible Hood

The Invisible Hood is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics Universe. He was originally owned by Quality Comics, but was later acquired by DC Comics, along with other Quality characters. He first appeared in Smash Comics #1 (August 1939), and was created by Art Pinajian, Pinajian illustrated the story under the pseudonym "Art Gordon".

Jester (Quality Comics)

The Jester is a fictional character, a Golden Age superhero created by Paul Gustavson and published by Quality Comics. He first appeared in Smash Comics #22 (May 1941). Like most of Quality's characters, the Jester was later purchased by DC Comics and incorporated into their universe. Though little used by the company, he appeared in All-Star Squadron #31 and #60 and Starman #46.

Kid Eternity

Kid Eternity is a fictional character, a comic book superhero that premiered in Hit Comics #25 written by Otto Binder, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff, and published by Quality Comics in December 1942. All of Quality's intellectual properties were sold to DC Comics in 1956 (though most of the said properties had lapsed into public domain by that point), including the character. The character has continued to appear (albeit infrequently) in DC comic books since his revival in the 1970s.

In 1956, Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, the owner of Quality Comics decided to leave the comic business entirely for the more profitable arena of Men's Adventure Magazines. He sold the Quality Comics line to his competitor, DC Comics. DC kept a number of Quality's titles running, but not until the 1970s did they look at the long-cancelled superhero characters (with the introduction of the Freedom Fighters).

Lady Luck (comics)

Lady Luck is a fictional, American comic-strip and comic book crime fighter and adventuress created and designed in 1940 by Will Eisner with artist Chuck Mazoujian. Through 1946, she starred in a namesake, four-page weekly feature published in a Sunday-newspaper comic-book insert colloquially called "The Spirit Section". The feature, which ran through November 3, 1946, with one months-long interruption, was reprinted in comic books published by Quality Comics. A revamped version of the character debuted in 2013 in DC Comics's Phantom Stranger comic.

List of Quality Comics characters

Quality Comics was a comic book company from the Golden Age of Comic Books that sold many anthology comic books that starred superheroes, many of which were adopted by DC Comics when they purchased Quality Comics, and others were not, entering the public domain.

Magno (Quality Comics)

Magno is a fictional superhero originally published by Quality Comics. He was created by Paul Gustavson. His first appearance was in Smash Comics #13 (August 1940). He was one of the characters that were purchased by DC Comics when Quality Comics sold their assets. However, the copyright on these comics expired before that, making them public domain. Aside from a brief appearance in All-Star Squadron, he hasn't been utilized in any significant way by DC Comics since.

Max Mercury

Max Mercury is a DC Comics superhero similar to Quality Comics' Quicksilver. Initially an obscure speedster, the character was rebooted by Mark Waid in the pages of The Flash and turned into a mentor for Wally West.

Midnight (DC Comics)

Midnight (real name: Dave Clark) is a fictional character owned by DC Comics. A masked detective, he was created by writer-artist Jack Cole for Quality Comics during the 1930s to 1940s period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Neon the Unknown

Neon the Unknown is a fictional superhero from the Golden Age of Comic Books created by Jerry Iger for Quality Comics. Neon first appeared in a story penciled and inked by Lou Fine in Hit Comics #1 and was featured on the cover of that same issue. His stories ran in issues 1–17.

Like many characters owned by that company, he was later bought by DC Comics after Quality ceased operations.

Red Torpedo

Red Torpedo is the name of two fictional characters. One originally published by Quality Comics and another currently owned by DC Comics. The original is a superhero named Jim Lockhart while the second is an android created T. O. Morrow. Jim Lockhart debuted in Crack Comics #1 (May 1940).

Spider (DC Comics)

"Alias the Spider" is a comic-book feature from the Golden Age of Comic Books that appeared in Quality Comics' Crack Comics for nearly three years, starting with issue #1 in 1940. He was created by writer-artist Paul Gustavson.The original Golden Age version of the character is in the public domain; but the rights to all subsequent versions are currently owned by DC Comics.

Uncle Sam (comics)

Uncle Sam is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Based on the national personification of the United States, Uncle Sam, the character first appeared in National Comics #1 (July, 1940) and was created by Will Eisner.

Wildfire (Carol Vance Martin)

Wildfire (Carol Vance Martin) is a fictional superheroine in the DC Comics universe. One of the first female superheroes, she was originally published by Quality Comics during what comics historians and fans called the Golden Age of comic books.

Wonder Boy (comics)

Wonder Boy is the name of two fictional characters who have appeared as superheroes in comics published by Quality Comics and DC Comics. The original was an alien who appeared in National Comics. The second was a time-traveler from an alternate future who appeared in Team Titans.

Publications
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Editors-in-Chief /
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All-American
Comics
Archie Comics
Centaur Comics
National Allied
Fawcett Comics
Fox Comics
Nedor Comics
Quality Comics
Timely Comics
Misc.
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Active (minor)
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