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Rebecca Jansen
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 February 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 2632
Posted: 08 April 2021 at 11:29am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Thanks for some great info on this! Adding Back Issue #59 to my list now.

As an outside observer I find it odd that ERB would've been unhappy with DC's handling because as a fan I thought they did a terrific job with the best artists. They obviously made some kind of mistake with Marvel, as it was with them that the ERB lines of anything in comic books entirely ended in English speaking North America.

Now Charlton's Hanna-Barbera comics I know were often pretty low quality (the printing often was too) and can certainly understand disappointment there. I bought some Flintstones and Jetsons as well as Wheelie by them and compared to the similar Gold Key comics I also bought I thought they were sort of odd. They had a charm but they were not as 'on model' as the Gold Key books of characters familiar through animation. I probably didn't have any clue though that many of the Gold Key comics were reprinting '50s material by people who had worked on the animated cartoons, which would include Barks. They too did sometimes have modern new comics that were less 'on-model' or well drawn (I remember some Scamps, Donald Ducks and Bugs Bunnys that were far more amateurish than others).

A follow-up question might be was DC predatory in getting ERB away from Dell/Western/Gold Key to start with? I know they 'absorbed' rival company Quality in the mid-'50s, mainly for Blackhawk (with no skip in frequency I don't think) and I think there would've just been no Quality comics at all if DC hadn't done the deal. They took up the old Fawcett characters and later still the Charlton characters. I guess that could look like keeping them from others, except they did make use of all of these properties over long periods although with gaps, they didn't just sit on them after a brief period.

In a way it's all moot now; comic books have ceased to be much of a mass medium in America, fighting over a shrinking pie and number of outlets for them. :^(

Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 08 April 2021 at 11:32am
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Ed Love
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Joined: 05 October 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2707
Posted: 08 April 2021 at 12:40pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

In the cases of those companies, DC HAS to do something with them because technically, the trademarks are all they have and trademarks have to be used to be maintained. Most of the characters of Quality, Fawcett, and Charlton are all technically public domain as with the first two most of first appearances were not renewed and with the third, they were not properly copyrighted to begin with.
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Eric Jansen
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Joined: 27 October 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 1832
Posted: 08 April 2021 at 2:57pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I have to wonder--if the original Captain Marvel character is public domain and Marvel owns the trademark to the name, couldn't Marvel just "snatch" the character and publish an actual CAPTAIN MARVEL comic?
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Ed Love
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Joined: 05 October 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2707
Posted: 08 April 2021 at 3:54pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

DC probably would claim a visual trademark of the costume and the word "Shazam". Still stuck with a character that you're limited as to how much you could promote. 

Although, Marvel does now have Marvelman/Miracleman who started off as a ripoff of Captain Marvel and sort-of Malibu's Prime that was a variation of the theme of a kid that could turn back and forth into a seeming adult hero.
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Jason Czeskleba
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 30 April 2004
Posts: 4336
Posted: 08 April 2021 at 10:48pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

 Rebecca Jansen wrote:
A follow-up question might be was DC predatory in getting ERB away from Dell/Western/Gold Key to start with?

Not really.  Apparently ERB Inc. was not happy with Western at the time, because sales of their Tarzan and Korak titles were declining, and they weren't producing enough material to keep the foreign publishers happy (they were only producing eight issues per year of Tarzan).  Also, ERB wanted comics that would promote some of their non-Tarzan characters, and Western wasn't interested in doing that.  Robert Hodes considered self-publishing (a recurrent theme, apparently) but decided against it and approached Carmine Infantino.  DC agreed to produce stories with some of the other Burroughs characters and publish a monthly Tarzan book (as well as a bi-monthly Korak).  If you want more info about this and the history of Tarzan comics in general, add Alter Ego Magazine #129 to your shopping list.

It does seem strange that ERB was unhappy with Kubert's Tarzan work, since it is (in my opinion) really fantastic.  But if you compare it to the stories Gaylord Dubois was doing and the Manning-house style art at Western, it's clear that it really was a dramatic change. 

Probably another problem was that Kubert disliked Jane and preferred stories where Tarzan was a lone, savage adventurer, rather than the family man of the Gold Key series and the Manning comic strip.  IIRC, the only times Jane appeared in Kubert's Tarzan were in the issues where he adapted the first two novels.  And after that, he skipped over books featuring Jane and instead adapted stories in which she didn't appear, like The Lion Man and The City of Gold.  And Jane never appeared in any original stories written by Kubert.


Edited by Jason Czeskleba on 09 April 2021 at 1:46am
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