Here’s the latest installment of Maggie Thompson’s ongoing look at important beginnings, middles and ends, this time for December 1-7, 2017...
115 years ago December 7, 1902 “Father of the American Cartoon” Thomas Nast dies of yellow fever at age 62. The editorial cartoonist established such images as the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and the now-traditional Santa Claus.
105 years ago December 4, 1912 Cliff Sterrett begins Polly and Her Pals (as Positive Polly) for the New York Journal.
95 years ago December 6, 1922 Golden and Silver Age artist Dave Gantz is born. He creates the Gantz Glances panel cartoon.
85 years ago December 5, 1932 The Alley Oop comic strip begins, created by V.T. Hamlin for the Newspaper Enterprise Association.
80 years ago December 4, 1937 DC Thomson publishes The Dandy #1. The comic book will become the third-longest-running comic book (after Detective Comics and Il Giornalino).
75 years ago December 2, 1942 Fawcett’s Master Comics #33 introduces Hopalong Cassidy to comic books. The story by Otto Binder and Ralph Carlson brings to four color tales the character who was originated in stories by Clarence E. Mulford and then modified and brought to films, performed by William Boyd.
70 years ago December 5, 1947 Stan Lee marries Joan Clayton Boocock.
65 years ago December 3, 1952 Writer-editor John Warner is born. His work includes Gold Key’s Dark Shadows and Flash Gordon and contributions to several Marvel magazines.
55 years ago December 6, 1962 Trollords co-creator [with Paul Fricke] Scott Beaderstadt is born.
50 years ago December 7, 1967 Jason Lutes is born. The writer-artist is known for his work on Jar of Fools and Berlin.
35 years ago December 1, 1982 Krause Publications acquires The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom. It will change its title to Comics Buyer’s Guide and introduce a newspaper format.
20 years ago December 3, 1997 Prolific Italian comics artist Benito Jacovitti dies at age 74. He creates many features and characters (including Cocco Bill) for Il Vittorioso and other comics.
5 years ago December 4, 2012 The last printed issue of The Dandy is published on the series’ 75th anniversary, as it launches the online The Digital Dandy.
And here are the anniversaries spanning the month of December...
75 years ago December 1942 Quality’s Hit Comics #25 features the “most sensational hero ever to appear in print!” Drawn by Sheldon Moldoff, Kid Eternity is introduced and dies, and then Things Happen.
75 years ago December 1942 It’s right there on the cover of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel Adventures #18. “Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. proudly present Mary Marvel.” (The issue is dated December 11, but it’s the only December issue.) The story is by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze. (Billy Batson finds out that Mary Batson is his twin sister.)
75 years ago December 1942 It’s “the mystery of the doll who walks like a man!” DC’s Flash Comics #36 introduces The Ragdoll. “Tale of the Treasure Hunt” is by Gardner Fox and Lou Ferstadt.
70 years ago December 1947 Fox’s All Great Comics #13 introduces Dagar, the Desert Hawk. It’s also the last issue of All Great Comics ‒ but Dagar, Desert Hawk will continue the numbering.
70 years ago December 1947 Dell’s Four Color #178 features Walt Disney’s Donald Duck, and the story is “Christmas on Bear Mountain” by Carl Barks. Yes, it’s a Christmas story, but hey! It has a bonus: the introduction of Donald’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck.
55 years ago December 1962 Who betrayed Ant-Man in Marvel’s Tales to Astonish #38? Is it his buddies, the ants? Or is it Egghead, introduced in this issue? The story is by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers.
50 years ago December 1967 Charlton cancels Judomaster with #98 and Captain Atom with #89.
50 years ago December 1967 The King Comics experiment involving bagging comics in packs to avoid returns (long story) is coming to an end. Mandrake the Magician wrapped up with the November issue (#10), and Flash Gordon #11, Popeye #92, and The Phantom #28 are the last issues of each.
45 years ago December 1972 In “A Stranger Walks among Us!” by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano, DC’s Justice League of America #103 contains an unofficial crossover with Marvel involving the (real) Rutland, Vermont, Halloween Parade. The story features (real) comics fans and pros involved in the event. Connected stories appear in Marvel’s Thor #207 (January 1973) and Amazing Adventures #16 (January 1973).
45 years ago December 1972 “We’re going to run our own lives—and you can’t stop us, Super-Dads!” Just like a couple of teenagers. Geez. DC’s World’s Finest Comics #215 introduces Batman, Jr. and Superman, Jr. in an alternate timeline in which … Well … Yeah, alternate timeline. Anyway, “Saga of the Super Sons!” is by Bob Haney, Dick Dillin, and Henry Scarpelli.
45 years ago December 1972 Charlton’s Midnight Tales #1 cover features the collaboration of Wayne Howard and Nicola Cuti: Professor Coffin and Arachne.
45 years ago December 1972 “Beginning this issue! Action-plus with The Human Target!” DC’s Action Comics #419 introduces a new version of The Human Target in “The Assassin-Express Contract!” by Len Wein, Carmine Infantino, and Dick Giordano.
45 years ago December 1972 To whom does Ben Grimm belong? Medusa claims him, but, “He belongs to Thundra—or to no one!!” Who’s Thundra? Well, for starters, she’s introduced in Marvel’s Fantastic Four #129 in a story by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott.
45 years ago December 1972 “And a jungle queen is born!” Marvel’s Shanna, the She-Devil #1 introduces Shanna in a story by Carole Seuling, Steve Gerber, George Tuska, and Vince Colletta.
40 years ago December 1977 Aardvark-Vanaheim’s Cerebus #1 kicks off the epic tale of a sword-wielding aardvark. Creator Dave Sim writes and draws what will become a long-running series that begins as what seems to be a simple satire on swords and sorcery-focused comics.
35 years ago December 1982 “The time has come!” DC’s Camelot 3000 #1 breaks ground. The limited series by Mike W. Barr, Brian Bolland, and Bruce Patterson features a future in which characters from the Arthurian saga cope with aliens. The “maxi-series” pioneers DC’s releasing a series only to comics shops and using better-quality paper than newsprint.
35 years ago December 1982 Pacific Comics’ fantasy and science fiction anthology series Alien Worlds begins. Contributors to the first issue include Joe Chiodo, Bruce Jones, Al Williamson, Val Mayerik, Nestor Redondo, and Tim Conrad.
30 years ago December 1987 DC wraps up Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes with #354.
30 years ago December 1987 The Silver Banshee says, “The Silver BansheeTM has won—Superman is dead!” (Yes, she speaks of herself in the third person and manages to add a “TM.”) DC’s Action Comics #595 introduces her in “The Ghost of Superman” by John Byrne and Keith Williams.
30 years ago December 1987 Her name is so nice, but … Marvel introduces the villainous Mercy in Incredible Hulk #338. (She just wants to do The Hulk a favor, but. Yeah.) “Mercy Killing” is by Peter David, Todd McFarlane, and Jim Sanders III.
25 years ago December 1992 You want to see The Hulk in bunny slippers? Marvel’s Incredible Hulk reaches #400. There’s other fun stuff in the issue ‒ including a two-part story by Peter David, Jan Duursema, Chris Bachalo, and Mark Farmer.
20 years ago December 1997 “The Countdown Begins … as Worlds Collide!” Marvel returns The Avengers and The Fantastic Four to primary continuity in Heroes Reborn: The Return #1. The story is by Peter David, Salvador Larroca, and Art Thibert.
15 years ago December 2002 DC’s Global Frequency #1 (featuring an organization that combats bad secret projects) begins with “Bombhead” by Warren Ellis and Garry Leach.
5 years ago December 2012 Marvel’s A+X #1 has a number of variant editions, as it kicks off the anthology connected to the “Now! Initiative.”