Fox Comics Appreciation Thread!
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This has been long overdue...a thread devoted to Fox Comics and the incredible books the company put out during the Golden Age.

 

Post 'em if you got 'em! I never get tired of seeing those wonderful and bizarre Fox covers. I'd also LOVE to see any interior art and ads when possible, and to learn much more about the artists who worked for Fox.

 

I'll kick things off with Wonderworld #7, a Lou Fine masterpiece…a book I never thought I'd own and am thrilled to have in any condition. (I know some forum members have stunning copies of early Fox books, so don't let this one scare you…better covers are coming!)

 

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Tough act to follow! hail.gif

 

 

Again, one of my goals here is to continue to learn more about the company and the artists who worked there. Here's a link to a terrific article by our own Jon Berk on some of the history of the company. Essential reading!

 

History of Fox Comics

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Here's what I love about the early Fox comics:

 

The artists. More than anything, Fox books still have a cult following today because of the incredible artists they had working for them. Unlike most GA comic companies, which favored more of a homogenous/”house style” look, the Fox artists (more on them to come) had incredibly diverse styles, and put them to work on an intriguingly diverse mix of stories.

 

The stories. There's a bizarre, anything-goes quality to a lot of the Fox output. In those early months, when blueprints for successful comics were not as firmly in place, you really get the idea that the creators were trying out lots of different concepts to see what would catch on.

 

The covers. Lou Fine is the clear star here, but even the later books have a distinctively bright (some would say garish) color palette and a certain nutty charm to them.

 

The mythology. I have to admit, I really enjoy the stories about what a character Victor Fox was, the history of DC suing Fox, and the various changes that this comics line went through in the few years it was around.

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This is a rough timeline of Fox Comics from 1939-1942 that I whipped up, using old OS Guides & Jon's article as my main references. There's still plenty of unknowns here...if you can add to this or correct anything, please feel free!

 

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Late 1938/early 1939 - The Eisner/Iger shop partners with Victor Fox, producing pages for Wonder Comics, Fox's 1st title. Fox instructs Will Eisner to come up with a character based on Superman. Artists in the shop include Eisner himself, Lou Fine, George Tuska, Briefer, Powell, Fletcher & others.

 

May 1939 - Wonder Comics #1 hits the stands. DC immediately slaps Fox with a lawsuit, charging that the character of Wonder Man infringes on their Superman copyright. Case goes to court (sometime in summer?) and is decided against Fox (Eisner testifies that Fox had specifically requested a Superman clone). Wonder Man character dropped from issue #2 on.

 

July 1939 - Wonder Comics name changed to Wonderworld, beginning with issue #3. Intro The Flame.

 

August 1939 - Mysterymen #1. Intro The Blue Beetle, Green Mask.

 

Fall 1939 - At some point the Eisner/Iger shop breaks with Fox over nonpayment of money due (though it seems Fox continued to print their finished work for many months afterwards).

 

December 1939 - Fantastic Comics #1. Intro Samson, Stardust, Space Smith & others. Around this time Victor Fox places newspaper ads to lure back some of the Eisner/Iger artists to work for him directly, as well as to hire new talent. Joe Simon is hired and takes over as editor of the line.

 

Winter 1939/40 - Blue Beetle #1 published (one of the earliest superhero books devoted to a single character).

 

February 1940 - Science Comics begins (one of the earliest scifi titles, though the stories encompassed superheroes & other genres too).

 

April 1940 - Weird Comics begins. The last of the Lou Fine covers on all titles see print around this time.

 

May 1940 - Starting in May, Simon draws the covers himself for a few months. Kirby does a bit of backup work around this time as well.

 

Summer 1940 - launch of The Flame and The Green Mask titles.

 

Fall 1940 - launch of Big 3, Samson, and Rex Dexter (only lasts one issue).

 

Summer 1941 - during this time, all the Fox titles were full of ads for a drink called Kooba Cola, which was apparently never made (a Victor Fox scheme to create a demand before the product even existed!).

 

Summer 1941-Winter 1942 - Fox tries to climb aboard the patriotic bandwagon with several ill-fated titles: The Eagle, U.S.Jones, and V Comics.

 

March 1942 - Fox goes bankrupt and all remaining titles are cancelled.

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Neat timeline! FWIW, Centaurs died about the same time, although they were pretty well in their heyday in 1938-39 when Fox just got off the ground. Similar diversity of stories and art (maybe even more...I'll try to scan the interior of an early Centaur at some point), although generally inferior covers (with some great exceptions).

 

Fox covers rock. In fact, Fox covers are so good that the interior artwork/story quality is IMO frequently a disappointment.

 

Summer 1941 - during this time, all the Fox titles were full of ads for a drink called Kooba Cola, which was apparently never made (a Victor Fox scheme to create a demand before the product even existed!).

 

Thank you!!! I've been wondering about Kooba Cola for YEARS, and couldn't understand why I'd never seen any other advertising memorabilia for it. I had no idea it was a marketing ploy. I'm so glad you solved that for me!

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Fox covers rock. In fact, Fox covers are so good that the interior artwork/story quality is IMO frequently a disappointment.

 

In all honesty, the same can be said of quite a few of the early outfits, don't you think?

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Very informative Point Five. Thanks for taking the time to put that timeline together. I've always liked some of the early Fox books but have never had the pleasure of owning one. The awesome Fine artwork definitely makes them stand out from the crowd.

 

It doesn't get much better the the 2 issues already posted hail.gif

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Thanks for the kind words. I've always been curious about the interiors of early Centaurs, so a scan or two would be great to see. I'm going to hold you to that! thumbsup2.gif

 

Thank you!!! I've been wondering about Kooba Cola for YEARS, and couldn't understand why I'd never seen any other advertising memorabilia for it. I had no idea it was a marketing ploy. I'm so glad you solved that for me!

 

I read that somewhere (no longer remember where) and it answered the same question for me. Gerard Jones confirms it in his great Men of Tomorrow book. Some of the Kooba ads are pretty funny!...I'll try to get an ad or two into this thread as well.

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THANKS POINT FIVE!! Been looking forward to this thread.

 

I'll contribute this scan of REX DEXTER #1, an obscure one shot . Art by Breifer. I'm going to post photos of some interior panels as well, as there are truly some fun "drawrings". Part of what I have been collecting is early sci fi comics, circa 1939 to 1942 (the focus of most of my comic collecting), and this one shot falls smack dab in the middle! Its a really nice book. The art ranges in quality from exciting to downright awful. But to me, thats part of the fun.

 

FOX and Centaur books do seem to have an odd link between them, maybe because, as Centaur Man implied, of that trial-and-error feel that those books had around that time period.

 

And thanks for adding the footnote about Kooba Cola! As you will see, REX DEXTER has a cover blurb offering a free bottle of KOOBA, THE BIG DRINK.

 

Can't wait to see what covers end up on this thread... so far, the first two will be hard to surpass. 1272380-rexdexcvrPOST.jpg

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Edited by RyanH
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Fox covers rock. In fact, Fox covers are so good that the interior artwork/story quality is IMO frequently a disappointment.

 

In all honesty, the same can be said of quite a few of the early outfits, don't you think?

 

No, because most early outfits didn't have covers as good as Fox books.

 

I'm not saying Fox interiors were worse than their peers, they aren't. They're better than some (early Fawcetts are rough, as are some early 4th tier publishers like Nita), worse than others (I think 1939-40 DCs were better, as were early Lev Gleasons). I'm saying that the Fox covers were so good for the time period that the fact their interiors were typical for the time period is a disappointment.

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Fox covers rock. In fact, Fox covers are so good that the interior artwork/story quality is IMO frequently a disappointment.

 

In all honesty, the same can be said of quite a few of the early outfits, don't you think?

 

No, because most early outfits didn't have covers as good as Fox books.

 

I'm not saying Fox interiors were worse than their peers, they aren't. They're better than some (early Fawcetts are rough, as are some early 4th tier publishers like Nita), worse than others (I think 1939-40 DCs were better, as were early Lev Gleasons). I'm saying that the Fox covers were so good for the time period that the fact their interiors were typical for the time period is a disappointment.

 

Ok. I see. Your comment was narrowly focused on that pre-1940 period and, in that context, it's better understood.

 

I had expanded the statement past 1940 into the late 40's and early 50's where one should NEVER judge a book by its cover.

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While I've been a cheerleader for Fox art so far, I'll be the first to say that the interiors were spotty...and after the last of the Eisner-Iger work finished printing in 1940, some of the replacement artists were downright awful. Though even some of the junkier stuff has a certain funny kind of appeal to me.

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My Gerbers are packed away - but I recall a decline in Fox covers towards the end as well. Due as much to drab coloring as anything else. At some point the hot pinks, bold oranges, and acid greens were discontinued for what I imagine was a less expensive palette.

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