Today we take a look at the first ongoing comic book series dedicated to adapting movies to comics.
This is “Look Back”, where every four weeks of a month, I will highlight a single issue of a comic book that has appeared in the past and talk about this problem (often on a larger scale, like the series as a whole, etc.). Each spotlight will be a look at a comic book from a different year that was released in the same month X years ago. The first spotlight of the month takes a look at a book released this month ten years ago. The second spotlight looks at a book that appeared this month 25 years ago. The third spotlight looks at a book that appeared this month 50 years ago. The fourth spotlight looks at a book that appeared this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week (we’re looking at weeks in a broad sense, so if a month has five Sundays or five Saturdays, that counts as a fifth week) looks at books from 20/30/40/60/70/80 years.
Today, direction September 1946 for Fiction House’s Movie comics, the first ongoing comic book series devoted to adapting films into comics.
Of course, the history of movie adaptations in comics dates back well before 1946, including another ongoing series that was VERY similar to Movie Comics from 1946, to the point that it had the same name!
As you may or may not know, in the early days of comics, comics were just collections of comics. When the comics really started to heat up around 1937, they were almost purely powered by these collections. The idea was that whoever had the best relationship with a comic book syndicate would have the best chance of success. The original comic book stories were seen as a simple filler to mix with the GOOD things. Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson was a visionary who realized that the original comics were the wave of the future, but he was sadly kicked out of his own business just before one of those original characters, a guy named Superman, doesn’t change the way people saw the original. comic book characters forever.
Either way, the early comic book giant (and the PERIOD comic book giant for decades) was Dell Comics, and in their series, Comics, in 1937, they made an adaptation of a film western by Monogram Pictures, Rocky Mountain Romance, in Comics # 6 (adapted by the great Nathan Fallon) …
Dell adapted a number of westerns throughout 1938 (remember, back then, small movie studios like Monogram were making short films, mostly under an hour long, so they were easy to fit into a handful of pages using a lot of panels per page).
In 1983, Centaur Publishing launched Funny little giant movies # 1, one of their fleeting attempts at making landscape comics. However, it wasn’t really about adapting movies, but the problem was that there was so much content and since it was a widescreen format, it was LIKE you were in the cinema!
In 1939, Dell adapted Monogram’s classiest film at the time, Mr. Wong, detective, based on the popular Mr. Wong novels of the time. It was so weird to see this pretty tall eyebrow sleuth starring an Asian character, showing that Americans were ready to watch a movie with an Asian lead roleâ¦ (which lasted nine installments from Popular Comics # 38) is pure caricature …
Also in 1939, National Comics (now DC) entered the action with Movie comics # 1, which has adapted a number of films in each issue.
Now you might be thinking, “What is this, Brian?” You told me that 1946 was the first comic book series being adapted from movies! Have you turned this flashback feature into a den of lies? Well, first of all, calm down a bit, it’s really not that big of a deal. Second, here’s the trick, National’s Movie comics # 1 wasn’t really a comic book, at least not in the film adaptation portion of the book. You see, they literally colored the stills of the actual movie! Here is the adaptation of Universal Studios’ Frankenstein’s son from the first comic …
It’s trippy like anything, isn’t it?
There were comics in it, but it was Ed Wheelan’s brilliants Minutes Movies movie parodies (which had also appeared in the Centaur Funny little giant movies)
Okay, so I’m voting it’s more Fumetti than Comics (the American term for images put in comic book format with word bubbles), so let’s move on to Fiction House instead. Movie comics # 1 in September 1946 ….
when the excellent comic artist Bob Lubbers adapted the hit movie series Paramount, Big city, with stunning works of art inspired by Will Eisner …
DC later made ANOTHER film adaptation, Feature film magazine, in 1950, it was a typical comic book adaptation of movies.
If you have any suggestions for October (or any subsequent months) 2011, 1996, 1971, and 1946 comics to highlight, drop me a line at [email protected]! Here is the guide, however, to the book cover dates so that you can make suggestions for which books actually came out in the correct month. Typically, the traditional time lag between a comic book cover date and a comic release date throughout most of comic book history has been two months (sometimes it was three months, but not during the times we are discussing here). So the comics will have a cover date two months before the actual release date (so October for a book released in August). Obviously, it’s easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago came out because there was internet coverage of the books back then.
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