Monday, August 8, 2016

Manic Monday Bonus--Wither The Witches Of The Wild West?!?

We have discussed before how, in ye olden days, publishers really hated to launch new titles with new #1 issues.

Postal regulations at the time required them to pay a registration fee for every new magazine, and who wants to cut their margins when they don't have to.

Comic companies were also afraid that new #1s wouldn't make it onto crowded newsstands, believing that retailers preferred to give space to established titles (as proven by higher issue #s). This is the reason that Justice League Of America #1 and Jimmy Olsen #1, among others, didn't have an issue number on the first covers!! (See, you've already learned something new today!!)

So, between fooling postal inspectors and retailers, comic publishers played fast and loose with their numbering. Harvey Comics was a master of this, as we have seen previously.

Here's another example:

In 1951, they launched Witches Tales, a fairly standard horror comic of the day...

It ran through #28, in late 1954:

Then, suddenly, the very next issue...

Hey, wait a minute!! That's clearly a brand new comic!!

Oh, but read the cover logo more carefully:

See, it's Witches' Western Tales, so really, it's just a continuation of the same title!!

Of course, it really wasn't. There wasn't a single witch to be found, and the 2 issues of Witches Western Tales were entirely reprints of earlier Western comics from 1950 & 1951.

On the cover of the second issue (#30...ha!), you can see the real reason for the change:

Ah, the hastily thrown on Comics Code stamp!!No wonder Harvey dumped the witches in all but tiny title font!!

Well, as far as I can tell, postal inspectors of the era weren't too bright (or didn't really care), so Harvey got away with it. So the next three issues were merely Western Tales, with the "Witches" no longer required to "beard" the numbering:

These were all new stories, mostly from Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. And if you don't want to read Jack Kirby-drawn Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie stories, well, I guess you're like everyone else in 1955...because those three issues were it.

So that was a lot of sturm und drang to preserve numbering on a title they just ended up cancelling 5 issues later anyway...

Anyway, this is why I don't get to upset at renumbering/relaunching, or changing The Incredible Hulk into The Incredible Hercules mid-run. None of it is really "All-New" or "All-Different." Comics have been screwing with titles/numbering for decades. We just grew up during an era of unusual stability in that regard. But I'm pretty sure we can deal with the "chaos."

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