Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Great Comic Book Heroes: Creating a 68-page Comic Over a Weekend in 1941


The Great Comic Book Heroes is one of the first books to approach the golden age of comic books with an affectionate and scholarly eye. Written by none other than Jules Feiffer, it was, for me and many others, our first exposure to these 1930s, 40s and 50s comic book stories and their creators. 

There is a story that Feiffer tells. Snow plays a part, and, since it's snowing like crazy today (18" of wet snow expected.), this comes to mind. I'll let Tom Peyer pick up the reins. He did a deep dive on his Twitter feed about that weekend and even figured out exactly what comic book it was they were all working on and where to find it online. Here's Tom:

"In The Great Comic Book Heroes, Feiffer tells of a group of writers and artists who camped in an unfurnished Manhattan space to crank out a 68-page comic over a weekend in 1941. The place had no kitchen, so they'd send out for sandwiches, until ...

"... A massive blizzard hit late Friday night. NYC became paralyzed, midtown a ghost town. There was nothing open and, after working all night, the comics gang was starving. One of them went out to forage and came back eight hours later with all he could find:

"A can of beans and a dozen eggs. Useless! They had no plates, utensils, stove...

"... But they pried tiles off the bathroom wall and built a small stove, using paper for fuel. They bashed the can open with a t-square for a hammer and housekeys for nails, cooked the beans and eggs, ate them off the tiles, then went back to work.

"I bring it up because I just found a more detailed telling in Jerry Robinson: Ambassador of Comics by N.C. Christopher Couch...

"... with enough clues to finally establish what comic it was that young Robinson, George Roussos, Dave Wood, Bernie Klein, and others suffered for that weekend: Daredevil Comics #2, August, 1941. Read it here.

"Why do I need to know this? I just do.

"Additionally: the Friday was March 7, 1941. We just missed the anniversary! Parade next year. 

"The comics gang had agreed to bail out the publisher, who needed to use a significant paper ration by Monday morning or lose it."


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