The Brave and the Bold – Index Part 1
Blazing Adventures 1
Anyone who knows me knows of my love of old comics. Fortunately as I age I have gone from being a weirdo teenager who still reads comics to being an authentic collector. That means I am still a weirdo who reads comics, but I am no longer a teenager.
My favorite comic bar none was “The Brave & The Bold” published by DC Comics. I managed to collect and seal up every issue. But protecting the comics from harm means that I will not be able to read them – which is the main reason for collecting.
So I made an index/history of the comic. At the time I prepared it indexes were very popular. Two-Morrows publishing did very well with its All-Star and Miracleman indexes/histories. I sent off this index to Two-Morrows hoping to be published. They never got back to me.
So here it is – serialized over the next few posts. I hope you enjoy it. All editorial comments are my own.
The Brave & The Bold
From Silent Knight to Dark Knight
Blazing Adventures Part 1
Of silent knights and princes named Jon
“Invitation” the comic cover read amidst its four-color characters: “If you dream of riding in a thundering chariot – if you yearn to explore unknown seas – if you are ready to wield a clashing sword to guard an astounding secret – then – The Golden Gladiator, The Viking Prince, and The Silent Knight invite you to join them in blazing adventures from now on as a member of – THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD!”
In May 1955 the first issue of The Brave and The Boldhit the nation’s news stands. It was published by National Periodicals (only in 1976 did it legally become known as DC Comics) with an August 1955 cover month (hereafter the cover date will be used – keep in mind the date the comic was actually able to be purchased by eager readers would have been months earlier). To introduce new readers to National Comics, #1 featured ads for their two biggest sellers: Action Comics (#206) and Detective Comics (#221).
Although the number of total comics published in the 1950s was more than at any time in history until the 1990s, the number of super-heroes was at its lowest. The funny-animal strip characters the Fox and the Crow appeared in as many comics as Batman – a feat unthinkable today.
Only five comics published in August 1955 are still being published today – as you might guess they were the icons of the four-color world Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman , Detective Comics and Action Comics (although each of these comics have been “rebooted” – some more than once – with a new issue #1, but still traceable to the original. I think that counts). The only other superhero magazines at the time were Adventure Comics, World’s Finest (these latter two featured Superboy and the Superman-Batman respectively, aiding their survival – no one bought World’s Finest to read Green Arrow), and Quality Comics’ Plastic Man, but that would be cancelled within two years.
A list of National’s other comics published when B&B #1 hit the stands show the typical range of comic book readers at the time: A Date with Judy, Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces, All American Men of War, The Adventures of Bob Hope, The Adventures of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Peter Porkchops, Fox & Crow, Frontier Fighters, Tomahawk, House of Mystery, Mystery in Space, My Greatest Adventures, Showcase, Strange Adventures, Star Spangled War Stories, Real Screen Comics, Western Comics and All-Star Western. National staples Sugar & Spike (in their own comic) and Tales of the Unexpectedhad yet to debut. Quality was still publishing magazines later taken over by National Comics: GI Combat, Plastic Man, Blackhawk and Robin Hood.
Obviously, grown men in underwear and capes were not on the priority list of comics. Captain Marvel and other Fawcett heroes had been cancelled due to National’s expensive litigation; Timely’s Captain America, Human Torch and Submariner were revived a few times in the fifties without success.
New to comics at the time was the Comics Code Authority — the self-regulating body created to prevent the government from regulating comics — ensured no further sexual exploitation, gruesome and/or violent activity or any fun at all would be depicted in comic books. This rang the death knell for EC Comics and drove their readership underground for the next thirty years.
The first volley of the superhero revival would be fired two months later with Showcase #4 and the return of the Flash, ushering in the Silver Age of Comics. Brave and Bold #1 and Showcase#3 shared the newsstands.
B&B #1 was a fairly typical comic for its day – focusing on swashbuckling sword operas – where adventures abound in ancient bygone days. Heroes were beyond reproach, their allies no less than absolutely trustworthy, sneering villains were ingenious yet always fallible and damsels were always, always, in distress.
Until issue #16 there were three stories per issue, along with the mandatory page of text (to allow comics to be mailed at magazine subscription rates) and one-page humorous “cartoony” strips.
Texts in issues 1 – 24 include descriptions of battles, weaponry and peoples, cultures and specific heroes and villains of Roman and Medieval times. Single page comics ranged from public service cartoons regarding the International Labor Organization, going back to school, Pennies for Unicef, National Brotherhood Week and getting a library card. There were also humorous knight cartoons scattered throughout the twenty-four issue run.
The first issue’s cover showed all three features in actions blurbs (National having no idea yet which of the three would be the star of the magazine) – covers afterward would feature only one star, with banners proclaiming the adventures of the other two.
The issues featured the characters Viking Prince, Golden Gladiator (whose strip was replaced by Robin Hood) and the Silent Knight), whose tales will be recounted in the next post.
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry.