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CSBG Archive

Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Investigating F.B.I. Comics Pt. 1

I was digging through some of my comic book boxes, and it dawned on me that a lot of books have focused on the the F.B.I. over the years. Here’s a look at some examples:

One of the earliest references to the F.B.I. in the funnybook world can be found in All-Star Comics #9 (February-March, 1942). In this issue, the Justice Society meets with the F.B.I. Chief (his face is never shown, and his name is never given) and is assigned the task of putting down various Fifth Column threats throughout the western hemisphere. It’s a pretty entertaining travelogue and, in the end, the J. Edgar Hoover stand-in is voted in as an honorary member of the JSA. Of course, this book is prohibitively expensive, but you can find this tale in the 2nd volume of the JSA Archives.

I love the covers to Ziff-Davis comics, as so many of them were painted by the legendary Norman Saunders. Quite a few years ago, I acquired a terribly beaten up copy of Little Al of the F.B.I. #10 (November, 1950). It was actually the first issue, but Ziff-Davis was one of those companies that played fast and loose with numbers to get around postal regulations. Little Al is a terrific character, an undersized but courageous spy smasher. If it were a TV series in the early 60s, I could picture Robert Blake in the role. After two issues, he was apparently transferred to the Secret Service, where he served for three issues before heading off for early retirement. I’m not great at spotting Ziff-Davis artists, as there is a pretty consistent house style in many of the books. I do believe Al Carreno drew at least one story in this issue.

Last year, I bought a stack of lower grade Dells from the 50s and 60s on eBay for relative peanuts. One of the books in the lots was The F.B.I. (April-June, 1965). I wasn’t sure what this particularly book would be all about, as I assumed that it may have been tied into some TV show or film of the time. It turns out to be a well paced history of the F.B.I., touching on issues such as J. Edgar Hoover’s rise and the Lindbergh kidnapping. If you only know Joe Sinnott from his inking work at Marvel, I highly recommend tracking down this book to see his exquisite pencils.

The World Around Us #6 – The Illustrated Story of the F.B.I. (February, 1959) is a terrific book from this fascinating series published by Gilberton. The artwork is nicely rendered by and a number of excellent artists including Jay Disbrow and EC stalwarts George Evans and Graham Ingels contribute. Much like the Dell book, this one delves into the various aspects of F.B.I. history, including one vignette involving Fifth Columnists during WW2.

Justice was a long-running crime series published by Timely/Atlas, running for more than 50 issues before becoming Tales of Justice for an additional 15 issues. The first four issues of the series featured the banner “FBI in Action” and many of the stories were based on actual F.B.I. cases. The most unique aspect this series was the one-page “Wanted” page featuring photo and descriptions of suspects on the F.B.I. most wanted list.

Next time I’ll be back with more F.B.I. themed comics from the Golden and Silver Ages. In the meantime, stop by my blog for more comic book chat: Seduction of the Indifferent

7 Comments

I’m sure you’re all over this action, because you know stuff about things, but Jimmy Woo and Plastic Man were both FBI agents. Looking forward to seeing if they pop up in future installments.

I was just going to mention Plastic Man.

The Dell FBI comic is a direct comic tie-in to the show- The F.B.I. which had just started that television season.

Ephrem Zimbalst Jr. appears to be the man on the cover.

I think I had Plastic Man on the brain because when I saw the post title I thought “FBI Comics? Didn’t that star Plastic Man? Oh wait, no, that was Police Comics. He was in the FBI, though!”

I love the image of The Spectre, Wrath of God, saying “I’m for that, Johnny!” with a big smile on his face, at the suggestion of making Hoover a member of the JSA based on his accomplishments towards Law and Order.

Given the later revelations about Hoover’s private life, the cover of the “Calling All Boys” issue with Hoover’s photo is a classic.

http://www.comics.org/issue/229008/cover/4/

Scott, I’ll add that a nice companion book to that Dell F.B.I. book is Four Color# 1069, “The F.B.I. Story”, based on the Jimmy Stewart movie. I can recommend it for the excellent Toth art. Longer form Toth stories are not exactly plentiful, so this 32 pager is a real treat and features some dynamic layouts.

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