||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2010)|
Quality Comics logo used from 1940–1949
|Status||defunct (Dec. 1956)|
|Founder||Everett M. "Busy" Arnold|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
|Publication types||Comic books|
|Fiction genres||Superhero, War, Humor, Romance, Horror|
Notable, long-running titles published by Quality include Blackhawk, Feature Comics, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs, Military Comics, Modern Comics, Plastic Man, Police Comics, Smash Comics, and The Spirit. While most of their titles were published by a company named "Comic Magazines", from 1940 onwards all publications bore a logo that included the word "Quality". Notable creators associated with the company included Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, Lou Fine, Gill Fox, Paul Gustavson, Bob Powell, and Wally Wood.
Quality Comics was founded by Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, a printer who saw the rapidly rising popularity of the comic book medium in the late 1930s. Deducing that Depression-era audiences wanted established quality and familiar comic strips for their hard-earned dimes, in 1937 the enterprising Arnold, formed the suitably titled Comic Favorites, Inc. (in collaboration with three newspaper syndicates: the McNaught Syndicate, the Frank J. Markey Syndicate, and Iowa's Register and Tribune Syndicate).
Comic Favorites, Inc.'s first publication was Feature Funnies, which began primarily with color reprints of hit strips from all three co-owning syndicates (including Joe Palooka, Mickey Finn, and Dixie Dugan) alongside a small number of original features. The original material came from various sources, including the company's in-house staff and/or freelancers (from the first issue) and the Eisner & Iger shop (from issue #3).
A frequent point of confusion is whether and how comic packaging shop Harry "A" Chesler was involved with the company's early days. Several sources list Chesler as the publisher of Feature Funnies, but the only primary source to mention Chesler is an interview with Arnold in which he describes purchasing content from the shop for Military Comics and Police Comics, neither of which began until 1941. An interview with Will Eisner quoted in The Quality Companion indicates that Arnold was not always an owner of Comic Favorites, Inc., but the authors of that reference were unable to find any corroborating evidence amidst a large volume of evidence to the contrary.
In 1939, Arnold and the owners of the Register & Tribune Syndicate's parent company, brothers John Cowles, Sr. and Gardner Cowles, Jr., bought out the McNaught and Markey interests. Arnold became 50% owner of the newly formed Comic Magazines, Inc., the corporate entity that would publish the Quality Comics line. That year Quality released Smash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939), the company's first comic book with exclusively new material.
Initially buying features from Eisner & Iger, a prominent "packager" that produced comics on demand for publishers entering the new medium, Quality introduced such superheroes as Plastic Man and Kid Eternity, and non-superhero characters including the aviator hero Blackhawk. Quality also published comic-book reprints of Will Eisner's "The Spirit", the seven-page lead feature in a weekly 16-page, tabloid-sized, newsprint comic book, known colloquially as "The Spirit Section", distributed through Sunday newspapers.
The name Quality Comics debuted on the cover of Crack Comics #5 (Sept. 1940; see at right). "Seemingly never an official publishing title," the Connecticut Historical Society noted, "the Quality Comics Group is a trademarked name (presumably taking its name from Stamford's nickname of 'the Quality City') encompassing Comic Favorites Inc., E.M. Arnold Publications, Smash Comics, and any other imprints owned by Arnold". A 1954 federal document noted that the Quality Romance Group, owned by Everett M. and Claire C. Arnold, with an office at 347 Madison Avenue, in New York City, published two titles as Arnold Publications, Inc., two titles as Comic Favorites, Inc., and 14 titles as Comic Magazines, Inc.
By the mid-1950s, with television and paperback books drawing readers away from comic books in general and superheroes in particular, interest in Quality's characters had declined considerably. After a foray into other genres such as war, humor, romance and horror, the company ceased operations with comics cover-dated December 1956.
Continuation of characters at other publishers
Many of Quality's character and title trademarks were sold to National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics), which chose to keep only a four series running: Blackhawk, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs (each for another 100 or more issues) and Robin Hood Tales (for 8 issues). There has been much confusion over whether the original Quality Comics and/or the characters they published are in public domain. The original copyrights for Quality's publications have never been renewed by either Arnold or DC (as no such renewal is on file with the Library of Congress), leaving those original stories in the public domain. However, the trademarks to the characters, and to the titles of the various comic book series, were sold to DC, which has periodically published stories with them in order to keep their claims alive.
Over the decades, DC revived other Quality characters. Plastic Man has starred in several short-lived series starting in 1966, as well as a Saturday morning cartoon from 1979-1981. He went on to become a member of the Justice League in the 1990s.
According to DC canon, the Quality characters, before the DC revamping event called Crisis on Infinite Earths, existed on two separate realities in the DC Multiverse: Earth-Quality and Earth-X. While Earth-Quality followed much the same history as the main Earths, Earth-X was radically different from most Earths, in that World War II continued there until the 1980s, enabling the Freedom Fighters to continue their fight against the Nazis. Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 established a new "Post-Crisis" continuity in which the Quality and other DC characters have instead always lived on the single, unified DC Earth.
New, successor versions of the characters Black Condor and The Ray were introduced in 1992. Both were recruited into the Justice League. The new Ray had his own 1994-1996 series and occasionally appears as a reserve League member.
Some Quality Comics titles, including Blackhawk and Plastic Man, have been reprinted by DC, while lesser-known ones have been reprinted by AC Comics.
List of titles published by Quality Comics
- All Humor Comics #1-17 (1946-1949)
- The Barker #1-15 (1946-1949)
- Blackhawk #9-107 (1944-1956; formerly Uncle Sam Quarterly #1-8; Blackhawk #108-273 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957-1983)
- Bride's Romance #1-23 (1953-1956)
- Broadway Romances #1-3 (1950)
- Buccaneers #19-27 (1950-1951; formerly Kid Eternity #1-18)
- Buster Bear #1-10 (1953-1955)
- Campus Loves #1-5 (1949-1950)
- Candy #1-64 (1947-1956)
- Crack Comics #1-62 (1940-1949; Crack Western #63 onward)
- Crack Western #63-84 (1949-1953; formerly Crack Comics #1-62; Jonesy #85 onward)
- Diary Loves #2-31 (1949-1953; formerly Love Diary #1; G.I. Sweethearts #32 onward)
- Doll Man #1-47 (1941-1953)
- Exotic Romances #22-38 (1955-1956; formerly True War Romances #1-21)
- Exploits of Daniel Boone #1-6 (1955-?)
- Feature Funnies #1-20 (1937-1939); Feature Comics #21-144 (1939-1950)
- Flaming Love #1-6 (1949-1950)
- Forbidden Love #1-4 (1950)
- Gabby #11; issue numbering restarts, #2-9 (1953-1954; formerly Ken Shannon)
- G.I. Combat #1-43 (1952-1956; #44-281 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957-1987)
- G.I. Sweethearts #32-45 (1953-1955; formerly Diary Loves #2-31; #46 onward Girls in Love)
- Girls in Love #46-57 (1955-1956; formerly G.I. Sweethearts #32-45)
- Heart Throbs #1-46 (1949; #47-146 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957-1972; retitled Love Stories, #147-152, 1972-1973)
- Hit Comics #1-65 (1940-1950)
- Hollywood Diary #1-5 (1949-1950)
- Hollywood Secrets #1-6 (1949-1950)
- Jonesy #85; issue numbering restarts, 2-8 (1953-1954; formerly Crack Western #1-84)
- Ken Shannon #1-10 (1951-1953; Gabby #11 onward)
- Kid Eternity #1-18 (1946-1949; Buccaneers #19 onward)
- Lady Luck #86-90 (1949-1950; formerly Smash Comics #1-85)
- Love Confessions #1-54 (1949-1956)
- Love Diary #1 (1949; Diary Loves #2 onward)
- Love Letters #1-51 (1949-1956)
- Love Scandals #1-5 (1950)
- Love Secrets #32-56 (1953-1956)
- Marmaduke Mouse #1-65 (1946-1956)
- Military Comics #1-43 (1941-1945; Modern Comics #44 onward)
- Modern Comics #44-102 (1945-1950; previously Military Comics #1-43)
- National Comics #1-75 (1940-1949)
- Plastic Man #1-64 (1943-1956)
- Police Comics #1-127 (1941-1953)
- Range Romances #1-5 (1949-1950)
- Robin Hood Tales #1-6 (1956; #7-14 subsequently published by DC Comics, 1957-1958)
- Secret Loves #1-6 (1949-1950)
- Smash Comics #1-85 (1939-1949; Lady Luck #86 onward)
- The Spirit #1-22 (1944-1950)
- T-Man #1-38 (1951-1956)
- Torchy 1-6 (1949-1950)
- True War Romances #1-21 (1952-1955; Exotic Romances #22 onward)
- Uncle Sam Quarterly #1-8 (1941-1943; Blackhawk #9 onward)
- Untamed Love #1-5 (1950)
- Web of Evil #1-21 (1952-1954)
- Wedding Bells #1-19 (1954-1956)
- Yanks in Battle #1-4 (1956)
- Steranko, Jim (1972). The Steranko History of Comics 2. Reading, PA: Supergraphics. p. 92.
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 8, 11. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
- Benton, Mike (1989). The Comic Book in America, Updated Edition. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 142. ISBN 0-87833-835-7.
- Beerbohm, Robert Lee; Richard D. Olson, PhD (2006). Robert M. Overstreet, ed. The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (37th ed.). New York, NY: Gemstone Publishing. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-375-72108-3.
- Steranko, Jim (1972). The Steranko History of Comics 2. Reading, PA: Supergraphics. pp. 92–93.
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
- "Quality Comic Group: A Brief History". Connecticut Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- Archive of Comic Books and Juvenile Delinquency Interim Report of the Committee on the Judiciary Pursuant to S. Res. 89 and S. Res. 190. Reocities archive of original.
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). The Quality Companion. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 32–33. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
- ""Plastic Man" series search". Grand Comics Database.
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). The Quality Companion. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-60549-037-3.
- Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Cross-Over Index (DC Comics, 1986).
- Atomictot at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 7, 2012.
- As new periodical titles were subject to an expensive registration fee by the U.S. Postal Service to receive a second-class mail permit, Golden Age comic book publishers frequently continued the numbering of old titles on new ones, hence one comic book title "becoming" another with completely unrelated content.
- Per Andrews, Henry, at Quality Comics : Comic Favorites, Inc. (Indicia Publisher) at the Grand Comics Database: "Contrary to what is often reported, there is no evidence that Harry 'A' Chesler was ever an owner of this company or in any way a 'pre-Quality' publisher. He is not mentioned anywhere in Feature Funnies #1 or #2, and the earliest available statement of ownership (from #16) lists Everett M. Arnold, Frank J. Markey, Henry P. Martin, Jr. and Frank J. Murphy as co-owners."
- Kooiman, Mike; Amash, Jim (November 2011). Quality Companion, The. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 207–8,216.
- Such renumbering occurred when the U.S. Postal Service discovered a new title distributed under old numbering; the publisher was then forced to not only pay the registration fee, but also to list the correct issue number.
- Archive of "Quality Comic Group: A Brief History" at the Connecticut Historical Society. Original page.
- Quality's Superheroes & Villains Encyclopedia