Sugar and Spike
|Sugar and Spike|
Cover to Sugar and Spike #1 (April/May 1956)
Art by Sheldon Mayer
|Publication date||April/May 1956 - October/November 1971|
|Number of issues||98|
|Main character(s)||Sugar Plumm
Cecil "Spike" Wilson
|Editor(s)||Whitney Ellsworth #1-21
Lawrence Nadle #22-52
Murray Boltinoff #53-93
Dick Giordano #94
E. Nelson Bridwell #95-98
The series was launched in 1956 along with another Sheldon Mayer creation The Three Mouseketeers. The Sugar & Spike series had 98 issues published in the United States through 1971, when due to Mayer's failing eyesight that limited his drawing ability, the series was canceled. Later, after cataract surgery restored his eyesight, Mayer returned to writing and drawing Sugar and Spike stories, continuing to do so until his death in 1991; these stories appeared in overseas markets and only a few have been reprinted in the United States. The American reprints appeared in the digest sized comics series The Best of DC #29, 41, 47, 58, 65, and 68. In 1992, Sugar and Spike #99 was published as part of the DC Silver Age Classics series; this featured two previously unpublished stories by Mayer. DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz has described Sugar and Spike as being "Mayer's most charming and enduring creation". Novelist and Sandman creator Neil Gaiman has stated "Sheldon Mayer's Sugar and Spike series...is the most charming thing I've ever seen in comics."
DC attempted to license Sugar and Spike as a syndicated newspaper strip but was unsuccessful. Sales on the "Sugar and Spike" issues of The Best of DC were strong enough that DC announced plans for a new ongoing series featuring the characters. The project was never launched for unknown reasons.
Mayer had an agreement with DC that no one else could write Sugar and Spike. However, they have occasionally made cameo appearances in modern comic books. They are rescued by the underwater heroine Dolphin in Showcase #100. They appear as theme park characters in Justice League Spectacular; as being baby-sat by Cassie Sandsmark in Wonder Woman #113; and as teenagers on the crowded cover of Legionnaires #43. They have a cameo on a video screen in Planet Krypton in Kingdom Come #1. The two made speaking cameo appearances in the first two pages of The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4, but they were not named.
The comic featured the misadventures of two toddlers named Sugar Plumm and Cecil "Spike" Wilson, who possessed the ability to communicate via "baby talk" with each other and to other infants, but not to adults. It was in many ways similar to the Rugrats cartoon series, and shared ideas concerning baby-talk with P. L. Travers' Mary Poppins novel; one notable feature was that all babies spoke the same baby-talk "language", allowing Sugar and Spike to speak with not only human infants, but baby animals as well. Another popular recurring feature was paper dolls of the two leads, with outfits based on designs submitted by readers. Mayer used his own children, Merrily and Lanney, as inspiration for the strip.
In addition to the toddlers and their parents, recurring characters included:
- Little Arthur, a "big boy" too old for baby-talk. A spoiled brat and a ruffian, Arthur torments Sugar and Spike, but is invariably outwitted by them in the end. He is introduced in issue #17 (August 1958).
- Sugar's Uncle Charley, a bachelor and police officer who is a stereotypical "fun uncle", often playing with the kids and giving them gifts when he comes to visit.
- Bernie the Brain, a child genius who, despite being the same age as Sugar and Spike, is an accomplished scientist and inventor who speaks and understands "grown-up talk". When he first encounters Sugar and Spike, he requires a translating device of his own invention to teach him their baby-talk having already progressed past that stage, intellectually. He enjoys the chance to be a normal kid with Sugar and Spike, while the pair loves playing with Bernie's various inventions. The two often seek out Bernie when they encounter something they don't understand, particularly something involving grown-up behavior. Bernie made a cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 watching Clark Kent on the WGBS television news report on the Crisis and he appears to be very concerned about what is going on.
In other media
Sugar and Spike have a cameo in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Siege of Starro: Part 1." The characters are pictured on the side of an "S & S Diapers" diaper service truck.
- The Sugar and Spike Archives Vol. 1 collects Sugar & Spike #1-10, 272 pages, September 2011, ISBN 1-4012-3112-8
- The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics includes "Once upon a time there was a cute little baby boy named (of all things) Cecil..." from Sugar & Spike #1; "Grown-Up Game" from Sugar & Spike #20; and "Pint-Size Love Story" from Sugar & Spike #21, 360 pages, September 2009, Harry N. Abrams, ISBN 0810957302
- The Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told includes "Lobsters Away" from Sugar & Spike #3, 288 pages, October 1990, ISBN 0930289803
- Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Two children's titles began: Sugar and Spike and The Three Mouseketeers."
- Sugar & Spike at the Grand Comics Database
- Markstein, Don. "Sheldon Mayer". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 3, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011. "He continued to write and draw Sugar & Spike until 1971, when failing eyesight forced him to abandon cartooning...Mayer's sight was restored a few years later, and he went back to producing new Sugar & Spike stories. But the American comic book market was no longer able to support such a feature, so these were mostly published overseas."
- DC Silver Age Classics Sugar and Spike #99 (1992) at the Grand Comics Database
- Levitz, Paul (2010). 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Taschen America. p. 64. ISBN 9783836519816.
- Bender, Hy (1999). The Sandman Companion. Vertigo. p. 154. ISBN 1563894653.
- Wells, John (July 2012). "The Lost DC Kids Line". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (57): 47. "Did you know that DC tried to sell Shelly Mayer's Sugar and Spike as a syndicated newspaper strip? [A] sample, ca. 1979-early 1980s was one of three DC concepts unsuccessfully pitched to papers."
- Wells p. 46-47: "In a 'Meanwhile' column in several Aug. 1984-dated titles...DC vice-president-executive director Dick Giordano tentatively announced Sugar and Spike #1 as appearing 'sometime this fall or early winter'...Ultimately, for reasons virtually no one recalls, DC quickly got cold feet on the project even as Marvel's Star Comics rolled out in 1985."
- Markstein, Don. "Sugar and Spike". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011. "Sugar Plumm and Cecil "Spike" Wilson had to make sense of their environment without assistance from those who already knew their way around it, because everybody but their fellow babies spoke in the incomprehensible gobbledygook of grownups...[Mayer] secured an agreement with DC that he would be the only one ever to write and draw those characters."
- Levitz, Paul; Kupperberg, Paul (w), Staton, Joe (p), Staton, Joe (i). "There Shall Come a Gathering" Showcase 100 (May 1978)
- Jurgens, Dan; Jones, Gerard (w), Jurgens, Dan; Randall, Ron (p), Burchett, Rick; Elliot, Randy (i). "Teamwork" Justice League Spectacular 1 (March–April 1992)
- Byrne, John (w), Byrne, John (p), Byrne, John (i). "Are You Out of Your Minds?!" Wonder Woman v2, 113 (September 1996)
- Moy, Jeffrey (p), Carani, W. C. (i). Legionnaires 43 (December 1996)
- Waid, Mark (w), Ross, Alex (p), Ross, Alex (i). "Strange Visitor" Kingdom Come 1 (May 1996)
- Fisch, Sholly (w), Burchett, Rick (p), Davis, Dan (i). "The Bride and the Bold" The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold 4 (April 2011)
- Daniels, Les (1995). "Keep Smiling Having a Sense of Humor Helps". DC Comics : Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. Bulfinch. p. 240. ISBN 0821220764. "The creations of editor and cartoonist Sheldon Mayer, Sugar and Spike were two tiny tots who were old enough to get into trouble but a little too young to talk. As a result, they conversed in baby talk, 'the only language that makes any sense.'"
- Alger, Bill (January 2001). "Sugar's Daddy Talking with Merrily Mayer Harris, Shelly Mayer's Daughter". Comic Book Artist (TwoMorrows Publishing) (11). Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Mayer, Sheldon (w), Mayer, Sheldon (p), Mayer, Sheldon (i). "Meet Little Arthur" Sugar & Spike 17 (August 1958)
- Mayer, Sheldon (w), Mayer, Sheldon (p), Mayer, Sheldon (i). "Bernie the Brain!" Sugar & Spike 72 (August–September 1967)
- Wolfman, Marv (w), Pérez, George (p), Ordway, Jerry (i). "War Zone" Crisis on Infinite Earths 9 (December 1985)
- "The Sugar and Spike Archives Vol. 1". DC Comics. Retrieved October 14, 2012.