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Cover Stories by Jon B. Knutson
Jon Knutson presents comic book covers with a common theme
and relates any information and comments about them.

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COVER STORIES for 07/31/2005

Welcome to this 12th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!

Today's theme takes us under the big top to look at four covers featuring high-wire acts! These are the kinds of covers you don't see on new comics any more!

Comic Calvacade 2

Looking at this and other covers, there are a few things that might strike you about them all.

The first is, "Wow, super-heroes really had a lot of time on their hands in the Golden Age to spend so much time performing at the circus!"

The second is, "Wow, two covers this week with Wonder Woman on them!"

Well, I'll get to the latter thought later. As far as the first one goes, well, one thing you have to remember is that most anthology books of the Golden Age had covers that had nothing to do with the stories. Heck, while you may see Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash on this cover... they didn't appear in a story together within these pages!

This cover by Frank Harry did, however, inspire Roy Thomas, who used this image as a springboard for one of his great All-Star Squadron stories (I believe it was the annual which presented the origins of the Atom, Wildcat, and the Guardian)!

The stories in this issue were Wonder Woman in "Wanted By Hitler, Dead or Alive" by William Marston and Frank Godwin, The Ghost Patrol in "The Haunted Tank" (which, naturally, would become a regular feature in the 1970s DC war comics) by Ted Udall and Frank Harry, The Black Pirate and Son in "They Wind Up in the Doghouse," by Ted Udall and Sheldon Moldoff, Ed Wheelan's Minute Movies, newspaper reprints of Mutt and Jeff with Al Smith ghosting Bud Fisher, Green Lantern in "Handsome John Riley" by Bill Finger and Jon Chester Kozlak, Wildcat in "The Story Behind the Bellyache" by Bill Finger and Irwin Hasen, Red, White and Blue in "Punk Junk" by Ted Udall and Joe Gallagher, the Flash in "The City on Wheels" by Gardner Fox and Lou Ferstadt, a Simp O'Dell story by Hess, and a one-page text article on Superman by George Lowther (who wrote the first Superman prose novel)!

Detective Comics 166

OK, you may also have noticed the Dynamic Duo appear on two of this week's covers... and why not? Dick Grayson, after all, used to perform in the circus anyway... although it's unlikely he ever had his act interrupted by a very well-placed arrow shot at the tightrope! This Win Mortimer cover was also the lead story, "The Man With A Million Faces," which was drawn by Dick Sprang (one of the classic Batman artists, in my humble opinion) and inked by Paris.

Other features in this issue included a Casey the Cop story by Henry Boltimoff, an Impossible But True tale called "The Machine From Which No Man Can Hide!" by Dan Barry, Robotman in "The Robot Robberies" by Frank Bolle, a PSA on the United Nations by Jack Schiff and Win Mortimer, a half-page filler called "Of Sailing Ships and Wax," a Little Pete filler by Boltinoff, and Pow-Wow Smith, Indian Lawman in "The Indian Who Had to Get Rich!" by Bruno Premiani.

Wonder Woman 92

And now, something from the Silver Age, just to break it up a bit... with this Ross Andru cover featuring the Amazing Amazon in a tricky situation! Believe it or not, this wasn't the first story in the book! But I digress. And I'll digress some more!

On the DC History Yahoo Group (, there's a truism of sorts often noted by the posters... that for any given theme, there will be at least one comic book cover featuring Wonder Woman that fits the theme. And it's a truism for a reason... it's true! Well, nearly always so. When I've posted themes on that list, if I couldn't come up with one, someone else would!

Anyway... the contents of this issue were lead off with Wonder Woman in "The Disappearing Train," by Robert Kanigher and Harry G. Peter, a PSA called "Earn While You Learn" by Jack Schiff and Ruben Moreira, "The Revolt of the Winged Robot" a Wonder Woman tale by Kanigher and Peter, the fillers "The Female Robinson Crusoe" and "Marriage a la Mode," and finally, the cover story, "The Circus of Mystery," by Kanigher and Peter. Oh, there's also a Peg filler by Henry Boltinoff!

Worlds Finest 18

The Boy Wonder doesn't really appear to be too happy to be the human fulcrum on this cover, does he? I mean, here's a guy who was portrayed as being 14 years old or so, and he's supporting the weight of two full-grown men on his shoulders while walking a tightrope! Maybe this was Superman and Batman's way of rebalancing the scales from all the WF covers in which Robin was beating the other heroes in racing cars or other contests?

This cover was by Jack Burnley (better known for his work on the original Starman) and Charles Paris inks. The stories behind this cover were "The Junior Reporters" starring Superman by Al Schwartz (a fellow WF Comics columnist!), with art by Ed Dobrotka. The Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy appeared in "False Paradise for Felons" by Joe Smachson and Jon Small, Zatara starred in "The Toys That Live by William White, The Boy Commandos in "Lord Alfred of Upson Downs" by Louis Cazenueve, Green Arrow in "Remote Control Robbery" by Maurice DelBurgo, Johnny Everyman in "The Secret of Ohain" by Jack Schiff and John Daly, and finally, Batman in "Specialists in Crime" by Don Cameron, Dick Sprang, and Norman Fallon. The latter story was reprinted in Batman: The World's Finest Archives Vol. 2.

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at for other musings and ramblings by me!

Jon B. Knutson

<< 07/24/2005 | 07/31/2005 | 08/07/2005 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.

Recent Installments:
NEWESTInstallment 129: 1 - 10 - Cracked! (10/28/2007)
10/21/2007Installment 128: Clichés
10/14/2007Installment 127: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
10/07/2007Installment 126: Circus Time
09/30/2007Installment 125: 1-10 - Challengers of the Unknown!
09/23/2007Installment 124: Ch-ch-ch-changes - And it's all Superman family titles!
09/16/2007Installment 123: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
09/09/2007Installment 122: Reader Challenge - a reader gave me four comic book covers, and challenged me to come up with the theme!
09/02/2007Installment 121: Cartoon Stuff
08/26/2007Installment 120: Sports
08/19/2007Installment 119: 1-10 - Captain Marvel Adventures!
08/12/2007Installment 118: Comics Never Made - Five comics that never were!
08/05/2007Installment 117: Carnival
07/22/2007Installment 116: A G-g-g-g-g-ghost!
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