Page 6: Escape!

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The Golden Dames Project

Fiction House

In the 1920s pulps were hot sellers at the newsstands. Printed on cheap, wood pulp paper with ragged, untrimmed edges pulps sold for ten cents an issue. By contrast, glossy magazines with better production values sold for twenty-five cents an issue.

Fiction House was founded in 1927 by J.W. Glenister and John B. “Jack” Kelly to take advantage of the strong pulp magazine market. Their first title was Action Stories but their line quickly expanded to include Detective Classics, Football Stories, Fight Stories, and Air Stories, the first aviation themed pulp magazine.

In 1938, Jerry Iger and Will Eisner approached Fiction House hoping to find a new client for their comic book packaging firm. Fiction House agreed to a test run and Iger and Eisner delivered the material needed to put out Jumbo Comics #1.

At first, Jumbo Comics didn't sell well and had Fiction House been any other publisher the title would have folded. However, with the might of their pulp empire to back them, Fiction House was determined to become a leader in the comic book field. Jumbo Comics was originally printed as an oversized book with a black and white interior but by issue nine they switched to full color illustrations in order to compete with other companies. With issue ten, Jumbo Comics became a standard sized comic books. More importantly, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, became the obvious star character of the book. The original white jungle goddess, Sheena would become Fiction House's biggest star.

In the 1940s Fiction House marketed their big six comics aggressively: Jungle Comics, Wings Comics, Ranger Comics, Fight Comics, and Planet Comics (the home of Futura). In addition, Fiction House was putting out character led comics like Sheena, Firehair, and Wambi, one of the few jungle heroes who wasn't a displaced white person.

Over the years, Fiction House had a very diverse group of freelancers working for them including Matt Baker, the first prominent African-American artist in comics, Nick Cardy, Bob Powell and female artists such as Ruth Atkinson and Marcia Snyder.

Fiction House relied heavily on good girl art to sell their pulps and their comics. However, they also created a number of strong female protagonists such as Sheena, Firehair, Mysta of the Moon and Futura. The skimpy outfits and sexualized poses of the characters attracted the attention of Fredric Wertham and Fiction House was specifically targeted in his book, Seduction of the Innocent.

By the mid-1950s pulp sales were all but non-existent and the public outcry over “indecency” in comic books was hurting the comic market as well. A company that relied on sex to sell books, such as Fiction House, could not survive. Their last title was Jungle Comics #163, sold in the summer of 1954.

Also by J Gray



Notes:

And, as we reach the last page of this first installment of Futura we finally get some action! Futura escapes! Which is, apparently, just what the aliens wanted...

I've had a request to continue running Futura so we'll be seeing her again about once every month until we've finished her complete run.

Friday, I'll be introducing you to Torchy Brown, the first African-American woman to headline her own comic strip. See you there!



Comments:



Jasae Bushae
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Guest post by "Jasae Bushae"
Sheena originated from the golden age? Wow, well thats certainly one heroine who isn't in the public domain

Submitted April 16, 2014 at 8:53AM



J Gray
 






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Sheena, Queen of the Jungle IS in the public domain, in fact. You might be thinking of Shanna the She-Devil, a Marvel comics character who is remarkably similar and married to Ka-Zar? Interesting note: Shanna the She-Devil was created at the direction of Stan Lee by Carole Seuling, one of the first female writers of the modern Marvel age.

Submitted April 16, 2014 at 9:49AM



Peaches
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Guest post by "Peaches"
Futura's chances are pretty dang good. You go girl!  Warning  Kick Butt!

I'm sending in my postcard to let them know. Think it will arrive before the next issue?

Submitted April 16, 2014 at 3:24PM



J Gray
 






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Comments to this webcomic count!

Submitted April 17, 2014 at 10:55AM



Jasae Bushae
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Guest post by "Jasae Bushae"
Really? O.O
No, I was actually thinking of a tv series from a decade ago about a jungle girl who had shapeshifting powers. Certainly possible that they made a show about a character in the public domain though.

Submitted April 17, 2014 at 8:43AM



J Gray
 






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There have been several different Sheena media projects. There was a serial back in the day. An exploitation movie that featured a few nude scenes for no reason. And, you're right, there was the tv series back in 2000 during the height of the syndication craze started by Hercules and Xena.


However, I don't believe anyone owns Sheena outright. Her old comics are certainly in the public domain. Of course, so are the original Superman cartoons.

Submitted April 17, 2014 at 10:59AM



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All comics presented on the Golden Dames Project are, to the best of our knowledge, in the public domain.

Original content is copyright 2014 by J Gray.