- Quality Comics
Quality Comics Status defunct (Dec. 1956) Founded 1939 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 Imprints Comic Magazines
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. Most of their titles were published under the "Comic Magazines" imprint. Notable creators associated with the company included Jack Cole, 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).
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. Many of its properties were sold to National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics), which chose to keep only a few titles running, such as Blackhawk and GI Combat.
Over the decades, DC revived other Quality characters, including Plastic Man as well as a group of other characters that formed the titular team of the 1970s series Freedom Fighters. Other than Plastic Man, who has been a member of the Justice League and has had his own ongoing series, most former Quality heroes are occasional supporting characters in the DC Universe.
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 characters fell into the public domain before National Periodical Publications purchased Quality's assets. This allowed Malibu Comics, for instance, to publish new stories of several Quality characters (mostly those Quality itself bought from Centaur Publications), such as Zardi the Eternal Man.
Some Quality Comics titles, including Blackhawk and Plastic Man, have been reprinted by DC, while lesser-known ones have been reprinted by AC Comics.
- Alias the Spider
- Black Condor
- Blue Tracer
- Bozo the Iron Man
- Captain Triumph
- The Clock
- Doll Man
- The Human Bomb
- Invisible Hood
- Kid Eternity
- Lady Luck
- Madame Fatal
- Merlin the Magician
- Miss America
- Neon the Unknown
- Phantom Lady
- Plastic Man
- Quicksilver (later DC's Max Mercury)
- The Red Bee
- Red Torpedo
- Spider Widow
- Stormy Foster
- Uncle Sam
- Wonder Boy
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 Comics #21-144 (1939-1950; formerly Feature Funnies #1-20, published by Harry "A" Chesler, 1937-1939)
- 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)
- ^ "Quality Comic Group: A Brief History". Connecticut Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927212535/www.chs.org/comics/quality.htm.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Cross-Over Index (DC Comics, 1986).
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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
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