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Sunday, April 27, 2014

The State of the Publishing Line

The Archie line of comics was only 5 titles at the time, but it was getting ready to expand greatly. Obviously, Archie was the big draw, but another character who they greatly modeled after the Archie look was Wilbur Wilkin. (What'd he steal that outfit out of Archie's closet?)

(from Wilbur #12 - April 1947 - Al Fagaly art)

With Al Fagaly covers and Bill Vigoda interior art, you might open a copy of Wilbur and think maybe Mr. Andrews had shaved off his moustache!

(from Wilbur #12 - April 1947 - Bill Vigoda art) 

And sometimes it was out right uncanny in the similarity!

(from Wilbur #12 - April 1947 - and Archie Comics #33 Jul/Aug 1948 - both Bill Vigoda art) 

It wasn't always that way though. Wilbur had actually first appeared in Zip Comics #18 (September 1941), 3 months BEFORE Archie's first appearance win Pep #22.
No offense Wilbur, but I'll bet people picked up this issue just for that cover!

(from Zip Comics #18 - Sept 1941 - Irv Novick art)

Wilbur started out more like the comics of the day... just a regular guy you can relate to!

 (from Zip Comics #18 - Sept 1941 - Lin Streeter art)

Wilbur also appeared as an additional feature in other comics (Pep Comics being one of them), so a number of artists had their take on him. Here Al Fagaly gives him a little more attitude!

(from Wilbur #12 - April 1947 - Al Fagaly art)

Eventually he got his own book, which lasted 87 issues through 1959, before Archie Comics discontinued it. It did manage 3 more issues from 1963-1965, before officially ending with #90.

(from Wilbur #1 - Summer 1944 - Bill Vigoda art) 

The stories of course, were funny in the MLJ way of doing things, with that slight hint of sexuality...

(from Wilbur #21 - Oct 1948 - not sure of the artist...) 

And it never hurt to have Bill Woggon's Katy Keene back up stories!

(from Wilbur #12 - April 1947 - Bill Woggon art)

When Archie Comics began the process of giving their comics a uniform look, Joe Edwards took over the book and appropriated the house style. To those who didn't know any better, it became even more difficult to tell the books apart!
Of course, I love this look, so I'm always happy to pick these up!

(from Wilbur #54 - April 1954 - Joe Edwards art)

Here's a one page Jughead back up story from that issue!

(from Wilbur #54 - April 1954 - artist unknown, but I think it's Samm Schwartz)

As the book started to lag toward the end, they put the successful team of writer Frank Doyle and artist Dan DeCarlo on it, in a last ditch effort to keep it going. It lasted another year....

(from Wilbur #80 - Septemeber 1958 - Dan DeCarlo art)

Though it started with a lot of suggestive promise!

(from Wilbur #80 - Septemeber 1958 - Dan DeCarlo art)

And of course Doyle and DeCarlo were always entertaining in their work... but to no avail!

(from Wilbur #80 - Septemeber 1958 - Dan DeCarlo art)

In January of 1969, Archie Comics (again with the Doyle/DeCarlo team) introduced 'Bingo' Wilkin with That Wilkin Boy #1, a sporadically printed series that lasted 52 issues into 1982.
It had no other connection to Wilbur other than the last name and even the appearance of the two characters is different.
Check out the Archie gang in line to see the concert on the cover!

NEXT: Suzie!

1 comment:

  1. I've been looking through my Archie digests, compiling a database of all Wilbur reprints, with an eye towards discovering whether I can find all of the Frank Doyle/Dan DeCarlo stories. I had to start with the list of stories indexed at the GCDb, but there's no story data indexed for WILBUR issue #79, 81, 82, and 85. Of the issues at the very end, "The NEW Wilbur", issue #88 (the single issue published in 1963) is a complete reprint of issue #80 from Sept. 1958; issue #89 (the single issue published in 1964) contains all stories written and drawn by Joe Edwards, leading me to believe those stories may all be reprints from prior issues of WILBUR as well; and issue #90 (the final issue, and the only one published in 1965) contains at least one reprinted page from issue #87, leading me to wonder whether the rest of the stories weren't also reprinted from earlier issues (one of the four I mentioned above) that are not indexed at GCDb.

    The bottom line is I am trying to determine the exact number of issues that Frank Doyle and Dan DeCarlo worked on. The answer appears to be somewhere between six and nine issues. I'm not sure if #79 is one of those, even though the cover didn't actually proclaim "The NEW Wilbur" until issue #80. Something about that Harry Lucey cover on #79 makes me wonder if the Doyle/DeCarlo stories didn't actually start in that issue (it may be the source of the reprints - if reprints they indeed are - in that final issue #90 from 1965), and besides that fact that the Archie digests use that Lucey cover as their "title page" for the Wilbur section inside the digests.