Abbott and Costello issue #2* was published in April, 1948 – during the height of the comedy duo’s radio and film fame. 1948 was also the year they released perhaps their best movie, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Eleven years earlier they put onto radio what is still considered one of the greatest comedy routines of all time – “Who’s on First?” This comic book series was an industry first and the tie-in of movie-comedian stars was undoubtedly quite a contract coup for St. John Publications. This cover features the quite shocked jungle girl “Tawana” (complete with toe nail polish) reacting to Lou Costello‘s mistaken identify. Artist is unknown.
On the right, Mabel, the sultry ring master of Big Top Circus, cracks the whip on Lou with William “Bud” Abbott looking on. Issue #4 was published August 1948. This issue even includes a column purportedly penned by the famous comedians. But the real interesting part of #4 is the backgrounds of the artists Lily Renee’ and Eric Peters (who were briefly married to each other between 1947 and 1949). Here Peters drew Abbott and Costello and Renee’ drew the women characters (a skill honed at Fiction House) along with inking duties.
Renee’ had escaped from Nazi-occupied Vienna to England and later New York. Her parents secured the families passage by trading two properties they owned with the Nazis. After arrival in New York, she moved from job to job until coming across a help wanted ad seeking comic artists. Landing a position at Fiction House, she became most known as penciller for the Senorita Rio series in Fight Comics.
Peters, 22 years her elder and also a Viennese refugee, had been a political cartoonist and after drawing a caricature of Joseph Goebbels, was nearly arrested by the Gestapo. Fortunately he was not home when they came looking for him, and he was tipped off they were there. Borrowing a pair of skis, he escaped over the Alps.
Issue #20* on the right is dated much later (September 1953) with cover by the man who would gain great fame at Mad Comics and become known as one of the world’s great caricaturists Mort Drucker.
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