Abbott and Costello Issue #2, published in April 1948, coincided with the peak of the comedy duo’s popularity in both radio and film. Notably, this was the same year they released one of their most beloved movies, “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Additionally, it marked eleven years since they first performed their iconic comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” on radio, a routine still hailed as one of the greatest in comedy history. This cover features the quite shocked jungle girl “Tawana” (complete with toe nail polish) reacting to Lou Costello‘s mistaken identify.
The publication of this comic book series by St. John Publications marked an industry first, establishing a unique tie-in between movie-comedian stars and comic books, which was a significant achievement in the entertainment industry at the time.
On Issue #4, published in August 1948, the cover depicts Mabel, the sultry ringmaster of Big Top Circus, wielding a whip over Lou Costello, while William “Bud” Abbott observes. The issue also includes a column supposedly written by Abbott and Costello themselves. However, the most notable aspect of this issue is the background of the artists, Lily Renee‘ and Eric Peters, who were briefly married to each other between 1947 and 1949. Peters illustrated Abbott and Costello, while Renee’ specialized in drawing the female characters, a skill she developed during her time at Fiction House.
Lily Renee’ had a harrowing escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna to England and later to New York, where her family secured passage by trading two properties with the Nazis. After arriving in New York, she found work as a comic artist at Fiction House, eventually becoming well-known for her work on the Senorita Rio series in Fight Comics. Eric Peters, who was 22 years her elder, was also a Viennese WWII refugee and a political cartoonist. He narrowly escaped arrest by the Gestapo after drawing a caricature of Joseph Goebbels. Peters managed to evade capture by fleeing over the Alps on borrowed skis.
Finally, issue #20, dated September 1953, features a cover by Mort Drucker, who would later gain fame at Mad Comics and become renowned as one of the world’s greatest caricaturists, adding another layer of significance to the publication’s history.
As Abbott and Costello would quip, “Hey Abbott!”
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