The creation of Rulah, Jungle Goddess is credited to Matt Baker. In fact, the undisputed champion of good girl art and artist famous for Fox’s Phantom Lady and Fiction House’s Sky Girl drew all the Rulah stories from start to finish (my #19 October 1948 and #21 December 1948 are shown here). Yet curiously, the Rulah art appearing on the series covers was often given to Jack Kamen.
It has been spoken about many times on this site. Superhero’s selling power was fading during the economic boom years following World War II and various genres were turned to in order to generate sales. Crime, romance, westerns, sci-fi and jungle stories were all to some degree pulp fiction magazine standbys in the years before comics and forms of these same themes re-emerged in the later days of the Golden Age of comics.
Any one of these themes offered plenty of opportunity for display of good girl art, which always had the potential to grab the prospective buyer’s eye on the newsstand and add incrementally to sales figures. So it should come as no surprise there was no shortage of Jungle Sirens.
Matt Baker’s Rulah was society girl Jane Dodge (or Joan Grayson depending on the issue) who crash-landed while piloting a plane across the African continent. While she managed to survive the crash unscathed, “unfortunately” her clothes were ripped from her body and left her as naked as “Eve in the Garden.” Having tragically killed a giraffe during the crash landing, she quickly made lemonade from the lemons of her situation and was able to use the skin of the dead carcass along with string from her parachute to fashion a viable, yet titillating, bikini.
In the all too typical white savior narrative (still a popular movie theme today) Rulah quickly moves on to save the hapless local tribe from an evil tyrant. She is subsequently blessed by being proclaimed its ruler (and goddess) and rapidly acquires an in depth jungle knowledge. This, of course, always proves useful in thwarting enemies. She later acquires a boyfriend, Tim Pointer and her own sidekick Saber the panther.
After Fox Feature Syndicate folded Star Comics reprinted several Rulah stories in Jungle Thrills and Terrors of the Jungle. Rulah was also reprinted during the 1960s in Super Comics’ Jungle Adventures. Yet she has not gone forgotten, having been ranked in 2011 as 79th of 100 in the Comics Buyer’s Guide’s sexiest women in comics list.