May 1, 2011
Back when I acquired the first issue of Kookie I decided to collect the full set. As there were only two issues ever printed I thought it would be a straight-forward task. Years later I still haven’t found issue No 2…although perhaps to be truthful I haven’t been trying that hard. In fact I was only reminded of the Kookie comics a few minutes ago when I noticed I already had just one of the stories from issue No 2 on my hard drive which I repost here.
In this kookie pre-hippy period of the “Beat Generation” as written by John Stanley (1914 – 1993) and drawn by Bill Williams all the guys have shortish hair but scruffy beards. They slouch around, lounge about, are into jazz and “hip” talk. Mr Stanley was most famous for writing (and sometimes drawing also) Little Lulu. He was also responsible for another teen title for Dell called “Thirteen going on Eighteen”. Bill Williams provided the art for numerous comics including a period illustrating Millie the Model.
Dell comics were ubiquitous in the States. Their odd numbering, short runs and often bi-monthly or quarterly frequency must have made tracking down every issue of your favourite title quite complicated without subscribing. Their (wholesome) output covered Disney and other cartoons, films, TV shows ad-infinitum. Sometimes they produced interesting new stuff like Kookie though.
In the 1940s/1950s Dell were producing millions of comics each month. In 1962 they lost the rights to many of the licensed characters that featured in their comics when Gold Key Comics began. Dell then began a steady decline with comics featuring second-rate TV shows and a number of short-lived and frankly rubbish titles such as Frankenstein (as a costumed superhero), Nukla (a rip-off of Captain Atom?) and The Superheroes (Dell were a bit late jumping on this particular bandwagon), producing their last comics in 1973.
PS: Actually there are a few Dell Comics I bought in the 1960s that I’m still quite attached to. “Bewitched”, “The Monkees” and “Flying Saucers Comics” which depicted comic-strip re-tellings of the more bonkers alien abduction stories that featured so often in the cash-in paperbacks of the time.
PPS: It’s interesting to note that Dell comics of the 1950s cost 10 cents each, the same price as charged by pretty much all the comic book publishers. Circa March 1961 Dell increased the price of their books to a massive 15 cents each. Their only saving grace was that their comics contained little, if any, advertising. By the mid 1960s Dell seems to have come in line with all the other publishers and reverted to 12 cents per issue. Other eccentricities of the company were their refusal to sign up to the Comics Code or display the Code Seal of Approval stamp and their placing of the issue number of each comic inside rather than on the front cover !!