Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reading Room: NOT WHO YOU THINK: "Penguin"

You thought The Penguin was a fat guy with umbrellas who fought The Batman?
His first cover appearance, but his second story!
Hoo Boy! Are you WRONG!!!
He was an athletic masked mystery man/detective who fought evil!
Want proof?
Read on...
Hate to tell you this, but I don't have the next issue!
(Even the Grand Comics DataBase doesn't have it!)
But, since The Penguin continued as the cover feature for several issues after that (until #26), we're pretty sure he got out of this situation.
Note: The Penguin is miscolored on the cover above.
His mask is actually dark blue/black to match the tuxedo he wears, as shown on this later cover appearance...
Created by Adrian Dingle, probably the most prolific Canadian comics writer/artist of the 1940s.

This story was from the Canadian-produced "WOW" Comics (note the quotes), not to be confused with Wow Comics from Fawcett which featured Mary Marvel, Mr Scarlet, and others.
(and, yes, he first appeared a year after The Batman's waddling foe made his debut in 1941's Detective Comics #58)
Originally, Canada imported American comic books and pulp magazines, filling their newstands with Superman, The Shadow, and loads of other American characters.
But, when World War II broke out, Canada banned all "non-essential" imports, including comics and pulps!
This opened up a whole new industry for Canadian writers and artists to finally do their own characters!
One major difference between the American and Canadian comic books was that the World War II Canadian books were black and white inside, not four-color like American comics!
(British comics were also b/w inside until the 1950s, when they started using a second color on some books.)
Some American companies licensed Canadian publishers to reprint US comics, but the interiors for those were b/w as well.
In addition, there was a limit to how much "non-Canadian content" could be included in Canadian magazine print runs, so there were relatively-few American reprints during the war.
After the war ended American comics were again imported, so most Canadian publishers began doing color insides to compete with the imports.

BTW, this is the debut of a new feature, NOT WHO YOU THINK, featuring Golden and Silver Age heroes and heroines with the same name as better-known characters, but different costumes, powers, even secret identities.
You'll be surprised how many of today's characters had totally-different predecessors!
Some, like the Golden Age Daredevil and Ghost Rider, are pretty well-known to modern audiences.
Some made only one appearance, never to be seen again.
Some, like this Penguin, had healthy runs, but are unknown today.
Next week...the previous holder of the name of a Marvel hero who currently has his own comic!


  1. That was great. Had seen some "WOW" covers, but never the insides. Of course, I love full color comics, but the black & whites have a definite charm. Like a newspaper action strip.

    NOT WHO YOU THINK is an excellent new feature.


  2. After doing posts featuring other characters like the 1960s "SPLIT!" Captain Marvel and the original Impossible Man, neither of whom was never reprinted, I thought "why not make it an ongoing feature?" There's certainly enough characters to keep it going for at least a year! ;-)