My Oldest Comic Book: The Blue Beetle # 6 (Fox, 1941)
The oldest comic book I’ve ever owned was a copy of The Blue Beetle # 6, published by Fox Comics in 1941. It was a coverless copy, and I’m not certain whether or not I still own it. I have a box of coverless comic books in my garage, and I’m going to start going through that box soon for a post (or perhaps a series of posts) about ’em.
My kooky memory can often recall all sorts of specifics about when and where I accumulated a comic book or record in my sprawling collections. I can’t remember where I got this one. I’m pretty sure it was in the ’70s; I remember a National Lampoon Golden Age comic parody (called “Ver-Man,” maybe?) which reminded me of The Blue Beetle as depicted here. I did trade with a high school pal for a few very low-grade condition ’40s and ’50s comics; my coverless copy of The Avengers # 4 was among the books he received in the trade, so he did all right. But I don’t think this Blue Beetle was part of that stash. It could have been a flea market purchase. The precise recollection ain’t there. Hell, for all I know, I could have picked this up when I lived in Buffalo in the ’80s. I still think I got in the ’70s.
The Blue Beetle I knew prior to this was the Charlton Comics hero of the ’60s, who shared a name and nothing else with the Fox character. However, the Blue Beetle familiar to me grew out of the original Blue Beetle; Charlton acquired the rights to The Blue Beetle in the mid ’50s, and the company made a few sporadic attempts to continue publishing the character. Charlton revamped The Blue Beetle slightly around 1964–coincidentally, a good year for something that sounded like “Beatle”–but the books were dull and uninspired, boring. Legendary artist (and Spider-Man co-creator) Steve Ditko created the the new Blue Beetle, which debuted as a back-up strip in Captain Atom # 83 in 1966. As presented by Ditko and scripter Gary Friedrich, this new Beetle’s alter ego of scientist Ted Kord was under suspicion in the unexplained disappearance of Dan Garrett, the original Blue Beetle.
But that’s a story for another day, and it’s a story well worth checking out if you’re a fan of Silver Age superhero comics. For now, we go back to 1941 for a tale of the original original Blue Beetle.
Fox’s Blue Beetle comics are now in the public domain. This scan of The Blue Beetle # 6 comes to us via Digital Comic Museum, a trusted resource for free downloads of public domain comics. And now, my oldest comic book. Ladies and gentlemen, THE BLUE BEETLE!