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Monday, November 12, 2012

COMIC BOOK COMPULSIVE — Congo Bill #1

Congo Bill first appeared in More Fun Comics #56 though he moved over to Action Comics with #37 where he had a remarkably long run, ending in 1959 with #248.  Having just about worn out his welcome near the end of his career he got a fantasy element makeover; they introduced a magic ring which allowed Bill to switch bodies with a giant golden  gorilla and the strip became Congorilla.

Those who know him at all undoubtedly know this incarnation, but the  ”creation” of Whitney Ellsworth and George Papp had a remarkable amount of staying power.  Given that he was your standard issue Jungle Jim great white hunter type, a trope you could get by the pound back in the Golden Age.  He even had enough star power to snag the lead in a 15 chapter movie serial of his own and appeared in seven issues of his own comic between 1954 and ’55.

I’ve never known exactly why DC decided to give him his own title at that late date, unless it was to take advantage of the then ongoing jungle comic trend.  And seeing as how DC had no half clad jungle of their own (just a jungle boy, Bill’s sidekick Janu) good old Bill had to do.

The comics themselves are about as nonthreatening and reassuring as any DC comics from the 1950′s, but they do have some rather nice Nick Cardy art, which you’ll see for yourself.


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3 Responses to “COMIC BOOK COMPULSIVE — Congo Bill #1”

  1. smurfswacker Says:

    So was this the same Golden Gorilla that later mind-melded with Bill?

  2. Tarz Says:

    Cardy was rather good.

  3. Steve Bennett Says:

    Sadly no, but knowing DC’s history as I do I suppose it’s possible this story could have helped inspire the creation of the other golden gorilla.

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