Welcome, readers, to this first installment of "Cover Stories!" I'm your humble host, Jon B. Knutson!
"Cover Stories" will be a weekly column here, and the idea behind it is that each week, I will present three or four comic book covers, mostly from the 30s through the 70s, with a common theme, and relate any information about the comics I have, comments about the covers themselves, or maybe just some kind of related anecdote! And then, once a month, I will post a special column featuring "Comics They Never Made," which will feature comic book covers I've created for properties that, strangely enough (or not so strangely), were never licensed for comic books!
Before I go into this first theme, I'd like to thank Justin, World Famous Comics' webmaster, for giving me this opportunity to share these covers and stories with fandom. I'd also like to thank fellow WFC columnist and good buddy Tony Isabella for suggesting I go to Justin with this column idea and while you're at it, check out Tony's Online Tips, if you haven't already today!
I would also like to thank the gang at the DCHistory list [groups.yahoo.com/group/DCHistory], a Yahoo group that I've been a member of for some time. All of these covers have been previously posted there, and the members have been very helpful in uncovering information I didn't have before!
And finally, I'd like to say thanks to the Grand Comics Database [www.comics.org], without which this would not be possible!
Okay, thank you's are out of the way, time for some covers, eh?
Today's theme is "Abracadabra," or in other words, covers which feature characters performing stage magic. Yep, that means no Doctor Strange or Zatanna (or other characters using real magic)!
More specifically, this trio of Action Comics covers features appearances by Hocus and Pocus! Hocus and Pocus were the two "Magicians by Accident" who appeared in several Superman stories in the Golden Age. The duo, along with their rabbit, Merton (pronounced "Moiton," more often than not), would happen along in situations where Clark Kent would need to use his Superman abilities without tipping off Lois Lane to his identity. Golden Age comics being what they were, he decided the best way to do this would be to make it appear as though Hocus and Pocus were actually performing magic!
Laughs would ensue, as the duo would then decide they had to keep demonstrating their "powers," and Superman would have to make whatever "spell" they cast really happen!
As I said, the duo appeared in several Superman stories, both in Action Comics and in Superman Comics. However, after the Golden Age ended, Hocus and Pocus were nowhere to be seen!
That is, until the Dollar Comic Superman Family, that is!
One of the regular features in Superman Family was "Mr. And Mrs. Superman," and Hocus and Pocus appeared in at least one story during its run.
The Golden Age was a much simpler time for comics in many ways, they were much more fun than today and certainly a lot less expensive! Books like Action Comics had several features, and were a big 64 pages, to boot! Try as I might, I just can't imagine Hocus and Pocus fitting in a modern-day Superman comic story although if I ever heard that someone planned to try, I'd certainly check it out! I haven't read too many Hocus and Pocus stories, but all the ones I read were a lot of fun!
Action Comics 83 was dated April, 1945. The cover was penciled by Joe Schuster, with inks by John Sikela (according to the latest information I have). The cover story, "Hocus and Pocus, Magicians by Accident," introduced the duo in a 12 page story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of Superman. This was followed by a 5-page story featuring Hayfoot Henry called "Custom Tailored Crime," "Wild Horses," a 6-page Congo Bill (pre-Congorilla era) story, "In the Soup," a 2 page text story, "A Fortune for a Fossil," a 10-page Vigilante story, and an 8-page story featuring a real magician, Zatara, called "The Innocent Thief."
Action Comics 88 was dated September, 1945, with a cover by Joe Shuster and John Sikela. "The Adventure of the Stingy Men" featured Superman and Hocus & Pocus, and ran 12 pages written by Jerry Siegel with art by John Sikela, followed by "The Clue of the Crazy Rhyme" with Hayfoot Harry, "Darts of Death" with Congo Bill, a text story called "The Avengers," the Vigilante in "Of Cops and Robbers," and "Pranks and Parrots," starring Zatara.
Action Comics 97 was cover-dated June, 1946, with a cover by Joe Shuster and John Sikela. Superman and Hocus & Pocus in "The Magician's Convention" (reprinted in Superman 272, February 1974). This was folowed by "The Rhyme that Wasn't There" with Hayfoot Henry, "An Animal Master" with the Vigilante, "Crime's Partners," a text story, "The Reindeer Racketeers" with Congo Bill, and "Magic Sports," with Zatara.
The only other source I know of for a reprint of a Hocus and Pocus story is Superman: From the 30s to the 70s, woefully long out of print, and a collector's item itself! This reprints the Hocus and Pocus story, "Lois Lane, Superwoman," from Superman 45.
I hope you'll join me for next week's "Cover Stories," in which I'll present a trio of covers under the theme "Altered Egos!" If you want to comment on this column, you can write me directly at .