Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling pop culture commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!
Whiz Comics #19 – July, 1941
Cover art by C.C. Beck
Happy Father’s Day to our readers of patriarchal persuasion, but this week, rather than slamming poor Reed Richards once again, we’re going to celebrate something even bigger than Dad’s annual “Hallmark holiday” – the 40th anniversary of Jaws!
That’s right, it was 40 years ago this past Saturday (June 20) that a big hungry shark changed popular culture forever. Jaws was the first true “summer blockbuster” movie and not only did it keep people from getting into the water, the film became part of the American zeitgeist and altered the lives of countless creators and ordinary consumers alike.
The movie spawned a handful of sequels and inspired dozens of copycats, from Grizzly to Piranha to crocodiles (Lake Placid.) And the comic book industry, never one to shy away from a popular trend, tapped into the man-eater mania as well, with cover after cover of shark related imagery, a lot of it not so subtly ripping off the iconic Jaws book and movie poster. (Google image search Jaws comic cover and you’ll see everyone from Archie to Wonder Woman having a Jaws moment.)
Back in 1978, Marvel Comics even created an adaptation to Jaws 2, in their magazine sized comic, Marvel Comics Super Special #6 – “In Full Marvel Color” no less. (You can see “the head, the tail, the whole damn thing” over at the Diversions of a Groovy Kind blogspot.)
Even though a lot of modern pop culture lineage can be drawn directly back to Jaws, the American public had a fascination with nature’s “perfect killing machine” long before Quint and Hooper got us hip to its awesomeness. Case in point: Gaze upon the coolness of Whiz Comics #19, where Captain Marvel is saving a bathing beauty from a menacing Tiger-Shark!
As incredible as this C.C. Beck (Captain Marvel’s co-creator) Whiz cover is, within the book’s content there is nary a trace of superhero versus shark action, proving that even as far back as 1941 comic publishers knew that sharks sell comics … not as well as apes … but they’re still a big attraction.
In addition to seeing Shazam throw down with a tiger shark, I also dig the “Be an American” emblem in the bottom left of the cover, a little reminder to be patriotic, when our country was still five-months away from entering World War II.
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