Monday, July 11, 2011


Editor's Note: Those of you who may fear we are becoming a bit Death Obsessed of late on the FBU should welcome today's Free Comic Monday selection and introduction by Clayton. Enjoy! - Jim

A funny thing happened to me when I came to write this article....oh not really, I just can't resist a great opening line!

It wasn't that long ago when I was doing some research on public domain super heroes, that I came upon this gem from the late 1940's. FUNNYMAN!

Created by none other than Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster! Now these two you may recall, did create another super hero before this. Now what was his name? Oh yeah...SUPERMAN!! This made me even more curious about this new clown around the town.

Through a little research, I did find out that I wasn't the only guy who was intrigued by this “Funnyman” In 2010, a collected edition was gathered together by Thomas Andrae and Mel Gordon, published by Feral House. (It is on my short list of “must buy” at

The stories behind this character might be as conflicting as the hero himself. I have read that Seigel and Shuster had lost the rights to their biggest creation, Superman in 1948, so they pitched the idea of the Funnyman hero to other companies. have also read that they did pitch it to National Periodicals (DC) but they wouldn't have the rights to the character, so they went to Magazine Enterprises, who published the 6 issues of the series. All I really know is that I had fun reading the comics.

I have read an article which refers to Funnyman as being a “schlemiel”...a man who is totally unaware of the dangers around him. After reading all 6 issues, I have to disagree. Yes, he used humor, but that was all the time, especially when he was comedian Larry Davis (a character based loosely on Danny Kaye, as the
rumors have it).

Personally, what I got out of it was that he was a hero who literally laughed in the face of danger. He is a guy who had the confidence enough to get out of any situation. He knew at times that it could be “curtains” for him, but if you are going to die, do you want to be the guy cringing in fear, or the guy who goes out laughing? I think I would rather go out with a chuckle escaping from my lips than a wimpy “oh no..please..”

The origin of this comical hero is simple, and original. Comedian Larry Davis' manager/secret girlfriend(?),  June Farrell came up with a publicity stunt for him. He was to dress up in a costume, and stop a bank robbery as Funnyman. By a strange turn of events, the bank was really being robbed, and using his gags (such vaudeville old hat such as a seltzer bottle) Funnyman stopped the crook, and decided (much to the dismay of Ms Farrell) to not let the public know who Funnyman was, because he LIKED helping people. (Does anybody even do that in comics anymore?) So with his polka dot parachute pants, Jet Jalopy, fake nose and oversized shoes, he became “America's first Jewish super hero” Funnyman!!

You can check out the fun for yourself with today's Free Comic.

Keep smilin' !!

- Clayton

1 comment:

jim kosmicki said...

ME (Magazine Enterprises) was run by Vin Sullivan, the editor at National who purchased "Superman" originally. No other editor had felt the strip had appeal, but Sullivan bought it and put it on the cover of the new title.

I have often wondered if the offer to publish "Funnyman" wasn't Sullivan trying to do a good deed to Siegel and Shuster after watching them lose their legal fight. After all, Sullivan left National a couple years after he bought Superman for Action Comics. He founded Columbia Comics, but then left there after several years because management wouldn't expand their line. So Sullivan had a history of disagreement with management too.

The title lasted 6 issues in an era of one-shots and short runs, but it was a single character book in a time when the anthology was still dominant. We'll never actually know how well it sold, but back issues are certainly difficult to find. That Feral Press book is a small treasure.


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