Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Top 10 Public Domain Heroes?

Today, I need your help in deciding - Are these the most popular Public Domain Heroes?

BlackTerror100x100Black Terror
First Appearance Exciting Comics #9 (May 1941)
Original Publisher Nedor
Created by Richard E. Hughes; Dan Gabrielson
FA Silver Streak Comics #6 (Sept 1940)
Original Publisher Lev Gleason
Created by Jack Binder; Jack Cole
Amazing Man
FA Amazing Man Comics #5 (Sept, 1939)
Original Publisher Centaur
Created by Bill Everett
FightingYankFighting Yank
FA A Startling Comics #10 (Sept 1941)
Original Publisher Nedor
Created by Richard E. Hughes; Jon L. Blummer
FA Funny Pages #6 (Nov 1936)
Original Publisher Centaur, Quality
Created by George Brenner
FA Crash Comics #4 (1940)
Original Publisher Holyoke
Created by Irwin Hansen
Uncle Sam
FA War of 1812(term)/ 1852(art)
Original Publisher US Government(poster)
Created by US Folk Lore/J. M. Flagg(poster)
Blue Beetle
FA Mystery Men Comics #1 (1939)
Original Publisher Fox Features
Created by Charles Nicholas
American Crusader
FA Thrilling Comics #19 (Aug 1941)
Original Publisher Nedor
Created by Max Plaisted
FA Air Fighters Comics #2 (1942)
Original Publisher Hillman
Created by Charles Biro, Dick Wood, and Al Camy
I culled this list together by comparing 3 lists on the Public Domain Heroes site. These list were: Editor's Picks, Most Visited (pages) and Highest Voted. Albeit, not the most scientific method to divine this information, but as far as I know, that's the best I've got at the moment.

As one might suspect, the Nedor Heroes dominate, in part no thanks to their renewed exposure from Project Superpowers. Black Terror, Daredevil, and Fighting Yank showed up on all three lists. Not sure how Amazing Man got in there. Poor Green Lama didn't seem to make the cut at all, only appearing on one list. (Others who came close to the top ten were American Eagle, Silver Streak and Doc Strange)
I was also surprised to only see one Quality character show up on more than one list (Uncle Sam). One of my favorites, The Human Bomb, is missing.

So I ask you - who would you add to this list? Which of your favorite Public Domain characters is missing?

Anyway, today's Free Comics feature the winner of this little exercise: The Black Terror.

[ Black Terror 14 ]

[ Black Terror 15 ]

- Enjoy!


RKB said...

Cool Uncle Sam made the list!
The original Blackhawk stories are PD, well worth reading esp. the ones with Woolfolk writing and Reed Crandall art.
Amazing man with his eastern mystic origins, and Everett artwork I'm glad to see he made the list. Also glad to see my two favorites Daredevil and Airboy. The Airboy stories have some of the most original concepts, well done, of any Golden age hero I have read. People writing at Marvel and DC need to read the lot to get some better ideas to swipe.
Steel Sterling (with Charles Biro as a creator/maybe)from Zip comics is a fav of mine, Superman archetype, but he could ruffle his hair to use his magnetic powers. Nothing like a character who is bullet proof, that can also use his 'magnetic force' to rip guns out of crooks hands from across the room.
the Crimebuster stories from Boy comics are some of the hardest hitting 'costumed hero vs. criminals' stories I have ever read. You wouldn't see it's like again until the Dark Age with some Batman stories.

bchat said...

I'm really surprised that Phantom Lady and The Spirit aren't on the list.

Jim Shelley said...

@RKB - the other cool thing about Airboy was he appeared with The Heap, which in itself is a wacky concept that has been an inspiratation for amazing stories ever since.

I'm not familiar with Crimebuster. I'll look him up. Thanks for the tip!

Jim Shelley said...

@bchat - you don't suppose the horrible Spirit movie pushed him out of popularity do you?

And yeah, I'm surprised about Phantom Lady. She like other characters from Quality seem to be strangely missing.

Reno said...

I'm partial to the MLJ characters myself, since they're the first golden age heroes I was exposed to via Red Circle comics during the 80s. The Fox and Black Hood were my favorites.

Jim Shelley said...

@Reno - good point about the absence of Red Circle characters (Pierre is a big Shield Fan if I remember correctly - though it may be just the costume. I like the Fly too.)

I wonder if some of the lack of popularity for those characters over at Public Domain Superheroes might not be that they aren't quite in public domain (just their old comics are?) That would explain the big lack of Quality Heroes and any of the Fawcett characters too.

Sean Kleefeld said...

Something that might be worth clarifying is in getting some definitions here. First, are you limiting yourself to heroes who ONLY appeared in comics, or heroes who DEBUTED in comics, and what you're actually defining as a hero in the first place. Sherlock Holmes, after all, is a PD figure who's appeared in a number of comics as is Santa Claus. Though neither fall under what you might typically consider superhero fare, they could both qualify depending on your definition. The characters from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, too, are all PD and (at least in that context) considered superheroes.

Also, it should be specified that you're looking for (it seems) characters who are themselves in pubic domain, and not characters who appear in works that are in public domain. I believe all the old Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons are PD and I think it's safe to assume Superman is more popular than anyone on your list! :)

JCM1991 said...

Yeah some characters such as the Spirit, Blackhawk, Shield, and Captain Marvel haven't been added to the wiki yet so they would not show up on the lists. I suspect that they would be in the top though if they were on the site. I'm surprised Plastic Man has not made the list yet.

Jim Shelley said...

@Sean - yeah, I think you are right, that there is some strange personal division going on by the members of the Public Domain Wiki that is (for some reason) excluding Sherlock Holmes but including Robin Hood (who showed up on one of the lists)

I think a bit of it is based on curiousity of the users of that site to look up heroes they are hearing about now (from Project Superpowers) or for some people looking up possible characters to write about.

Jim Shelley said...

@JCM1991 - I'm surprised the Captain Marvel has not been added to the site. Is that because he's not actually in public domain (just his old comics are?)

MattComix said...

The original Daredevil's costume always stood out to me after I first saw it in a book called The Great Comicbook Artists.

That may have also been where I saw the Black Terror for the first time so I recognized him when Daniel Brereton did his mini series. Though I found Terror in WWII to be more interesting.

JCM1991 said...

@Jim Shelly - Captain Marvel is public domain since his first appearance was not renewed. One of the reasons he hasn't been added is fear over DC reactions from some users. I personally think he should be added. Second is that Fawcett renewed some tittles and didn't renew others. Ex. Whiz Comics issues 3-6 and 61-155 were renewed but issues 2 and 7-60 were not.

bchat said...

Regarding the Fawcett, Quality & MLJ characters: I think part of the problem is that there are more than a few people who don't understand what it means for something to be Public Domain. People see Archie & DC using these characters and holding onto the Trademarks and assume that Archie & DC must own these characters, which simply isn't the case.

Britt Reid said...

Green Lama?
Phantom Lady?
Monster of Frankenstein (Dick Briefer version)?
All have been reprinted recently.
Airboy (and his ensemble including Valkyrie, Sky Wolf and The Heap)? (one of the first successful revivals)
Green Hornet? (The two serials and entire Golden Age comic output are PD. No copyrights were renewed.)
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents? (The original Tower Comics series is PD)

netherwerks said...

Yeah--what about Green Lama?

The Brave said...

A lot from Nedor I see...
About this topic you may be interested in this book

Mega-Rad said...

What...? No Stardust the Super Wizard?


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