Funny-animal comics retrospective: The History of Hi-Jinx and the Hepcats – by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
I would like to thank Perri Rhoades for giving me the inspiration for this article and for making most of it easy. I used to have a complete set of Hi-Jinx, but when I had a paralyzing stroke in 2005 and was permanently hospitalized, some friends boxed up all my books, magazines and comic books and donated them to the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the UCRiverside Library. I have not seen them since. Fortunately, Rhoades has called my attention to the fact that much about Hi-Jinx and the Hepcats has been posted online since 2005. She has scanned all but one of the seven issues of Hi-Jinx for her LiveJournal, and she gave me her URL so that I could reread them at leisure for this retrospective. Even more, her scans have included the different covers of the Australian edition of Hi-Jinx, which I never knew about. Thanks, Perri!
Much of the remaining information is from The Comic Art of Jack Bradbury, a website created by his son, Joel (http://jbrad.org/index.html); and from Dave Bennett, a Hollywood animator and funny-animal fan for decades who knew Hi-Jinx’s artist Jack Bradbury personally. Bennett says, “Jack told me himself that all the Hepcats stories he drew were written by Cal Howard — he raved about how good he thought they were! Other than those stories and the Disney work he did, Jack wrote all of his ACG/Nedor/Pines/Standard stories himself. They were lettered by Tubby Millar.” And after I had thought that this retrospective was completed, Alter-Ego #112, August 2012 came along with “‘Something … ?’; A Study of Comics Pioneer Richard E. Hughes” by Michael Vance, containing never-before-published information about Hi-Jinx’s obscure publisher.
The American Comics Group’s Hi-Jinx, “Teen-Age Animal Funnies”, only lasted for seven bi-monthly issues in 1947/48. But it was – different. It was the only comic book to mix funny animals with teenage humor.
Teenagers were riding high in the 1940s. The ‘40s were when the Archie comics empire got started, although they never claimed to have invented teenage humor. Newspaper comic strips introduced Harold Teen by cartoonist Carl Ed in the Chicago Tribune on May 4, 1919 (to Ed’s death in October 1959). Harold Teen was the first to establish all of the teen humor icons: the cozy family and high-school settings, the T-shirt or sweatshirt with his high school’s varsity letter, Harold’s adolescent flirtation with co-ed Lillums Lovewell, the geeky boy pal Shadow, the neighborhood soda shop The Sugar Bowl, presided over by sardonic old Pop Jenks. There were two Harold Teen movies in 1928 and 1934. The other gender of teen humor was launched with the Etta Kett strip by Paul Robinson in December 1925, also to Robinson’s death in September 1974. The Aldrich Family with Henry Aldrich, “America’s Favorite Teenager”, was a popular radio teenage situation comedy from 1939 to 1953, with comic books and movies. And we daren’t forget the “All the Cats Join In” teen jitterbug dance sequence, with Benny Goodman & the Pied Pipers, in Walt Disney’s 1946 Make Mine Music.
John Goldwater, the J of MLJ, frankly admitted that Archie Andrews and his Riverdale pals were designed to take advantage of the popularity of MGM’s 1930s teen Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney. Archie first appeared as a backup story in MLJ Comics’ Pep Comics #22, December 1941. Pre-Archie, MLJ Comics specialized in costumed heroes: The Shield (with Dusty, the Boy Detective), The Comet, The Hangman, The Black Hood. Archie was so popular that he quickly got his own title, Archie Comics #1, Winter 1942, and with Pep Comics #36, February 1943, Archie appeared on its cover. By 1945 all of MLJ’s comics bore the label, “An Archie Magazine”. The company soon changed its name officially to The Archie Comics Group.
Success breeds imitations. Archie was soon joined by ACG’s Cookie, “The Funniest Kid in Town …”, #1 dated April 1946 under ACG’s earlier Michel Publications imprint, written and drawn by Dan Gordon (to #55, September 1955). Stretching to include the whole family, there was ACG’ The Kilroys, “America’s Funniest Family”, #1, June/July 1947 to #54, June/July 1955. Others included Fox Feature Syndicate’s Junior (formerly Li’l Pan), #9, September 1947 to #16, July 1948; DC Comics’ Buzzy “Featuring America’s Favorite Teenster”, #1, Winter 1944/45 to #77, October 1958; Fawcett Publications’ Ozzie and Babs, #1, December 1947 to #13, June 1949; S.P.M.’s Junior Hopp Comics, “The Keenest Teen in Town!”, #1, January 1952 to #3, July 1952 and Key Publications’ Hector Comics, #1, November 1953 to #3, March 1954. (S.P.M. was Stanley P. Morse, who changed his publisher’s names and titles every few issues to try to escape paying prior creators and printers. Both Junior Hopp Comics and Hector Comics used “The Keenest Teen in Town!” headline.) The Aldrich Family comic book was Dell’s Henry Aldrich from #1, August 1950, to #22, September-November 1954. Separate mention might be made of Star Publications’ Pop Teen-Agers #5 (September 1950) to #8 (July 1951; POPular Teen-Agers with #6) which featured not one but four! teen protagonists: Toni Gay, “Model Miss”; Ginger Bunn, “Some Cookie”; Midge Martin, “Nifty Newshawk”; and Eve Adams, “Torrid Tourist”. POPular Teen-Agers was comedic but emphasized romance rather than exaggerated humor. The first four issues were titled School-Day Romances. With #9 (October 1951) it changed to Popular Teen-Agers ROMANCES for one issue, then to Popular Teen-Agers LOVE before being cancelled with #23, November 1954; a no-humor realistically-drawn romance comic book.
And lots more. But these all featured HUMAN teenagers. They were drawn from realistically to grotesquely cartoony, but they were human. There was only one title that featured teenaged funny animals: ACG’s Hi-Jinx, “with The Hepcats”!
Hi-Jinx’s publisher actually had a pretty convoluted history. In the mid-1930s Benjamin W. Sangor (1889-1955) and Richard E. Hughes (real name: Leo Rosenbaum, 1909-1974) in New York formed a company, the Sangor Comics Shop, to produce comics features as a supplement for newspapers. In 1939 it switched to producing comic books for Sangor’s son-in-law, Ned L. Pines, operating as Nedor Comics. In 1941 Sangor produced Cinema Comics Herald, a tiny comic-book giveaway for theaters to promote the movies that they were showing. One of its issues included a comic-book condensation of Paramount/Fleischer’s December 1941 Mr. Bug Goes to Town, which may have started Sangor’s relationship with moonlighting animators agented by Jim Davis, an animator of the Superman cartoons for the Fleischer/Famous studio, to produce comic book stories. In 1943 Sangor’s company, under its own name or that of the Creston Publishing Company, began printing comic books of its own (under numerous imprints including the American Comics Group), as well as providing cartoon stories for other publishers. Starting in 1944, the Sangor Comics Group contracted with animator Jim Davis’ group of freelancing cartoonists (mostly moonlighting animators) who produced funny-animal children’s comic book stories for several publishers. ACG relied heavily on this group for all of its comics; its most famous funny-animal series was probably Dan Gordon’s “Superkatt” stories in ACG’s Giggle Comics from 1944 to 1955. (Davis himself [1915-1996; not the creator of Garfield] drew the Fox and the Crow for 138 issues of DC’s Real Screen Comics and TV Screen Cartoons, and for 108 issues of The Fox and the Crow, from 1945 to 1968.)
In 1945 the Sangor Group produced the stories for a 132-page Hi-Jinx; The Comic Book of Laughs one-shot anthology for one of its imprints, the La Salle Publishing Company of Chicago, of thirty short funny-animal stories, for which Dan Gordon drew the unsigned cover and some interior stories. Other cartoonists recognizable by signed work or by distinctive art styles included Hubie and Lynn Karp, Jim Tyer, Don Arr (Don R. Christensen), and Tony Loeb. Gordon’s unsigned cover was indisputably in the layout that was later used for its 1947/48 Hi-Jinx. But for the 1947-48 Hi-Jinx, published under the name of B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc. and edited by Sangor’s partner Richard E. Hughes, Cal Howard was the writer of the featured Hepcats stories, Jack Bradbury was the illustrator, and Tubby Millar was the letterer. Starting with Hi-Jinx #4, January-February 1948, Hughes added other artists for non-Hepcats stories that may be by other writers, including popular American newspaper cartoonist Milt Gross who wrote and drew his own material. (Gross had a non-comics connection to Sangor going back to the mid-1920s.) In mid-1948 Benjamin Sangor decided to get out of the comic-book business. He turned it over to his editor, Richard E. Hughes, and to his business manager, Fred Iger, who became co-owner. They consolidated all of the company’s imprints into the American Comics Group name, which they had begun using prominently by 1946. ACG lasted until 1967 under Hughes and Iger. ACG stopped supplying art & stories to other publishers and began buying directly from the artists and writers. (Jim Davis began drawing for DC Comics exclusively. He continued working simultaneously on comic books and animation; some of his later animation work was for DePatie-Freleng’s The Pink Panther.)
A brief biography of Hi-Jinx’s writer: Cal Howard (1911-1993). Howard’s main credits were as an animation-industry story artist, animator, writer, and director for practically every studio. Between the late 1920s until his retirement in the 1980s, Howard worked at the Ub Iwerks, Walter Lantz, Leon Schlesinger, Fleischer, MGM, Warner Bros. (post-Schlesinger) and Walt Disney studios, including coming and going from several studios many times over the years. In 1980 Howard was presented with ASIFA-Hollywood’s Annie Award for lifetime animation achievement. Howard worked for NBC in New York from 1949 to 1952 developing television shows. And as Jack Bradbury noted, he was one of Jim Davis’ animation-industry freelancers in the 1940s writing uncredited funny-animal stories.
The Hepcats’ stories were all drawn by Jack Bradbury (1914-2004). Bradbury’s animation and comic book careers were similar to Howard’s. He started at the Disney studio in 1934, and worked on key sequences of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. About 1944 he briefly became an assistant of Friz Freleng at WB’s Leon Schlesinger Studio, then left animation to join Jim Davis’ group producing funny animal comic books, where he worked with Howard drawing the Hepcats. He soon left Davis to become a regular employee around 1947/48 of the Los Angeles editorial office of Western Printing and Lithographing Co. (which also had a NYC office), drawing Western’s Little Golden Books and Western’s licensed funny animal comics for Dell featuring most Hollywood studios’ animation characters. He illustrated many of Carl Barks’ Duck scripts that Barks did not have time to draw himself. Reportedly Walt Disney told Western that it didn’t need to get story approval for any Disney comic book that Bradbury drew, and Bob Clampett personally requested that Bradbury draw all the Time for Beany comics. Degenerating eyesight forced his regular retirement in 1970, although he continued to write some comics work after that. He lasted long enough to be “discovered” by early Furry fandom, notably by animator Dave Bennett who championed his work in Bennett’s Rowrbrazzle fanzines during the 1980s, and by Mike Curtis of Shanda Fantasy Arts who photocopied some of Bradbury’s old comics for other funny-animal fans. Jim Engel drew the cover of Fantagraphics’s Critters #18, November 1987, showing a group of modern funny-animal children reading classic funny-animal comic books, including Hi-Jinx.
The Hepcats’ letterer was Melvin “Tubby” Millar (1900-1980). He was an assistant of Isadore “Friz” Freleng on many Porky Pig cartoons for Leon Schlesinger, and a general gag man for the studio. The only credits that he got was as a writer, not an animator or cartoonist, between 1937 and 1945; but Portis, Kansas childhood friends remembered him drawing cartoons in textbooks during high school, and there are several sight gags in the Porky Pig cartoons that Millar worked on – for example, in “Porky’s Pet” (directed by Jack King; released July 11, 1936), the train station at Yokel, Ala. where Porky and Lulu, his pet ostrich try to travel to New York has a background sign reading “When in Portis, Stop at Millar Manor”. Thanks to Jack Bradbury, we know that he was also a member of Jim Davis’ shop producing funny-animal comics in the 1940s.
The Hepcats were the main stars of Hi-Jinx. Early issues featured only Hepcats stories; later issues had non-Hepcats stories by other artists, notably Milt Gross. Howard established a Hepcats world that was consistent in the background, although name inconsistencies between the cartoon stories and the single-page text stories suggest that the latter were written by someone else. The animal adolescents lived in the city of Jive Junction, went to Lowdown High School, and their main hangout was the Kitty-Kola Malt Shop with its jukebox and dance floor. They were called the Hot Hepcats in the first issue; only the Hepcats thereafter. The main cast were Tommy (Tommy Hepcat in the main stories; Tommy Tabby in the text stories), his next-door neighbor and giggly girlfriend Kitty Hepcat (presumably no relation; she is Kitty Catt in the text stories), his best pal Heppity Hare, and their dimwitted fall guy, Mr. Square from Delaware (a dog wearing a too-small derby hat). Square was an enigmatic figure, played either as a teenager or as an adult as the story required, usually a teen as one of the gang and a student at Lowdown High, but not requiring parents like the other teens; living in a house that sometimes looked like a dilapidated human shack and sometimes like a pet’s doghouse. The other Hepcats were teen animal background characters, sometimes cats and sometimes a mixed species group. Recurring supporting characters were Professor Weirdbeard, their stern old-goat sociology teacher at Lowdown High; Slim, the tall dog soda jerk at the Kitty-Kola; Officer O’Reilly, the sympathetic bulldog local policeman; and Tommy Horsey, an older horse trombone-playing jive expert.
There were only seven bimonthly Hi-Jinx issues, from July-August 1947 to July-August 1948; all 52 pages including 48 pages of story, two full-page advertisements, and the inner and outer covers (more adv’ts.). Something that I did not know, but which Perri Rhoades showed scans of, was that there was also an Australian edition published by Action Comics Pty. Ltd. of Sydney, priced at 9d. This had new and very badly-drawn covers (some copies of the American covers and some originals), and black-&-white interiors. Judging by the issue numbering that went up to #11, the Australian issues must not have been as thick as the American ones.
But this was not the end of the Hepcats! The series was moved into ACG’s Ha Ha Comics. There were ten stories from Ha Ha Comics #57, September 1948, to #69, December 1949. (Nothing in Ha Ha Comics #58, #66, and #68.) Were these new stories by Howard & Bradbury, or was ACG using up a backlog prepared for Hi-Jinx before it was cancelled? The last, “Aladdin Had a Lamp” in Ha Ha Comics #69, was arguably the strangest of all. It is a dream sequence in which Square gets a magic lamp. One of his wishes is for money to buy “a good, expensive ten-cent cigar”, incidentally confirming that he is old enough to smoke. Another is for hot girls. The genie brings him a sexy HUMAN harem girl, who Tommy falls in lust with and Kitty gets jealous over. It might be noted that two of Ha Ha Comics’ mainstays were “Robespierre”, an alley cat (holding the first H in Ha Ha), and Izzy and Dizzy, the bear cub twins, both by Ken Hultgren, a moonlighting Disney artist later known for designing the Id Monster for the 1956 s-f movie Forbidden Planet (animated by Joshua Meador). Jack Bradbury, Dan Gordon (1918-1969), and Ken Hultgren (1915-1968) were the three ACG anonymous funny-animal artists whose similar art styles were often mistaken for each other.
The original seven part comic series, 1947-48.
Hi-Jinx #1, July-August 1947. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1947, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor.” Published August 1947. “Here’s Hi-Jinx”. One-page illustrated table of contents. “Trunkin’ On Down”, by unsigned [Dan Gordon]. One page. An elephant has a plastic surgeon put holes in his trunk so he can play it like a trumpet. “That’s How Jivin’ Was Born”, by J. B. [Jack Bradbury]. 7 pages. Tommy and Kitty learn about jiving from their human neighbors’ teenagers. Kitty refuses to go to the Fish Fest because she doesn’t have a new dress, but Tommy thinks that she has fallen in love with Romeeow and they get into a fight. One-page text, “Tommy Goes Longhair”. “Mr. Square from Delaware”. 10 pages. The Hepcats are afraid that famous reporter I. M. Square from Delaware (a dog) will lead an anti-jive movement. Instead, he learns to love jive and wants to join the Hot Hepcats, but they won’t believe him and throw him out. Heppity Hare takes him to learn jiving from the human master jiver Frank Sinatra. “External Combustion”. 7 pages. Tommy brags to Kitty that he has gotten a car and promises to take her for a moonlight drive. But he can’t afford one and is despondent that Kitty will scorn him as a liar. Heppity proposes that they build their own jalopy from scrap parts that they draft Square to scrounge. Square takes the parts, a few at a time, from someone else’s still-running jalopy. The true owner takes his car back at the last minute before the date. They quickly make do with a dogcart, pulled by Square. “Tommy an’ Kitty in ‘Are Rivals Reet?’”. 6 pages. Tommy is downcast when Kitty is swayed by visiting highbrow Oswald Foxcroft who espouses the higher arts: opera, paleontology, the study of dead languages, etc. Heppity persuades him that the way to win Kitty back is to make Oswald look ridiculous, but Oswald is too smart for his tricks. Tommy goes to “the Jitterbug, Doctor of Downbeat, Bachelor of Boogie Woogie” to teach him a brand-new dance that Oswald cannot compete with. “Any man who teaches me Smokehouse Swing is solid, Jackson!” “Hijinx at Lowdown High”. 7 pages. It’s Founders Day at Lowdown High, and the faculty is celebrating with a students’ dance. But the old-fashioned School Board (in formal academic cap & gowns) refuses to let the teens hold the kind of dance that they want. “We’ll have none of that jitterbug stuff in THIS school! In case I neglected to mention, the dance we’ll be holding is a SQUARE dance!”, Miss Fusspotte, a stern dowager pig teacher, declares. Square thinks that this dance is to honor him and livens it up with the hottest jitterbug numbers, which the School Board blames Tommy and Kitty for. Heppity and Square blackmail the School Board into letting Tommy and Kitty go, and replacing the square dance with a jam session at which they are reluctant chaperones. But the Board (still in cap & gowns) soon gets into the swing. “Let’s cut a groovy rug and sing – it’s the Academic Swing!” “After the Brawl”. 6 pages. Tommy and the other boys of Lowdown High start a club for boys only. Kitty is miffed and gets the girls of Lowdown High to invite the attendees of a plumbers’ convention to be their escorts to a dig shindig at the Kitty-Kola. The boys resent the plumbers taking out their girls, and there is a big fight that the Hot Hepcats win.
Hi-Jinx #2, September-October 1947. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1947, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor.” Published October 1947. “Circus Stuff”. 7 pages. Tommy gets a job watering the elephants at the visiting Allergy Barnes Circus, but he leads Kitty to believe that he is a daredevil performer. When Heppity visits him at the elephants’ watering tank, a rough pig roustabout drafts him into helping, too. The two mistake the fire-eater’s gasoline for the elephants’ water. To escape the irate roustabout, Tommy dons Professor Spumoni’s shot-out-of-a-cannon costume while Heppity disguises himself as a clown. Tommy is mistaken for the real daredevil and shot out of the cannon, impressing Kitty. The last panel shows the Hepcats relaxing at the Kitty-Kola, while the angry circus roustabout, his elephants, and the real underwear-clad Spumoni wait outside for them. “Jitterbug”, a one-page cartoon, unsigned (Jack Bradbury). The Jitterbug is holding a big dance. His Ant cousin claims that ants never relax; they work around the clock. “Oh, yeah? Who ya tryin’ to kid? Every time I go to a picnic, you’re all there!” “Square and Warmer”. 7 pages. Jive Junction holds a big Swoon and Croon Contest for all of the schools in the city. The Hepcats are determined to enter a cool groaner that will win for Lowdown High by making more girls swoon than any others, but who? Tommy and Kittty hear some swell singing coming from an old house. It turns out to be Square, whom they enter in the contest over his protests. The other schools in the contest are Polly Tech and Bruin “U”. Square appears in a bathtub because “the Bathroom Baritone” can only sing while he is bathing. A one-page text story, “Tommy Cleans Up”. “A Rude Awakening”. 7 pages. The students at Lowdown High are sore when strict Professor Weirdbeard (an old goat in a cap & gown) assigns so much homework that they have no time for jiving. Suddenly Weirdbeard starts spouting righteous jive talk, treats all the Hepcats to double malts at the Kitty-Kola, cancels his sociology homework and starts teaching Swingology, at which Tommy leads the class – until he wakes up and finds that he fell asleep in class and it has all been a dream. Weirdbeard flunks him in sociology. “Big Business”, a one-page text story. “The Groove Gang in ‘The Mystery Voice of Jive Junction’”. 6 pages. Jitterbug is walking home alone at night with his records after a dance at the Kitty-Kola, when he hears a voice saying, “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you!” He calls out the Hepcats to protect him. Heppity discovers that Jitterbug made the sound himself when he dropped one of his records and accidentally played it with his bug stinger. “Heppity”, a one-page cartoon story with Heppity’s rabbit girlfriend, Angel. “Kitty and the Hall Clock”, a one-page text story. “Mr. Square in ‘Silence is Golden’”. 7 pages. Square enters the Jive Junction Public Library where everyone tells him to be quiet. He has squeaky shoes that he takes off. He gets very loud hiccups. Since he can’t help it, the stern librarian (a dog), the Hepcats, and the other library users each try a different hiccup remedy, to no avail. Finally they give him a book on “How to Cure Hiccups” and throw him out. Then the librarian gets the hiccups. “A-Swoon-Toon”, a half-page cartoon story (over an advertisement) with elephant swingers. “Bubble Trouble”. 7 pages. Professor Weirdbeard (in regular clothes outside school) hates bubble gum. When he sees Tommy blowing bubbles, he demands that he be arrested. The bulldog policeman, Officer O’Rooney, is chewing gum, too. Weirdbeard, as an honorary deputy sheriff and a friend of the Chief of Police, threatens to have O’Rooney fired if he does not get the Hepcats to give up their bubble gum. Weirdbeard wants all the gum collected in a big basket in the town square next to a gas station. The Hepcats tie the basket to Weirdbeard’s leg, and use the gas station’s air hose to inflate all the gum into a giant bubble that carries the basket and Weirdbeard off.
Hi-Jinx #3, November-December 1947. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1947, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor.” Published December 1947. “Let ‘Em Eat Cake”. 8 pages. The Hepcats are horrified to read in the newspaper that jitterbug dancing is losing its popularity. They decide to open a dancing school to teach more people how to jitterbug. They rent an empty office over Urbano’s Bakery. The frantic jitterbugging upstairs shakes the whole building and makes Urbano’s cakes fall. Urbano (a pig chef with a comic Italian accent) calls the police to arrest the Hepcats. Officer O’Rooney is drafted by the Hepcats’ large and overly-enthusiastic student to be her dance partner. O’Rooney’s sergeant is caught in the crossfire between the overenthusiastic dance student and Urbano, and quits. O’Rooney, now a sergeant, solves the problem by having the dancing school and the bakery trade places. “Juke Box Jamboree”. 7 pages. Tommy holds a dance party at his house with a rental juke box. The box only costs $10 to rent, but Tommy has to leave his life savings of $100 as a deposit. When they wreck the box, they try to disguise it by having Square hide in the shell of the box and sing. It works until Square comes out of the box in front of the rental shop owner to ask what a word on the sheet music means. “A Sporting Proposition”, one-page text story. There is one illustration [by Gordon?] “Tale of a Telephone”. 8 pages. Tommy gets a phone installed in his jalopy, and cruises the town looking for cute girls to call. He introduces himself as Tommy Hepcat to red-headed Miss Twerp (a cat teen) and tells her that she has a phone call at the Kitty-Kola. When she answers its pay phone, he asks her for a date. Kitty is jealous when she learns of this from the boys, and calls Tommy’s car phone to tell him off. Miss Twerp walks out on him. Tommy gets so involved arguing with Kitty while he is driving that he does not notice that he is speeding up and driving recklessly. A policeman chasing him is cut off by a train, but he has Tommy’s license plate and Tommy is arrested. He asks for a cell with a telephone so he can continue his argument with Kitty. “Ignorance is Bliss”. 7 pages. Square stops in at the Kitty-Kola to boast of his new job at the McSnooty Music Shop selling all kinds of musical instruments. When the Kola’s juke box breaks down, Tommy Horsey says that he and his pals could provide a live band if they only had musical instruments. Tommy phones Square to ask for the instruments, but he asks for them in jive slang: a licorice stick (clarinet), a slush pump (trombone), a dog house (bass fiddle), a git box (guitar), some pots and pans (drums and cymbals), an agony box (violin), a horse’s tail (violin bow), a set of pistons (trumpet), a woodpile (xylophone) and a coffin (piano). The clueless Square brings the literal objects, but Tommy Horsey explains what they really want and they are soon swingin’ again. “Gimme the Modern Girl”, a one-page text story. The Hepcats decide to fix Square up with a girlfriend. They decide that old-fashioned Hortense Hyena is more his speed, but after two weeks her 1890s to 1920s musical style and slang bores him silly. He returns to the Kitty-Kola, where Kitty’s cousin Jeannie Jive is too fast-paced for him, but he is determined to stick it out. “I may be a wreck – but I like it! Gimme the modern girl every time! “Baby Bizness”. 8 pages. When Tommy learns that the girls are going into the baby-sitting business to make money, he decides to follow suit. Slim, the Kitty-Kola soda jerk, allows him to set up shop (“Kitty-Kola Baby-Sitters, Tommy Hepcat, president”) to pay off his long credit tab. Kitty and Toots Rabbit are annoyed by his competition, but when Mrs. Jones (a huge elephant) asks them to babysit her bratty three-year-old Egbert, they steer her to Tommy. The hulking Egbert knocks Tommy out and wrecks the house while Tommy is unconscious. Irate Mr. & Mrs. Jones kick Tommy out. He gives up baby-sitting and goes back to charging the root beer floats, malts, banana splits, etc. to his account. “Square”, a one-page gag strip. Square claims that he was twins when he was a baby. He slept in a twin bed, and “My mother has a picture of me when I was TWO!” “Belle of the Ball”, a one-page text story about Ellie Elephant and Funnyface the monkey in Animaltown. “Hepcat Hi-Jinx”. 6 pages. Both Tommy and Heppity want to take Kitty to the beach. Heppity invites her first, so the jealous Tommy tries to break up their date by climbing on Kitty’s roof with a hose to make them think that it’s raining. But Kitty and Heppity decide to cuddle inside her house, while a real cloudburst drenches Tommy on the roof. The advertising in this issue includes the famous Charles Atlas “The Insult That Turned a ‘Chump’ Into a ‘Champ’” page.
Hi-Jinx #4, January-February 1948. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1947, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor.” Published February 1948. This issue begins the non-Hepcats features. “King of the Carnival”. 7 pages. Professor Weirdbeard is worried that Lowdown High’s Athletic Fund is so low that the school may have to give up its football team. The Hepcats decide to hold a school carnival to raise money. Prof. Weirdbeard declares “—and the one who makes the MOST money for the school, will be crowned king or queen of the carnival – and won’t have to go to school for a FULL WEEK!” Tommy Hepcat and Kitty have a friendly rivalry; she runs a kissing booth while Tommy gets Square to be a double ball-throwing target by putting his head through a “Bean the Bean” hole and painting a target on his rear. Tommy and Square win, but Tommy gives all the credit to Square. Square’s bottom is too sore for him to sit in the carnival king’s throne, while Prof. Weirdbeard worries, “I can’t let HIM have a week off! HE needs all the schooling he can get!” “Square”, a one-page gag strip. Square builds his own juke box to make money; a big wooden box with him inside singing. A customer complains that he’s awful. “So waddeya want for a penny – SINATRA?” “Making A Record”. 7 pages. The Hepcats fall for a fox con artist’s swindle to cook their own swing records with Be-Bop Batter. “All ya gotta do is pour the Be-Bop Batter on the hot grill – and let it cook for a minute!” He switches the hot batter for a record by sleight of hand, and sells the whole thing to the Hepcats for $20. When they discover that they have been cheated, they pull their own con to make the fox think that they are making real records and selling them for a fortune. The fox buys the phony machine back for $200. Tommy has rigged the batter so that when the fox tries to cook it, it explodes. Officer O’Rooney identifies the fox as Bindler the Swindler, and promises the Hepcats a big enough reward to buy all the records they want. “Tommy Goes Fishing”, a one-page text story. “Still Life Sillies or ‘Chair Up, the Worst is Yet to Come!’”, author unknown, art by Gil Turner (1913-1967). 6 pages. Junior, a human boy, thinks the nursery rhyme about the dish running away with the spoon is silly because dishes and spoons aren’t alive. The old chair he is sitting in throws him out. When he runs to tell his mother, she won’t believe him because his stern teacher complains that he lies in class. His mother throws the old chair out to make their house more presentable for when the teacher visits. The chair protests to Junior about being treated like junk when it is a valuable antique. Junior promises to sneak the chair back into the house and refurbish it with ruffles if it will help him when his teacher comes. When Miss Bubblegaum arrives and sits on the chair, it dumps her out and sticks a tack under her. Junior thinks that he has dreamed the whole thing and hits the chair, which comes to life and spanks him. “Tommy Hepcat”, one-page gag strip. When Kitty complains that all the other boys have radios in their jalopies, Tommy get one, too – a floor console propped in the back seat. “Gruesome Twosome”, a one-page text story. “Sundae, Monday and Always”. 7 pages. The Hepcats read in Fife Magazine about a mouth-watering super-sundae. Slim at the Kitty-Kola boasts that he can make one better. Slim makes it like a major medical operation, with Tommy assisting. “Scoop! Butterscotch! Raspberries! Syrup! Banana! Whipped cream! Mixed nuts! Marshmallows! MORE whipped cream! Strawberries! Caramel! Pistachio!” Slim needs a stepladder to put a Maraschino cherry atop his Lunatic’s Lulu. It is meant for all the Hepcats, but the greedy Square steals it to eat it all himself. He makes himself so sick that Slim has to perform another operation in reverse. “Castor oil! Bicarb! Stomach pump! …” “Extra-Special Delivery”, a one-page text story. “Pete the Pooch and Elwood” by Milt Gross (1895-1953). 8 pages. Elwood’s girlfriend Betty tells him over the phone to bring whole cloves for the ham she is cooking, but Pete is playing musical instruments so loud that Elwood mishears it as old clothes. Elwood locks Pete in a closet to keep the dog from following him, but Pete picks the lock. On his way to Betty’s, Pete steals all the clothes he can find, while Betty and Elwood go to the market to buy cloves. Pete uses the clothes to help Betty’s father make a scarecrow for his vegetable garden, but the crow leads the irate clothes-robbed crowd to Betty’s house. Betty’s father is almost arrested for teaching dogs to steal, and Elwood & Betty return with the cloves to find that Pete has eaten all the ham. The last panel shows Elwood, Betty, and Betty’s father looking for Pete with a battleaxe, lance, and rifle, while Pete is disguised as Whistler’s Mother. “The Genius Was a Dope”. 7 pages. Prof. Weirdbeard is furious that all the Hepcats spend all night partying instead of studying. He sneaks behind the high fence surrounding the field where the nighttime party is going on, to make notes on who is there. Heppity falls off the fence onto Prof. Weirdbeard, knocking him out. The Hepcats carry Prof. Weirdbeard into his bedroom, during which they find his notebook with the list of offending students on the eve of their sociology final. (The “handwritten notebook” confirms the names of Kitty Hepcat, Tommy Hepcat, Square no other name, Heppity Hare, and others.) Heppity and Tommy break into the school cellar where old test papers are kept, to find out what sociology questions are likely to be asked. They find Weirdbeard’s own sociology final from 1903, which all the Hepcats memorize. The next day, they all fail the test because Weirdbeard was a poor student in 1903; he did not get one answer right.
Hi-Jinx #5, March-April 1948. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1948, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor; Frederick H. Iger, Business Manager.” Published April 1948. “Tommy Takes Over”. 8 pages. Slim has an errand and appoints Tommy as temporary soda jerk at the Kitty-Kola. The other Hepcats decide to give him a hard time. Heppity orders a double dip flip marshmallow McVouty cherry O’Rooney sundae. Tommy tries to toss scoops of ice cream high up but they stick to the ceiling. A pig woman orders a pint of vanilla. One of the scoops falls off the ceiling into the back of her dress, and she demands that Tommy be arrested. More ice cream falls off the ceiling onto her and Officer O’Rooney, who squirm uncontrollably. The police sergeant comes by and sees O’Rooney and the pig apparently jitterbugging. The pig lady storms out, and the Hepcats try to explain to the sergeant what happened. More ice cream comes loose from the ceiling and falls on the sergeant’s uniform. The sergeant blames O’Rooney and is about to transfer him to the Gas House beat, when the police captain arrives, chews the sergeant out for his messy uniform, and transfers him to the Gas House beat. The Hepcats treat Officer O’Rooney to a dish of vanilla ice cream. “Presenting the REAL lowdown on LITTLE BO PEEP”, author presumably Dan Gordon, art by Dan Gordon. 9 pages. A boy’s mother reads him the nursery rhyme about Bo Peep and her missing sheep, which he thinks is corny. A scholarly bookworm, the Real Dope, emerges from the nursery rhyme book and tells him what really happened. The wicked wolf stole all the black wool from Boston Blacksheep, and (shorn naked and wearing long underwear) he went after the wolf through the city to get it back. The wolf claims that he sheared Blackie as a favor for Bo Peep, “cross me heart an’ hope to kiss a pig if that ain’t the truth!” A pig kisses him. The wolf then claims that he made the wool into a coat for Bo Peep. Meanwhile Bo Peep announced in newspapers and on the radio that she had lost her sheep, which made her a celebrity and got her invited to Hollywood, but her mean old stepfather would not allow her to become a movie star and was going to shoot her (the pig reenters here, but the wolf won’t let him kiss him twice), but the wolf stepped in front of her to protect her and was killed. Blackie doesn’t believe him and takes the wolf’s pelt to make a wolfskin coat for Bo Peep. The wolf comes out of the book to get the bookworm, who escapes back into the book. “Lessee – I kin never remember wot page he’s on!” “A Show-off Gets Shown”, one-page text story. “Mr. Square in ‘Corn Off the Cob’”. 7 pages. Square reads on a billboard that Spike Jones and His City Slickers is the King of Corn. Square decides that he can play corn, too. Tommy and Kitty hear the racket and find Square trying to play cobs of corn on his phonograph. They take him to Tommy Horsey to learn to play jive. Square thinks that he was learned, but he tries to play chive instead. “Going Down!”, a one-page text story. “Still Life Sillies, or ‘A Bird in the Clock is Worth Two in the Bush!”. author unknown, art by Gil Turner. 7 pages. Robert blames the coo-coo clock for reminding his mother to get him ready for his music lesson. She tells him how the wooden coo-coo was jealous of the real birds who could sing whenever they wanted to. The coo-coo pulls himself loose from the clock and goes to join the real birds who are suspicious of his wooden wings and springs. The real coo-coos say that he looks nothing like them; the sparrows complain that he can only say ‘coo-coo’; a pigeon kicks him out for having painted feathers instead of real feathers; and the woodpeckers threaten to eat him. He tries to coo-coo from a tree to a nearby house, but without a clock he gets the time wrong. So he is glad to come home to his own clock. Robert doesn’t believe the story, so he looks in the clock and sees the little man who Father Time put into each clock to remind the coo-coos when to sound the time. Robert is glad to escape to his cornet lesson. “How Tommy Won His Dog-Collar”, a one-page text story, with Statement of Ownership, Management, Circulation Etc. at the bottom. The Owner is B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., B. W. Sanger & Frederick H. Iger. Editor Hughes and the two owners constitute the only owners, stockholders, and security holders of the magazine. Circulation not stated. Signed Richard E. Hughes, Editor, 11 September 1947. “Heppity’s Big Case”. 7 pages. Tommy and Kitty go to the Kitty-Kola. Kitty orders an orange juice, which Slim serves. When she orders a second orange juice a few minutes later, the malt shop’s orange juice is missing. Heppity proclaims himself a detective and questions everyone in the Kitty-Kola. All protest their innocence except Owl Jolson, who won’t say anything but “Hoo”. Heppity deduces the culprit is Owl Jolson, because Owl Jolson and Orange Juice have the same initials. Jolson confesses that he stole the orange juice for the label, to cut out the O. J. to paste on his personal belongings. “Pete the Pooch and Elwood” by Milt Gross. 7 pages. Betty’s dad invites Elwood to Ye Tavern to have lunch with Judge Crunch, a big shot who can help Elwood’s career. It is important to make a good impression, so Pete can’t come. Pete sneaks out through a manhole and follows. Another diner gives Pete some food, and in gratitude Pete klonks the diner with a big bone. The diner beats Elwood up. Judge Crunch disapproves of Elwood for brawling. Pete eats the Judge’s lunch. The Judge dumps a plate on Elwood, and Pete beats the Judge up, who leaves. Elwood is proud of Pete for his loyalty, but Betty and her father stalk out. Elwood, disgusted, smashes a tray of dishes, and is beat up by the waiter while Pete ignores him.
Hi-Jinx #6, May-June 1948. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1948, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor; Frederick H. Iger, Business Manager.” Published June 1948. “Getting’ In the Swim”. 8 pages. Jive Junction has a swimming contest. The first to swim five miles from Jive Junction Harbor to Rock Island wins $500. Tommy plans to enter, but hulking Bulldog Dummond of Dogtown boasts that he will win. Tommy pledges to win for Jive Junction’s honor. But he comes down with a bad cold. He and Kitty decide that Square should take his place, despite Square being unable to swim. Tommy straps an outboard motor onto Square as they practice. Square gets so much confidence in the motor that on the day of the contest, he outswims Bulldog without noticing that the motor has fallen off him. When asked what he will do with the prize money, Square says, “Take swimmin’ lessons!” One-page text, “Square’s Doggone Idea”. “Still Life Sillies; The Real Low-down on Humpty-Dumpty!” 9 pages, author unknown, art by Gil Turner. Junior’s mother reads the Humpty-Dumpty nursery rhyme to him at bedtime. Junior thinks all the king’s horses and men must have been dumb because he has put together much bigger jigsaw puzzles. Humpty Dumpty takes him into the Story Book where he sees that one of the king’s horses does put him back together right away, but jealous Mother Goose and Goosey plot to smash him again to make her poem come true. The king’s horse persuades Humpty to let her think that she has succeeded, while Humpty leaves the Story Book and hides in the City Museum as a 100,000,000 year old dinosaur egg, “Wash Your Dog, Lady?” 8 pages. Tommy, Heppity, and Square open a dog laundry. Ritzy Mrs. Gotrocks (a pig) brings them her pointer Rinaldo for a pedicure, a shampoo, and a bubble bath for that afternoon’s Tailwaggers’ Society’s pointing contest. Square accidentally pours starch instead of soap into the bubble bath, and Rinaldo becomes as stiff as a board; fortunately in a perfect point. Mrs. Gotrocks is delighted to win the contest, but becomes irate when she realizes that Rinaldo cannot move. She angrily throws a bucket of water on the Hepcats and Rinaldo, which dissolves the starch and leaves everyone happy. “Count Screwloose Cartoon Page” by Milt Gross. One page of five gag cartoons. “King Midas and His Funny Money”, author unknown, art by Gil Turner. 8 pages. Young Bertie wants his mother to buy a $38.50 bicycle for him, but she tells him to save his allowance. When Bertie wishes that he had a golden touch, she tells him the story of King Midas as a lesson that easy money always backfires. Bertie is not convinced, until King Midas himself appears and tells what really happened to him! “Raisin’ the Roof”. 8 pages. Square’s roof is so full of holes after a chemistry set’s explosion that his pigeon friends can’t walk on it safely, and threaten to leave. Tommy and Heppity try to come up with ideas, which are all dangerous to Square’s health, to raise enough money to fix the roof. One page text story, “Smoke in his Eyes”. “Pete the Pooch” by Milt Gross. 4 pages. Pete, bored by being left home alone all day, takes up golfing, destroys the house, and knocks himself out in front of the family’s wall safe. When the family returns home in the evening, they assume that Pete must have fought off a burglar who knocked him out, and “We must REWARD the creature for his courage and devotion!” Pete does not put them wise.
Hi-Jinx #7, July-August 1948. “HI-JINX, published bimonthly and copyright, 1948, by B. & I. Publishing Co., Inc., 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor; Frederick H. Iger, Business Manager.” Published August 1948. “All Fowled Up”. 7 pages. Slim gives the key to the Kitty-Kola to Tommy to open up the next morning. Tommy goes to a fish fry at Kitty’s patio, and volunteers the key for a game of Hide the Thimble. While Square searches for the key, a chicken from Kitty’s neighbor’s yard eats it. Before the Hepcats can catch the hen, she disappears into the neighbor’s flock Tommy lures all the chickens with rice to his home. The next morning, Tommy opens the Kitty-Kola on time with a special on fried chicken. “Catnap”, a one-page text story. “Still Life Sillies or ‘You May Be Down, But You’re Never Out!’”, story and art by Jack Bradbury. 8 pages. Tim & Martha Murphy plan to get a new car to replace their ancient 1918 Bleeple 4. The “junkheap” is despondent about being replaced after a lifetime of service, and runs away. Tim reports a stolen car to the police. The car, after driving aimlessly around town, learns the police are looking for it. It asks Chauncy, a stray dog (“YE-E-E-I-IPE! A talkin’ automobile!” “Oh, STOP it, Chauncy! A talking automobile’s no more unusual than a talking DOG, and that’s what YOU are!”) to write a note pretending to be from Tim asking Blink’s Paint and Body Shop to paint it blue. But after painting the car, the body shop phones Tim to come get it, and the car’s disguise is ruined. The car steals a full tank of gasoline while the gas station attendant isn’t looking, and escapes into the countryside. Farm animals laugh at it for being a pile of junk. By nightfall, the car comes to Moe’s Junk Yard, “The – the graveyard of all old cars!” The ghost of a 1912 Pierce-Arrow taunts it, saying, “You should’ve been in here LONG ago!” (The dialogue is full of 1948 car references; “Well, put my motor in the rear and call me Tucker …”.) The car escapes and crashes into a police car, wrecking itself. The police haul the wreck back to Tim Murphy, who gives it to his teenager to be rebuilt into a hot-rod! It will be a long time before the new hot-rod is ready for the junk yard! “By the Sea”. 8 pages. Tommy is exhausted after working on his jalopy all night to get ready for the big costume party at the seaside Surf Club, but the other Hepcats nag him into driving them for a day at the beach. They drag Tommy into joining into their fun & games until he escapes onto an offshore float to sleep. Heppity sets the float adrift and steals Tommy’s costume for the party. Tommy wakes up, swims ashore dripping wet and covered with seaweed and grabs a trident, and wins first prize for the best costume as King Neptune. He marches Heppity out with the trident and maroons him on the float to play Ancient Mariner. “What really gives with OLD KING COLE, the Merry Old Soul”, written by unknown, art by Gil Turner. 7 pages. A boy reads about Old King Cole in a Mother Goose book, and wonders why he was so merry. A magic spell sends him with his stuffed rabbit into the book, where he finds that King Cole is really very grumpy and angry. All that he has to smoke in his pipe is wood shavings; all he has to eat in his bow is stew; and his fiddlers three keep playing the same tune over and over. When the boy tells him that he has gone down in history as a merry old soul, he has Mother Goose imprisoned for lying about him. The boy takes him home to sample his father’s cigars, modern food, and radio music. But the cigar’s tobacco is too strong for King Cole; he eats the cans along with the canned food and gets sick; and all the radio will play is a blathery disc jockey who never gets to the music. King Cole decides that he didn’t have it so bad, after all, and resolves to be merry in the past. The next morning his mother accuses the boy of dreaming the whole thing, but his stuffed rabbit is still in the story book’s picture of King Cole’s throne room. “Two Down and One to Go!”, a one-page text story not in the Hepcats setting. “The Egg and Why”. 6 pages. Tommy Hepcat Chicken Farm is a failure because his hens have not laid eggs for six weeks. Tommy is about to sell the hens for eating when Heppity persuades him to try to get them laying. Records of swing music get them dancing instead of laying. Jack Bunny’s violin is too screechy. Mr. Square from Delaware solves the problem with mirrors instead of music. He puts a mirror alongside each hen’s nest. The hen thinks that her reflection is a rival hen, and determines to outlay her. “Pete the Pooch” by Milt Gross. 8 pages. The family is annoyed by Pete’s piano playing and tell him to just lie in front of the fireplace with a bone like other dogs. Pete reads in the newspaper that “canine assistant wanted by psychologist”, and uses judo to get rid of all the other applicants. But instead of learning how to psychoanalyze beautiful girls, the two psychologists use him for stress tests to see how far they can torment dogs before their nerves snap. After a day of having tasty food snatched away before he can eat it, trying to catch a remote-controlled cat dummy, giving him an old shoe to chew that is made of a supersticky stuff that glues his mouth shut, using a flea ray that drives him crazy with itching, giving him a trick magnetic fireplug, and bombarding him with bowling balls, Pete is delighted to return home to the fireplace and a bone.
The later Hepcats stories.
Ha Ha Comics #57, September 1948. “HA HA COMICS, published monthly and copyright, 1948. by Creston Publications Corp., 420 DeSoto Ave., St. Louis 7, Missouri. Editorial Offices, 45 West 45th Street, New York 19, N. Y. Richard E. Hughes, Editor; Frederick H. Iger, Business Manager.” “That Big Beach Party”. 5 pages. Six of the Hepcats (Tommy, Kitty, Heppity, Square, a girl rabbit, and a male pig who says, “Let’s eat!” throughout the story) head in Tommy’s jalopy for a day at Muscle Beach. Heppity tries to impress the girl rabbit by promising to rent a life preserver for her, but he can’t afford the 50¢ an hour. He comes back with four rubber floats. The Hepcats have a wonderful time in the water, until a thunderstorm blows up. The Hepcats prepare to drive home, until it turns out that the life preservers are the four inner tubes from the tires on Tommy’s jalopy. In the last panel they are all trying to keep dry under Tommy’s car. Starting in this story, any Hepcats party includes a rabbit girl friend for Heppity.
Ha Ha Comics #59, November 1948. “Those Bank-Robber Blues, Starring Mr. Square”. 7 pages. Square is pedaling his “keys made” three-wheel cart at night. He is called by a sinister figure (bear?) outside the Last National Bank who claims to be Mr. Lucre, the president of the bank, who has lost his keys and needs to get inside. Square makes a key for the door. Inside, “Mr. Lucre” bets that Square can’t open the vault door. Square does, leaving “Lucre” in the vault with bags of money. Lucre gives him a 10¢ tip for making a 50¢ key. Square “politely” closes the vault door behind him, trapping the robber inside. Square is pedaling home when he realizes belatedly that “Mr. Lucre” is a phony, and calls Officer O’Rooney to report the robbery. They open the vault, and O’Rooney recognizes Slippery Sam, a famous bank robber. The real Mr. Lucre arrives (a pig) and gives Square two bags of money as a reward. The next day, Square offers to treat Tommy and Heppity to a coke at the Kitty-Kola with all his money.
Ha Ha Comics #60, December 1948. “An Apple A Day, starring Square”. 6 pages. Prof. Weirdbeard asks Square in physics class to explain the Law of Gravitation. When Square admits that he didn’t do last night’s homework, Weirdbeard orders him to sit under an apple tree outside. A falling apple hits Square, who angrily asks who is responsible. When Weirdbeard says to blame Isaac Newton, Square gets a couple of overripe tomatoes from Slim at the Kitty-Kola and looks in the phone book for I. Newton, who turns out to be a tough bulldog. The next morning, a badly battered Square says that he learned that the Law of Gravitation is what attracts material bodies to each other, like him and I. Newton’s fists.
Ha Ha Comics #61, January 1949. “Too Many Cooks”. 6 pages. The Jive Junction County Fair is holding a Baking Contest, and Tommy and Heppity decide to enter. They try to bake doughnuts, but cannot figure out how to make the hole in the center. Square puts their unbaked dough on the sidewalk, where oblivious Peg Leg Pig punches holes in them with his peg while passing by. They prepare a bigger batch, but Peg Leg Pig steps on them with his good leg, flattening them out and imprinting them with the sole of his shoe. The boys are despondent, but Kitty enters them in the contest anyway. The boys win a special prize for their grand waffles.
Ha Ha Comics #62, February 1949. “Shovel Your Walk, Lady?”. 7 pages. Jive Junction is snowbound. Tommy and Heppity decide to earn money by shoveling snow. A pig lady offers them $1.00 to clear her walk from her porch to the sidewalk, but this is hard work. When Square offers the same service for only 25¢, the boys are sure that he will exhaust himself for almost nothing, but he does the job in a few minutes with a flamethrower. The boys buy the flamethrower from him for $10.00, planning to make a fortune clearing the rest of the sidewalks in town, but it turns out that this was the last home in town that Square had not already cleared. Also war surplus flamethrowers are only $1.50 each. Tommy and Heppity take turns kicking each other for their stupidity.
Ha Ha Comics #63, March 1949. “Birthday Gift!”. 10 pages. Tommy wonders what to get Kitty for her birthday. Heppity says it should be something unusual, rather than the standard candy or cheap jewelry. They buy a baby ostrich, which is still three feet tall. On the way to Kitty’s house, Lizzie eats all the dynamite from a street workman’s box. At Kitty’s, Lizzie swallows a portable radio which they hear broadcasting a warning to be on the lookout for the explosive ostrich. They call the police who take Lizzie away in a caged paddy wagon. But Lizzie eats the lock and returns to Kitty’s birthday, arriving just in time to swallow the cake with all its lighted candles. BOOM!
Ha Ha Comics #64, April 1949. “Square’s Mouse Trap”. 7 pages. Tommy phones Kitty from the Kitty-Kola to invite her for a malt, but Kitty screams and the line goes dead. Tommy, Heppity, and Square rush to her house where she has fainted because she saw a mouse. Heppity and Square think this is funny, and Tommy angrily orders them to leave. Square reveals that he has spent the last two years building a better mouse trip, with a model of a sexy mouse, Hedy La Mouse, as a lure. The mouse trap is so successful that it attracts every mouse in town to Kitty’s house.
Ha Ha Comics #65, May 1949. “Tale of a Bumbershoot”. 7 pages. The Hepcats (waiting at the bus stop for the “Jive Junction Bus Company” school bus) notice that Professor Weirdbeard always carries an umbrella when walking to school. When it starts to rain, he opens his umbrella but it’s full of moth holes. Joe at Joe’s Bumbershoot Shop says that it can’t be repaired immediately. Prof. Weirdbeard discovers that all his umbrellas are motheaten, so he takes all of them on the bus in the rainstorm to have them repaired. A pig lady on the bus thinks that he is stealing umbrellas and attacks him. He vows to never carry another umbrella again.
Ha Ha Comics #67, August 1949. “The Wienie Bake”. 7 pages. The Hepcats at the Kitty-Kola decide to hold a nighttime beach wienie bake. Kitty and the girls decide to surprise the boys by sneaking off and doing all the baking. By the time the boys set out to buy wieners, there is not a one in town. Disappointed, the boys cancel the wienie bake without telling the girls why. The girls decide to hold their own wienie bake without the boys. A trail of firewood leads the boys to the beach just as the wienie bake is ready. A successful party is had by all.
Ha Ha Comics #69, December 1949. “Aladdin Had a Lamp”. 8 pages. The four main Hepcats are at the Kitty-Kola wishing they had a lot of money so they could buy a giant sundae or a juke box and a million records. Square falls asleep and dreams that he gets Aladdin’s Lamp, which summons a very ethnically incorrect genie. First Square wishes for snazzy clothes and money. The clothes are Arabian Nights robes with a turban and scimitar, and Square buys a cigar with the money. He wishes for a lighter and gets a fire-breathing dragon who roasts Heppity, then for a harem girl who comes between Tommy and Kitty, then a Pegasus-pulled chariot to ride to a show which startles all the drivers they pass into crashing. After running over a policeman, Square is arrested for impersonating a U.N. delegate (for his Arabian Nights clothes), carrying a dangerous weapon (the scimitar), and counterfeiting (the money is not American). Square is sentenced to 413 years breaking rocks in prison. Square awakens from his nightmare and runs out of the Kitty-Kola.
“Aladdin Had a Lamp” was apparently the final Hepcats story. Bradbury’s stories in Ha Ha Comics in 1950 and 1951 included “Doc” E. Z. Duzit (a forest gnome with a long white beard), Aunt Polly Hog, Rip Rooster, and others; but no more Hepcats.
The 1945 issue.
Giggle Comics with Superkatt:
From left to right at top, Ken Hultgren’s the Dope, Gordon’s Superkatt, and Hultgren’s the Duke (of “The Duke and the Dope”); the three main characters in Giggle Comics.
Ha Ha Comics:
“Cookie” Comics by Dan Gordon.
Ozzie and Babs.
The Aldrich Family/Henry Aldrich.
Pep Comics. The first issue with Archie.
The first issues with Archie on the cover.
“An Archie magazine”
The Fox and the Crow
Real Screen Comics
TV Screen Cartoons
Junior Hopp Comics
Perri Rhoades’ website with Australian covers.