Blue Ribbon Comics

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Blue Ribbon Comics Blue Ribbon Comics series 1, #1-22 (Nov. 1939 - March 1942) was a 64-page anthology comic published by MLJ Comics, the precursor to what would become the publisher Archie Comics. Issues #9-18 and #22 were cover-titled Blue Ribbon Mystery Comics. The first title published by MLJ, Blue Ribbon Comics initially ran a mixture of content, in the manner of most early comic books. All stories in the comic were new. Reader participation was encouraged; in issue #3 (Jan. 1940) MLJ offered $5 for the prize letter of the month and $1 for 10 runners-up, and issue #4 (June 1940) introduced the Rang-A-Tang Club, boasting its own registered veterinarian to answer questions on dog health and training.

By issue #4, MLJ replaced the humor strips with more adventure and crime stories, and introduced fantasy-adventure characters. The first superhero introduced to Blue Ribbon Comics was in the two-issue feature Bob Phantom, the Scourge of the Underground (#2-3). Bob Phantom moved to Pep Comics and was shortly followed by the Fox (#4-22), a costumed adventure hero created by writer Joe Blair and artist Irwin Hasen who would return during the 1960's in several Archie comics series. Next was Mr. Justice (#9-22), a ghostly superhero; Inferno the Flame-Breather, originally a supporting character seen in Steel Sterling tales in Pep Comics, was given his own feature (#13-19). The patriotically themed Captain Flag completed the Blue Ribbon Comics superhero cluster. Mr. Justice was the cover feature from his debut in #9 (Feb. 1941), then shared the cover with Captain Flag from #16-18, and took over from #19 (Dec. 1941) until the end of the title's run.

Blue Ribbon Comics #21 (Feb. 1942) introduced a new direction, advertising on the cover 'new sensational true life features,' with an inside-front cover editorial explaining the title would now mix superhero and adventure stories with real-life tales: 'Just as many thrills, just as much red-blooded reading pleasure.' The last two issues had features on the life of Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Beethoven, and a tale about malaria in Cuba. Incongruously, MLJ also introduced a short horror story feature, "Tales from the Witches Cauldron" (#20-22) at this time. Despite the change of direction, Blue Ribbon Comics ended with issue #22 (March 1942).