BUZZYMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1943
Creators: unknown writer and George Storm (artist)
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As the early 1940s segued into the mid-'40s, American comic book publishers were finding their superheroes, which had been so profitable just a couple of years earlier, starting to all out of public favor. One of the responses at DC Comics was to gather a lot of the funny guys they'd been using for back-page fillers into an antholgy of their own. All Funny Comics debuted with a cover date of Winter, 1943-44, and contained Dover & Clover (from More Fun Comics, where Green Arrow was usually
the cover feature), Penniless Palmer (from Star Spangled Comics, where The Guardian was on the cover) and Genius Jones (from Adventure Comics, which starred The Sandman), along with a few new features like Hayfoot Henry and Two-Gun Percy. Most of those start-ups were quickly forgotten, but one of them, Buzzy, was still in print well into the next decade.
Buzzy Brown (no relation) represented a genre that had been part of the general comics scene since Harold Teen but was just starting to achieve prominence in comic books. But he wasn't a clone of Archie, who was quickly becoming the template on whom stars of teenage humor comic books are generally based. Buzzy was a musician, a horn blower of the "hep cat" school, tho that term was already starting to seem a tiny bit quaint. His five-piece combo, in which his best pal, Bink, played saxophone, drove at least as many early stories as his rivalry with Wolfert the Wolf for the affections of Susie Gruff, the deficiencies of the broken-down old jalopy he drove, or the rest of his typical teenage adventures in and around the town of Cupcake Center.
It isn't known who wrote the first Buzzy story, but Alvin Schwartz (creator of Bizarro) is suspected of having done so, and in any case began scripting the feature early on. He definitely he set the tone for it — including introducing the music theme. The artist was George Storm, a pioneer in newspaper adventure comics such as Phil Hardy and Bobby Thatcher, whose comic book work ranges from Bugs Bunny to The Hangman. Both continued to chronicle Buzzy's adventures for years. With Schwartz's amusing and sometimes idiosyncratic stories and Storm's unusual and dynamic artwork, he was the only character to go from All Funny Comics to his own title. "The rib-tickling misadventures of America's favorite teenster" (as the cover blurb put it) started with a cover date of Winter, 1944-45. It was the first of DC's teen humor comics, which soon came to include Scribbly and Leave It to Binky.
The Buzzy title continued long after the demise of All Funny (which bit the dust after only 23 issues, and anyway, he was only in the first four), but its distinctly individual qualities were toned down after a few years — in fact, the covers started looking more Archie-like only a dozen or so issues into its run (which is also about when the word "teenster" stopped appearing on them). The music theme was de-emphasized, eventually disappearing. In 1948, Schwartz left to concentrate exclusively on the Superman newspaper comic; and with the 29th issue (Jan-Feb, 1950), Storm moved on as well. His replacement was Graham Place, a competent artist but lacking Storm's flair. After that, Buzzy was just another teenager in a market rife with them.
But he persevered. DC continued to publish Buzzy until #77 (October, 1958), tho it took a full year after #76 for the final issue to stagger onto the stands. Buzzy has been in comic book limbo ever since.