JACKIE JOKERSMedium: Comic books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1973
Creators: unknown writer and Ernie Colón (artist)
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From the 1950s on, Harvey Comics made practically an entire publishing strategy out of one-note characters. Wendy the Good Little Witch was, as the name implied, a scary-sounding person who was actually cuddly and nice. Little Lotta was a little girl who had super strength because she ate to excess. Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost was a ghost who, in contrast to Casper the Friendly Ghost, liked to scare people. Little Dot was an
exception — she had two notes, an obsession with dot-patterned things, and a whole big bunch of oddball uncles and aunts (who were, themselves, one-notes). A late entry into this category was Jackie Jokers, whose single note was that he was an amazingly famous juvenile show-biz personality.
Because Harvey tended not to credit the creators of its comics, the identity of the writer who created Jackie isn't known. But the art is easily identifiable as that of Ernie Colón, whose contributions to comic books range from Harvey-style characters to Marvel's Damage Control and DC's Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld.
Jackie debuted in his own title, Jackie Jokers #1, dated March, 1973. A complete supporting cast came with him — his parents, Jerry and Jill Jokers (also show-biz folks, who gave him his start in the business); his cousin and rival, Rhett deStarr (apparently everybody in his family was a star); a girlfriend named Candy; his fun-loving Uncle Trickster, who liked to play practical jokes; and his agent, Ben Booker. By the way, Jackie looked exactly like Jerry, only shorter.
Jackie's main forté was supposed to be stand-up comedy, but he could also do impressions, song-and-dance routines, acting, and just about anything else a person might do to entertain others. His humor was the sort a child might take from a used joke book to get a laugh from fellow denizens of the playground, but it seemed to please his fictional audiences. At any rate, it led to his being recognized wherever he went. Among those who apparently knew him were caricatures of Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood, and even Richard Nixon, whose disgrace hadn't yet climaxed.
Real audiences, however, didn't seem so enamored of him. His comic lasted four issues, ending with its September, 1973 issue. A fifth was advertised but never published.
But Harvey made an extraordinary effort to keep him from oblivion. Immediately after Jackie Jokers bombed, they teamed him with their most popular one-note character. Richie Rich & Jackie Jokers #1, dated November, 1973, was the start of a permanent partnership between Jackie and what the company had long ago dubbed "the poor little rich boy". The two characters didn't actually meet until the second issue, except on the cover. Inside, they were in separate stories — Jackie, the ones originally intended for #5. Tho it was the only venue Jackie had, it was obvious just from the covers which was the senior partner. Both would be portrayed indulging in their characteristic schticks, but the gag would be Richie's. For example, the first issue showed them on stage together, with a spotlight on each, but Richie's spotlight was shaped like a dollar sign. It was a perfect metaphor for the real-world fact that fame doesn't always lead to money, but money can easily buy fame.
The new title ran 48 issues by the end of 1982, when all the Harvey characters went on hiatus. In 1986, when they came back (at least temporarily), Jackie was no longer among them. Harvey never used the character again. There were no media spin-offs and little or no merchandising when he was running.
In 2002, Electric Tiki produced a maquette Jackie Jokers figurine. Nonetheless, he seems to have wound up just about the most obscure world-famous person of all time.