MARMADUKE MOUSEMedium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1944
Creator: Ernie Hart
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Quality Comics, which published comic books of quality from the late 1930s to the middle '50s, offered a typical line It started with mostly anthology titles (e.g., Smash Comics, Military Comics), and spun off a lot of single-feature
titles (e.g., The Spirit, Torchy) as time went on. Of the single-feature ones, the longest-lasting were Blackhawk and Plastic Man, which strikes most people who know the company at all as fitting and proper. After all, those were probably the company's two most prominent features.
From that point of view, it's curious to note that Quality's third-longest lasting single-feature title was Marmaduke Mouse, which ran a full decade, and which most of those people have never even heard of.
Marmaduke (no relation) made his first appearance in Hit Comics #35 (Spring, 1944), where Kid Eternity was well established as the cover-featured star. That issue saw a minor shake-up in the back pages, as Bill the Magnificent and Stormy Foster disappeared, and Marmaduke Mouse and Egbert & the Count, both by cartoonist Ernie Hart (Super Rabbit, Atomictot) replaced them.
Marmaduke debuted fully formed — that is, he didn't change very much over the years, except near the end. He worked for King Louie, a lion, doing odd jobs — which included anything from cutting the lawn to getting the king out of truly extraordinary jams. Apparently, his position was something along the lines of head minion or lackey-in-chief. The most striking (in fact, only distinguishing) thing about Marmaduke's appearance was that he always wore a diaper, a quirk he shared with at least one other fully adult funny animal, ACG's Super Katt, who also wore a baby's bonnet. In neither case was an explanation given.
Egbert was gone the next issue, but turned up sporadically for a few months more. Marmaduke, too, was dropped after #41 (July, 1946), but by that time he'd already moved out into his own title. Marmaduke Mouse #1 was dated Spring, 1946. Egbert & the Count, as well as a few other Hart-created features such as Prince Pinky & Pudd, were in its back pages.
Marmaduke Mouse, diaper and all, was published on a mostly bimonthly basis until Quality Comics itself gave up the ghost. In fact, its December, 1956 issue (#65) was part of Quality's final batch of releases. In very late, apparently post-Hart issues, Marmaduke moved out of Louie's castle and led a more sitcom-style life. One more came out, but it was an unauthorized reprint — Israel Waldman's Super Comics, which subsisted entirely on unauthorized reprints, did it in 1963.
DC Comics purchased Quality Comics properties — only a limited (but undefined) number, say knowledgeable sources, but since nobody seems to object when DC lays claim to whichever ones it wants, it's become the de facto owner of the entire line. But what DC doesn't want from Quality seems to include Marmaduke Mouse. With its own funny animal line (Peter Panda, The Dodo & the Frog, etc.) mostly on its last legs by 1957, the company apparently didn't (and still doesn't) feel a need to add another.