Princess Pantha and a couple of guys she doesn't usually pal around with, from a Thrilling Comics cover. Artist: Alex Schomburg.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Standard Comics
First Appeared: 1946
Creators: unknown writer and Art Saaf, artist
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The "white jungle goddess" comic book genre started in 1938, with the American debut of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. from Fiction House Magazines (Sky Girl, Firehair). But for a long time it consisted only of Sheena and one or two knock-offs (like the same company's Camilla). It wasn't until the middle of the 1940s that its representatives, such …

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… as Rulah, Judy of the Jungle, Tygra of the Flame People and Tiger Girl really proliferated. For example, Princess Pantha, published by a company variously known as Standard, Nedor, or Pines Comics (whose other female protagonists include Jetta of the 21st Century and The Woman in Red), didn't turn up until 1946.

It was in the 56th issue of Thrilling Comics, dated October of that year, that the company (which called itself "Better Publications" just then) introduced Princess Pantha. Unlike most, she didn't arrive in the jungle by accident (such as being born there). She was a circus-performing wild animal handler by trade, and went there on business, to capture a legendary giant gorilla she'd heard about. She disappeared shortly after setting out, and it took only a little more than a month for Gilt-edge Gates, owner of The National Circus, which had sent her, to begin getting worried. He hired Dane Hunter, a famous explorer, to find her. And by the way, "Princess Pantha" had been her stage name, and readers never did find out her real one.

Dane soon reached her vicinity, but by then she was barefoot, wearing a leopard-pattern bikini, and had been living on her own in the jungle for two months. Her safari had been wiped out by an unknown hostile native tribe, and she'd saved herself by using her handy sound system to make an extra-loud gorilla call. The natives mistook this for the approach of M'Gana, the gorilla she'd been looking for, and scattered. Fortunately, she had her animal skills, her knowledge of jiu-jitsu, and a few primitive weapons salvaged from the wreckage of the safari. She saved Dane from the same natives, but wouldn't go back with him because M'Gana remained uncaught. Dane stuck around to be her boyfriend and occasional rescue object.

The writer of this origin story hasn't been identified, but the artist was Art Saaf. It's likely he was chosen because he worked for both Better and Fiction House, and was drawing Sheena at the time. Saaf remained Pantha's regular artist as long as her feature lasted.

Two issues after her debut, Princess Pantha displaced the superhero Doc Strange from the cover of Thrilling Comics. He was seen there only once more — with her. She remained on the cover until her own displacement by Buck Ranger, a western, in #72 (June, 1949). From Doc to Buck, including all of the Princess Pantha run, the covers were done by Alex Schomburg. Schomburg was, like L.B. Cole (Wiggles the Wonderworm), a cover specialist, rarely seen on interior pages but familiar to readers for covers from Sub-mariner to The Black Terror.

Shortly after Buck first appeared on the cover, his genre took over Thrilling Comics altogether. Princess Pantha's final story before the westerns replaced everything was in #74 (October, 1949).


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Text ©2007-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Standard Comics.