Speed spurns weapons and uses his hooves. Artist: Malcolm Kildale.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Centaur Publications
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: Malcolm Kildale
If this site is enjoyable or useful to you,
Please contribute to its necessary financial support.
Amazon.com or PayPal

As superheroes proliferated in American comic books during the late 1930s and early '40s, they necessarily developed along lines that dictated a certain sameness. The gaudy costume, the secret …

continued below

… identity, the super powers or other strong motivation for doing what he does … All were shared by Johnny Quick, The Hangman, The Human Bomb and dozens if not hundreds more. But then you had the oddballs — The Bouncer, Kid Eternity, The Black Widow

It's tempting to say Speed Centaur was the oddest of the oddballs, but with so many oddballs around, it's hard to be sure. He certainly was an odd one. To begin with, he was, like, a centaur! Four legs, hooves, human torso on top of a horse torso, etc., making it hard to figure how he fits into human society while at the same time conferring little apparent benefit on his pursuit of urban adventure. Second — actually, there's no need for a "second". You can't get much odder than living in New York City as a centaur — tho the same publisher did have a giant, talking eye that flew around undoing evil.

Speed didn't start out as a city dweller. He was born into a tribe of similar creatures, which lived far away, in the frozen North. When he was very young, an earthquake wiped out all the others. He was found wandering alone through a snowstorm, by trapper Maurice Norton, who raised him, teaching him English and French. Later, he took up with a reporter named Jerry "Reel" McCoy, who hailed from civilized climes. It was Jerry who brought Speed to New York, where, with Jerry as assistant, he took up the avocation of superheroing.

The character first appeared in Vol. 2 #8 (whole no. 12) of Amazing Mystery Funnies, dated August, 1939, where the main star was The Fantom of the Fair. (Speed was on the cover of that issue, but it was one of only two cover appearances he ever made. Even Skyrocket Steele got more.) The publisher was Centaur Publications, a very minor player among '40s funnybook moguls. Centaur (no word whether Speed's species was chosen to go with the name) is remembered for The Clock, Amazing-Man and one or two others, but it also published such luminaries as Vapo-Man, The Masked Marvel and Zog, Prince of Mars.

The cartoonist who wrote and drew Speed's first adventure (as well as most if not all subsequent ones) was Malcolm Kildale, whose other credits include Sgt. Spook (one of the features in the back pages of Blue Bolt's title), Spitfire (a Harvey Comics character who didn't make much of a splash) and Crash Davis (who made even less of one — he was among the ill-fated adventurers who debuted in Air Fighters Comics #1).

Kildale was also behind a brief attempt in 1939 to market Speed Centaur, as well as a couple of other Centaur Publication properties. such as Spy Hunters and The Fantom of the Fair,as a newspaper comic by Watkins Syndicate (Don Dixon).

Speed Centaur appeared in all subsequent issues of Amazing Mystery Funnies, but since the title lasted only 24 altogether (final one dated September, 1940), that's not saying much. He turned up once more, in Wham Comics #1 (November, 1940). Not long after that, Centaur Publications folded. Since then, nobody seems to have expressed much interest in Speed Centaur.


BACK to Don Markstein's Toonopedia™ Home Page
Today in Toons: Every day's an anniversary!

Web www.toonopedia.com

Purchase Toon-related Merchandise Online

Text ©2006-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Centaur Publications.