Swing, flanked by Bonnie and Toby. Artist: Phil Martin.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creator: Robert Turner (writer) and Phil Martin (artist)
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As every reader of comics knows, comics are unlimited in their ability to convey fictional genres. Superheroes are most typical of their contents, followed by funny animals. But science fiction (e.g., Atomic Knights), horror (Tales from the Crypt) and teenage humor (Cookie) are also prominent there. Less prominent genres include sports (Tank McNamara), private eyes (Ken Shannon) …

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… and soap opera (Apartment 3-G). But at least one genre, while not entirely unknown in comics, is more typically found in media based on the performing arts — stage, movies and TV. That's the genre of stories taking place backstage in the show business environment itself, such as I Love Lucy, The Muppet Show and practically every movie Fred Astaire starred in.

There were exceptions, of course. Dixie Dugan was based on the novel Show Girl. The Adventures of Patsy, after an initial period in which it introduced comics' first costumed superhero, was about a Hollywood starlet. And Mary Perkins was a soap opera about show biz people. They're even less frequently seen in the comic book end of the medium, unless you count short-lived series like Della Vision and Miss Beverly Hills of Hollywood, but there are some — such as Swing Sisson, whose act ran for years in the back pages of Feature Comics.

Swing was the band leader at The Clover Club. Other performers included singer Bonnie Baxter and sax player Toby Tucker, both of whom usually helped out in the two-fisted scrapes Swing inevitably got involved with in the glitzy but racket-beset night club business of the 1940s. They made occasional forays into other areas of entertainment, but mostly hung around the club where they were the stars.

The gang was introduced in Feature Comics #49 (October, 1941), replacing USA. The cover feature was Lala Palooza (tho Doll Man alternated with Lala and later replaced her on the covers completely). They never got onto the covers themselves. The publisher was Quality Comics (Candy, Marmaduke Mouse, and a host of superheroes). It was created by writer Robert Turner (Wildfire, The Black Owl) and artist Phil Martin (earlier an assistant on Ella Cinders and later an assistant on Jane Arden). Martin later made a name for himself designing typefaces.

Swing led his band and traded punches with crooks throughout the 1940s. In fact, he stayed on the job as long as Feature was published, outlasting all the title's superheroes — Spider Widow & The Raven, Rusty Ryan (no relation), Inferior Man if he counts, even Doll Man himself. The last issue was #144 (May, 1950), and after that Swing Sisson was finished. DC Comics probably owns the character now, but there's not much call for an adventure-prone big band leader these days, so they haven't found a use for him.


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