Willy (standing), Windy (reclining) and friend (propelling herself through the air). Artist: Bob Oksner.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1969
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Showcase, the comic book title where DC Comics tried out a large majority of its 1960s series (exceptions include Captain Storm and The Geek) before investing in a full-scale launch, made varying degrees of effort before either going on to series or giving up. The Tommy Tomorrow revival got five issues (a record) before the company was ready to deem it a failure and Cave Carson got three multi-issue trials in two different titles before they stopped trying, while Sgt. Rock and the western "Top Gun" (reprints of old Trigger Twins and Johnny Thunder stories) got only one. And those that …

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… made it had varying degrees of success, from The Flash's nearly 250 issues to single-digit success for The Creeper, Anthro and other late tries.

It's possible they never gave such a weak trial to any of Showcase's other successes as they did to Windy and Wllly; nor was the success, such as it was, so slight.

Windy and Willy consisted of reprints from past comics. Not a first for Showcase, which had already used reprints to try out Binky, The Phantom Stranger and King Faraday. But with those guys, at least they owned the characters. With this one, they didn't. In the 1950s, they'd licensed a couple of TV sitcoms, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and Sgt. Bilko. With Bilko, they even published a licensed spin-off, Private Doberman. Those ran their courses and were long-gone by the time of Showcase's heyday.

Bilko was a very distinctive and easily-recognized show, but Gillis was nothing but teenage humor, of the sort Dell Comics had done with Around the Block with Dunc & Loo; Gold Key had tried with Tom, Dick & Harriet; and Archie Comics specialized in. Editor Dick Giordano (Aquaman, The Blue Beetle) observed that with their names changed and their appearance altered, DC could reprint their stories, which it owned, without violating the licensor's trademark, which it didn't.

So with the names whited out and re-lettered, Dobie (the show's equivalent of Archie) became Willy and his friend Maynard (whose role was analogous to Jughead's) became Windy. Willy's hair was darkened, Windy had wire-framed glasses added, and they were tried out in Showcase #81 (March, 1969). The original stories were written by Arnold Drake (Deadman) and drawn by Bob Oksner (Miss Cairo Jones), but they had little to do with this incarnation.

By that time, it had become DC's practice to give "new" concepts only a single Showcase trial before moving them out into their own titles, as had been done with Bat Lash and Angel & the Ape. The practice lad been less scrupulously observed in the past few months (Johnny Double and Dolphin, tried out in #s 78 and 79 respectively, never had their own comics), but Windy and Willy still were out on their own with a first-issue cover date of June, 1969.

Their series was gone by the end of the year. The last issue was #4 (December, 1969), the shortest run any Showcase graduate ever had. The characters were never used again.

It was the last time anything from Showcase's original run was ever given a full-fledged series. After that, four new ones — Nightmaster, Firehair (no relation), Jason's Quest and Manhunter 2070 — got full three-issue trials. But beyond a guest shot here and there, none of them went anywhere. Showcase ended with its 93rd issue (September, 1970)


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Text ©2008-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.