Ogden Whitney & Gardner Fox’s Skyman in Big Shot Comics, at Auction

Big Shot Comics is an underappreciated title featuring Skyman, with an impressive array of comic book and comic strip talent behind it.


During the boom years of 1939 and the early 1940s of the Golden Age of American comic books, most new entrants in the field naturally had little or no experience in comics publishing. Such was not the case for Columbia Comics Corporation, which entered the field in April 1940 with Big Shot Comics #1, a series debut that had an impressive array of creative talent behind it. Columbia had brought in foundational DC Comics editor/creator Vin Sullivan as their editor. By some accounts, it was Sullivan who had acquired Jerry Seal other Joe Shuster‘s Superman for his publisher and then asked Bob Kane to develop a superhero character for the Detective Comics title — resulting in the creation of Batman. Sullivan tapped his industry contacts for Columbia, and foundational Golden Age greats like Gardner Fox, Creig Fessel, Fred Gardineer, Ogden Whitney, and others produced work for Big Shot Comics. Skyman by Ogden Whitney and Gardner Fox was the stand-out original feature of Big Shot Comics, with some historians describing Skyman as a precursor of sorts to Gardner Fox’s later creation Starman for DC Comics. There’s a Big Shot Comics #16 (Columbia, 1941) CGC Conserved VF- 7.5 Off-white pages available this week’s 2021 July 4-5 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122127 from Heritage Auctions.

Big Shot Comics #16 featuring Skyman (Columbia, 1941)

Even aside from Vin Sullivan and the creative talent he brought to the company, the people behind Columbia Comics already had an impressive history in comics by 1940. Well before Skyman & co., the publisher was a partnership between Sulivan, the McNaught Syndicate, and the Frank Jay Markey Syndicate. McNaught was among the newspaper syndicates to provide material for the important 1933 comic book giveaway Funnies on Parade. In 1937, McNaught, Markey, and Iowa’s Register and Tribune Syndicate provided material for Everett M Arnold‘s Feature Funnies anthology. McNaught Syndicate itself was founded in 1922, handling regular features by the likes of Will Rogers, Walter Winchell, Dale Carnegie, and most famous Abigail Van Buren‘s Dear Abby. McNaught Syndicate comic strips that appeared in Big Shot Comics included Ham Fisher’s Joe Palooka, HJ Tuthill’s The Bungle Family, and Charlie Chan.

All of these early issues have surprisingly few entries on the CGC Census, and issue #16 is no exception with only five entries on the census. An underappreciated title featuring Skyman and work by a number of important creators, there’s a Big Shot Comics #1, #2, #11 and #14 available in this week’s 2021 July 4-5 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122127 from Heritage Auctions.

Big Shot Comics #16 (Columbia, 1941)Big Shot Comics #16 (Columbia, 1941)Heritage Sponsored

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Posted in: Comics, Heritage Sponsored, Vintage Paper | Tagged: golden age, Skyman

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