Whiz Comics (1939) 2

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In case any readers out there still remember what a newspaper is, today is National Newspaper Carrier Day.

Standard bearer for the day will be Billy Batson, aka Captain Marvel.

Not that Captain Marvel.

The one who starred in Shazam.

Captain Marvel was created by artist C.C. Beck and writer Bill Parker. Fawcett Comics debuted The Big Red Cheese on the cover of Whiz Comics issue 2 and within a couple years was the best-selling super hero of the 1940s. Even more so than Superman.

Captain Marvel is the alter ego of newsboy Billy Batson. A wizard bestowed the ability to gain the combined best attributes of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury by saying his name: Shazam.

Whiz Comics (1939) 2

Whiz Comics (1939) 2

Design of Captain Marvel was based on the late actor Fred MacMurray. Whiz Comics issue two was published in late 1939 with the Captain as the headliner. His main foil, Doctor Sivana also premiered in this issue.

In 1941 Republic Pictures presented a serial, the Adventures of Captain Marvel.

Detective Comics, better known as DC Comics today, filed a lawsuit against Fawcett in 1941 citing Captain Marvel was too similar to their bread winner, Superman. It wasn’t until 1948 the case actually saw the inside of a courtroom. Captain Marvel was found to be a near clone, but DC was also found to have been negligent in copyright laws allowing Superman, and his concept, to fall under public domain.

Fawcett won the decision passed down in 1951.

DC appealed and the initial verdict was overruled. The Captain Marvel character was not found to be an infringement, though certain of his characteristics could be considered infringements. The matter would have to be retried.

Rather than continue the endless litigation, Fawcett settled with DC out of court. In 1953, they agreed to cease publication of super hero comic books and paid $400,000 in damages.

Fawcett closed its doors that same year.

DC obtained the rights to Captain Marvel and, under the leadership of Carmine Infantino, brought him back to the four-colored page in 1972. Marvel Comics had grabbed the unused Captain Marvel moniker meaning DC now had to use Shazam as the book’s title.

Initially, the book was called Shazam! with the sub-title The Original Captain Marvel, but the cross-town rival took umbrage and filed a cease and desist order. The subtitle was changed to The World’s Mightiest Mortal with issue 15.

Though never regaining the popularity he enjoyed in the 1940s, Marvel and family have endured through each of DC’s crises and incarnations. Most recently the good Captain starred in own self-titled movie that grossed $364 million world-wide. A sequel is in production.

To celebrate today, add something special for your carrier’s delivery route.

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