Animation History
November 14, 2019 posted by Jerry Beck

NOT Casper, NOT Daffy, NOT Fox & Crow – Classic Cartoon Comic Book Knock-Offs

Back in the 1940s and 50s, comic book sales were huge – and one of the most popular comics genres were the “funny animals”. Especially the ones based on licensed Hollywood movie cartoon characters: Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, Mighty Mouse, et al. Meanwhile there were hundreds of lesser funny books – the Ha-Ha and Giggle types – that filled their pages with made-up characters more often than not drawn by actual Hollywood (or New York) -based animators.

And then, every once in a while, there would be a “knock-off”. A comic book, or a random story, where the characters therein strongly resemble a popular cartoon star, the ones owned by the major animation studios; the ones featured in actual theatrical cartoons seen on big screen at your local Bijou. This post looks at three such comics – please let me know if you’ve spotted any others.

First up, the Fox & Crow. This one is the very definition of a “knock-off”. It literally IS an unlicensed Fox & Crow story (artist unknown – we welcome educated guesses in the comments below). It comes from Wonderland Comics #2 (Fall, 1945).

The actual Fox & Crow were licensed (from Columbia Pictures) to National Publications (DC Comics) in late 1944 and first appeared in Real Screen Funnies #1 (Spring 1945) in a story drawn by animation director Bob Wickersham. This isn’t that, and these aren’t them. For your reading pleasure, here’s a rare “untold tale” of Fauntleroy Fox and Crawford Crow:







This one-page Drakestone The Duck Magician by Ellis Holly Chambers appeared in a Toby Press one-shot Sands of the South Pacific #1 – dated January 1953. It looks like Chambers created it on spec and perhaps tried to sell it to Western Publishing. Or not. Who knows?


Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness”. If that’s so, then Casper The Friendly Ghost must be the greatest cartoon character of all time! During the 1950s at least six competitors tried to duplicate Harvey Comics success: Marvel’s Homer The Happy Ghost (by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo), A.C.G.’s Spencer Spook, Charlton’s Timmy The Timid Ghost, Ajax’s Spunky The Smiling Spook and Super Spook, and St. John’s L’il Ghost. Here are the four most notorious – click each cover to enlarge.

There you have it for this week… Know of any other classic cartoon character comic book knock-offs? Post about it in the Comments below!

Thanks: Devon Baxter and Milton Knight.

18 Comments

  • Ironically, St.John was the first publisher that Famous Studio went to for a Casper comic book series.

  • I am amazed that there are so many comic book companies that I have never known about, until today.

  • LOL! The Daffy one looks and acts (batty, that is!) a LOT like his late 30s-pre-WWII version!
    Since funny animal comics continued to be big into the 1960s, as per your comment, you should consider doing a part 2 on those.

    • Was “Homer the Happy Ghost” artwork done by Bob Montana of “Archie” comics? The design of the face is very Archie-like.

    • “Homer the Happy Ghost” was drawn (as mentioned in my text above) by Dan DeCarlo – the principal ARCHIE artist of the 1960s.

  • What, no Handy Pandy?

  • There were also the long running comic book series “inspired” by MIGHTY MOUSE: ATOMIC MOUSE and SUPERMOUSE (also MIGHTY’s name at the time; there’s a question about which came first). And the others that likely trailed the streak; SUPER RABBIT, COSMO CAT, ATOM THE CAT, etc.

  • The ATLAS comic THE MONKEY AND THE BEAR by the great Howie Post is an unusual (but obvious) knock-off of FOX & CROW, not only in terms of the “species & species “ naming, but by using unrelated ANIMALS while DESIGNING them to look like/evoke F&C (and then of course, there’s the STORIES)…if you’re not familiar with it, Google it.

  • LOL “Hypno McHorse”

  • A few knock-offs from Standard’s Television Comics:
    “Casey the Cat” (artwork by Ralph Wolfe)
    https://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=31089&page=14
    “Brownie Bear” (artwork by Ralph Wolfe and Milt Stein)
    https://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=30879&page=20
    https://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=17757&page=34

  • Archie got into the act with “Bogo Bear” (Pogo) and “Shrimpy” (Peanuts). These were mostly fillers.

  • It’s almost like fanfiction of the 1940s.

    • Very nice comparison!

  • Chambers also did the “Neighbors” story too.

  • There was also Archie’s “Super Duck” which was more or less their knock-off of Donald (although, this was long before Donald’s own super alter-ego, “The Duck Avenger” debut overseas).

  • You forgot to post a picture of Spencer Spook! Here’s a comic: https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=18900

    What i read was actually pretty funny; better than AGC’s Cookie at the least.

  • Modern times see Ruben Bolling’s Tom the Dancing Bug weekly feature often highlighting the adventures of Lucky Duck-“the impvershed duck who is rich in luck”, purposely looking like a poorly-drawn Daffy Duck with a generous flavor of Gladstone Gander,a relation of Donald Duck.Scathing political stuff with Lucky Duck always getting the better of Hollingsworth Hound,a dog not only rich,but filthy rich(dressed in a suit and top hat). Repeats from the vault every Thursday,new material every Friday. But while waiting,Ruben has a daily Super-Fun-Pak-Comic,with scathing satires of daily comic strip cliches. Subjects include a deadly take on The Lockhorns,Percival Dunwoody:Idiot Time Traveler from 1909,Doug,a simple cartoony animal with instructions to teach the kiddies how to draw Doug. That is just a few.Funny,mean-spirited in a loving way(he is one great cartoonist) and a throwback to comics appearing in the back pages of weekly throw-away newspapers of thwe’60s & ’70s..

  • I suspect that in order to support his drug habits Chambers drew drew drew. I speculate he would draw an entire comic in one night and then try to get it published for months. I notice over time his works stopped appearing in more and more publishers, maybe his behavior scared off the publishers over time? I speculate that maybe after nobody would publish him anymore combined with the comic panic of the 50s he maybe left the field. What happened to him afterwards, whether he succumbed to drugs or started a new life, is a total mystery. I just wonder if there are any surviving original drawings out there, or journals or something. Those popping up would be a revelation.

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