Page 5: Case Solved!

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The Golden Dames Project

Quality Comics

Printed at the bottom of Hit Comics #5, page 1 are the following words:

HIT COMICS, November, 1940, No. 5. Published monthly by Comic Magazines, Inc., 1213 W. 3rd St. Cleveland, Ohio. Executive and Editorial offices, Gurley Building 322 Main St., Stamford, Conn. E. M. Arnold, General Manager.

"But J", you may be saying at this point, "you told us in your commentary on the first page of this story that Hit Comics was put out by Quality Comics not Comic Magazines, Inc. What's up with that?"

Here's the skinny.

Quality Comics was never actually a company. Instead, the Quality Comics Group refers to a variety of comic book publishing ventures owned by Everett M. "Busy" Arnold. Those ventures included Comic Magazines, Inc., E.M Arnold Publications, Smash Comics, and others. Starting with Crack Comics #5, the comic books published by Arnold's various companies started carrying the Quality Comics Group logo on the cover, giving them a unifying brand for public consumption.

The Quality Comics Group had a strong stable of characters who remain famous, even today. They include the Blackhawks, Kid Eternity, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, Uncle Sam, and most notably, Jack Cole's Plastic Man.

The Quality Comics Group lasted until the winter of 1956 when declining sales and assaults by moralists spurred on by the book, "Seduction of the Innocent" convinced Mr. Arnold that comic books were no longer a profitable business. Arnold sold many, if not all, of his books and characters to National Periodical Publications aka DC Comics. National continued to publish four Quality books: Blackhawk, G.I. Combat, Hearth Throbs and Robin Hood Tales. All but Robin Hood Tales lasted another 100 issues before the plug was pulled. Robin Hood Tales ran for only 6 more issues.

DC pulled out several Quality Comics characters as part of their annual Justice League/Justice Society team-up tradition in Justice League of America #107 & #108 in 1973. In the story the Quality characters were now a team called the Freedom Fighters and lived on an alternate Earth (officially designated Earth-X) where the Axis powers had won World War II. With the help of the JLA and JSA, however, the Freedom Fighters were given a chance to fix that problem.

After the game-changing Crisis on Infinite Earths series of the mid-80s DC comics underwent a radical change where all their characters lived on a single Earth instead of on multiple Earths. The Quality Comics characters were considered residents of this new Earth and the most famous of them, Plastic Man, eventually became a core member of the Justice League.

All this history leads to the question: does DC Comics own Betty Bates, Lady-At-Law? The story I published on this site along with all of Ms. Bates' appearances in Hit Comics are in the public domain. Due to the way intellectual property law worked before 1969 copyright notices needed to be renewed regularly and neither Mr. Arnold nor DC Comics properly renewed the notices on the Hit Comics series. DC Comics can certainly reprint these Betty Bates stories but so can anyone else. 

As to the question of if DC owns Betty Bates, the character? On that issue I'm unsure. It is possible DC Comics themselves do not know. Without seeing the original contract it is impossible to know for sure which characters were sold to DC Comics by Mr. Arnold. Was it a list of specific characters? Or was it every character in every comic ever published by the Quality Comics Group? The truth is, I don't know.

But I'll tell you what. I would love to see Betty Bates show up as a crusading District Attorney in Gotham or Metropolis, giving those heroes a run for their money when it came to busting crime.

Also by J Gray


And that brings us to the end of this Betty Bates case! She's not going to let some lowlife mobster hold her hostage! She gives him a good whack. Then the judge gives him a nice gavel thrashing and, finally, the defendant throws in a punch for good measure.

Please join us on Friday when we'll start a new story. This time we'll be spotlighting Futura, a science fiction heroine very much in the mold of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.



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Guest post by "JD"
This may appear a bit out of touch with today's justice system.

You see, kids, back then killers and criminals were considered dealing out a little swift justice to stop them didn't always result in the victims doing time.

Submitted April 2, 2014 at 12:35PM


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Guest post by "Darci"

I'm pretty sure Bob Ingersoll (of The Law Is An Ass" fame) would say that pistol was inadmissible as evidence.  Corona probably would have got away with it if he'd just sat still and kept silent.


Submitted April 5, 2014 at 12:44PM

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All comics presented on the Golden Dames Project are, to the best of our knowledge, in the public domain.

Original content is copyright 2014 by J Gray.