Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Private Hero

Several years ago, a former high school classmate sent me the following story by e-mail. She had heard that I was a comic book collector, and asked me for help.

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For many months now I have been searching for a very old comic book: Heroic Comics, issue #39, dated November 1946. When my Mom was 5 years old, she and her older brother were playing at a park in the Bronx. She asked her brother what the sign by the lake said, as she couldn't read yet. He told her the sign said "Free Ducks." (It actually said "Caution, thin ice" but he didn't read either... ha ha.) She went out to get a duck, fell through the ice, and almost drowned. A Merchant Marine who had just been discharged saw what happened and ran out to save her. This was all later written up in the newspaper and eventually made it into the Heroic comic book. My parents are both deceased now, and the only copy I have is in really poor shape. I thought it would be great to get a hold of this to show my own children, and have spent many years looking for a copy.
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Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, February 18, 1946
Heroic Comics (called Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics from issue #1 to #15, and New Heroic Comics from issue #41 to #97, the last issue) began in 1940, and was published by Eastern Color Printing, the company that published the first comic book, Famous Funnies #1 in 1933. The early issues of Heroic featured forgettable superheroes such as Hydroman, Man O' Metal, Music Master, and Rainbow Boy. Eventually, the magazine switched to telling stories of real-life heroism, usually military, in comics form. It was during this period that the story above caught the eyes of the editors.

I found a dealer in California who had the issue she wanted, and she bought it to keep with her family records. Some time later, I found another copy at a convention, and purchased it for my own collection. The entire run of Heroic Comics is now in the public domain,  and many of the issues can be read online at the Digital Comic Museum website.

Here is the story of young Rose Marie, and merchant seaman David Sperling of Brooklyn, NY, her own...

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