Granted he had a lot to have an ego about. As an American actor, comedian, singer, film producer, film director and screenwriter, Lewis enjoyed considerable success financially and creatively, earning millions of dollars and a long list of awards and accolades. Eventually, hower Jerry's time came and went but Jerry stuck around, moving from "well regarded" to "human punchline".
Which got me to wondering about Jerry Lewis, Comic Book Character.
|art credited to Owen Fitzgerald |
cover to issue#50
|art by Bob Oskner|
cover to issue#100
Yes, at DC Comics, Jerry Lewis shared space on the spinner racks with Batman, Superman, the Flash and Wonder Woman.
There were a number of comic books that featured real life celebrities in adventures brought to life in comics. No, not characters they played in movies or TV but the actors themselves. Most of those played out in the 1950s. What made Jerry Lewis stand out to me was his longevity. Hus comic book ran 124 issues before coming to an end in 1971. At DC, Green Lantern and Green Arrow were dealing with the impact of drug abuse, Batman was returning to the dark, gritty roots of his origin and a Jerry Lewis comic book was being published.
Jerry's run as a comic book character began in 1952 with the Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. After the Martin/Lewis comedy act broke up, the title was continued as The Adventures of Jerry Lewis.
As the 1960s drew to a close and the 70s began in an era of counter cultural revolution and an awakening awareness of relevancy in comics, why was DC still putting out a Jerry Lewis comic book?
My theory is DC forgot to cancel it. Which, yes, it's a silly idea. So I asked Mike Sterling for a better idea. He had posted this on Monday in tribute to the passing of Jerry Lewis.
Replying to @mikesterling
why was DC still putting out a Jerry Lewis comic book" betrays a certain fan-boy snobbishness as if DC publishing a comic book about Jerry Lewis was inappropriate for beloved medium. AoJL is indicative of a state of comic book publishing lines going back to the beginning of the medium. Super heroes were only part of the equation, sharing the spinner rack with westerns, romance comics, war stories, humor comics and more.
The key element in the question "why was DC still putting out a Jerry Lewis comic book" is Jerry Lewis himself. I will bet that the average kid who bought an issue of The Adventures of Jerry Lewis back in the day had no idea that Jerry Lewis was a real life person. But their parents who ponied up the spare change for their kids' comic knew who Jerry Lewis was.
Real life person or not, Jerry Lewis gave DC a chance to tap into the Archie Andrews market with an inept but lovable schmuck. From the pages I've seen, Adventures of Jerry Lewis evoked a looser and wilder style than the comparatively sedate Archie. AoJL seems more akin to MAD Magazine in humor and style.
For whatever reason "why was DC still putting out a Jerry Lewis comic book?", the answer became "not any more" when the final issue, #124, dropped in 1971. Maybe the book wasn't selling well enough to pay Jerry to draw a likeness of his young face? Maybe Jerry himself, beginning to see himself more a "filmmaker" than a "comic actor" thought it was time to pull the plug on licensing his mug to DC?
Adventures of Jerry Lewis#124 marked more than just the end of a single comic book series. It evoked the end of an era when comic publishers would throw any idea out there. "Let's see if we can make money off a comic book about this crazy idea?"
A decade later, Marvel and DC had more or less coalesced their publishing super heroes in a shared universe.
Instead of asking "why was DC still putting out a Jerry Lewis comic book?", we should say "Isn't it a wonderful thing DC put out a Jerry Lewis comic book?" And the answer to that question would be, "yes, it was a wonderful thing".
Special thanks to