The Quality Companion

Well researched and presented, this intriguing look at the history and influence of Quality Comics is highly recommended for comic book geeks and others interested in the history of American comic books and, in particular, Jack Cole and Will Eisner. This is an important work as characters created for this long-defunct Golden Age publisher still exist in DC comics as contemporary figures.

The 288 page book begins with 64 pages of quality (pardon the pun) reprints of 9 favorite stories of the authors featuring The Ray, Phantom Lady, The Black Condor, The Human Bomb, Uncle Sam, Midnight, Firebrand, Wildfire, and Madam Fatal. This section is followed by the table of contents and an in-depth history of Quality Comics and their relationship with DC Comics. Biographies of the artists, writers and staff of Quality Comics and profiles of their characters follow the histories, with the profiles compiling the vast majority of the book itself. Endnotes include a very thorough bibliography, a complete listing of Quality Comics titles, publishing notes, and an anthology index for titles such as Smash Comics, Crack Comics, Hit Comics, National Comics, Military Comics, and Police Comics.

The fully annotated alphabetical entries for the character profiles, written in the style of DC’s Who’s Who entries, include complete checklists of appearances of each character in both Quality and DC publications, a list of their powers, and their evolution into DC publications. The authors state, “what you find here are the costumed and/or super-powered heroes… [which] can be placed along a wide spectrum, from humor to everyday to omnipotent, and from ordinary to colorfully garbed” (page 87). They also affirm that the entries are written in past tense and refer to the characters as real with background information and observations about characters interspersed within the profiles (page 89).

Included also are abundant samples of illustrations from each era and current interviews about the Golden Age characters from comic book creators Roy Thomas, James Robinson, and John Arcudi. Other added treats include a detailed article on copyrights and public domain in relationship to Quality and DC comics, including information on the exceptions of the three former properties that remain under the ownership of the estate of Will Eisner. A side article about digital comics and their influence on studying comics history offers information for others who may wish to investigate other golden age titles. Two special fonts were created for this book, based on Jack Cole’s hand lettering. Augmenting the book is Mike Kooiman’s blog which is updated regularly and includes a great deal of additional information.

The Quality Companion
by Mike Kooiman, Jim Amash
Art by Will Eisne, Lou Fine, Jack Cole et al
ISBN: 9781605490373
TwoMorrows, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages