Where are the Missing Dell Four Color Comics?


The Dell Four Color Comics (Series 2) were published from 1942 through 1962.  Dell Four Color Comics was a “try-out” series where a title was published to determine market acceptance.  Sometimes referred to as “One Shots,” the Dell Four Color Comics became the launch pad for many of Dells most popular titles, including Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Lone Ranger, Marge’s Little Lulu, Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, Uncle Scrooge, and Woody Woodpecker.

Each issue in the Dell Four Color Series was given an unique issue number, beginning at 1 in 1942 and ending at 1354 over 20 years later.  Until 1968, a complete list of the Dell Four Color titles remained elusive.  Don and Maggie Thompson compiled a complete list of the Dell Four Color comics and published it as a supplement to their Comic Art fanzine entitled A Listing of Dell Special Series Comic Books (and a Few Others).[1]  Maggie comments on her blog about the origin and scarcity of this publication: [2]

I don't have extra copies but at some point I hope to post scans of the publication at this site. It wasn't a Comic Art supplement; rather, it was a separate publication. (Note: There was a one-sheet sequel with additions and corrections.)
The information in the fanzine has been incorporated in a couple of other publications. We made it available to Bob Overstreet for his price guide, and I provided it to Pete Bickford for his Comic Base electronic guide. Its information was a simple issue number and title listing; you'll find the information in more detail online at www.comics.org.

During the final years of publication, between August 1961 and the final month of publication (April 1962) the Dell Four Color Comics series had missing issues.  During these final nine months there were 33 issues did not get included as part of the series:

1217
1316
1322
1329
1342
1351
1228
1317
1323
1331
1343
1352
1277
1318
1324
1334
1344
1353
1292
1319
1325
1338
1345

1314
1320
1326
1339
1346

1315
1321
1327
1340
1347


In the December 1996 issue of Comic Book Marketplace, Duane Dimock claimed to have located the missing Dell Four Color Comics.[3]  A copy of these pages can be found here.  During the same time period of the missing Dell Four Color Comics, Dell began using an unusual numbering system on some of its comics.  Dimock explained these in the following figure from his article.



The numbers for these issues are both on the cover and in the indicia.  The number consisted of three parts: XX-YYY-ZZZ, where

XX = number assigned to 1960/1962 issues

YYY = three digit code assigned to each title, and

ZZZ = year date code where the first digit was the year and the following two were the month.

The second and third parts of the number system are consistent with all of the available data, but the first two digits represent the price of the issue not the year, where:

XX = 01, 15¢ Cover Price

XX = 12, 12¢ Cover Price

Reasoning that these unusually numbered issues could fill the gaps for the missing Dell Four Colors, and finding evidence of this occurring in the original art from a large collection that Dimock had purchased, he assigned several of these uniquely numbered issues to the missing Four Colors.  In the following issue of Comic Book Marketplace,[4] Dimock published an updated list of what he considered to be the Missing Dell Four Color Comics.



I have a nearly complete set of Dell Comics and over the past few years I have entered them into a database.  When I catalogued these Dell comics I was certain to record the cover numbers and the indicia numbers separately.  There were many issues that included the three-part numbering system on the cover, but the indicia included a different number (such as #1).  Also, I noted that Dimock had only listed 31 missing Dell Four Color Comics, but there are actually 33.  Using only the comics that included the three-part number in the indicia, I then attempted to fill the gaps in the Dell Four Color Comics with these uniquely three-part numbered comics, just as Dimock had done.  The comics filled the gaps perfectly, with six uniquely numbered comics that fell outside the date range – indicating that these comics might have followed Dell Four Color #1354 if the original numbering system had been retained (which would mean there would have been 1360 Dell Four Color Comics).

My analysis agreed largely with Dimock’s List, with only four exceptions.  Below is the table of the three-part numbered Dell comics and where I think the corresponding Dell Four Color Comic number should be:

Title
Three-Part
Number
Date
Cover Price
Dimock’s
List
Four Color
Candidate
Barbie and Ken
01-053-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1217
Bonanza
01-070-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1228
Bullwinkle Mother Moose Nursery Pomes
01-530-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1277
Cain's Hundred
01-094-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1292
Donald Duck Album
01-204-207
05/62
 $ 0.15

1314
Follow The Sun
01-280-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1315
King Leonardo
01-390-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1316
Laramie
01-418-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1317
Leave It To Beaver
01-428-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1318
Lolly and Pepper
01-459-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1319
Man From Wells Fargo
01-495-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1320
Marge's Lulu and Tubby in Japan
01-476-207
05/62
 $ 0.15

1321
MC - Prince and the Pauper, The
01-654-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1322
National Velvet
01-556-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1323
Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks
01-631-207
05/62
 $ 0.15

1324
Real McCoys
01-689-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1325
Twilight Zone
01-860-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1326
Untouchables
01-879-207
05/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1327
Ben Casey
12-063-207
06/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1329
Blue Phantom
01-066-208
06/62
 $ 0.15

1331
Dazey's Diary
01-174-208
06/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1334
Fury
01-292-208
06/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1338
Rawhide
01-684-208
06/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1339
Beany And Cecil
01-057-209
07/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1340
Brenda Lee's Life Story
01-078-209
07/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1342
Bullwinkle
01-090-209
07/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1343
Drift Marlo
01-232-207
07/62
 $ 0.15

1344
Famous Indian Tribes
12-264-209
07/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1345
Jungle War Stories
01-384-209
07/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1346
King of Diamonds
01-391-209
07/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1347
MC - Magic Sword, The
12-496-209
07/62
 $ 0.12

1351
Ponytail
12-641-209
07/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1352
Twist
01-864-209
07/62
 $ 0.15
Dimock
1353
Bonanza
01-070-210
08/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1355
MC - Three Stooges Meet Hercules, The
01-828-208
08/62
 $ 0.15

1356
Mickey Mouse Album
12-518-210
08/62
 $ 0.12

1357
National Velvet
12-556-210
08/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1358
Twilight Zone
12-860-210
08/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1359
Untouchables
12-879-210
08/62
 $ 0.12
Dimock
1360



[3] Dimock, D. (1996).  The Strange Case of The Missing Four Colors!, Comic Book Marketplace, Dec, pp. 57-59.

[4] Dimock, D. (1997).  The case of the missing Four-Colors, Comic Book Marketplace, Jan., pg. 7.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Just stubled into this and it's amazing work, and much appriciated! However - I'm wondering a bit about the candidate for #1356 - It seems to me as if it's number is out of place? Also, Dell 01-348-210 (MC - The Horizontal Lieutenant) seems to be a better fit. I'm sure I'm missing something, but this keeps bugging me.. Aside from that, as far as I can see, this leaves only 3 othe books unaccounted for - Gyro Gearlose (01-329-207), Kit Karter (01-395-207), and 77 Sunset Street (01-742-209). All additional oneshots from 1962 are either -211 or -212, if my notes are correct.

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