Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wambi the Jungle Boy (Fiction House;1940)

Wambi was one of the most successful characters to come out of Jungle Comics #1 (Jan. 1940); originally published by Fiction House. Wambi the Jungle Boy was created by an unknown writer in collaboration with pulp magazine artist Henry Kiefer, who later did a lot of work on Classics Illustrated. Kiefer stuck with the character throughout his run, although others occasionally worked on Wambi over the years. Kiefer's retirement in 1953 also coincided with Wambi's cancellation, a mere five issues before Jungle Comics itself called it a day.

With his trademark red turban and matching breech-cloth, Wambi looked more like a refugee from the Indian jungle, rather than Africa, but most things around him, from the native villages to recognizable fauna such as zebras, still looked African. The occasional tiger, which is not native to Africa, was simply an anomaly and no explanation was ever offered for these discrepancies. Wambi's presence in the jungle wasn't really explained, nor was any information about his family background ever given. Wambi had an inate ability to communicate with the lower orders, even when the animals made no sound at all. In fact, Wambi's best friend was an Indian-variety elephant named Tawn, and other continuing characters were Ogg the Gorilla and Hyda the Hippopotamus.

Aside from his Jungle Comics venue, Wambi also appeared in his own title for eighteen issues, published between 1942 and 1952. His last official appearance was in Jungle Comics #158 (Spring; 1953). However, he turned up one final time five years later, when IW Enterprises issued an unauthorized single issue reprint. After that, Wambi the Jungle Boy vanished forever.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


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