Flatfoot Burns. Artist: Harvey Kurtzman.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1943
Creator: Harvey Kurtzman
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A periodical named Police Comics may seem an unusual place to find a slapstick character like Flatfoot Burns. But maybe not. Considering it started out full of …

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superheroes such as Plastic Man, Firebrand and The Human Bomb, maybe it was simply appropriate that after a couple of years it began to feature an actual policeman, even if not a very serious one.

Burns was an early work of cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman, probably best known to the public as the creator of Little Annie Fanny. Tho he was already working in comics (on super guys like Lash Lightning and Magno & Davey, who were published by Ace Magazines), Burns was his first humorous creation — thus setting the tone for his future career, which included founding Mad magazine.

Flatfoot Burns first appeared in Police Comics #24 (November, 1943), replacing Phantom Lady. He was a very short guy with a bulb nose, and wore a green plaid hat sort of but not quite like Sherlock Holmes's deerstalker, and a matching green plaid jacket. To say he displayed the lighter side of police work would be a severe understatement. In fact, he was out-and-out silly, without a serious line in either dialog or pictures.

Kurtzman's association with the character was brief — three episodes, to be exact. In #27, Burns was written and drawn by Marvin Stein, who also worked for Prize Comics, Marvel and other publishers. Al Stahl (Death Patrol) handled him after that. Others followed over the next few years of the Police Comics series, the only venue Burns ever had. The character was last seen in Police #67 (June, 1947). Actual policemen didn't return to Police Comics until 1950, when Inspector Denver and Treasury Agent Trask joined the line-up.

Technically, Harvey Kurtzman's first venture into funny stuff is as likely to DC Comics, which acquired assets from Quality Comics (publisher of the Police title) in 1956. But like Candy, Marmaduke Mouse, Honeybun, Bozo the Robot and many other Quality Comics properties, DC has never made use of this one, so its ownership, if any, is kind of a moot point.


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