Jim and Steve in action. Artists: Mike Sekowsky, Mike Esposito and Don Heck.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1962
Creators Don Segall (?) (writer) and George Evans (artist)
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"Frogmen" started as a World War II term, denoting men who were capable of performing military operations underwater, with the freedom of movement that comes from carrying a completely portable air supply and being encumbered with a minimum of …

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… protective covering. After the war, the definition was broadened to include a wide range of industrial, research, exploratory and other operations, not just military. Its first use to indicate a genre of comic book hero was probably in Frogman Comics, which Hillman Periodicals (Sky Wolf, The Heap) launched in 1952.

Having an occupation that offered scope for adventure, frogmen made good contemporary action heroes, much like adventurous aviators like Tailspin Tommy and Hop Harrigan had a few years earlier — only not as glamorous and therefore not as popular. Still, "Frogmen" was the title of a pre-Flash issue of DC's Showcase, and made a good theme for TV shows like Sea Hunt (1958) and The Aquanauts (1960). During the early '60s, DC was also having moderate success with its frogmen-like Sea Devils.

At about that time, Dell Comics was busily throwing one series concept after another against the wall, and hoping some would stick. Their long association with Western Printing, which licensed or owned the properties they'd been publishing, such as Donald Duck and Turok, Son of Stone, was coming to an end, and if they didn't get new ones, such as Thirteen Going On Eighteen and Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter, going, they wouldn't be able to remain a viable comics publisher. The Frogmen was exactly the sort of thing they were looking for.

Dell introduced its skin-diving series characters in Four Color Comics, which it had been using for years as a vehicle for presenting irregular issues of such things as Bugs Bunny and Tillie the Toiler. It devoted the 1258th issue (one of several dated April, 1962) to them. The writer hasn't been documented for sure, but was probably Don Segall, who was later associated with Dell's attempt to make superhero versions of old movie monsters, Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf. The artist was George Evans, an old EC man who also did work for Classics Illustrated.

The heroes were Steve Randall and Jim Collins, old Navy buddies from World War II, who had pooled their savings and opened Frogmen, Inc., in the seaside Long Island town of Jackson. But it was their teenage kids, Billy and Cindy, respectively, who saved the day in that first outing.

The title met with some success, and quickly went into regular publication. But Evans gave it only a few issues; after that it became a sampler of well-known '60s artists. Don Heck (Iron Man), Alex Toth (Eclipso), Gil Kane (The Atom) and Mike Sekowsky (Justice League of America) all had their hands in. It continued to be published until #11 (January, 1965). This made it almost twice as successful as Brain Boy, another of Dell's many tries of that period, but only a little more than half as successful as Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle, yet another.

Dell revisited a few of those early '60s tries, such as Millie the Lovable Monster and Space Man, at least in reprint form, during the next few years, while it was busy giving up the ghost as a comics publisher. But not this one. Once those 11 issues were done, The Frogmen wasn't seen again.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Dell Publishing Co.