Jo-Jo make-um Long Jaws sweat. Artist: Matt Baker.


Original Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1947
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Jungle heroes in the Tarzan tradition tend to have goofy names. Among those found in comic books are Kaanga (published by Fiction House), Zago (Fox Feature Syndicate), Ka-Zar (Marvel) … and, of …

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… course, Tarzan himself. Jo-Jo, Congo King, at least had a reason for it — his comic was a continuation of Jo-Jo Comics, an anthology Fox had published in the mid-1940s.

Exactly where Jo-Jo Comics, which featured such characters as Tommy Tot (no relation), Karrots the Bunny and Señor Tamale, got the name isn't so clear. But since Fox also published the enigmatically-named Zoot Comics, maybe it isn't so unexpected, either.

It was with its seventh issue (July, 1947) that Jo-Jo Comics became Jo-Jo, Congo King, and switched from funny stuff to jungle adventure stories about a white-skinned hero in leopard-skin jockey shorts and his mate, Gwenna. In #8, Jo-Jo picked up with an equally white-skinned chick named Tanee, who wore a leopard-skin bikini, and Gwenna was history. Jo-Jo was even less articulate than the average jungle hero, calling crocodiles "long jaws", elephants "huge ones" and rifles "boom things".

In its Congo King incarnation, the Jo-Jo title ran 23 issues, numbered 7-29. (There were two #7's, but the publisher made up for it by not doing a #13.) Like most jungle comics, it displayed plenty of skin, but this one probably showed more of Tanee's than Jo-Jo's. Tanee also got tied up a lot — in fact, #15 was specifically cited by Dr. Fredric Wertham, noted advocate of comic book censorship, as an example of bondage in comics. Artists on the series include Matt Baker (Phantom Lady), Jack Kamen (EC Comics) and Al Feldstein (Mad magazine).

After the 29th issue (July, 1949) the title was changed again, to My Desire — one of dozens of responses, from nearly all comics publishers, to the runaway popularity of Young Romance, but a good deal steamier than most.

That wasn't quite the end of Jo-Jo. Fox revived him, in reprint form, as Jungle Jo. That one ran four issues, the first of which had no number, in 1950. After Fox went out of business and its properties were scattered among several small publishers, Star Comics reprinted a few of his stories in Terrors of the Jungle, but re-lettered his name into the equally nonsensical "Bombo". This ran ten issues, 1952-54, but not all issues featured "Bombo". Star also reprinted Jo-Jo under his own name here and there, such as in Spook and Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror. Publisher Robert Farrell, under his Ajax Comics imprint, put out a Jo-Jo story in Fantastic Fears #8 (August, 1954), but this time his name was "Kaza".

That was it, for the authorized use of the character. IW Enterprises, which would reprint just about anything publisher Israel Waldman thought he could get away with, ran Jo-Jo stories in his Jungle Adventures series in 1963-64. In 1971, Waldman and his new partner, Sol Brodsky (formerly of Marvel), using the company name Skywald, revived the Jungle Adventures title and ran Jo-Jo stories in all three issues.

Even as recently as the mid-1990s, AC Comics, which is dedicated to seeing that no comic book hero is left behind, published a little bit of Jo-Jo material. Some characters, no matter how deserving, never quite seem to die.


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Text ©2006-11 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Fox Feature Syndicate