Scooter, from the cover of his first issue. Artist: Joe Orlando.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1966
Creators: Barbara Friedlander, Jack Miller (writers) and Joe Orlando (artist)
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In the early 1940s, superheroes were the hottest thing in American comic books. By the middle of the decade, they'd cooled off considerably and were in the process of being replaced by westerns, funny animals, crime stories, romance, etc. In the early '60s, they were the hottest thing …

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… in comics again. Naturally, by the middle of that decade publishers were starting to experiment again with other genres, looking for the next big thing.

Swing with Scooter, which debuted with a cover date of July, 1966, was DC Comics' first attempt to re-enter the teenage humor market with an original character, since the demise of Buzzy, Here's Howie, Scribbly and the rest of that line, back in the 1950s. Scooter was well enough received to spark an attempted series about a rock band called The Maniaks and a revival of the old Leave It to Binky, but never did replace the superheroes.

Scooter, so called because he got around on a little scooter (as opposed to a big, loud gas guzzler of the type ridden by, for example, Wonder Warthog), was a "mod". That's what fashionable young Englishmen and women were called back in the days of Herman's Hermits and pre-Sgt. Pepper Beatles. The nationality was chosen because British music was the hottest thing going in the American teen scene. In the first issue, Scooter arrived in Laurel City, USA. His supporting characters, including Cookie (no relation), Kenny, Malibu, Penny and a few others, came from the social group he immediately became part of in his new home.

His trendiness extended to styles in comic books as well. DC's rival, Marvel Comics, had recently succeeded in popularizing frequent crossovers. In his first few issues, Scooter met Batman, Superman and other members of The Justice League of America.

The story was written by Barbara Friedlander (a regular in DC's romance line, but not very active in other genres of comic books) and Jack Miller (co-creator of Rip Hunter, who also edited Deadman and wrote the animated Mighty Hercules). The artist was Joe Orlando, who rose to fame at EC Comics and later became a DC executive. Several later issues were done by cartoonist Henry Scarpelli, who has extensive credits on Archie and his pals.

A major problem with things as up-to-date as Swing with Scooter is, dates change. After a couple of years, Scooter's Britishness faded just like Jiggs's Irishness and Abie the Agent's Jewishness had in prior decades. It never disappeared, but was less emphasized as styles changed. But in one respect, the datedness had been there from the beginning. DC's writers and editors tended to be middle-aged, and their dialog showed it. Swing with Scooter wasn't as crashingly off-key as contemporary Teen Titans, but it still didn't sound much like the way real teen-agers talked.

Swing with Scooter had a respectable run — 36 issues, a couple of which were extra-size. But it ended regular publication with a cover date of September, 1971. One more issue staggered to the stands a little more than a year later. DC hasn't attempted to revive it.


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Text ©2005-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.