Super Brat on patrol. Artist: Harry Betancourt.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Toby Press
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Harry Betancourt
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Superhero fans, many of whom are blind to the virtues of other types of comic book, look back on the 1950s as a vast wasteland, separating the World War II efflorescence of their favored genre from its revival in the '60s. In reality, of course, there was not only a steady trickle of new long underwear …

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… guys — Marvel Boy, Strongman, The Avenger etc. — throughout the decade … they were even strongly enough identified with comics by the public to support the occasional parody. It was in the middle of the decade that Super Brat, published by Toby Press (The Purple Claw, Barney Google), spent his brief existence.

Ollie Orwell, who became Super Brat, also represented a comics genre that was more characteristic of his time. Dennis the Menace was probably the trendiest new comics protagonist around, and Ollie, like many of his contemporaries (e.g., Marvel's Dexter the Demon (no relation) and Archie's Pat the Brat) strongly resembled him. He first appeared in Toby's Super Brat #1 (January, 1954), where readers learned that on July 23, 1952, in "a peaceful little house in a peaceful American suburb", Ollie, banished to the attic for brattiness, found a filthy, worn-out old cape that conferred super powers upon its wearer. Afterward, he was able to pursue his bratty career of antagonizing his family and neighbors far more effectively than he'd ever done before — but things usually turned out okay in the end.

Super Brat was the creation of cartoonist Harry Betancourt, whose talent was only seldom seen in comics. The title, too, had little impact on the field. After four issues, two things happened. The character stopped using his cape and its accompanying super powers, and became known as "Li'l Genius" (which also became the book's title). And, like many products of small publishers that got out of the comic book business about then, it fell into the hands of Charlton Comics.

Betancourt stayed with Li'l Genius for a few issues, but others soon took over. Charlton continued to publish it for years, using the talents of its regular artists like Frank Johnson and Jon D'Agostino. The final issue was #63 (October, 1965), but it was briefly revived, in reprint form, in 1985.

Super Brat was, however, seen again. Starting in 1958, after comic book pirate Israel Waldman got hold of his title's production materials, he appeared in Waldman's line, IW Comics, which specialized in unauthorized reprints of Super Rabbit, Doll Man, and anything else he could get his hands on. Six issues appeared, the last under the imprint "Super Comics", which succeeded IW. They ended in 1963, and so did Super Brat.


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Text ©2006-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Toby Press.