WIGGLES THE WONDERWORMMedium: Comic books
Published by: Rural Home/Orbit Publications
First appeared: 1945
Creator: L.B. Cole
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L.B. Cole was one of the most highly-acclaimed cover designers in the history of American comic books. Working with the philosophy that the cover is essentially an advertising poster, and its
only purpose is to draw the shopper's attention and make him want to buy the comic, he created dozens if not hundreds of the most striking covers of the 1940s and early '50s, usually for small, off-brand publishers that had little going for them other than the work of Cole himself. But his work on inside pages is relatively unknown. An example of his little-known inside work is his funny animal superhero, Wiggles the Wonderworm.
In everyday life, Wiggles was a mild-mannered accountant, working for an overbearing boss named Grouchy Rat, who would occasionally fire him for no good reason. He had a girlfriend named Giggles, and a rival named Casanova (a clear example of inter-species, in fact inter-phylum romance, as Casanova was an insect). Other associates included the slow-moving Tardy Turtle and Professor Parrot (tho not a resident of Parrotville), who strongly resembled Crawford Crow except for his yellow plumage. But even in his accountant persona, Wiggles displayed powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal worms — unlike annelids found in real life, he (and Giggles) had arms and legs.
But arms and legs aren't unique among comic book worms — Fawcett Publications' Willie the Worm was also gifted with appendages. (So was Earthworm Jim, but that's because he was wearing a super suit.) What put Wiggles in a class with Super Rabbit, Cosmo Cat and McSnurtle the Turtle was his magic word. Like that of Captain Marvel, it would transform him into a brightly-costumed being with the usual powers of super strength, invulnerability and the ability to defy gravity. But like that of Johnny Thunder, the word was unknown to him. It was simply an ordinary utterance ("Omygosh" in his case) that he used reasonably frequently, making the transformation, from his point of view, just something that happened to him from time to time. A blow on the head would transform him back, leaving him with no memory of his time as Wonderworm.
Wiggles first appeared in Taffy Comics #1, published by Rural Home/Orbit Publications (Jun-Gal) with a cover date of March, 1945. The first four issues were devoted to his book-length adventures (a format very unusual at the time, except in superhero groups such as The Justice Society of America or The Marvel Family). With the fifth (November, 1946), Taffy switched to Archie-style teenage humor starring a girl named, of all things, Taffy. One more Wonderworm story appeared in Toy Town Comics #5 (May, 1947), but that was the last of him.
Wonderworm went on to decades of oblivion. In recent years, one or two of his stories were re-published on the Internet, leading to occasional use of the goofy name as an Internet handle. This makes Wiggles, as obscure as he still is, about as famous as he's ever been.