Quality Comics was an American comic book publishing company that operated from 1939 to 1956 and was an influential creative force in what historians and fans call the Golden Age of comic books. Quality Comics was started by Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, a printer who saw the rapidly rising popularity of the comic book medium in the late 1930s. He entered the field by buying out the existing series Feature Funnies from Eastern Color Press. Initially buying features from Eisner & Iger, a prominent "packager" that produced comics on demand for publishers entering the new medium, Quality introduced such superheroes as Plastic Man and Kid Eternity, and other such characters as the aviator hero Blackhawk. Quality also published comic-book reprints of Will Eisner's "The Spirit", the seven-page lead feature in a weekly 16-page, tabloid-sized, newsprint comic book, known colloquially as "The Spirit Section", distributed through Sunday newspapers.
By the mid-1950s, with television and paperback books drawing readers away from comic books in general and superheroes in particular, interest in Quality's characters had declined considerably. After a foray into other genres such as war, humor, romance and horror, the company ceased operations with comics cover-dated December 1956. Many of its properties were sold to National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics), which chose to keep only a few titles running, such as Blackhawk and GI Combat.
Over the decades, DC revived other Quality characters, including Plastic Man as well as a group of other characters who formed the titular team of the 1970s series Freedom Fighters. Other than Plastic Man, who has been a member of the Justice League and has had his own ongoing series, most former Quality heroes are occasional supporting characters in the DC Universe.
According to DC canon referred in the Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Cross-Over Index, the Quality characters, before the DC revamping event called "Crisis on Infinite Earths", existed on two separate realities in the DC Multiverse: Earth-Quality and Earth-X. While Earth-Quality followed much the same history as the main Earths, Earth-X was radically different from most Earths, in that World War II continued there until the 1980s, enabling the Freedom Fighters to continue their fight against the Nazis. In issue #11 of Crisis on Infinite Earths it is stated that that Post-"Crisis" that Quality characters have instead always lived on the single, unified New Earth.
New, successor versions of the characters Black Condor and The Ray were introduced in 1992; both were recruited into the Justice League. The new Ray also had his own 1994-1996 series and occasionally appears as a reserve League member.
Some Quality Comics titles, including Blackhawk and Plastic Man, have been reprinted by DC, while lesser-known ones have been reprinted by AC Comics.
Links and References
- Quality Comics article at Wikipedia
- Digital Comic Museum: Quality Comics
- Digital Comic Museum: Quality Characters Reference Guide
- Cosmic Teams: Quality Comics