Clipart The Clock

Frontispiece art:
Eric D. Burza, pencils
John Kovach, inks
Mark P. Steele, coloring

The Clock was comics’ first original masked hero. Debuting near the time of the better-known Phantom from the newspaper strips and the Green Hornet from radio, the Clock was firmly established in the masked hero genre popularized by the pulps.

His first appearance was in Funny Pages #6, Nov., 1936. He appeared in 2 page segments of a serial until issue #11, June 1937. He also appeared in Funny Picture Stories #1, Nov., 1936, and ran in that magazine (possibly) through issue #5. He also appeared in Detective Picture Stories in issue #’s 2, Jan. 1937, and 5, April, 1937, and possibly other issues of that title. He also appeared in Keen Detective Funnies #’s 8 & 9, July & Aug., 1938, reprinting stories from Funny Picture Stories.

As originally portrayed, the Clock was a masked hero in a suit that used guns in his crusade against criminals. No secret identity was portrayed in the material from this time that I have seen. He is also shown using a cane, perhaps as a weapon. He was in the habit of leaving a calling card, in the form of a picture of a clock face with the words ‘The Clock Strikes’ printed on it.

The magazines featuring him were originally published by the Comics Magazine Company. Several of these titles were sold to Centaur Publications when this company started. The Centaur line’s first titles were cover dated Mar., 1938. Though Centaur reprinted several early Clock stories, they do not seem to have produced any original material featuring the character.

The Comics Magazine Company then went on to begin the Quality line of comics. Quality Comics revived the Clock in Feature Funnies #3, Dec., 1937. He ran in this comic, and its successor, Feature Comics, until #31, April 1940. He then began a respectable run in Crack Comics #1-35, May 1940 - Fall 1944. During this time, he changed his appearance from the full face hanging cloth mask to the more traditional domino mask. He was also revealed to be Brain O’Brien, crusading DA.

The artistic creation of George Brenner, the Clock’s 8-year run through 3 different publishers definitely entitles him to more historical recognition today than he has received to date.

HISTORICAL NOTES: The Clock later inspired a much better known creation. The Eisner/Iger studio, who prepared much of the material for Quality’s line, was showing samples of various characters to a newspaper publisher who was considering a supplemental section to his papers. The publisher liked the idea of the Clock, but not the art. Looking through various other art samples in the studio’s collection, the publisher and the production house soon came up with a character and artist combination that would soon make comics’ history: Will Eisner’s Spirit.

Like many Centaur characters, new versions of the Clock / Brian O’Brien were revived for Malibu’s Protectors series during the 1990’s.

Some of the Clock’s original 1930’s adventures in Funny Pages can be found in Microfiche. CD-Rom format reprints of some of his later adventures in Feature are also available.

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Update: Mar 22, 2002 6:22p GMT
Web Author: Mark P. Steele & James Allen
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