Too Many Long Boxes!

End of Summer

Meet Genius Jones

by Gerald Wilson

A hero charging money for his services? That's what Genius Jones (created by science fiction writer Alfred Bester) did when he debuted in Adventure Comics #77 (August, 1942) with "The Case of the Off-Key Crooner." He also called himself The Answer Man, although in a twist that pre-dated The Elongated Man by nearly 20 years, he made no attempt to hide his secret identity. His costume of purple gray tights, red cape and yellow helmet was designed by Stan Kaye, who kept drawing the feature even after Bester left and was replaced by longtime DC editor-artist Whitney Ellsworth, who later played a big role in TV's "The Adventures of Superman" during the 1950s.

Genius Jones (from Adventure Comics #82)

In Jones' first cover appearance (Adventure #82), he appeared in a small box inviting readers to join him inside. He appeared in a similar manner in Adventure #83. Current readers might object to the title of his second adventure, "The Case of the Slap-Happy Jappy," but other stories of the time period, such as Green Arrow and Speedy's "Traps for Japs" in More Fun Comics, had similar politically incorrect titles. His first full cover appearance was on the cover of All Funny Comics #5 in the winter of 1944-45.

Jones' stories were usually titled more imaginatively, however. Examples include: "Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?", "Way Down Yonder In the Corn Field," "Fish Are Such Liars," and Adventure #88's "The Death of Genius Jones."

Alfred Bester's last Genius Jones tale (according to the Grand Comics Database) was Adventure Comics #92's "The Saving Scot and The Gypsy Gyp." Bester left to do write science fiction novels such as The Demolished Man, and he also wrote travel articles for Holiday. (incidentally, his name was used for the assassin character played by Walter Koenig on Babylon 5.)

Genius Jones features continued in Adventure Comics until #102. Following issue #102, the More Fun Comics superhero stable of Superboy, Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Johnny Quick moved to Adventure while Genius Jones, more a humor feature than a superhero one, moved to More Fun. Jones' More Fun adventures started with #108 where he shared the cover with Harry Boltinoff's twin detectives Dover and Clover. They alternated covers after that until the introduction of Howard Post's Jimminy and the Magic Book in #121. Jimminy and the Magic Book appeared on the covers during More Fun's final year. More Fun, which had been DC's oldest title, was cancelled in late 1947.

Genius's adventures in More Fun had titles like "Genius Meets Genius", "The Tell-Tale Tornado" and "Battle of the Pretzel Benders", according to the Comic Values Annual 2001. The last one, "The Case of the Gravy Spots," appeared in More Fun #126. These and other tales were probably written by Whitney Ellsworth.

Around this time, Jones also appeared in All Funny Comics, his last issue being #19. His weirdest titled tale "The Mystery of Etaoin Shrdlu!", in which he solved a mystery at a typing school, appeared in All Funny #13.

Genius Jones and his sometimes sidekick Mr. Oldster were one of the few a young hero/older sidekick duos of the Golden Age. (The young hero/older sidekick concept worked best, however, in the Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy strip).

Genius Jones disappeared from the DC Universe in the next-to-last issue of More Fun Comics (# 126) in late 1947.

(Gerry Wilson runs Genius Jones and Johnny Thunder in Yahoo! Groups' all star role playing game. Having developed an affection for Genius Jones, he is working on bringing this neglected character back to life for Fanzing!)

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This piece is © 2002 by Gerald Wilson
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Updated 7/27/2010