Like many of the characters published by the infamous Victor Fox, Jo-Jo the Congo King was a quick and cheap imitation of a better known and more successful effort – namely, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.
Although – to the best of my knowledge – Jo-Jo never quite hit the level of media saturation achieved by Burroughs’ Ape Man, the Congo King did have Tarzan beat in one category: cheesecake.
While Tarzan did spend a lot of time cavorting with Jane Porter, the more spry Jo-Jo usually found himself battling jungle tribes populated by voluptuous women or rescuing his scantily clad mate Tanee from leering white hunters and voracious gorillas.
(It’s no accident that many of Jo-Jo’s adventures were illustrated by the likes of Matt Baker, Jack Kamen and Al Feldstein. Judging by the covers of the Fox comic, Tanee was a bigger draw for readers than the Congo King himself.)
All this naughtiness did not pass unnoticed, however. Fredric Wertham, the infamous anti-comics crusader, condemned Jo-Jo, Congo King # 15 (Fox Publications, 1948) and other funny books as “marijuana of the nursery” in an article published in the Saturday Review of Literature.
Reading the issue in question, it’s easy to see why Wertham was so riled.
Although I doubt that Jo-Jo was read by children young enough to sleep in nurseries, it’s not necessarily an easy task to defend the content of a bottom-feeder publisher like Victor Fox. Still, despite my better judgment, I have to admit the following story is undeniably entertaining – if utterly trashy.
(Plus, believe it or not, there were publishers who were a lot worse. I’m looking at you, pre-Ditko Charlton.)
But why not judge for yourself? From the notorious 15th issue of Jo-Jo, Congo King, here’s “The Flaming Fiend.”
The writer and artist are uncredited.