The Jester wasn’t exactly a candidate for longevity when he debuted in 1941, but the colorfully clad crime-fighter made a total of 64 appearances in Smash Comics until the title was canceled eight years later.
Much of the character’s success can be attributed to the solid storytelling endemic to the entire Quality Comics line, with many of The Jester’s adventures illustrated by the hero’s creator – and one of the greatest artists of the Golden Age – Paul Gustavson.
The premise was also original: A police officer learns he is the direct descendant of a medieval court jester and decides to use his comedic talents to further the war against crime.
Perhaps this spark of originality inspired James Robinson and Gene Ha to revive the character decades later in DC’s deservedly lauded Starman series. Unlike many Golden Age characters that are contorted beyond recognition to fulfill the more “realistic” requirements of modern comics, Robinson and Ha treated the hero with the respect and dignity usually reserved for less obscure properties.
From Smash Comics #23 (Quality Comics, June 1941), here’s “The Hundred Grand Hobo” by Paul Gustavson.