Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, February 23, 2019


Re:  Camilla, Queen of the Jungle (from Don Markstein's Toonopedia):

"Camilla was from the same publisher as Sheena, and was a long-lasting knock-off of that character, running around Africa and righting wrongs just like Tygra of the Flame People, Judy of the Jungle, Lorna the Jungle Girl and any number of white jungle goddesses whose adventures were recounted in comic books of the 1940s and '50s.  But she didn't start that way.  When she first appeared, in Fiction House's Jungle Comics #1 (June, 1940), "Camilla, Queen of the Jungle" was more of a knock-off of novelist H. Rider Haggard's 19th century Ayesha,.aka "She Who Must Be Obeyed", who ruled a lost kingdom hidden from European explorers in a previously little-visited part of the world.

"She was, like so many of her contemporaries, created by a writer whose identity has not been recorded.  The artwork of the first story was signed by "CAW", which seems to have stood for Charles A. Winter.  He apparently was responsible for a few stories of the same publisher's Mysta of the Moon, and about DC's Shining Knight.  She was strictly a back-pages character, alongside Wambi the Jungle Boy and Tabu, Jungle Wizard.  The cover-featured star of Jungle Comics was Kaanga.

"For several issues, she was the immortal monarch of all she surveyed, which consisted of a kingdom of formwer Vikings, who had supposedly gotten lost on their way to the Crusades.  (In the second issue, the Norsemen were temporarily forgotten, and she was said to be descended from Genghis Khan.)    Issue after issue, she'd undergo crises befitting her station, such as being deposed and exiled by her subjects (only to be reaccepted before the story was over), entertaining outside visitors (explorers whom she usually invites to stay and reign with her),  getting gold and dying when the spring she gets her eternal youth from is destroyed (restored even more easily than the average comic book hero recovers from death), and stuff like that.

"But after a little while, she started having adventures outside her domain, and then the domain itself stopped being mentioned in the stories.  Pretty soon, she was just a chick traipsing around the jungle, subtitled "Jungle Queen" apparently for the same reason one was called Princess Pantha and another, Ruhla the Jungle Goddess.  Instead of regal robes, she wore a zebra-striped bikini.

"About 1942, she picked up with a local white man called  Trader Davis, who seemed to be a bit elderly to offer serious competition to any guy she might happen to meet.  In '43, her early years forgotten, evidence was introduced that she was actually the previously-unknown daughter of the long-lost heiress Camilla Jordan and her equally long-lost husband, Steve Dane.

"As a typical jungle girl in the back pages of a comic book, who may or may not "really" be Camilla Dane, she hung on for years.  She was handled by many different creators, among the most prominent of whom were Nick Cardy {Aquaman), George Tuska (Buck Rogers) and Matt Baker (Phantom Lady).  Her last new story appeared in #151 (July, 1952).  After that, she was replaced with Tiger Girl reprints."

The compendium reprinted below covers Camilla's adventures through her first 26 adventures.  As indicated above, consistency was not a principal that fiction House adhered to with this character.  Most interesting to me are Camilla's breast plates that appear in some of the later stories; some have wings and some appeared to magically attached without straps, snaps, or ties.  (Glue may have been used, or simply good old-fashioned jungle magic.)  It should also be noted that these episodes are all pre-zebra-striped bikini.

Enjoy this little journey through the back pages of Junglr Comics

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