13 bizarre comic books based on TV shows

Move over, Batman! Here comes Adam-12, Burke's Law and Family Affair!

In modern Hollywood, studios look to the comic book industry for ideas. It used to be the other way around. In the 1960s and 1970s, publishers like Gold Key Comics and Dell filled the racks with licensed comic books based on popular television shows. Some series — the Westerns, spy adventures and sci-fi extravaganzas — made obvious jumps to the printed page. Kids could pick up colorful stories about The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Rifleman, Star Trek and The Wild Wild West at the local drugstore.

There were some less expected TV comic books, as well. Doctors, detectives, aliens, single fathers, governors and silly cops from the small screen earned their own titles. Here are some classic television shows you might not have realized spawned comic books.

1. Adam-12


Gold Key, 1973–76

The cop series starring Martin Milner and Kent McCord was known for its realism. Creator Jack Webb wouldn't have it any other way. We're guessing he had little say in the comic, which depicted Pete Malloy and Jim Reed facing off against Satan himself.

Image: Pinterest

2. Burke's Law


Dell, 1964–65

Ever wonder what "Burke's Law" was exactly? Well, according to this panel, the rule states, "Never try to digest the facts of a murder on an empty stomach." Then again, the comic did take some liberties with detective Amos Burke, title character of the 1963–66 series. This issue read more like a Scooby Doo mystery, right down to the hungry protagonist.

Image: captainvideossecretsanctum

3. Car 54, Where Are You?


Dell, 1962-63

New York City police cars of the era were green. On the comic cover we see a nifty production trick from the sitcom. The patrol cars were painted red to look better in black & white and to set them apart from the real thing on city streets while filming.

4. Dr. Kildare


Dell, 1962-65

Richard Chamberlain's handsome doc translated into two different illustrated mediums — comic books and daily strips. The newspaper strip started in 1962 and ran over two decades until 1984!

Image: comicbookplus

5. Family Affair


Gold Key, 1970

Near the end of its run on CBS, this family sitcom about a bachelor raising his brother's orphans made an unexpected leap to comicdom. Gold Key published four issues of this title, featuring stories such as "The kids and Mr. French have a surprise birthday party for Uncle Bill."

Image: Flaskbak

6. The Governor and J.J.


Gold Key, 1970

No, those are not Michael Caine and Jane Fonda look-alikes showing up at a party. Gold Key was reaching at the start of the 1970s, digging through the CBS lineup. This series — about a widowed Midwestern governor and his spunky "first lady" daughter — ran a brief 39 episodes. Yet it had three issues of a comic series, too.

Image: mycomicshop

7. Happy Days


Gold Key, 1979–80

Happy Days merchandise was everywhere. Kids could fall asleep to Fonzie cartoons under Fonzie sheets with their Fonzie dolls. A comic book was inevitable. The artist took some liberties with the characters, to say this least. Check out this Chachi.


Image: Pinterest / blogintomystery.com

8. I Dream of Jeannie


Dell, 1965–66

Nearly two years separated the two issues of this brief sitcom tie-in. That time was not spent on the artwork, it seems.

Image: Flashbak / martinohearn

9. My Favorite Martian


Gold Key, 1964–66

There are no special effects budget restraints in a comic book. On the TV show you would never see Ray Walston climbing into a robot. Fortunately, this cover to Issue 2 does just that. Two issues later, an alien animal that looked a bit like Dino from the Flintstones shows up.

Image: mycomicshop

10. The Nurses


Gold Key, 1963

Like The Patty Duke Show and Naked City, The Nurses was the rare show to film in New York City, set in the fictional Alden General Hospital. In this final issue, nurse Gail Lucas (Zina Bethune) must perform surgery.

Image: wonderful-strange.tumblr

11. Perry Mason


Dell, 1964

Erle Stanley Gardner published over 70 Perry Mason books. Alas, Perry Mason Mystery Magazine would publish a mere two issues. The first issue opens with a man dumping a box of eyeballs onto a desk.

Image: eBay

12. Welcome Back, Kotter


DC Comics, 1976–78

The Sweathogs made it to the big leagues! Comics giant DC published 10 issues of the Kotter comic. These are worth picking up for the ads, too, which feature characters like Batman and Green Lantern pushing Hostess treats, not to mention awesome Saturday morning cartoon lineups illustrated by Neal Adams.

Image: scottedelman

13. The Twilight Zone


Dell/Gold Key/Whitman, 1962–82

Okay, a comic book based on The Twilight Zone is not a bizarre concept. It makes perfect sense. No wonder it lasted two decades and 92 issues. The stories inside, however, are the definition of bizarre. It's The Twilight Zone! Issue 84 features the first work by legendary artist-creator Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil300).

Image: savedfromthepaperdrive

14. Wait, there's more! We ranked all 10 covers of the 'Welcome Back, Kotter' comic.


Skunks, goons, helicopters and mustaches! The artists got quite creative with these covers.

See them all here.

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PulsarStargrave 23 months ago
I don't know why MARVEL didn't try to get the rights for KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER! They produced some creepy, well written and drawn horror comics in the early 70s and the rumpled, unconventional investigative reporter would have fit right in under their banner, no pun intended!
DerekBird 32 months ago
Bob Oksner (October 14, 1916 in Paterson, New Jersey – February 18, 2007) was an American comics artist known for both adventure comic strips and for superhero and humor comic books, primarily at DC Comics.

Oksner's early work includes creating the second version of Marvel Boy in 1943 for Timely Comics, the predecessor of Marvel Comics. He later wrote with Jerry Albert and drew the syndicated newspaper comic strip Miss Cairo Jones (1945–1947), after which DC editor Sheldon Mayer hired him as an artist on comics adapted from other media. Oksner drew a few Justice Society of America stories in All Star Comics during his early years at DC. He moved from adventure strips to teen-oriented strips such as Leave It to Binky which debuted in February 1948. Oksner's work in this field included The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and its successor, The Adventures of Jerry Lewis; The Adventures of Bob Hope; The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; Sgt. Bilko; Pat Boone; and Welcome Back, Kotter; and, for the King Features syndicate, the newspaper comic-strip spin-off of the 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy. Other work includes drawing the original humor comics Angel and the Ape and Stanley and His Monster.

When the demand for humor comics fell off by the 1970s, Oksner began drawing such DC superhero series as Superman, Supergirl, Shazam!, Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, Ambush Bug, and others.

Oksner's other work in comic strips included succeeding Gus Edson as writer of artist-creator Irwin Hasen's Dondi for a time beginning in 1965; and drawing and co-creating Soozi (1967), with Don Weldon. He retired from comics in 1986.
HerbF 51 months ago
DC getting "Welcome Back, Kotter" was a natural - DC was owned by Warner Communications which owned Wolper Productions which produced the series.

It has been several years since DC had either a TV tie-in or humor comic at that point.
DerekBird HerbF 32 months ago
Other than for characters they already own (Live Action and animated shows).
Delmo 51 months ago
What's so bizarre about a Perry Mason comic book? There was already a Perry Mason comic strip that ran for 6 continuities and Perry had appeared in comics during the '40s(Feature Book #49-50). Also, the comic pictured is an adaptation of the novel "The Case Of The Counterfeit Eye", which was never adapted for television.
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