Marvel Mystery Monday: Jimmy Jupiter, Champion of Plagiarism

Background:

You might have heard about Jimmy Jupiter elsewhere on the internet, but since images and information are scarce, Monomythic is here to help out.

According to the esteemed Jess Nevins and Ronald Byrd, Jimmy Jupiter is in the same vein as Little Nemo. This is true, since everything about this Marvel hero is ripped off other non-super-hero sources.

Plagiarism aside, the stories are still pretty fun.

First, here’s Little Nemo:

Winsor McCay’s comic strip began over 100 years ago, and it completely transformed the medium of newspaper comics, turning them from simple joke-a-day gags to an outlet for the surreal. The story of a little boy who was called to adventures in far off lands after bedtime inspired plays, cartoons, even a video game. Jimmy uses much the same shtick, as his adventures usually involve him being called to other lands where everyone knows his name.

More than that however, Jimmy’s stories rip off a bunch of other sources, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to The Adventures of Pinocchio. The biggest rips seem to be from the Land of Oz. Jimmy meets a tin man, a friendly lion and melts a magic-user with water.

The story:

In the story from Marvel Mystery Comics #41 (about half-way through Jimmy’s main run, starting with his first appearance in issue 28, in 1942), Jimmy is in Fairyland with his Marionette friend Knobby. The pair just melted (i.e. shrunk) Zar the wizard and made friends with King Ray, who invited them to enjoy the pine-borne ice cream cones and candy cane bushes.

Jimmy is surprised by the size-changing Fairy Delight, who saves him from cavities before taking him on a mouse-pulled pumpkin carriage ride. They pass a field of singing flowers that put any passerby to sleep (despite their Alice connections, they might by called Oz Poppies, as encountered by the X-Men in Savage Land) to enter a cartoony fairy tale land (something else the X-Men have encountered).

They cross over a ceramic china road to visit the Dresden Fairies of China Village, where everyone and everything is breakable. Break the law, however, and a spear-wielding cop will chop your nose off. A minor inconvenience for the natives (they go to the hospital to glue it back on), but horrific for anyone else. This is based on a lesser known element of Oz.

From there they head to the woods (possibly to 100 acres worth). The Plush Forest is filled with life-size talking stuffed animals, lead by a friendly lion. Jimmy picks up his new pet there, a small plush puppy he calls Stuffy.

They pass by the empty desert that separates Fairyland from Earth and travel on a pillow-brick road to Dream City, literally a castle in the clouds. Before Jimmy can steal any dreams (something Knobby suggests), the Sandman appears.

Sandman is a gigantic conceptual being, dressed like an old fisherman throwing a blanket over the world like a net. Knobby and Delight are captured, but Jimmy and Stuffy are saved by the Blue Fairy (yes, the same one who creates real boys) and brought back to the real world.

Jimmy arrives about 30 feet in the air, but has his fall broken by a tree. Once on the ground he finds Stuffy is a real dog (the Blue Fairy’s doing?).

It’s a pretty tame and very derivative story, but take out the fairy tale element and you have plants that put people into comas, possessed toys, villagers who chop off noses for the mildest of crimes, a land where private thoughts are easy to steal and a giant god that puts the world to sleep. In that context, it’s pretty creepy.

Abilities:

Jimmy didn’t have powers beyond his ability to travel across dimensions (which is, admittedly, pretty impressive), but he had a lot of friends and allies, including Delight, Knobby, Stuffy, Ruffy the Rabbit and a Chinese green dragon named Wump-Jump who fought Japanese black dragons.

Everyone should have a dragon.

Why hasn’t the character shown up again?

Most of the stories Jimmy stole from are public domain now, so copyright infringement is no longer an issue, but his stories are pretty fantastic, even for Marvel.

How could the character be brought back?

Jimmy Jupiter was said to be the only one of his generation to travel to the other world, but what world was it? In the comics he visits the Land of Nowhere, Fairyland, the Enchanted Valley, Tea Land, Wonderland (blatantly), Hades (where he fights Satan) and Barnyard Valley among others. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine Jimmy was actually visiting an existing world known to the Marvel Universe, from Sleepwalker’s Mindscape to Magik’s Limbo.

To talk with others about Jimmy Jupiter and other strange Golden Age heroes, visit The Invaders Message Board.

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5 comments

  1. The DEFENDERS visited a “Dr. Seuss” Dimension in Defenders#115(1/83)[ http://www.comics.org/issue/37047 ],plus borrowing from others has been the Comic Book way( see the FLASH GORDON clones like TIMELY’s Zephyr Jones or DC Comics’ Adam Strange or MANDRAKE clones like DC Comics’ Zatara & Sargon or Timely’s Dakor,Mantor & Monako—just to name a few ).

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