Page 5: The Decline of Fiction House

It is interesting to note that as the popularity of Fiction House comics began to drop away the cover layout went full circle.  The first nine issues of Jumbo were montages of small images and Sheena was just one of many characters represented.  From issue No. 161 in July 1951 Sheena's rule was toppled and she again became just another small panel around the margin, the way she had been in the late-1930s.
I suspect that Jerry Iger had begun to worry that the property was becoming stale and he attempted to reinvigorate the title by using lurid, horror-style images as the main focus of the cover.  These were beautifully rendered by Maurice Whitman and were suggestive of the kinds of low-budget exploitation films popular at drive-in theatres of the 1950s.
The frequency of publication also changed from monthly to quarterly to bimonthly to try to keep costs down and still keep loyal fans interested.  In an attempt to cash-in on the 3D craze that was sweeping the nation a 3D Sheena Jungle Queen comic, complete with 3D glasses with red and blue cellophane lenses, was produced.  Whitman, as usual, produced a superb cover.  Iger was hoping this would launch a new 3D Sheena series but the public was looking elsewhere for it's entertainment, and only one issue was ever published, in mid-1953.
The last Jumbo Comics cover had appeared a couple of months earlier, in March 1953 (left).  Issue No. 167, which featured a wonderful Maurice Whitman image of a long-fanged, green-eyed female were-beast urging leopards to attack a big-cat tamer in a circus cage, was the end of an era.  In the top left corner, not much bigger than a postage stamp, was an image of Sheena battling a giant snake that was wrapped around her waist.  She was flailing away savagely with a stone axe, almost as if it was her last hoorah!  She would not be seen again (officially) for three decades until the Tanya Roberts film of 1984 reawakened interest in her.

Click on the image below to view a complete set of Jumbo and Jungle Comics covers, and examples of other Fiction House titles:

• The Maurice Whitman cover of Jumbo Comics No. 167 is from a CD-Rom of comic covers in my private collection
• The montage of Fiction House covers below was also created from the CD-ROM of comic covers

SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2006 Paul Wickham