Dick Briefer's Adventure in the Unknown with Rex Dexter, at Auction

Fox Feature Syndicate publisher Victor Fox had high hopes for Dick Briefer's Rex Dexter of Mars from early on.  A few months after his debut in Mystery Men Comics #1, Rex was part of Fox's push via the Mitchell J. Hamilburg Agency to get Fox properties into film, radio, merchandise, and syndicated newspaper strips.  While most of that didn't happen for Rex or most of the rest of the Fox Feature line for that matter, he did briefly get a newspaper daily and Sunday by Briefer as well.  Briefer's approach to this solar system-spanning saga can be compared to his more famous Frankenstein comic book work:  often unexpected, occasionally amazing, and always very weird.  An often overlooked Fox comic book, there's a Rex Dexter of Mars #1 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1940) Condition: GD+ up for auction in the 2022 June 19-20 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122225 at Heritage Auctions.

Rex Dexter of Mars #1 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1940)
Rex Dexter of Mars #1 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1940)

While it's often said that Rex Dexter draws its inspiration from Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, there's probably some more specific inspirations that can be pointed to here.  Given how closely Victor Fox was watching DC Comics titles like Action Comics and Detective Comics for inspiration, it's not unlikely inspiration was taken from All-American Comics for this one.  That title was running both Ultra-Man and Adventure in the Unknown in the early going.  Ultra-Man was itself inspired by Buck Rogers with the addition of a multi-generational family aspect and connections to the U.S. president and government which are also present in Rex Dexter of Mars.  Adventure in the Unknown is a proto-Challengers of the Unknown saga which was adapted for comics by its creator Carl H. Claudy from stories originally appearing in the magazine The American Boy 1931-1939 (parts of which were more famously collected into the Adventure in the Unknown book series).  The first story arc of Adventure in the Unknown beginning in All-American Comics #1, involves traveling to Mars and returning with weird technology, which also seems to inform Rex.  The name of that first arc in All-American Comics, Mystery Men of Mars, also seems on-point for inspiring a Mars-themed character that debuted in Mystery Men Comics.

Whatever the inspiration, Briefer took it in some wild directions of his own, as he did with Frankenstein.  While this issue was part of the 1940 Fox wave of breaking out his anthology characters into their own titles, this one didn't last past one issue — and curiously, got much less internal house ad marketing support than the others.  It's been a curious and underappreciated part of Fox history ever since, there's a Rex Dexter of Mars #1 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1940) Condition: GD+ up for auction in the 2022 June 19-20 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122225 at Heritage Auctions.

Rex Dexter of Mars #1 (Fox Features Syndicate, 1940) Condition: GD+. Gerber's Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books rates this issue a "7", or "scarce". Rex Dexter, Patty O'Day, and Zanzibar appearances. This was the only issue of the title. Dick Briefer cover Briefer and George Tuska art. Tape on exterior and interior cover. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $271.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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