One of the inspirations behind the origin of Sabrina the Teenage Witch is one of my very favorite moments in all of comic book history — and it's sadly unknown. The character herself has slowly risen to fame in the decades since her debut in 1962's Archie's Madhouse #22, and the Netflix television series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina based on the character has made that issue a highly sought-after Silver Age Archie Comics key. There's an Archie's Madhouse #22 (Archie, 1962) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Cream to off-white pages up for auction this week at the 2021 November 14-15 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122146 at Heritage Auctions.
"I think we both envisioned it as a one-shot and were surprised when fans asked for more," Sabrina co-creator George Gladir would recall in later times. We continued to do Sabrina stories off and on in MAD HOUSE until 1969 when we were flabbergasted to hear it was to become an animated feature. When it came to naming Sabrina I decided to name her after a woman I recalled from my junior high school days (middle school) who was very active in school affairs, and who assigned a number of us to interview prominent people in the media. In addition, the woman's name had a New England ring to it. Some years later I recalled the woman's name was not Sabrina, but actually Sabra Holbrook… sorry, Sabra."
But inspiring the name of the character Sabrina was not Sabra Holbrook's first noteworthy brush with the comic book industry. Holbrook was a social worker, and educator who founded a program called Youthbuilders to encourage students to engage with various social and cultural issues of their times, and in 1946 Holbrook and her students convinced Fawcett Publications to drop the character Steamboat from the Captain Marvel titles because of the racist caricature that it represented. Captain Marvel was near the peak of its popularity at the time, and this development as the result of Holdbrook and the Youthbuilders students made national news.
Holbrook would go on to become an author of note with work on an impressive array of subjects from culture and social movements to history. Sabrina is a memorable character inspired in part by a memorable and impressive person, and there's a copy of her first appearance in Archie's Madhouse #22 (Archie, 1962) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Cream to off-white pages up for auction this week at the 2021 November 14-15 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122146 at Heritage Auctions.
Archie's Madhouse #22 (Archie, 1962) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Cream to off-white pages. The first appearance of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as well as Delia and her evil cat Salem. Robot cover. Dan DeCarlo art. CGC notes, "Centerfold detached." Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $304; FN 6.0 value = $456. CGC census 11/21: 22 in 5.0, 44 higher.