Ziff-Davis Disney-Inspired Comic Romance Cinderella Love, at Auction
The Ziff-Davis comic book romance title Cinderella Love was inspired by the enourmous success of the 1950 Disney classic Cinderella.
- Ziff-Davis's Cinderella Love was a success for the publisher, inspired by Disney's Cinderella.
- Inside feature on American women marrying royalty hints at real-life fairytales.
- With only three lasting over 10 issues, Cinderella Love stood out among Ziff-Davis titles.
- Ziff-Davis sold the title to publisher St. John after exiting the comic business.
Hitting newsstands in January 1951, the title of the Ziff-Davis Cinderella Love series was likely inspired by the success of Disney's Cinderella throughout 1950. The now-legendary animated classic also prompted a wave of Cinderella-themed consumer goods and created the kind of phenomenon that had people attempting to insert the concept of Cinderella into cultural conversations ranging from politics to the economy and everything in between. The debut issue's inside front cover contains a short comic feature on American women who married royalty, which concluded that it was still possible for American girls to find their prince charming. While the Disney-propelled interest in Cinderella-style love stories likely helped make the series one of the few Ziff-Davis comic book successes, the stories were typical tales of comic book romance. In fact, the story The Wall of Wealth in Cinderella Love #5 does a pretty good job of subverting the rich/poor romance theme.
At 11 issues and counting, Cinderella Love qualified as a hit comic book for publisher Ziff-Davis. Of the nearly 60 comic book titles the publisher launched, Cinderella Love was one of only three series that lasted longer than 10 issues (along with Romantic Marriage and G.I. Joe). 70% of the line lasted two issues or less. It was certainly not what the publisher had hoped for. Across its entire magazine line, the Ziff-Davis corporate culture encouraged experimentation combined with ruthlessly cutting losses, which perhaps accounts for that staggering 70% failure rate during what was essentially just a little over a year of full operation. By mid-1952, it was clear that the Ziff-Davis comic book line was a failure. As Bernard G. Davis would later derisively put it, "We got into comic books at the tail-end of the postwar comics boom, but we never found them satisfying either to our pocketbooks or pride. G. I. Joe offends neither."
When interviewed about the comic line and his hiring of Jerry Siegel to oversee it in late 1950, William B. Ziff suggested that Ziff-Davis comic books would be more highbrow than what was typical in the era. Their line did have a distinctive look with its focus on painted covers, but the company never found its footing in comics, despite expending considerable effort to do so. Ziff-Davis kept G.I. Joe and sold most (and perhaps nearly all) of the rest of the line and its inventory to St. John, where the Cinderella Love title has become legendary for its Matt Baker covers. The entire contents of Cinderella Love #5 from Avon were reprinted by St. John for their Cinderella Love #15 with a new Baker cover based on The Wall of Wealth story. But the Avon original with its Cinderella romance-inspired painted cover remains a romance comic classic, and there's a copy available in the 2024 February 29 – March 1 Golden Age Romance Featuring Fox Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40258.