March of Comics #254 (Lassie)
First Published in 1963
Published by K.K. Publications, Inc.
March of Comics was a long-running promotional comic published by K.K. Publications, Inc. (an imprint of Western Printing & Lithographing Co., the company that put out Gold Key Comics) that began in 1946. The issues were given away by various companies that purchased the right to place their logo on the cover and information about their company on the back. For this issue, a shoe store called Lazy Bones (“Good Shoes for Boys and Girls”) was the company giving away the comic.
March of Comics #254 was one of many that featured Lassie. The comic is quite small, about 5″ by 7″ give or take an eighth of an inch. The inner front cover and inner back cover are blank. The story runs 14 pages with an additional two pages of puzzles (a maze and a connect-the-dots graphic).
The story has the Martin family traveling in Kenya. They drop by Neville St. John’s tree house and find it empty. He’s nowhere to be found. Ruth stays at the tree house to cook dinner while Paul and Timmy (with Lassie) head out to search for Neville. They find him next to his crashed jeep with a broken leg. They bandage the leg but before they can drive back to the tree house Lassie senses danger!
Paul and Timmy rush back to the tree house to find Ruth battling a leopard with a frying pan. Lassie attacks the beast and Paul fires a shot but misses. Paul and Martin go back out to Neville and discover he has shot the leopard dead. They carry him back to the tree house and presumably share the dinner Ruth cooked. Neville is quite happy that the Martins chose this particular day to come for a visit.
The artwork is very good, although as always the likenesses of the characters are a bit rough. Lassie is easily recognizable, though. March of Comics ended in 1982 after 488 issues. In my copy someone completed the maze and the connect-the-dots puzzles at the end of the issue and for some reason colored in some of the characters on the back page. The copyright date is simply 1963 but the first page contains “K.K.G.A. #254 – 6312” suggesting it came out in December of that year. Or, perhaps it actually reads 63/2 meaning it came out (or was drawn) in February of 1963. I don’t know exactly.