An ashcan comic, 1940 America

An ashcan comic is a type of American comic book originally created solely to establish trademarks on potential titles and not intended for sale. It was developed by publishers including All-American Publications and Fawcett Comics to gain legal protection for desirable titles. An ashcan comic was the same size as a regular comic book and usually had a black and white cover. The practice became common in the 1930s and 1940s when the comic book industry was in its infancy, but was phased out after updates to US trademark law. The term "ashcan" was revived in the 1980s by Bob Burden, who applied it to prototypes of his self-published comic book. Since the 1990s, the term has been used to describe promotional materials produced in large print runs and made available for mass consumption. In the film and television industries, the term has been adopted for low-grade material created to preserve a claim to licensed property rights. (Full article...)

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