JOE KUBERT Reminisces

On the Birth of 3-D Comics

The 3-D effect was put together by Norman Maurer, his brother Lenny, and myself. I had been in the Army in 1950 and 1951 and while in Germany I had come across some magazines with photos in 3-D. I thought it would be terrific to use the effect in comic books.

So when I got back to the States, Norm, Lenny, and myself sat down and we finally came up with a procedure to produce 3-D comic books and eventually gave it to St. John. Our idea was to patent it and so we applied and set forth for a patent.

The procedure basically used cel acetate overlays on top of a Craft-Tint board. The overlays were opaqued on the back. When they were shifted left or right the desired 3-D effect was produced. To our chagrin, we learned later on that there was a previous patent that had been applied for.

We produced two sample proofs with the 3-D effect, a panel of Tor and one of the Three Stooges. When we showed them to Archer St. John he flipped over the idea! We went to work on a Mighty Mouse book because St. John felt it would be the best vehicle for 3-D and get the best chance on the newsstands.

The first publication of the 3-D Mighty Mouse was a little over a million copies. It had an immediate 100% sell out and we went back to press with the book. That was remarkable because the book was 25 cents at a time when all comics were a dime.

Anyway, St. John wanted to convert all his books to 3-D regardless of the subject matter. We took a whole floor of a building and set up an assembly line. I began work on a 3-D Tor and Norman started on a 3-D Three Stooges. Suffice it to say, by the tenth or eleventh 3-D book, the sales were down to about 19%, so we had to stop publication of 3-D.

But I think it's great that 3-D is back, and some of the new books have beautiful effects."

--Ray Zone

first published in Amazing Heroes, No. 158, February 1, 1989

Back to 3-D ZONE