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Treasure Chest, aka Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact, is one of the longest-running American comic book series (1946-1972, 502 issues), though many comic book fans have never even seen it.
Aimed at young Catholics and published by George A. Pflaum, Treasure Chest was not distributed on newsstands. Rather, it was sold by subscription only and distributed directly to parochial school classrooms.
The publication contained a wide range of features, by no means limited to religious topics. Inspirational biographies of saints appeared alongside those of sports heroes, for instance, as did Funny Animal humor strips, literary adaptations, and other stories.
A few notable recurring features:
- Chuck White: Stories about the son of a mixed marriage (Catholic and Protestant) dealing with contemporary issues. This feature ran in every single issue of the series.
- The Champ: Stories about Frumson Wooters, a fat kid who nevertheless always triumphs over adversity.
- This Godless Communism: A memorable if short running feature (1961-1962) that presented a hypothetical Communist takeover of the United States, with particular focus on Communism's repression of religion.
The 1946-1963 issues of Treasure Chest have fallen into the public domain. The Catholic University of America has an online archive of this material here.
Treasure Chest provides examples of:
- Comic Book Time: Surprisingly averted, given the inherent nature of a comic book only distributed through schools. Chuck White aged considerably over the course of his series, perhaps even in real time. He graduates from high school, then goes on to college and a career as a professional writer.
- Dirty Communists: In This Godless Communism.
- Fleeting Demographic: As a comic book distributed solely at school, to parochial school students, reader turnover was high by definition.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: In the religious sense. Chuck White's father was a Protestant.
- Print Long Runners: 502 issues from 1946-1972.
- Red Scare: In This Godless Communism.