Willie the Penguin comics were published bi-monthly and lasted for only six issues during the period April 1951 to April 1952. Here are the covers of those six issues.
As these cover reproductions illustrate, the comic book "Willie" resembled the animated TV commercial version more than the print advertising version.
Yes, our little gal "Millie" also appeared in the comic book. This panel from issue #3 shows Millie wearing a necklace of beads that are somewhat larger than the ones she wears as a pepper shaker.
In addition to Willie and Millie, the hitherto unknown "cousin Silly" also is found in the comic book. You may click the image for a large view of a sample comic book page, from issue #5, in which all three characters appear. Notice that the formerly nude Millie is now shown with a modesty skirt.
Did these comics directly promote smoking. Well ..., to be fair, I can't say that they really did. Still, there is no doubt that the comic book was intended to induce a sense of familiarity with the KOOL cigarette mascot in the minds of its impressionable young readers. An examination of every issue reveals nothing really blatant, but notice the relatively subliminal message on the fence in this panel from issue no. 5.
So, there you have it, a brief survey of the KOOL penguin comic book venture. Folks, there was a time when some marketing genius actually thought this device was a good idea. Imagine the screaming that would ensue if R.J. Reynolds were to bring out a "Joe Camel" comic book today!
The idea! The very idea! At the risk of making a political statement in an otherwise kind and gentle web site, it is well to consider the issue of government regulation in the context of real-world events. Yes, it is the American way to embrace a free market system. We are constantly being reminded that government rules and regulations are a drag on economic growth. But need I state the obvious? When left to their own devices, certain segments of corporate America simply cannot be trusted to behave in a responsible manner. Willie the Penguin is cute. He is charming. But the fact that he ever existed in comic book form is also an object lesson worthy of our contemplation.
Depending on how you got here, you may:
Go back to the main "Willie" the KOOL Penguin page, or
Go back to page 3 of the Willie Penguin Collectibles pages.
© 1999 by James R. Lowe, who reserves all rights to the content of this page not successfully claimed by others.