The PUSSYCAT one-shot is something of an oddity in the Marvel back catalog. As it doesn’t carry any Marvel markings, it can easily be overlooked as even coming from the House of Ideas, though the indicia makes things clear. And in truth, while it originated in the same place, it got there the long way around. Nevertheless, in 1968, the same year in which the black and white SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN magazine was launched, the company also put out this black and white magazine, which collected a bevy of the character’s earlier appearances behind a painted Bill Everett cover.
“Earlier appearances?” I can hear you ask. Yes,. PUSSYCAT originated in 1965 as a feature that would run in the pages of some of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman’s pulpy men’s magazines such as MALE and SWAG. Goodman was looking for his own answer to PLAYBOY’s Little Annie Fanny, and given that he had an entire comic book company on teh payroll, he didn’t need to look that far. The first Pussycat adventure ran in MALE ANNUAL #3 and was the work of the great Wally Wood, with Stan Lee apparently contributing the script and some degree of editorial direction.
This sort of strip was very much in Wood’s wheelhouse, and he’d later go on to do his own version of the same sort of idea, SALLY FORTH. Pussycat was a secretary at the secret organization S.C.O.R.E.(the Secret Council Of Ruthless Extroverts) who winds up being recruited as an active agent because her attractive physique and total lack of guile is likely to make her an effective operative against the enemy organization L.U.S.T. (the Legion of Undesirable Sinister Types–the strip strained to make its acronyms work.) It’s pretty dopey stuff, and really just an excuse to draw pretty girls in various stages of undress, accompanied by goofy one-liners.
Wood only worked on the initial Pussycat strip, thereafter leaving Marvel due to conflicts with editor Lee over the amount of plotting work Wood was doing without additional compensation. Thereafter, Lee brought in artists such as Jim Mooney, Bill Ward, Al Hartley and Bill Everett to handle the strip. He also largely turned over the writing to his younger brother Larry Lieber, although he’d occasionally contribute a basic plot idea.
Pussycat never really became anything more than a filler strip, for all that it ran intermittently from 1965-1972 across assorted magazines in Goodman’s line. But for some reason, in 1968 Goodman was inspired to try issuing a reprint magazine of the earlier strips in an attempt to turn it into something larger. But the magazine didn’t sell especially well, and there was never a follow-up issue. As the 1960s drew to a close, the spy spoof conceit of the series was dropped and Pussycat was recast as an intrepid though hapless reporter who’d get involved in researching stories and somehow wind up with her clothes pulled off. This was not deep stuff.
The PUSSYCAT one-shot did include one all-new selection, which ran at the very back of the magazine for some reason. “The Hidden Hippy Caper” was written by Larry Lieber and illustrated by Jim Mooney.
The magazine also featured a brand new centerfold of the title character as depicted by Bill Everett.