Ashcan copy

Ashcan copy

An ashcan copy is a term that originated in the Golden Age of comic book publishing, meant to describe a publication produced solely for legal purposes (such as copyright), which was not normally intended for distribution.

The word "ashcan" is an older synonym for wastebasket, trashcan, or other garbage receptacle. The implication is that the printed material will go straight from the printer to the trash, which was often the case. Ashcan editions frequently contained unlettered stories, unfinished art or even just whatever wastepaper had been conveniently available at the time. The goal in making them was to get something out with the wanted title slapped on as quickly as possible so that the publisher could make some claim to having been the first in print if a competitor tried to publish a similar title.

One example is "Flash Comics" #1 by Fawcett Comics which introduced Captain Thunder (later Captain Marvel). This particular example of ashcan publishing was in vain, as a competitor had already beat Fawcett to publishing a "Flash Comics".

Other entertainment industries have equivalents. The most famous film example is the 1994 version of "The Fantastic Four", produced by Roger Corman, allegedly only to maintain the license to the property. The movie had a two million dollar budget and was not distributed.

In modern comics, ashcans may be used as a promotion or as an inexpensive format for independent self-publishing. The term is sometimes synonymous with minicomics.

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