Sugar and Spike is the title of a comic book series published by DC Comics from 1956 through 1971, and the names of the main protagonists. The series was created, written, and drawn by Sheldon Mayer.
The series was launched in 1956 along with another Sheldon Mayer creation, The Three Mouseketeers. The Sugar & Spike series had 98 issues published in the United States through 1971, when due to Mayer's failing eyesight that limited his drawing ability, the series was canceled. Later, after cataract surgery restored his eyesight, Mayer returned to writing and drawing Sugar and Spike stories, continuing to do so until his death in 1991; these stories appeared in overseas markets and only a few have been reprinted in the United States. The American reprints appeared in the digest sized comics series The Best of DC #29, 41, 47, 58, 65, and 68. In 1992, Sugar and Spike #99 was published as part of the DC Silver Age Classics series; this featured two previously unpublished stories by Mayer. DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz has described Sugar and Spike as being "Mayer's most charming and enduring creation". Novelist and Sandman creator Neil Gaiman has stated "Sheldon Mayer's Sugar and Spike series...is the most charming thing I've ever seen in comics."
DC attempted to license Sugar and Spike as a syndicated newspaper strip but was unsuccessful. Sales on the "Sugar and Spike" issues of The Best of DC were strong enough that DC announced plans for a new ongoing series featuring the characters. The project was never launched for unknown reasons.
Mayer had an agreement with DC that no one else could write Sugar and Spike. However, they have occasionally made cameo appearances in modern comic books. They are rescued by the underwater heroine Dolphin in Showcase #100. They appear as theme park characters in Justice League Spectacular; as being baby-sat by Cassie Sandsmark in Wonder Woman #113; and as teenagers on the crowded cover of Legionnaires #43. They have a cameo on a video screen in Planet Krypton in Kingdom Come #1. The two made speaking cameo appearances in the first two pages of The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4, but they were not named.
The comic featured the misadventures of two toddlers named Sugar Plumm and Cecil "Spike" Wilson, who possessed the ability to communicate via "baby talk" with each other and to other infants, but not to adults. It was in many ways similar to the Rugrats cartoon series, and shared ideas concerning baby-talk with P. L. Travers' Mary Poppins novel; one notable feature was that all babies spoke the same baby-talk "language", allowing Sugar and Spike to speak with not only human infants, but baby animals as well. Another popular recurring feature was paper dolls of the two leads, with outfits based on designs submitted by readers. Mayer used his own children, Merrily and Lanney, as inspiration for the strip.
In addition to the toddlers and their parents, recurring characters included:
A) Little Arthur, a "big boy" too old for baby-talk. A spoiled brat and bully, Arthur torments Sugar and Spike, but is invariably outwitted by them in the end. He is introduced in issue #17 (August 1958).
B) Sugar's Uncle Charley, a bachelor and police officer who is a stereotypical "fun uncle", often playing with the kids and giving them gifts when he comes to visit.
C) Bernie the Brain, a child genius who, despite being the same age as Sugar and Spike, is an accomplished scientist and inventor who speaks and understands "grown-up talk". When he first encounters Sugar and Spike, he requires a translating device of his own invention to teach him their baby-talk having already progressed past that stage, intellectually. He enjoys the chance to be a normal kid with Sugar and Spike, while the pair loves playing with Bernie's various inventions. The two often seek out Bernie when they encounter something they don't understand, particularly something involving grown-up behavior. Bernie made a cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 watching Clark Kent on the WGBS television news report on the Crisis and he appears to be very concerned about what is going on.