Friday, October 09, 2015

Number 1798: Plastic Man dreams

Scroggs, with the furry Popeye arms, is the villain of “The Dictator of Dreams” who has the power to insert himself into the dreams of others. He's not the only character in the history of comics to have that ability, but he is a Plastic Man villain, and that gives his powers over dreams a comic élan.

The Grand Comics Database gives Jack Cole credit for both writing and drawing this story for Police Comics #78 (1948), although he did not sign it. If Cole did it (and it looks like he had a lot to do with it, even if he had help), then why not sign it, as he had done in earlier days? I don’t know, but around the time he left comics they were under heavy criticism, so maybe he wanted to take his name out, and not be identified with comic books when he went into another career. After he left comic books Cole was able to change his style of drawing to make him more mainstream, for magazines (Playboy) and newspapers (his comic strip, “Betsy and Me”). To us comic book fans, the work we know him for is what he did with such brilliance, style and flair in the forties and early fifties, before departing comic books, and unfortunately, life.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Number 1797: Phantom Lady, In the wrong place at the right time

Sandra Knight, secret identity of the Phantom Lady, finds herself on a subway platform with a maniac called the Subway Killer. How lucky is that? What an amazing coincidence. (Heavy sarcasm.) Unfortunately, such coincidences are part and parcel of comics. The writers had to get to the action in as short a time as possible. Anyway, as happens to males in these types of stories, Sandra’s boyfriend takes the maniac’s cane upside his head. To chase the villain of course Sandra takes off her everyday clothes to expose herself as the exhibitionist Phantom Lady.

We never find out anything about the maniac, except he pushes girls off subway platforms, and dies in a sort of justice administered by our heroine.

It is from Fox’s All Top Comics #12 (1948). The young guys who bought this comic book also got Rulah, Jo-Jo the Congo King, and Blue Beetle, and assorted females in various states of undress.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Number 1796: Who’s got the button?

I don’t know how many stories artist Bill Everett did for Charles Biro, but this is the only one I have seen. I scanned it from my copy of Crime and Punishment #31 (1950). I have shown this story before, but these are new scans.

“The Button” falls into the category of a story as a primer in crime. The writer is telling the reader that details are important, that a successful criminal should beware of leaving any evidence, no matter how small, at the scene of the crime. When the story is set, 1947, they didn’t know about DNA, or scientific advances that have been made in the past few decades, but in this case they wouldn’t need that. A piece of clothing found at the scene of the crime that matches something a suspect is wearing would do the cops’ job for them.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Number 1795: Spacy Stories Week: Wallace Wood “Deadlock!”

This is the third and final posting for our theme week, Spacy Stories.

EC publisher Bill Gaines had a word for them: “springboards.” Springboards were ideas he got when going through books and magazines. The less generous in use of language would call them swipes, since he was stealing someone else’s ideas. (He and editor/writer Al Feldstein got caught at it, too, by Ray Bradbury.)

“Deadlock!” (here in the form of scans from the original art, thanks to Heritage Auctions) surprises me, not by being a swipe of Murray Leinster’s 1945 story, “First Contact,” but by the notation in the EC reference book, Tales of Terror!, “Wood plotted; probably scripted.”

Published in Weird Fantasy #17 (1951).