Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Number 1632: Albert the Alligator and people

It seems jarring to see Walt Kelly’s universe of talking animals populated with people, interacting with Albert the Alligator, or Pogo, or any of the other Okeefenokee animal characters.

In this early story, published in Animal Comics #5 (1943), there are several humans who are overwhelmed by the sight of Albert the Alligator, who is ready to take a train to the big city. They are mostly clownish African-American caricatures,* but if it counts, there are a couple of drunk white hillbillies to add to the bizarre nature of the story. In the early Albert strips a young African-American boy, Bumbazine, was the primary focus, interacting with the animal characters. Humans were quickly dropped from the strip by Kelly.

*I apologize if this offends anyone, but this story is 71-years-old and I can’t censor the past.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Number 1631: Lorna chases the croco-ape

Lorna, tall, strong, blonde, buxom, rules her little corner of the jungle. That corner is the scene of a lot of jungle action, like this tale of a killer cross-species critter: half giant ape, half crocodile. (I don’t wish to destroy the fantasy for you, but can you imagine that thing’s parents mating? Ugh.)

Lorna has a guy, Greg, whom she likes, but who criticizes her constantly for being a “girl” out of her place (which would probably be in Greg’s jungle apartment fixing him a cocktail and his dinner of broiled zebra haunch ready and on the table when he gets home from a hard day of being a great white hunter). I say Lorna, you’re better than that. Forget this guy. He’ll just bring you down.

Finally, you’d think such a creature as a crocodile/ape would be ripe for capture by zoologists, for the purposes of study. But not in comic books where the order of the day is KILL.

Story by Don Rico, art by Werner Roth. From Lorna, the Jungle Girl #8 (1954).

More Lorna! Just click on the thumbnail:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Number 1630: Rangers of Freedom and the art of sockology

I stand (or rather sit, since I'm at my keyboard) before my multitudes of readers, and I am ashamed. Yes, multitudes of readers, it has been almost two years since I showed you the last installment of the short saga of the Rangers of Freedom and their battles against their chief enemy, Superbrain. I can only try to atone by giving you, here and now, part 3, from Rangers of Freedom #3 (1940).

Not only is it another chapter in the ongoing war between Superbrain and teenagers in fancy outfits with shark fins on their heads, but it also includes their pal, Gloria, who is now Ranger Girl. A huge huzzah for Gloria!

A couple of years ago I showed a story that included U.S. soldiers with the old-fashioned helmets. A reader asked "why the Tommy helmets" (meaning British — but known in America as the M1917 helmet). That is because the American armed forces did not adopt the familiar M1 steel pot helmet until 1941. It was worn for 40 years until replaced in the ‘80s. I can testify the M1 is heavy...I was in the U.S. Army during the 1960s.

The terrific artwork is by Joe Doolin. The cover is by Dan Zolnerowich.

Read the first two chapters by clicking on the thumbnails:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Number 1629: Simon and Kirby’s plot to kill the king

The all-Simon and Kirby Headline Comics #23 (1946) is an excellent example of the duo's handling of crime comics. They took real cases (like that of Baby Face Nelson: see the link below the story) and gave them the S and K treatment with lots of action.

Their version of the Gunpowder Plot, which gave Britain Guy Fawkes Day, stacks up basically as history, but omits some important things. The plot to assassinate King James and his parliament was done to replace the king with a Catholic monarch. S. and K. carefully, and considering religious sensitivities wisely, left out any mention of Protestants or Catholics. They show torture, but the gruesome fate of those convicted of high treason in those days included disembowelment and other inhumane acts, and they gloss over that. They also change Fawkes’s ultimate fate, which was to fall or jump off the scaffold, breaking his neck, thereby avoiding the most egregious punishment. His corpse was still desecrated, but at least he wasn’t alive to watch them cut off his genitals and (...shudder....ulp....) burn them.

We have as a modern reminder of Guy Fawkes the famous V for Vendetta mask, worn to show opposition for whomever the opposers happen to be opposing.

 More from the same issue of Headline Comics, the short and murderous career of Babyface Nelson. Just click on the thumbnail: