Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Number 48

Jack Bradbury's Spencer Spook

After the unintentionally silly story in Pappy's #47, here is a story that is intentionally silly.

This is a Spencer Spook story, originally published in Giggle Comics #54, June, 1948. Jack Bradbury drew it.

Bradbury (1914-2004), was originally an animator and turned into a fine comic book artist. He worked on funny animal comic books for Richard E. Hughes, the same writer/editor who turned out Adventures Into the Unknown, Forbidden Worlds, and many other comics over the years. Later on Bradbury went to work for Western Publishing and did many Mickey Mouse and Disney stories for Dell Comics.

Personally, I thought his Disney stuff seemed stiff compared to the freedom his line showed in the old Giggle and Ha-Ha Comics.

This story contains a stereotyped African-American woman, a maid, who may be offensive to some readers. I'm presenting this story as it originally appeared 58 years ago, when this sort of racist caricature wasn't that uncommon.

Several artists over the run of the Spencer Spook strip worked on the character, but I liked Bradbury's version the best. The character was revived in the 1980s, with new stories illustrated by Pat Boyette. I appreciated Boyette's skill, but in my mind no one could top Jack Bradbury.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Number 47

The Tomb Of Terror

This is an enjoyable but hokey story from Forbidden Worlds #5, March-April, 1952. It's drawn by Lou Cameron, about whom I know very little. About all the biographical information gives is that he was born in San Francisco in 1924. He was a good artist and his work is collectible. He drew one of the best-loved issues of Classics Illustrated, The War Of The Worlds. He left comics some years ago to pursue a successful career as a writer of paperback novels.

I said this story is hokey, and it is. The plot is straight out of a pulp magazine. A doctor and his fiancée visit a town with a sinister castle, "Stormway Hall." The ghost of a girl leads the doctor into a supernatural situation involving a green sorcerer, some "fiends," and a ghost, all in a place the sorcerer refers to as The Tomb Of Terror. It was most likely written by the editor, Richard E. Hughes, who seemingly and single-handedly, wrote and edited the American Comics Group line until his death some years ago.Forbidden Worlds, and its big brother, Adventures Into The Unknown, were successful comics that ran for many years.

This is the cover for the issue Tomb Of Terror appeared in.

Hughes wasn't real big on story structure in the early years, and sometimes logic got lost. He got better as he got older, and some of his later stories, from his code-approved books, are very good.

The printer that the American Comics Group used in those days was terrible. It took a lot of work with my software to make this story presentable.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Number 46

Bats #1

Yeah, yeah…so this comic is from that means it's a Silver Age comic, not Golden Age. It's Halloween, so I'm allowed to keep with a theme. Tales Calculated To Drive You Bats #1 was published to cash in on the popularity of Famous Monsters of Filmland and its imitators.

Longtime Archie writer George Gladir was the writer, and gag cartoonist Orlando Busino the artist.

The comic had a seven-issue run, although I think Busino departed early. I have only this issue of #1, which I bought off the stands about the same time I bought the first issue of The Fantastic Four

Busino had a wonderful, clean style, perfect for this type of comic book. He used some techniques gleaned from Jack Davis. Notice the legs and shoes, especially. I'm including two pages from a section parodying advertising. Click on the pictures for full-size images.

Of course, "Tales Calculated To…" is a rip-off of Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad, the Mad comic book version from just a few years previous. Archie had been well, mad at Mad for the juvenile delinquent parody of their main character as Starchie, but it didn't stop them from appropriating the Mad comics tagline.

I can't put the whole comic up, regrettably, because Archie Comics is still in business and might send lawyers to suck my blood.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Number 45

Frankenstein Friday: Frankenstein's Ark

This is the third and final story from Frankenstein #2, written and drawn by Dick Briefer, published in 1945. Check Pappy's archives for other Frankenstein Friday entries by Briefer and other artists.

The gag twist at the end of Frankenstein's Ark depends on knowing about ration stamps during World War II. Just about all essentials were rationed: gasoline, tires, sugar, meat…you name it, you probably had to have a ration coupon for it. Even magazine and book publishers had their paper for printing rationed. Because of reduced paper supplies, many comic book publishers were able to sell out entire print runs of their more popular titles. When the war ended, so did rationing.

The story itself seems stream of consciousness, like Briefer had an idea for a story that would end up as it did, but in order to get Frankenstein to that point the artist meandered about with various plot elements. He could have conceivably built a story out of any one of these elements, but chose to string them together in this episodic story.

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Next Friday: Frankenstein meets the original Ghost Rider!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Number 44

COVERING IT: Classic Golden Age comic book covers: Archie Halloween.

Poor Archie. When I was a teen I should've had his problems.

Archie didn't seem to have to work; none of his friends did. They just hung out at Pop's Choc'lit Shop, drank sodas, drove their jalopies (how long has it been since the word "jalopy" has been used, anyway, and where the hell did it come from in the first place?), and went on dates.

Archie had a problem of too many girlfriends. He also had the problem of a smooth hustler, Reggie, liking one of his girlfriends and making plays for her.

Archie reminds me of the son of a woman I know. The woman told me, "My son is in love with a beautiful girl who treats him bad, and another girl who isn't quite as beautiful loves him very much, and would treat him great. Of course he goes for the beautiful one who treats him bad." I told her it sounded like the triangle of Archie, Betty and Veronica and she gave me sort of a look as if to say, "You're reducing my son to a comic book character." Well, of course, comic books are real life, and our real lives are just lines on paper. At least to an old comic book fan, anyway.

It's amazing how many stories can be gotten from a simple triangle. Maybe Archie should have joined a polygamy cult and had both Betty and Veronica, or they could have some sort of kinky arrangement they couldn't mention in Comics Code approved comic books.

I'm sure that Archie comics were aimed at pre-pubescent girls. Or were they? Why would a girl want to read about a guy's problems with two girls? Would she identify with that? Was it aimed at young boys? Why would they want to read about a guy and yuchhy girls anyhow?

I read Archie when I was a kid, but I was a comics fan, I read everything (but no westerns and no love comics; I had my limits). I don't remember thinking this was anything like real life, except to wonder how two beautiful and desirable girls would go for a dorky-looking guy like Archie. You've got to admit, he wasn't drawn to look like a stud that girls would fight over.

Archie has been popular enough on the newsstands to keep going continuously for over 60 years. That's a long time to have a triangle going, and if it were real life by now the once beautiful teenage girls would be fighting over an equally elderly Archie at the Senior Citizens' Center.

I like this old Halloween cover from a 1940s issue of Archie, but in the opposite way from how it was intended. I can't imagine why anyone thought putting Archie on a broomstick with a witch's hat was funny. I see some hidden symbolism is the long broomstick with the pumpkin head between Archie's legs. If you had a couple of babes like Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge fighting over you your broomstick would be long, too.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Number 43

The Werewolf's Victims

What's Halloween without a werewolf story? I'm partial to werewolves. They get to run around and bite people. Baaahahaha!

This story is from Atlas Comics' Mystic #31, June 1954. It's by an artist of the Wally Wood school, Sid Check. I only know of a few Sid Check comic book stories from the Golden Age. He must've hung out with the EC gang, though, because some of the stories were published by them.

Doing a search of Sid Check's name came up with this page from, but no biographical information, birth date, etc.

The Werewolf's Victims would have been right at home in Creepy or Eerie magazines a decade later. The stories they ran in their earliest issues had stories and endings that were very similar. And the story is both creepy and eerie! The idea of a bunch of men held captive in a cave, being killed off one-by-one by a werewolf is pretty scary...unless you're the werewolf.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Number 42

Old Number One

Click on pictures for full-size images.

Occasionally a curious person will ask me, "What's the oldest comic book you have in your collection?"

I think it's a fair question, but my answer is, "I don't know." I'm surrounded by books and comics. Half the time I can't remember what I have. However, Uncle Scrooge #7, September-November, 1954, is the oldest comic book I have that I personally bought off the comic book rack. That I remember.

My first experiences with comics were with two boxes of coverless and otherwise poor-condition books. The first box was in my neighbor Allen's basement. He led me down some wooden stairs.* I sat under a light set up by the furnace and looked at comics his older brothers and sisters had read to pieces. As I recall, they included one with a horror story about a flower turning into a gorilla--or was it the other way around?--and a coverless issue of The Human Torch. I was mighty impressed by that flaming on stuff!

The other box of comics was one given to me by my cousin, Dickie. It included a lot of Dell Comics like Francis The Talking Mule, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and many Walt Disney titles.

That was in 1953. I was a first grader, six-years-old. I was bright enough, but up until that point a bad reader, because I didn't have anything interesting to read. Let's face it, the Dick and Janereaders, as collectible as they are today, weren't The Human Torch or a flower turning into a gorilla. "Run, Spot, run!" Oh, yeah. That's just
fascinating. Yawn. It took my interest in reading comics, brought on by those boxes of old comics, to put me in front of the first grade reading group.

I bugged Mom until she caved in and let me buy some of my own comic books. At that time there was a lot of publicity about horror and crime comics rotting kids' minds, so she was careful what she let me buy. Years later she said, "I worried you'd be scared by Casper The Friendly Ghost."

In those days my favorite comics were the Disney's, and specifically Uncle Scrooge. I wasn't alone. I believe at the time these comics sold in the millions.

Uncle Scrooge #7 was a special favorite and I have hung onto it for 52 years. As you can see from the scans the book is in real battered shape…the back cover even worse than the front. That was because I read it many, many times. I'm an obsessive-compulsive. I kept my comics by the side of my bed. Being an early riser all my life, I would pick up a comic I'd read the night before and re-read it by the dawn's early light coming in my window. I didn't want to wake my brother, who shared the room. It was just light enough to see, but still so dark in the bedroom that all of the colors disappeared from the pages and I saw them in shades of gray.

For anyone unfamiliar with the story, Scrooge looks for new ways to make money. He already owns everything in town. He finds Donald and his nephews collecting arrowheads to sell and he joins in. Through a series of comic events they find themselves in the Seven Cities of Cibola, where they find a Spanish treasure but also the terrible Beagle Boys, Scrooge's longtime nemeses.

Anyone who read this comic and loved it as much as I did recognized the scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark where Indiana Jones removes an idol only to set off a booby trap and find himself outracing a large boulder. The gag was set up in Uncle Scrooge #7. The Raiders producer, George Lucas, had a partner, Gary Kurtz. Under the publishing imprint, Celestial Arts, Kurtz reprinted the story in 1982 as one in a deluxe edition of Uncle Scrooge stories, Uncle Scrooge McDuck His Life And Times by Carl Barks.

Uncle Scrooge #7 is not the oldest comic book in my collection by a long shot. It's not the first comic book I bought. But it is the oldest comic book I bought that I still own. Because of its condition no one would ever want to own it but me, and maybe I'll have someone throw it in my casket when they lower me into the ground.

*Whenever I think about descending into that basement Danny Elfman's theme from Tales From The Crypt goes through my head.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Number 41

Frankenstein Friday: Frankenstein's Job

This is the second story from Frankenstein Comics #2, published in 1945, written and drawn by Dick Briefer.

There is a whiff of kinkiness in this story: Frankenstein on a leash, with a big collar being led around by a beautiful woman. In those more innocent times knowledge of individuals who enjoyed such activities as bondage and discipline was so esoteric that most people never heard of them. Or maybe it was a sly joke on his readership by author/artist Briefer. It's hard to tell from a vantage point of six decades, but I tend toward the former. I think the images of Frankenstein being led around like a dog appealed to Briefer's sense of humor, and not because he was a closet BDSM fan.

The panel where the dog pound boss, feet on his desk, orders the dogs to be led to the gas chamber is jolting. In the short time after a war where millions of people died in gas chambers it seems very insensitive. It also seems cruel in the modern era where many groups remind us we need to treat not only humans but animals in a humane fashion.

All in all, it seems to be a typically bizarre Frankenstein story.

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Next week: Frankenstein's Ark

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Number 40

Charlie Biro's Hobby Is Boys

Click on picture for full-size image.

This page, taken from Boy Comics #30,October, 1946, is a good example of how language changes.

Charles Biro was a popular guy in the 1940s. He made publishers a lot of money with his covers, his characters, and his comic books. He's responsible for many, including the original Daredevil, Airboy, and probably his biggest success story, Crime Does Not Pay. He also had a very popular title, Boy Comics, which ran for years,

In Boy Comics #30, co-editor Bob Wood writes of Biro, "Boys are his hobby." Sixty years ago that wasn't the loaded statement it is now, what with stories of former Congressman Mark Foley filling the news and radio talk show rants.

The language has changed, and so descriptions of Biro having "tongue-fests," or "getting the biggest rise" out of boys didn't mean to readers of the era what they look like to readers of our era.

According to some reports I've read about Biro (who died in the early 1970s), he was a guy who had a lot of success with women. On the other hand, Bob Wood, his aforementioned co-editor, was a guy who apparently liked to hit women, and it cost him a prison sentence in the 1950s when he killed one during a drunken binge.

Crimebuster himself was a character I never particularly liked, although I have several issues of the comic in my collection. Any youngster who puts a cape over a hockey uniform and runs around with a monkey named Squeeks, well…I dunno…the whole premise sounded pretty stupid to me. To a lot of kids it must've seemed great, because Boy Comics, starring Crimebuster, was a good-selling comic book.

One thing came out of Boy Comics, and that was one of the all time great comic book villains, Iron Jaw, the guy with the metal dentures. Language has changed enough that nowadays "he'll bite your head off" doesn't mean literally biting a head off, as Iron Jaw was known to do.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Number 39

Mark Foley's Comics Pages
As soon as I heard about Congressman Mark Foley's resignation because of impropriety toward Congressional pages I remembered an old issue of Treasure Chest with a story about page boys who work in the Capitol. This is
from Treasure Chest Of Fun and Fact, Volume 18 Number 12, February 14, 1963.

Treasure Chest, for those who don't know, was a comic book distributed during the school year to Catholic schools. What issues I've seen or owned I've found a bit pedantic. There was this notion, when it was started in 1946, that despite their popularity comic books were bad for kids, and adults, too. This was a way of getting kids to read about so-called healthier subjects in a format they liked.

Joe Sinnott, who is probably most famous for his inks on Jack Kirby's Marvel work of the 1960s, did the artwork. At that time Sinnott was not only inking Kirby's Fantastic Four, but drawing comic books like the life story of The Beatles for Dell, or doing stories for Treasure Chest. Sinnott worked in many genres of comics over the years, from some spooky horror stories for Stan Lee in the early '50s, to this more prosaic work in the 1960s and beyond.

Treasure Chest lasted from 1946 until 1972. A decent run for any comic book with a non-specific theme.

This story ends abruptly on page 5. Page 6 was probably drawn, but cut during the editing process; maybe the issue was one page too long. The last panel of the published story seems to leave things hanging a bit, but the story gets its point across.

In that more innocent era, the page boys are more concerned about girls someday becoming pages (horrors!) than they are about chickenhawk Congressmen lusting after them.

And as for Representative Mark Foley, I guess he thought pages were for turning.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Number 38

COVERING IT: Classic Golden Age Comics Covers

At EC Comics Jack Davis was a great amongst greats. It turned out that he probably had more commercial success after the crash of the original EC line, because he could draw absolutely anything. During the run of EC his distinctive style stands out, even amongst his talented peers, especially on covers of Tales From The Crypt.

Click on pictures for larger images

Davis took over the cover assignments from Al Feldstein, whose art was kind of stiff, but poster-like; perfect for covers. Davis added a touch when he brought his dynamic, action-filled art to the covers and they popped off the newsstands.

During that run as cover artist, Davis did three classic monster covers in a row. Tales From The Crypt #34 features the Frankenstein monster, #35 a werewolf, and #36 is a vampire. So I'm showing them all to you here.

In 1970 super-Golden Age comics fan Tom Fagan told me he thought Davis's cover of #35 was "the greatest werewolf cover ever." I wouldn't dispute that then or now. No matter what the subject matter, humor, horror, you name it…the tall guy from Georgia could draw it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Number 37

Frankenstein Friday: Frankenstein and the Statue Maker!

It's Friday the 13th, gang. Everybody watch out for ladders crossing their paths, and don't walk under any black cats.

This Friday's Frankenstein begins issue #2 of Frankenstein Comics, written and drawn by Dick Briefer, originally published in 1945.

The story begins with a 4-page recap of issue #1, and then goes into one of Briefer's longer Frankenstein stories, Frankenstein and the Statue Maker. The villain, Scorpon, disrespected as a sculptor, finds a way to give his statues a very lifelike look.

I don't think the plot of a sculptor using real bodies as the basis of his art was new even in 1945, but this story may have influenced the movie, Bucket Of Blood, filmed on the cheap by Roger Corman in 1959. There was even th
e earlier movie, the first version of House Of Wax, starring Vincent Price, originally filmed for 3D release, that may have been inspired by this Frankenstein story. Who knows? Inspiration comes from different places.

The cover to Frankenstein Comics #2 is one of my favorite Golden Age covers. The large image of the monster combined with the bold use of primary colors gives it a poster like effect.
Click on pictures for larger images.

Next Friday: Frankenstein's Job!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Number 36

Jack Cole and Silver Streak Part III

This story originally appeared in Silver Streak #6, September 1940, an issue called "scarce" in the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The story was reprinted in the unnumbered Silver Streak, a one-shot published in 1946, reprinting the Silver Streak stories from issues 4-7 of the original comics series. That one-shot is the source of the scans of the story.

Prior stories from the one-shot comic are in Pappy's Number 6, and Pappy's Number 18.

This story presents some stereotyped Arabs, with racist overtones. The girl given to the sheikh for marriage is white, while the males are brown. This was a lot more common fictional device in those days before World War II. It was originally published 66 years ago, so I consider it an historical, pop culture look at people from other religions and countries, who were often stereotyped in pulp magazines, novels,
movies and even comic strips.

The Englishman is stereotyped also, but he's comic relief, not sinister, like the portrayal of the Arabs.

The Silver Streak episode is signed by "Ralph Johns," one of Cole's pseudonyms; the cover of Silver Streak #6 is signed by Cole using his own name. It doesn't depict Silver Streak, but The Claw, a racist portrayal of an Asian villain based on the then-popular idea of sinister "orientals", a la Fu Manchu.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Number 35

Bob Powell's Shrunken Skull!

In Pappy's Number 34 I showed you a Bernard Baily shrunken head cover. Now I'm showing you one of my favorite Harvey Comics horror stories, The Shrunken Skull, drawn by the great Bob Powell. It appeared in Chamber Of Chills #5, February, 1952.

Powell, born in 1916, was an old-timer at the comic book business by the time of the horror comics explosion of the 1950s. In the early 1940s he had worked for Will Eisner on The Spirit Section doing Mr. Mystic. He had worked for virtually every comic book company at one time or another. In the 1950s he ran a comic book production shop. His work appeared in all genres of comics for several clients, but I believe his
main clients at the time were Harvey and M.E., with a lot of work also going to Fawcett and St. John.

What characterized Powell's work was quality. I don't think he ever let a job out of his hands until it was refined to perfection. If it took a gallon of white paint to correct mistakes, then so be it! I have seen original art of his that looks to be half ink, half white paint. I don't know how he worked, or what exactly his assistants did, but Powell signed the pages, and the work is so distinctive I believe he had a lot to do with the actual drawing, or at least the inking.

To show you, I'm including a scan of the original art for the splash page to The Shrunken Skull. You'll notice the light blue watercolor wash on the artwork. That did not reproduce when photographed by the lithographer's camera during production, but was an indicator to the color artist of what areas of the artwork were to be emphasized with color. If any other artists used this technique I'm not aware of it, but you can compare the original art to the published art and see if it worked.

It's also to Powell's credit that he could take a story as screwy as this and through such fine art make the story work. Most horror stories have crazy plots…this one a little crazier than most.

In the future I will have episodes of what I think was Powell's 1950s magnum opus, Jet Powers.
I own all four issues of that M.E. science fiction title. So far I have scanned the first issue for inclusion on this blog at some point.

But that's in the future, and right now it's October, Halloween month. Outside the sky grows dark, and the wind is chilly. Leaves blow across the lawn. Jack O'Lanterns with their gappy grins are winking at you from porches as you walk the unlit sidewalks, pulling your coat tighter around you. It's time to read some horror stories. Time for The Shrunken Skull!

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Number 34

COVERING IT: Classic Covers Of Golden Age Comics

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"Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!"

"Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! That's no rabbit! It's a head! A decapitated, shrunken head!"

Ah yes, cartoon-lovers and friends…welcome to Pappy's, where we consider nothing too gruesome, gory or gross to be shown to our pals.

This cover of Weird Mysteries #6 from 1953 reminds me of the story of EC Comics publisher William Gaines in front of the Senate subcommittee investigating comic books and juvenile delinquency. When they pulled out the famous Johnny Craig Crime Suspenstories cover with the decapitated head Gaines was asked, "Do you consider this to be in good taste?" to which he replied, "Yes, for a horror comic."*

Gaines' argument as to what would make the cover in bad taste would be if it had shown the neck dripping with blood. We get that here in this cover by the redoubtable Bernard Baily, whose covers likely caused a few nightmares amongst comic book readers, but apparently no Senate committee members.

You last saw a classic Bernard Baily cover in Pappy's Number 31. Another classic!

*I don't have the exact quote in front of me so I'm paraphrasing. The exact testimony is available in several places but I don't have the time or energy to look it up. So sue me. Just go to

Friday, October 06, 2006

Number 33

Frankenstein Friday: Your Name Is Frankenstein!

Stan Lee once said of Joe Maneely, "He could draw anything." Maneely was a staple of 1950's Atlas Comics, doing horror, mystery, westerns, science fiction, even a continuing character called The Black Knight. He had an interesting pen style, and was said to be fast enough to draw and ink seven pages in one day.

Regardless of the speed, Maneely was very good, and could strike a dramatic mood in the stories he was handed to draw. "Your Name Is Frankenstein," from Menace #7, is a good example of M
aneely's pen work, his dramatic staging, and solid drawing.

Maneely died of an accident at age 32 in 1958. It's fun to speculate what he could have meant to comics had he lived. Would he have been part of the Marvel Comics of the 1960s? I haven't ever seen any superhero work by him, but don't doubt that he could probably draw them as well as anyone.

Unfortunately, my copy of this story is in terrible shape, with holes in some of the pages and the residue of years-old Scotch tape, which has left brown stains (a really good lesson in how not to take care of your Golden Age comic books).

Even though I consider this to be one of the better stories in that particular issue of Menace, apparently the editor didn't feel it warranted inclusion in the blurbs on the cover, which show every other story but this. It might have been a late addition to the lineup.

Click on pictures for larger images.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Number 32

Bizarre Boody Rogers

I'm not sure, but I think Boody Rogers might have been chewing peyote buttons in his native Texas while drawing most of his really bizarre comic strips. He was the creator of Sparky Watts, "World's Strongest Funny Man," and Babe, Darling of the Hills. There is an hallucinogenic quality to his work.

Rogers started out as assistant to Zack Mosley on Smilin' Jack, where he learned to draw girls. Smilin' Jack called them "de-icers," and they certainly could melt any man with their curvy bodies and accentuated bottoms.

Rogers is dead now, but quit cartooning many years before he died. His heyday was in the 1940s, and especially the postwar era. Sparky Watts was published every month in 6-page installments in Big Shot Comics and his irregularly published solo comic book, Sparky Watts, which went 10 issues.

An especially appealing and strange strip is his Babe, a Li'l Abner imitation, which went 11 issues in the late 1940s.

Put "Boody Rogers" in Google and see what comes up. Several people have posted some nice strips that show how wonderfully bizarre was Boody!

This is the middle of a story, this episode originally published in Big Shot Comics #86 about some really oddball little characters. I don't have the previous or next episodes.

The more people get into Boody Rogers the more they appreciate the really whacked-out humor of his comic strips. Artwise he doesn't really remind me of anyone except Zack Mosley, but his stories were original, on a level with Basil Wolverton's Powerhouse Pepper, Dick Briefer's Frankenstein, or Bill Holman's Smokey Stover. Someday someone may collect all of the really screwball work that Boody Rogers left behind in 1952 when he opened some art supply stores in the Southwest and dropped his cartooning.