Friday, November 30, 2007

Number 226

Johnny Peril

Howard Purcell was a longtime artist at DC Comics, with a comic book career going back to 1940. He rarely signed his work. He drew this excellent cover of Showcase#30 in 1961, inked by Sheldon Moldoff.He also drew a strip I like, the Kirby-styled "Black Knight" feature from Marvel Super-Heroes #17 in 1968. He received credit for this one.
Purcell was a comic book journeymen who labored over a drawing board for many years and drew a lot of features. This is one of his back-up "Johnny Peril" strips for All-Star Comics. This particular episode appeared in #45, February-March 1949. The art is moody and effective, and the story, a variation on Aladdin's lamp from The Arabian Nights, sent me into a fantasy world for awhile. What would I wish for if I had a genie? Hey, I'm not greedy. For starters, I think 10 mint copies of Action Comics #1, which I'd auction off, one a year.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Number 225

Bill Everett puts the bite on

Bill Everett drew great stories for the Atlas horror comics. He was also tapped to do some horror-comedy for Atlas' short-lived Mad imitations. "Drag-ula" came from Crazy #2, 1954.

The dialog is taken from old vaudeville and radio Yiddish-dialect comedians. There's some fake German, too. I have a low tolerance for this sort of dialect when it's written. It's hodd to ridd, dollink! The art is good, though. Enchoy, heppy Peppy's ridders!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Number 224

The gold key

I want you to click on the picture of this cover of Twilight Zone #4 from August 1963, and tell me what's happening in this painting. Go ahead and look. I'll wait until you're finished.Back so soon? I was practicing the Twilight Zone theme music on my kazoo. You're puzzled, but you're right, there is nothing happening on the cover. What we see is a European street scene, and the silhouette of a figure on the wet cobblestones. I don't know how many covers there were that got away with this, but while the painting is mysterious, evoking a rainy night, this is not a typical cover of a comic book, even a Gold Key comic. I don't know who the cover artist is.

The story this cover illustrates--and we know that because the story is called "The Secret Of The Key," and there's a key in the cover painting--is drawn by master comic artist Alex Toth. This is a wonderful 10-pager by Toth, with great drawing. Among his other talents, Toth was excellent at period pieces. He also liked actor Errol Flynn, whose face adorns the lead character, a thief who steals the gold key. And yes, the object is a gold key, just like the name of the comic book company.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8 / Page 9 / Page 10

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Number 223

Talking out of his ass

This is a funny Sparky Watts story from Big Shot Comics #83, dated November 1947. When artist/writer Boody Rogers retired from comic books in 1952 he opened some art supply stores in Arizona. This strip may have been a precursor to life in the Southwest, amongst the Saguaro cacti, scorpions, lizards, and I'm sure, even some jackasses.

I've posted a couple of Sparky Watts strips in previous blogs, so click on the "Sparky Watts" or "Boody Rogers" links below to see more of the "World's Strongest Funnyman." If you're seeing a Boody Rogers strip for the first time, then you are discovering one of the most unique and interesting cartoonists of the golden age. Boody had a fertile and unusual comic imagination and his artwork is still fresh today.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

 Number 222

Beyonders Kill!

Happy Thanksgiving! For you beyonders beyond our borders, today in America we are celebrating our own abundance with a feast of gluttony, enough caloric intake per person to nourish a smaller nation for at least a year. We visit with family, then end our celebration in a stupor on the couch watching an American football game. Good eating, but pass the Pepto-Bismol. Our main course is turkey, a very stupid bird. When someone is pretty damn dumb we call them a turkey.

A year ago I celebrated this day with the first annual Comic Book Turkey Award for dumbest comic book story. The recipient is chosen by me, Pappy, the judgment on said story is all mine, and it's purely subjective. Last year's winner was in Pappy's #57, "The Flat Man," from Superior's Journey Into Fear #19. You can read it by following the link.

This year's story can't top "The Flat Man," but "The Day The World Died" from ACG's Forbidden Worlds #5, March-April 1952, comes at least a close second in stupidity. I won't describe the story to you. You'll have to experience it, and the Beyonders, for yourselves. The Grand Comics Database credits the artwork to George Wilhelms. The story earns three turkeys out of a possible four.

While reading it, have another piece of pumpkin pie, with a double shot of whipped cream. Ummmm, good, isn't it? But not nearly as good as the treat you'll get from "The Day The World Died!" And best of all, no calories!

Note: I made new scans of the pages in August, 2012.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Number 221

The Green Turtle

This story is by request. It's the first Green Turtle story from Blazing Comics #1* from 1944.

Rural Home was the publisher, and as far as I can tell, ultimately not a successful one. Since it was set up during the war when paper was rationed, they probably had ties to an established publisher with access to paper. About any comic printed sold in those days. There's another reason for calling it the golden age: Publishing comic books during the war was a golden opportunity to bring in the gold! After the war a peripheral publisher like Rural Home fell apart.

What I know about the creation of the character Green Turtle is hearsay, unless I missed some confirmation somewhere: The story is that a Chinese-American named Chu Hing created Green Turtle as a Chinese superhero, fighting the Japanese in China. Stories of Japanese atrocities in China were well documented. The publisher felt that a Chinese superhero wouldn't go over with American--read, white--readers. The creator came up with the idea of turning his hero's face from view, substituting that odd shadow with eyes. It makes for a striking visual, but could have confused the readers.

The Green Turtle was interesting enough for a cartoonist named Gary Terry. who revived the character for his digest-sized, black-and-white comic book, Atom, Robot Adventurer, in 1975. Here's the splash page for the strip, done up with some kinky gals, and signed with the pseudonym, Stag Fury.I think The Green Turtle is a bad name for a hero. I can't imagine kids of that era going for a hero with that name when comics starring Captain America, Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, The Flash, to name just a few, were around to compete for their dimes.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8 / Page 9

*"Jun-Gal," another story from Blazing Comics #1, was posted in Pappy's #179.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Number 220

The most beautiful thing in the galaxy

No matter what Russ Heath drew, he drew it well. His work ran the gamut of genres, all of the subjects handled with as much skill as any comic book artist who ever set a Number 2 pencil to bristol board. He could also draw pretty girls, or ugly monsters, like he does in this Stan Lee strip from Atlas Comics' Menace #7.

When you read the introduction you'll notice that even in 1954 Stan Lee was personalizing his work. In the story itself you have to wonder how the cowardly, alcoholic crewman, Derk Collin, was able to keep liquor aboard the ship. You also have to wonder how he passed a psychological exam in order to be able to be part of a spaceship crew, and wonder how a rocket ship under the pressure of 34 g's would allow the crewmen to move around like they do. Oh well…it's a horror comic book, and we only care about how rotten and unredeemable the liquor swilling, sexual harassing main character is, and the ending that writer Lee claims in his intro not to have known until it was written. Sure, Stan. We believe you.

And of course we care about the artwork, which is typical Heath. In other words, typically great.


For those of you who've read this far, here's a Russ Heath treat. Less than a decade after he drew "The Planet Of Living Death," Heath was working on a series I remember fondly. Here's a 7-pager from that series. Here's also a hope that someday the publisher will consider putting these stories into one of those phonebook-sized volumes, reprinting their books from the era of the 1960s.

Cover / Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7

Friday, November 16, 2007

Number 219

Brother Rats

I haven't shown you a crime comics story in a while. I ain't forgot you muggs what likes these yarns about murderers and killers. Here's a good one about some bad brothers.

The last of the wild Western train robberies, committed in 1923, is told in "Brother Rats," from Crime Does Not Pay #49, January 1947. The great artwork is by George Tuska. Tuska worked in comic books practically from the beginning of the industry until the 1990s. To me, his finest work was during this postwar period. I love the symbolic splash panel for this story.

As for the DeAutremont brothers--and despite how it's spelled in the story, their name is spelled without a space between De and Autremont-- it took years, but justice was eventually served.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8 / Page 9

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Number 218

Flash Kicks Axis!

This is a followup to Pappy's #215, scanned from Flash Comics #35. My copy of that issue of Flash Comics isn't complete: the cover and first wraparound are missing, but some great in-house ads are still intact. I especially like seeing All-Star Comics #13, with the rocketship cover, and Wonder Woman #1.

The ad for All-Flash Comics #7 has a misspelling: wierd for weird. That's a common enough mistake, since the writer was probably thinking about the English rule, i before e except after c. Except for a word like weird. The English language likes having its rules, but likes to break them, too. It's just weird that way. Looks like the editor was asleep when this one crossed his desk. Then we have Green Lantern #5, and that really annoying Doiby Dickles. I'm not real big on comic relief characters.

We've got comics from the DC line--Flash and the other books shown are from the All-American line, owned by Max Gaines in partnership with DC Comics--including one of the greatest phallic-symbol covers of all time, World's Finest Comics #7.*

Finally, a real treat: Flash heads to Europe--at least in a dream-- and kicks butt on the Axis gangstas, Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito. It's a nice example of a public service announcement, selling war bonds and stamps, written and drawn by Fox and Hibbard, the regular Flash team.

*Here's the cover in its full glory. Click on the picture to see it big.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Number 217

Do do that voodoo…

Jerry Robinson has been named a creative consultant for DC Comics. It's recognition for a guy who had so much to do with not only early DC history, but history of the comics genre.

This is one of Robinson's early contributions, a story from Harvey Comics' Green Hornet #21, dated November, 1944. The cover is by Alex Schomburg.I'm sorry the reproduction of the story wasn't better, but even with the bad printing you can see at this time in his career Robinson, in his early twenties, was well ahead of the game as an artist.

The Green Hornet was a popular character first heard on radio. He had a good run in the comics. To those of us who grew up in the 1960s, Green Hornet was also a TV show, featuring Van Williams as Brit Reid, the Green Hornet, and Bruce Lee the kung-fu kickin' Kato.

When "The Corpse Who Walked Away" was published, interest in voodoo was keen due to stories about Haitian voodoo in popular newspaper Sunday supplements, and also movies on the subject.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8 / Page 9 / Page10

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Number 216

Ghost Of Guam


Specialist Pappy reporting, sir! To honor this Veteran's Day, this old soldier has dug into his duffel bag of moldy comic books and pulled out Real Fact Comics #1, a DC comic dated March-April, 1946.

The story presented here is about sailor George R. Tweed, who eluded the Japanese on Guam for nearly three years. The artwork is by the great Fred Ray, who is best known for his long-running Tomahawk series, and outside of comics by his illustrated books on military uniforms.

Ray also drew this iconic Superman cover from 1942:
Ray died in 2001. George R. Tweed died in 1989.

To all the men and women who have served , or are currently serving in the Armed Forces, have a great Veteran's Day.