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Friday, February 29, 2008


Number 268



The Glittering Nightmare


John Forte was a solid artist from the golden and silver age of comics. His work was known to me mainly in the late 1950s in the ACG mystery comics, Adventures Into The Unknown and Forbidden Worlds. A few years before his death in 1965 he went to work for DC Comics, and in a brilliant assignment by editor Mort Weisinger was picked to do the "Tales Of The Bizarro World" series in Adventure Comics.

"Bizarro World" was my favorite feature, but its oddball humor was ahead of its time. I was upset when it was canceled for "The Legion of Super Heroes." Oh well. DC Comics reprinted all of the Adventure Comics "Bizarro World" stories in 2000 in book form, so I could enjoy them all over again.


"The Glittering Nightmare," written by ACG editor Richard E. Hughes under one of his pen-names and drawn by Forte, is from Forbidden Worlds #76, 1959. It owes something to Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Hughes wasn't above borrowing ideas, and like most comic book writers, turning them into Bizarro versions of the originals.

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Mr. Door Tree at the Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog shows us some excellent Frank R. Paul original art from old covers. Go here and scroll down. There's lots of good artwork to look at otherwise, too. Enjoy this blog. This stuff is really great.

Anyway, the story is that the paintings were saved from the trash when publisher Hugo Gernsbach was cleaning out his office. There was a time when Gernsbach appreciated Paul's artwork, selling it in the form of full-size prints. Here's an ad from a late 1920s Air Wonder Stories:


Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Number 267



The tallest tale



I'm in need of a laugh today. I went looking for a laugh and found several good ones in Spunky Junior Cowboy #3, September 1949. The whole book is drawn by one of the all-time cartooning greats, Jack Bradbury.

I've posted another Bradbury strip, a Spencer Spook episode from Giggle Comics here.

I bought this comic book in the 1970s. What struck me immediately on re-reading this story is nowadays how much Old Bill reminds me of…me. Yup, Pappy is like Old Bill: a white-bearded windbag, full of stories of dubious veracity. Old Bill has a mule named Sal, and Pappy has a wife named Sally. Just don't tell Mrs. Pappy I said that, will you?





Monday, February 25, 2008


Number 266



Wonderman



"Hordes Of The Immortal Emperor" is from Wonder Comics #16. I've posted stories from this issue before in Pappy's #158 and Pappy's #166.

Someone needs to collect all of the Wonderman stories. We're seeing part of a longer continuity, and what a continuity! A city, Pyropolis, on the sun! A villain named Dr. Voodoo! An "immortal emperor" (page 3) who looks like a smiley face caught in a vise! This is pretty crazy stuff, very entertaining.

The Grand Comics Database has mistakenly listed the contents of this issue, #16, under #15. It also lists the artist of Wonderman as Bob Oksner. See if you agree. Compare the story to this, also from 1948, from Sensation Comics, posted recently in Pappy's #254. Whether or not Oksner drew Wonderman--and I don't think he did--it doesn't detract from it being a screwball comic classic.

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Friday, February 22, 2008


Number 265



Vampire At The Window!



"Vampire At The Window," a shorty originally from Astonishing #18, is written by Stan Lee and according to the Atlas Tales site, drawn by Hy Rosen. What I like about it is the creepy Max Schreck-Nosferatu vampire.

I scanned this from tear sheets. It's from a Marvel reprint of the 1970s.




Scarecrow At The Window!

My local library carries graphic novels in three areas, adult, young readers and juveniles, so I check all three. I ran into this volume, Goosebumps 3 Ghoulish Graphix Tales #1 in the juvenile section, for the little kids. All three stories have their merits, but "The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight," adapted and illustrated by Greg Ruth, is my favorite. This particular sequence was especially creepy. I'm sure if I'd seen this when I was a little kid I'd still be in therapy today. Grandpa creeping in the window in the middle of the night…then Grandma shows up...both of them with lips sewn shut, …yow. Can I sleep with the light on, Mom? And Grandma and Grandpa aren't coming to visit anytime soon, are they?



Wednesday, February 20, 2008




Number 264



Never trust a dame



Poor Johnny D. The lady with the camera shot his eye out. It must've been a pretty fancy camera if it could do that! Now he's looking for payback. He gets it in the next to last panel when he returns the favor. I guess gut-shooting and then eye-shooting the dame who de-lamped him is justice, even though she's got a crippled kid in the next room!

Such was the violent world of this Mike Hammer-styled private dick, from Dynamite #4, published by Comics Media in November, 1953. The artwork is by Pete Morisi, later known as PAM in the Peter Cannon Thunderbolt comics from Charlton. The story, likely written by William Waugh, bylined as the writer of another story in the issue, is a document of its time, an attempt to take adult paperback sleaze and turn it into comic book sleaze.

Oh yeah…despite the similar names, there's no truth to the rumor that Johnny married his secretary, Judy, and had a son.


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Monday, February 18, 2008


Number 263



Cold war on a cold moon



In the 1950s we lived in a state of paranoia. A lot of people believed that at any time atom bombs would rain down on us. It was the fault of those damn Reds, you know, the Enemy.

Luckily it never happened. But I wasn't surprised when I read "Lunar Trap" in Race For The Moon #2 in 1958, that the Enemy would be up to no good when we all got to the moon. Imagine my surprise at the soft ending. Imagine someone thinking we could ever be at peace with those guys! Decades after reading this story I read of a real-life plan by the U.S. military for installing bases on the moon by 1965, where we could have nuclear weapons pointed at the Soviet Union. Now that's paranoid!

Jack Kirby drew--and I presume, wrote--a good story with an interesting premise. In the 1950s the idea that a woman could be in charge of men seemed ludicrous to us Americans; surely that was only a commie idea. But Kirby--despite a leering remark, "A lady colonel. Now this is more to my liking!"--handles a potentially sexist situation pretty well.

Unlike most of his monster stories this time he only indicated the monster with partial, silhouette or long shots. Inking is by Al Williamson.





Friday, February 15, 2008



Number 262



Flipping the bird


You never want to scoff at an old Indian legend. No sirree. Otherwise you'll end up like this hunter who went against the strong advice of an old Indian. "Wings Of Death" is likely inspired by "The Birds," a novelette by Daphne DuMaurier published in 1952 in her collection The Apple Tree, and later made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in his movie version.

Frank Giacoia is known as an inker for other artists, but this story shows he could wield a pencil himself. His artwork shows a high level of illustrative sophistication. The story is from St. John's Amazing Ghost Stories #15, 1954.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Number 261



Happy Valowe'en!


All of this artificial sweetness about Valentine's Day. Ugh. I'm not against love, I'm against greeting card companies, candy manufacturers and florists telling me when to tell someone I love them.


I found these valentines a few years ago at a local thrift store. The Universal Monsters package is still in its plastic wrap. Now these are valentines that get the Pappy Seal Of Approval: alien abductions, medical experiments in space, anal probes…or the monster valentines: bites on the neck, werewolves ripping people limb from limb, monsters to trample someone and throw them down a well.

Now that says "I love you!" Pappy-style.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Number 260



The Beast From Fifty Million, Trillion, etc…



Here's a funny story from Atlas' Crazy #2, 1954. The artwork is by Joe Maneely, a great cartoonist who seemed to work almost exclusively for Atlas before his accidental death. Maneely was reputedly one of the fastest artists in the business, able to draw six or seven pages a day. Considering how fast he was nothing in this strip looks rushed.






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On a personal note:

The news is that Steve Gerber died. I corresponded with Steve during the ditto'd fanzine days of the early '60s. We were both about 15 at the time. Steve did what I always wanted to do, make a living as a writer. I wouldn't have wanted to go through the ugliness of his fight with Marvel Comics over Howard the Duck, but I admired him for sticking up for his principles. I also enjoyed those first few issues of Howard, which seemed fresh to me at the time.

Monday, February 11, 2008



Number 259



Happy birthday, Abe



Tomorrow is Abe Lincoln's birthday. We'll celebrate it by showing his death! Illustration Station has Jack Davis illustrations from the children's book, Meet Abraham Lincoln, so I thought I'd post some pages from the 100-page Dell Giant comic from 1958, Abraham Lincoln Life Story.



The one-shot biographical giant comic was probably an experiment that flopped. I never saw another of its type from Dell.

According to the Grand Comics Database it's written by Dell workhorse Gaylord DuBois, and drawn by Italian artist Alberto Giolitti. Giolitti used a lot of photo reference. It shows with his stagey panels, but I'm sure they were going for a narrative that didn't look like a comic book. That's obvious from the use of captions rather than speech balloons.

You all remember Giolitti from Turok, Son Of Stone and Star Trek. He died in 1993.

This is an excerpt of 8 pages from the end of the book, with panels that impressed me 50 years ago: Lincoln's premonition of his own death, and the attention to detail of the assassination.

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Friday, February 08, 2008


Number 258



Herbie, Boy Beetle!



On Sunday, February 9, 1964, the Beatles made their initial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. My whole family was there in front of our TV. My brother Rob and I knew what we were seeing, but our parents didn't. I could practically see the drop-shadowed question marks over their heads.

I enjoyed it when the Beatles popped up in comics, even though the people who produced the comics were of my parents' generation. Richard E. Hughes, under one his many pen-names, Shane O'Shea, wrote the story of mop-topped Eibreh Rekcenpop taking the pop world by storm. Artist Ogden Whitney did a fair job drawing the Beatles. Both Hughes and Whitney probably shrugged their shoulders and wondered what the Beatles' appeal was, but they knew the age of their readers and to sell comics were more than willing to put them into Herbie's strange little universe. They even threw in Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, singers more appealing to their generation. Even an extrinsic view of the Beatles phenom was a sort of validation of my own Beatlemania, I guess. Though the Beatles--or "Beetles" as they are known here--are secondary to the story, I loved this when I first saw it in Herbie #5, Oct-Nov 1964. For those of us who remember the original British Invasion, when the Beatles conquered the known universe, it has all the more meaning.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Number 257



The Lovesick Clown



Rudy Palais does a "true" crime comics version of I Pagliacci in Crime Does Not Pay #43, January 1946. The clown gets turned down by the woman he lusts after, then goes into a murderous rage.

I empathize. Without killing anyone, at one time or another every guy has made a clown of himself over a woman. So many times for me I coulda gone to work for Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey!






Monday, February 04, 2008



Number 256



Underground comics



Here are variations on a theme: two stories about people who find utopian civilizations underground, with two different endings. "The Men In The Mole" was published in Atlas Comics' Journey Into Unknown Worlds #65, March 1957, and "The Spelunker" appeared in Atlas' Marvel Tales #141, December 1955.

"Mole" was illustrated by John Forte, and "Spelunker" by famous Mad-man, Mort Drucker.

The Men In The Mole

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The Spelunker

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Friday, February 01, 2008



Number 255



The Thing On Sputnik 4



I bought Race For The Moon #2 in July, 1958. I loved all things science fiction, and thought this comic was neat-o, daddy-o! I didn't know Jack Kirby's name, but I recognized his artwork from several other comics. "The Thing On Sputnik 4" was inked by Marvin Stein. The Grand Comics Database says the cover and the other three Kirby strips in this comic were inked by Al Williamson.

Race For The Moon #1 was an anthology science fiction comic drawn by Bob Powell, and issues #2 and #3 were by Kirby. It's a shame it only lasted three issues. It's hard to see why this cover of Race For The Moon wasn't at least as intriguing to comic buyers as issues of DC Comics' Mystery In Space.