Monday, March 31, 2008

Number 282

Burke and Hare

"To burke" is to kill by smothering or suffocation. The verb comes from this pair of miscreants, Burke and Hare, immoralized…heh-heh, I mean immortalized, in "Ghoul's Gold" from 1946 in Crime Does Not Pay #43. It's written by Robert Bernstein, who later worked for EC, writing the entire run of the title Psychoanalysis. He was an all-purpose guy. A couple of years later he did Aquaman stories for DC.

Jack Alderman was the artist of "Ghoul's Gold." Jack had a very heavy-handed style. I don't think I've ever seen anything drawn by him in any but Lev Gleason's crime comics. His figures are stiff--get it? stiff?--and his inking is heavy and dark. In other words, just about perfect for this little tale of a couple of infamous murderers…

Friday, March 28, 2008

Number 281

The Starving Ghoul

This is a screwball story from Eerie Publications' Terror Tales #7, March 1969. The title, "Gravestone for Gratis" has nothing to do with the story. Neither does the splash. They look like they've been stuck on from a different story. Other than that it's pretty typical of an early '50s horror comic from which it was reprinted. I don't have the information on its original appearance.

The writer could have let us know early in the story the main character had a medical problem so the plot device at the end wouldn't be so jarring. And speaking of "jarring," the cover is a gruesome Eerie Publications classic.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Number 280

Sexy John Stanley

Besides strips about little kids, Little Lulu and Nancy, in the early '60s John Stanley did some teenage books, including Around The Block with Dunc & Loo and Thirteen Going On Eighteen.

This is an example from Dunc & Loo #2, Jan.-Mar. 1962. Stanley pokes some sly fun at teenage hormones with a story about Dunc's plot to take some sexy pictures of his girl, Beth, with a typically hilarious Stanley outcome. While the layouts and script are by Stanley, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide credits the art to Bill Williams.

As a teenager in 1962 I had a problem with Dunc & Loo. Even in that distant and long ago year teenagers didn't dress like Stanley's teenagers. They had a style more from the 1940s than the 1960s. Dunc has a bowtie, which would have had him laughed out of my high school, and the hat Loo is wearing is strictly, well, old hat!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Number 279

The Twisted Mr. Twisto

There's no secret to Charles Biro's approach to comic book writing. Focus on the bad guys. Villains are intrinsically more interesting that goody two-shoes good guys. The last time I showed classic Biro was a Daredevil story in Pappy's #229.

Biro's best covers are classics of pulpish sleaze. The cover to MLJ Comics' Zip Comics #9, November 1940, from which this Steel Sterling story is scanned, is a good example. Headless men, their brains in see-thru tubes, are having a punch-up with Steel. There's no story like that, but as a cover it's worth a lot of sales.

As for Mr. Twisto, the bad guy from this circus-based story, he's a villain firmly in the Biro tradition.

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Harry Shorten was involved with MLJ Comics from its earliest days. He worked on Archie and other features. He is probably best known to a later generation of comics fans for publishing Tower Comics and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. He even published the infamous Midwood Books. With Al Fagaly, also an MLJ alumnus, he created the There Oughta Be A Law! newspaper comic strip, which ran from 1944 to 1984. Like Jimmy Hatlo's They'll Do It Every Time, the strip that inspired Law, Shorten's strip was a combination of irony and funny names. In these examples check out "Cringely," "Glandula," "Polyp," etc. These strips come from a 1969 Belmont Books collection.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Number 278

Diyos Ko!

Here's a story from Redondo Komix Magasin #159, from 1967, published in the Philippines. I don't know Tagalog, the language, but it's easy enough to follow. It's told economically in only four pages, and is drawn by the late Vicente Catan Jr., known as Vicatan Jr, one of the top Filipino comic artists.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Number 277

The Spider Sorceress

Here's a little tale of arachnids and sorcery from the Fiction House comic book factory. "Werewolf Hunter" was an ongoing series, and this is a reprint published in Ghost Comics #3, from 1952 when that once robust company was breathing its last.

I get in trouble when I try to identify artists, but the Grand Comics Database has no information, so what if I say Lily Renée? The Comics Journal #279 has an article on Renée, with examples of her art from other episodes of Werewolf Hunter.

There are two Werewolf Hunter stories in this issue of Ghost. This one is credited to Armand Weygand, the other is bylined Armand Broussard. It looks like Fiction House couldn't even keep its pen-names straight. Unless--unlikely as it seems--two guys named Armand actually wrote the stories.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Number 276

At Midnight all cats are gray…

Midnight, a Spirit lookalike, was drawn by artist Paul Gustavson. This particular story was published in Quality's Smash Comics #46, September 1943.

As much as I admire Gustavson's style, I wonder where the editor was when he turned in his artwork. He should've handed him a book on animals and said, "This is a cat. Draw it like this." I think cats in Warner Bros cartoons look more realistic than Gustavson's.

The cover, with a cat that looks like a cat, is by Alex Kotzky, who later went on to draw the successful syndicated comic strip, Apartment 3-G.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Number 275

Don't shake the family tree

This short-short story from Atlas Comics' Uncanny Tales #7, published in 1953, is by Larry Woromay, an artist who went from comics into fine art. He died last year. These are a couple of paintings from his web site:

The story, "The Witch of Landor," is scanned from a reprint in Marvel Comics' Chamber of Chills #15, from 1975. Karswell ran a story here, done in an imitation Jack Davis style, which one of the comments identified as being by Woromay. Could be. I haven't seen enough of Woromay's work to know, but it's a great Jack Davis rip-off, whoever did it.

Based on "Witch of Landor," which is full of moody panels and artwork, I'd like to see more by Woromay in his own style.

"Landor" teaches one thing, and that is be careful when shaking your family tree. You just never know what will fall out of the branches.



Here's my contribution to this day, a Lucky Charms ad from 1964, scanned from Sad Sack #157, from 1964. Baby Boomers will remember the Leprechaun and Lucky Charms commercials from television in the early 1960s. The artwork is by Bill Williams. I have a story written by John Stanley and drawn by Bill Williams coming up very soon.

In the meantime, hoist a green ale for Pappy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Number 274

Walt Kelly's Cave Kid

"Kandi The Cave Kid" is by Walt Kelly, and is a good example of his early comic book work. It appeared in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics #5, from 1942. The racial characterizations are crude and unfortunate but the strip is a product of its times.

Kelly's artwork showed up a lot in the 1940s Dell Comics. In my opinion his best work was done for Fairy Tale Parade and Animal Comics. He worked fast. As always his animal characters, in this case the lion, are great.

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Thanks to Karswell of The Horrors Of It All for the E for Excellent!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Number 272

Distant Shores

Syd Shores was a top artist in the Atlas Comics bullpen during the 1940s and early 1950s. He reappeared in the 1960s, and worked right up until his death at age 59 in 1973.

"I Prowl At Night" is a fine werewolf story drawn for Astonishing #16, August 1952. Too bad the color is printed off-register, but many a well drawn comic book was sabotaged by indifferent printers and mass production on the giant web presses of the day.

This is a page from one of the last things Shores did, from Marvel Comics' Chamber of Chills #1, November 1972.

"Delusions of a Dragon Slayer" is adapted by Gerry Conway from the story by Harlan Ellison. Shores penciled and inked this story. The last panel is turgid for a Code-approved comic of the era.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Number 271

Get us out from under, Blunder Woman

Wonder Woman…Wonder Girl…Wonder Tot…it's a wonder anyone bought Wonder Woman! Back in the early 1960s fandom had the Alley Awards. There was an early designation for "Worst Comic Book;" the Bob Kanigher-edited and written, Andru and Esposito-drawn Wonder Woman "won."

This early fanzine strip is from 1964. In a great little short by Marv Wolfman and artist Dave Herring perfectly captures the Wonder Woman comic. Odd was a fun fanzine, inspired by Harvey Kurtzman and Humbug.

I had to really work at this spirit-duplicated strip to make it presentable. Like a lot of ditto'd fanzines it was unevenly printed.

To Dave Herring and Marv Wolfman, thanks for a very funny strip.