Sunday, August 29, 2010

Number 798

Born of a nightmare

Consider if Edgar Rice Burroughs had lost Tarzan to a huge corporation which made millions in profit from the character over the years, and fired Burroughs from writing his own creation. Think of Conan Doyle losing Sherlock Holmes in a similar fashion. Good thing those nightmare scenarios never happened.

Superman is an icon like those characters, yet the nightmare happened to creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. A few years after being bumped from Superman they came up with another character, Funnyman. I'm sure they knew all about the Superman lawsuit against Fawcett over Captain Marvel and their lawyers may have told them, "Make any new characters you create unlike Superman or DC will sue." Funnyman is about as un-Supermanlike as you can get.

OK, so Funnyman isn't so funny...more oddball than humorous. And if anyone other than Siegel and Shuster had come up with the character our expectations might not have been so high. But he's not all that bad, either. Unfortunately, he didn't get much time to prove anything one way or another. His self-titled comic was canceled after six issues.

The Grand Comics Database says this was drawn by Shuster, but it isn't. I don't know who drew it, but it wasn't Shuster. I like Queen Hotcha, and she's a hottie, but she's not a Joe Shuster hottie.

The story, inspired by Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is from Funnyman #4, 1948.


Karswell said...

Yeah, they could've just skipped all the funny business and given Queen Hotcha her own series... who knows what Wonder Woman's fate would've been over in the DCU!

Pappy said...

Nowadays we'd probably call Queen Hotcha Queen Hottie.

Related to the subject: I looked up "hotcha" on various dictionary sites, not finding it. I grew up with that slang word, and was surprised that it has apparently dropped out of the lexicon. I remember comedian Jimmy Durante saying "hotchachacha" as part of his repertoire of expressions. Durante was popular on the radio at the time, and I'm sure "hotchachacha" or "hotcha" came from that.

Jimmy Durante Comics was less successful even than Funnyman, lasting two issues to six for Funnyman, but Durante's career survived a flop comic book.

Wonder Woman could have wrestled Queen Hotcha...I would have paid to see that.

Mark said...

It's a shame that Siegel and Shuster couldn't been given the same deal that Dirks got when he was permitted by the court to continue doing the Katzenjammer Kids under a different name (as The Captain and the Kids) when he switched syndicates.

By the way, on a personal note, I notice that another "Mark" has started posting comments here. The Mark that posted a comment on your blog entry #796 is a different Mark.

I'm Mark Armstrong, and have posted comments here a number of times in the past.

Jeff Overturf said...

Where do I buy those tickets? I want front row seats to the Rasslin' Match of the century!

Pappy said...

OK, Mark...your comment about the second Mark is duly noted.

"Katzenjammer Kids" and "Captain and the Kids" would seem to have set a precedent for using the same characters with another title. I wonder if any of the lawyers even brought it up.

Mykal Banta said...

What fantastic art. It almost looks like one of those guys that ghosted "The Spirit" while Eisner was in the Army. Like Cole or Grandenetti - one of those guys It has the look of a great draftsman "working in the style of".

Mykal Banta said...

I'll be danged if at times it doesn't look like Howie Post. A bit early, maybe.

Pappy said...

Mykal, I'm not sure of names, but Shuster had assistants. Like Eisner, Shuster had a studio.

rnigma said...

John Sikela was the assistant who ghosted for Shuster on the Funnyman newspaper strip; perhaps he drew this too?

Booksteve said...

Not saying it's by him but Dick Ayers is on record as saying he worked on FUNNYMAN at the Shuster Studio during this period. Just sayin.

Pappy said...

Booksteve, I'd heard that Ayers spent some time working for Shuster, but I can't tell if he worked on this or not. Rnigma, if Sikela worked on the Funnyman newspaper strip he probably helped with the comic book, too. Incidentally, news of a newspaper strip is...well, news to me!

Chuck Wells said...

Wacked out story! Funnyman's actual artist would be interesting to note, isn't the info available anywhere?