Monday, May 31, 2010

Number 746

Mr. Nodel and Mr. Norman

Don Norman, who did these well-illustrated strips for Web of Horror #1, in 1969, was actually artist Norman Nodel. Nodel, who had an elegant pen line, had a long career in comics beginning in the Golden Age. He was at the height of his illustrative abilities with Classics Illustrated #167, Faust.

Here are a couple of pages of Faust, from the original art I found on the internet.

According to the short Lambiek bio, he also did work under the Don Norman name in Creepy and Eerie, as well as at Charlton under his Nodel name. Norman Nodel was yet another pseudonym. He was born Nochem Yeshaya. The last ten years of his life were spent illustrating books and magazines for Jewish children. As the Lambiek bio also says, he worked up until the last day of his life, which was in February, 2000, at age 78.

Web Of Horror was a short-lived Creepy imitation from Major Magazines, which also published Cracked. During Web's three issues there was early work by young artists like Bernie Wrightson, Ralph Reese, and Mike Kaluta, among others, as well as by comic book veterans like Syd Shores and Nodel.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Number 745

Pappy and the Boy Commando tale of woe

At a San Diego Comics Con in the early 1980s I took a couple of comics to sell or trade: Boy Commandos #1 and Piracy #1, both of them practically the near-mintiest-close-to-mint Golden Age comics I owned.

At night my buddies and I hung out in a bar. I had a few too many (not hard to do, since I'm not much of a drinker). The next day, bleary-eyed, head thumping, with my buddies and an envelope containing the two comics I wanted to swap or sell, I headed for the convention floor. In my hungover state I left the envelope on a table somewhere while I looked around. I realized my error a bit later and went back, but by then I'd been at several tables and didn't know where I'd left it. I asked around, but, ah, what the my friend told me, "Give it up. Someone has your comics now; it's like finding gold."

It ruined that convention for me. A couple of months ago I was reminded of my fuzzy-headed mistake when I ran across an online scan of Boy Commandos #1. But in some ways it helped. It was nice to see it again, even in a digital form. I'm not in the business of selling old comics anymore, unless it's just "selling" them to you as an art form or fun diversion for a few minutes of your day.

Here's a toast to Boy Commandos #1 by Simon and Kirby, to the San Diego Comics Convention of bygone days, to hungover conventioneers. Cheers!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Number 744

No foo like an old foo

Smokey Stover and Spooky were creations of screwball cartoonist Bill Holman, who kept up the Smokey Stover comic strip for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1973, surely a record for creating crazy cartoons and outrageous puns. Read through these sample Sunday pages from 1943; every panel is packed with silliness.

Holman used the word "foo" a lot. In turn it was borrowed from Smokey Stover and used to describe the mysterious fiery balls in the sky over Germany, spotted by American airmen flying bombing missions during World War II ("Foo Fighters", and that's where the name of the band originated, rock fans).

Holman is shown here in 1950 having fun with one of the perks of the job. If you can draw funny pictures you too can have groupies! Look at Bill, and tell me it isn't true.

These pages are scanned from Dell's Super Comics #116, 1948: