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.

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:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Number 743

Space Rover, Space Rover, send Flash Gordon right over...

The Space Rovers feature was short-lived in Exciting Comics, lasting a mere seven issues, from #2 to #9, in 1940. In #9 Black Terror was added to the Exciting line-up, and his popularity apparently pushed Space Rovers out of the book. Or, it could be that someone at King Features called up publisher Ned Pines and said, "Your Space Rovers feature looks a lot like our Flash Gordon feature."

And it did. Drawn by Max Plaisted, it was another in the comic book tradition of swiping a popular newspaper comic strip. Flash Gordon, with its popularity and elegant artwork by Alex Raymond, was just too tempting to steal.

Flash and Dale became Ted and Jane in Space Rovers. Imitation or not, it's fun. Any strip with giant robots and kings on other planets lusting after the heroine is OK in my book. Other Flash Gordon imitators featured here have been in Pappy's #584 and Pappy's #673.

I couldn't find much online information about Max Plaisted, other than he worked in comics from the mid-'30s to mid-'50s, and worked around the industry, sometimes under pen-names. In "Space Rovers" he showed, swipes or not, he was a fairly good artist.

From Exciting Comics #'s 3 and 4, 1940: