Monday, February 28, 2011

Number 904

Big Pappy and the rowboat fender-bender

Sometime in the mid 1950s my father, Big Pappy, took us for a week's vacation at a lake. One morning after we'd fished from a bridge, Big Pappy took us for a rowboat ride. He wasn't paying enough attention and bumped into another rowboat, which caused quite a loud discussion between him and the other rowboat pilot. I hadn't thought of that in years, but that's what I was reminded of when I read "City Park" by the team of writer Fred Toole and artist Al Wiseman in Dennis The Menace #18, 1956. I bought it in California last October and it gave me a flash from the real-life past. Art imitating life.

Speaking of art, Dennis creator Hank Ketcham drew the cover, which ties in with the story.

We've had some other stories by the Toole-Wiseman artistic team, and you can find them by clicking on "Al Wiseman" in the labels below. For this post I've included a non-Dennis story by the team, "Screamy Mimi."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Number 903

"I've just seen another Face..."

Friday's Face posting segues into today's story, "The Face," drawn by Steve Ditko, which appeared in Tales Of Suspense #26, in 1961. I downloaded the scans of the original art some years ago from Heritage Auctions, then encountered the story recently when I found it reprinted in Fear #8 from 1972.

I'm posting both so you can look at a really well-designed story without color, then with. The art is not packed with details. Ditko's minimalist design choices might have had more to do with how much work was on his schedule, but I find it exceptionally attractive. I also think the full-page splash is a classic.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Number 902

"I've just seen a Face,
I can't forget the time or place..."

I've gone on record a couple of times saying I think the Face had a pretty stupid schtick. He wore a suit and his costume was a green mask which wouldn't scare a 6-year-old. Artist Mart Bailey wanted us to believe he could scare crooks and the whole Japanese army, until the character gave up the mask after World War II and appeared in his civilian identity as Tony Trent.

Apparently, from notes I've gotten from a couple of my readers when I've shown the Face, they forgive the Face for wearing a funny-looking mask, and I have been gently chided for my complaint. After all, this is only a comic book character. I have to agree with that. But it also has to do with driving down the freeway just before last Halloween and becoming aware of a car in the next lane pacing me. When I looked over the passenger was looking at me; he was wearing an old man mask, and it startled the bejabbers outta me.

I maintained my composure and stayed on the road. I turned, outwardly calm, back to my driving. I did not want the young whippersnapper in the mask to know I needed to change my underwear.

So I guess the Face's mask would scare someone, and now I know it would be most likely me.

This is the final posting from Sparky Watts #1, 1942.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

 Number 901

The Skyman and the killer rain

As promised, this is the Skyman story from Sparky Watts #1, 1942.

The Skyman, written and co-created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Ogden Whitney, had a good run during the 1940s. I think the Skyman was a cut above many of the heroes of the time, and it was because of the creative crew. Idea-wise, the Skyman is a mixture of several aviation strips with that rich playboy-as-hero we saw so much of in early comic books.

I like these early Skyman adventures because of Whitney's clear ink line, his careful composition and above-average drawing. He kept his distinctive style his whole career, as any Herbie fan will tell you. Whitney's life was something of a tragedy; he was reputed to be an alcoholic, and when his wife died he went around the bend and was evicted from his apartment. The widow of ACG editor Richard Hughes said Whitney died in the early 1970s.