Monday, January 30, 2012
We love Lucey
Harry Lucey was one of the best Archie artists. While Bob Montana was THE artist of the Archie newspaper comic strip, Lucey was the main artist for years on the comic books. He could tell a lot with an expression or a pose.
Sam Hill, Private Eye was another short-lived attempt by the publishers of Archie to supplement their teenage line with other comic book fare. Sam Hill lasted for seven issues in 1950-51, which is about par for Archie. Other comics, such as The Dover Boys, which I showed in Pappy's #870, also drawn by Lucey, had an even shorter run, only two issues. Since this issue of Sam Hill is the only one I have I can't tell you if it's typical of the series, but there really isn't anything in this comic, except for Harry Lucey's artwork, which makes it stand out for me from the run-of-the-mill private eye stories in popular fiction, comic books, radio or television.
Sam Hill seems especially tame when compared to Lucey's earlier work. Consider this Hangman story from Pappy's #572 or the first story in the first issue of Crime Does Not Pay in Pappy's #786.
From Sam Hill, Private Eye #4, 1951:
Sunday, January 29, 2012
"You may be a lover, but you ain't no dancer..."
April Dancer (catchy name) was the "Girl" from The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., an NBC television series that was a spin-off of the popular Man From U.N.C.L.E.. Stephanie Powers, in all her youthful pulchritude, played April. The show lasted 29 episodes in 1966-'67. The comic wasn't much more successful, going for five issues. This issue, #2, was illustrated by Phantom artist Bill Lignante, who drew three of the five.
As a reviewer observed, April got into messes and was rescued by her coworker, Mark Slate, played by Noel Harrison. Harrison had a career that included this series and a couple of hit songs, including the outrageously campy "A Young Girl."*
In this comic notice the character, Miss Harshley. This was the 1960s, and a manlike woman wouldn't be a caricature of a sexual stereotype, especially not in cleancut Gold Key comics...not overtly, of course, but inferences can be drawn.
*I recall my girlfriend at the time loved this song. I, being Pappy, just in a younger body, made fun of it whenever I could. I thought the song was stupid, but I was also jealous of modish and handsome Noel Harrison.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Jasper Fudd steps up to the plate
Jasper Fudd appeared in issues two and three of Boody Rogers' teenage comic, Dudley. Too bad there were only three issues because I think it's good. Jasper (and no, I don't know if he's related to Elmer Fudd) is a hick who moves to an urban high school, and needs to prove himself. It reminded me of what happened to me in a similar situation (oh lordy, another memoir from Pappy)...my family moved and I joined a fifth grade class which had been in session for a couple of months. I was tested on the baseball field during a phys ed class. I couldn't run, field, catch or play base, but Big Pappy had taught me how to bat, to step into a pitch and hit a long ball. That's what I did. I hit home runs. It was the same story with basketball. Big Pappy taught me to make free throws. I couldn't run, guard, or make a basket while moving, but I could hit free throws. So if there were ever teams that needed a guy to do one thing, and do it well, I would have been perfect. Alas. Fifth grade was the pinnacle of my career as a jock.
You can get the second Jasper story in Craig Yoe's book, Boody, still available from your favorite booksellers. This is the first Jasper Fudd story from Dudley #2, 1950:
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Hangman in the future
If the Hangman was an answer on the TV quiz show, Jeopardy, the question would be, "Who was the slain Comet's brother?"
Hangman was Bob Dickering, who took over when his superhero brother John was killed, and like many a vigilante character before him (and after him, too; see Dexter) swore vengeance on murderers. When the Hangman caught his prey, the criminal had the shadow of a noose cast upon him and then met a fitting end to his murderous career.
In this particular science fiction offering of the popular MLJ feature, published in The Black Hood #10, Spring 1944, Hangman goes after the villain by being sent 100 years to the future. It's a future much more enlightened than the world of 1944, one in which the death penalty has been abolished, and you can tell that because the news is on a big billboard.
Bob Fuje (Fujitani), who drew this episode of "Hangman," was one of the best artists to come out of the Golden Age. His work changed over the years from this Will Eisner lookalike to a more illustrative style, and he stayed active until at least the mid-1980s. As far as I know Fujitani, who was born in 1920, is still living at age 91.