Monday, August 29, 2016

Number 1938: Sub-Mariner: Crocodile tears

A short but pleasing Sub-Mariner story from the mid-fifties incarnation of Sub-Mariner, drawn by his creator, Bill Everett. A 100-foot croc is roaming about Brazil, so Namor and his gal, Betty, go south to find it. It is probably the only time I have ever seen the cliché, “crocodile tears,” illustrated. That was Everett; he had a sense of humor.

(I am writing this well in advance of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but what folks are worried about in Brazil is a tiny mosquito that can cause a terrible problem. It does not take great size to cause great disaster.)

From Sub-Mariner #33 (1954):

Friday, August 26, 2016

Number 1937: Happy 104th birthday, Tarzan!

In 2012 I posted Tarzan #155, which was an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel Tarzan of the Apes, first published in 1912. I did it to observe Tarzan’s 100th anniversary, and for the 104th anniversary I have the same adaptation, taken from the same comic, as an educational tool in the form of a school workbook.

It was designed and produced by Glen Johnson, at the time a teacher at the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah. For many years Navajo children were taken from the reservation and taught at boarding schools under the aegis of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The system was well-meaning but often racially insensitive, and it was ultimately closed down. Glen is a comics fan, and made many contacts with newspaper syndicates and comic book artists to secure permission to use comics as teaching tools. I have probably forgotten the whole story behind this workbook (Glen gave it to me when it was published in 1972, and memories fade), but I recall that Glen knew artist Russ Manning. The workbook is from stats made from the original art. The stats for the story were prepared for the reprint in Gold Key‘s Tarzan #178 (1968).

After page one of the story I have included one of Johnson’s worksheets the students filled out. I am showing it as an example; every page of the story is accompanied by such a worksheet.

The cover of the workbook was drawn by a local artist, Ned Young, then a teenager, who is now a professional artist and illustrator. You can see his modern work at the Ned Young Studio website.

My 2012 posting of the color comics version. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Number 1936: Little House on Mars

If nothing else, this episode of the Ghost from Nedor’s Thrilling Comics #17 (1941) should serve as a jaw-dropping example of how many elements can be dropped into a story. Time machine to Mars. Red Martian rocks holding the essential component to a successful defense weapon for America. A little house, almost a log cabin, really, on Mars protected by a bunch of ugly little men with ray guns. And out of the door to said house comes a tall blonde girl in a bra top and miniskirt.

Oh, and the Ghost is a comic book magician, so there is some of that finger-waving hokus-pokus going on, also.

The Grand Comics Database credits the art to Ed Wexler, and the story to Richard E. Hughes. Hughes, who was also the editor, stuck with the comics until his death in the late '60s. In my opinion Hughes’ magnum opus was the Herbie series, which made the goings-on in a screwball tale like this Ghost story seem almost normal. But Herbie was intentionally funny.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Number 1935: Ghastly's real-life horror

Graham “Ghastly” Ingels’ gothic and moody artwork for EC Comics can still send a shiver to anyone encountering his work for the first time. But Ingels struggled with alcoholism, and it was (according to some) at EC that his drinking got worse. In an article in Filmfax Outré #5 (1996), author/interviewer Don Vaughn tells of Ingels’ drinking: “Ingels quickly became one of EC’s premiere [sic] talents, drawing the lead story in . . . Haunt of Fear, secondary stories for the two other horror title and the occasional crime tale. It was a grueling schedule, but Ingels was fast with a brush and had little trouble keeping up, says fellow EC alumni [sic] George Evans.

“It was during this period, associates recall, that Ingels’ drinking started to get out of hand. His work never suffered, but he occasionally missed deadlines, forcing EC editor Al Feldstein to give him advanced deadlines so that publishing schedules wouldn’t be affected. Sometimes, say friends, Ingels would disappear for days at a time — often with the completed artwork under his arm. Amazingly, he never once misplaced it.”

In the article Evans describes a ride home with Ingels after Ingels had imbibed several beers. “We would be tearing along at 65 miles per hour on the parkway and I would see lights a mile ahead and he would suddenly hit the brakes. Then we would be approaching traffic and he would put his foot on the gas pedal. At a given point, I would say, “Hey, Graham, you’re coming up on that pretty damned fast!” And he would say, “Not to worry, George, I’ve got everything under control.”

So Ingels drove drunk. He is lucky he and his passengers — or innocents in another car — didn’t end up looking like the cadaverous creatures he sometimes drew. As the article goes on, in later life Ingels backed off drinking so much, but by then it had ruined his marriage and his relationship with his children. Before he died in 1991 he reconciled with his daughter, but not his son. Alcoholism was the horror story Ingels lived. But there is some sort of happy ending: Ingels became a respected art teacher in Florida, and author Vaughn quoted some comments from Ingels’ students praising his teaching and artistic ability.

In a more traditional sense, Ingels’ paper nightmares, those he drew for EC Comics, are readily available in various forms, deluxe hardcover compilations to the original pre-Code comics to reprints of those comics. In the case of “Nobody There!” from Haunt of Fear #16 (1952), these are scans of the original art I am posting with grateful approbation to Heritage Auctions, who sold these eight pages for $28,680.