Friday, April 19, 2019

Number 2326: Surprise! It’s Sir Prize

Sir Prize was drawn by Charles Voight, another of the old-time artists who went to work in comic books when comic books were still young. Voight had begun his newspaper comics career in 1908 when newspaper comics were young. For much of his career he drew a successful pretty girl comic strip called “Betty,” which was canceled in 1942, and I assume prompted his move into the comic books. He was born in 1887, and based on the intricate pen work and top-notch layouts I see here, it is too bad he could not go on for many more years. He died in 1947 at age 59.

Voight did two features for Prize, a boxing strip called “Boom Boom Brannigan,” and the medieval feature, “Sir Prize,” which was designed as a humor strip. This episode, set in the past, is actually about a current event: the shortage of housing in America for those returning home after World War II.

I give credit to Booksteve, who first showed “The Spook’s Nook, or, the Ghost’s Ghost!” in 2017 in his Four Color Shadows blog. I had seen Voight’s work before, but this was the first story of his that very much impressed me. I need to look closer at this artist’s work.

I have included a Frankenstein episode from the same issue. Dick Briefer did not have the sophistication of Voight, but his Frankenstein was popular, and went through three incarnations at his hand, finally ending in 1954. Both stories are from Prize Comics #60 (1946).

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Number 2325: Tarzan in the Ivory City...with The Strangler!

Going through my archives, I see I have posted Tarzan stories on 25 occasions. I enjoy the Tarzan comics, as I did the original novels and even an occasional movie.

The Tarzan novels featured several hidden civilizations in the jungle, and those cities figured into a lot of stories for the comics, also. In this story, Tarzan tracks his son who has been taken by slavers to the Ivory City. Tarzan doesn’t get a chance to save the lad before being himself thrown into a life-and-death fight with a gigantic, boastful gladiator called the Strangler. I particularly like this part of the story because it has a sense of humor. Strangler asks Tarzan which he would like pulled off first, an arm or a leg, and Tarzan just replies, “Take your choice.”  It is probably not a spoiler to reveal that Tarzan prevails, mainly because he is practiced in jungle judo.

The story is written by regular scripter Gaylord Dubois, and drawn by Jesse Marsh. It was published in Tarzan #19 (1951).

I showed the other Tarzan story from this issue a few years ago, which has Tarzan with dinosaurs. Along with lost cities, Tarzan was often involved with creatures and people from the lost land of Pal-Ul-Don. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Number 2324: Enter the Fighting Yank!

The origin of Fighting Yank was published in 1942, the year that America entered the war. Patriotic heroes were popular, so Startling Comics editor, Richard E. Hughes, wrote the origin story, and it was drawn by Jon L. Blummer. The story, which has a supernatural cause for Bruce Carter’s powers as Fighting Yank, is fairly typical for the time; patriotic hero goes after Nazis. The character went on for several years and several artists, including a run by Jerry Robinson and Mort Meskin in the late '40s, before Fighting Yank hung up his cape and hat.

I have been doing some thinking about all of the heroes introduced in the wake of Superman, before official hostilities were declared, and then after the war began. Who bought all of these comic books that continually repeated themes? Despite much criticism, comic books had certainly come into their own, and they enjoyed huge sales. Kids bought comic books, or their parents bought comic books for them. Some of it was the convergence of the comic books with America’s entry into the war. Paper rationing was instituted, so each publisher had a paper allotment. With thousands of troops being drafted the comics sold extremely well in PX's. What I have read is that anything that was printed was sold. Publishers were encouraged to stay in the business because comic books were money in the bank...10¢ at a time. At least until the end of the war, when tastes changed from what had been traditional in comic books. My feeling is that troops were attracted to reading material that even for the less literate servicemen, could be “read” by looking at the pictures.

The comics were good for morale, the war was good for the comics.

The story is from Startling Comics #10 (1942):