Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pappy's Tenth Anniversary Sunday Special Number 4: Anarcho, Dictator of Death

It is no big deal to have comic book stories that go cover-to-cover, but Fawcett’s Anarcho, Dictator of Death (1948) is called Comics Novel. No, it probably doesn’t qualify as the first graphic novel because it was sold alongside other mainstream comic books. (Fawcett also did another book length comic the same year called On the Spot, the story of Pretty Boy Floyd.)

It stars Anarcho, a villain bent on bringing fascism back to the world. And some would say he must’ve been successful, the way the word fascist is used nowadays to describe any political opponent with whom one does not agree. But I digress. It also stars as the hero, Radar, a character who had a fairly short run for Fawcett, not exactly the most popular character, but one created in conjunction with the United States government’s Office of War Information.

Fawcett editor Will Lieberson told the story in an article from the book, Fawcett Companion, the Best of Fawcett Collectors of America (1991). He said he met with a distinguished literary group, Clifton Fadiman, Paul Gallico and Rex Stout, to create a feature. What came out of it was Radar, an International Policeman, who went around the world solving crimes and beating back the flames of fascism. I can see why Radar had a non-star costume. To a comic book fan's way of thinking a reversed topcoat — turned inside out it was green plaid — is not really a costume. Radar was introduced in Captain Marvel Adventures #35 (1944), and then went to Master Comics, to appear in issues #50-87.

According to the GCD, Anarcho, Dictator of Death is written by Otto Binder, and drawn by Al Carreno. I admit I was not only ignorant of Radar (never read a story about him before this), but also of artist Carreno. He was a journeyman with a solid illustrative comic art drawing style from that era. With further research I found out Albert Carreno was born in 1905, educated in Mexico, came to the U.S. and worked in comic books for several companies in the forties and fifties. He became a member of the prestigious National Cartoonists Society, and died in 1964.