Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Number 2341: Boy Beetle, Herbie

This is a story about Herbie Popnecker, and how he found pop music stardom. He stuck a mop on his head, turned his name around to Eibreh Rekcenpop, then warbled a couple of songs to drive the girls wild! As pop stars of that era will tell you, it was not easy to compete with the Beatles. It was more of a long and winding road to stardom for most. But Herbie, errrr, I mean Eibreh, has some sort of irresistible charm about him. Herbie is so charming that he charmed a whole bunch of people into buying his comic book in the sixties, and even now it is seen as something still charming, even unique in comic book history.

In “Herbie, Boy ‘Beetle’” the Beatles really aren’t prominent; they appear in a few panels and then vanish, leaving the rest of the story to Eibreh and jealousy from established artists Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Just when you think the story couldn’t get any screwier, Dean and Frank assault Herbie by cracking objects over his head. That physical stuff never works on Herbie, who is impervious to harm..

Written for Herbie #5 (1964) by ACG editor Richard E. Hughes under the name Shane O’Shay, and drawn by the master of deadpan humor, Ogden Whitney. Herbie is, as always, a very unusual hero. And we love him, yeah yeah yeah.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Number 2340: The eyes have it

My jaw dropped to my desktop when I saw the cover of Captain Marvel Jr #115 (1952). Good thing I have a beard to cushion the impact. As we have seen before, Fawcett used horror for some of the Marvel Family titles, seeing as how horror comics were the big sellers in that period. The illustration by Bud Thompson is a good example of what Dr Fredric Wertham, M.D. in his 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, called the injury to the eye motif. In this era of graphic horror movies this cover does not seem as shocking today as it probably was to readers in 1952. What I can say about it now, decades later, is it is one that Dr Wertham missed.

Graphic eyeball violence notwithstanding, I like the story. “The Thousand Eyed Idol of Doom,” is credited to artist Bud Thompson, and script by William Woolfolk, according to the Grand Comics Database. Oh yeah, and flying eyeballs are the flying saucers!

The most famous of the “injury to the eye” examples, found in SOTI, and the story it came from. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Number 2339: Harvey Kurtzman and the atom bomb thief

“Atom Bomb Thief!” was written and drawn by Harvey Kurtzman for Weird Fantasy #14 (actual issue #2, 1950).*

At the time there was a lot of talk about atomic secrets being stolen, and the Russians building their own bomb (the Soviet Union detonated their first nuclear bomb on August 29, 1949, so it was in the news.) Besides the pay-off of the story being obvious, EC Comics used those snappy surprise endings so often the ending was not a real surprising surprise, but at least appropriate to the build up.

SPOILER ALERT: Kurtzman used a real life nuclear test as his ending, the Baker bomb test at Bikini Atoll in July, 1946. Camera footage from that test was used at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s dark 1964 fantasy, Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.END SPOILER

Kurtzman’s story was also a way for him to use some cinematic effects in his drawings, enhancing the storytelling. I especially like the the layouts of the first and last pages.

*Weird Fantasy had been “formerly A Moon...A Girl...Romance” in order to save on having to buy a new second class postal permit. In this case they got caught after five issues, so they had to start re-numbering with issue number 6. The result was issue numbers repeated later on, affecting issue numbers 13 through 17.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Number 2338: Steel Colossus

Looking through a copy of Blackhawk #91 (1955), an early Comics Code-approved issue, I counted three stories involving the Blackhawks and communists. There is only one other story in the issue, and that is of the racist character, Chop-Chop.

I am showing this story because I like mechanical giants like the Steel Colossus. What a delight to read on the Grand Comics Database that Batman co-creator and scriptor, Bill Finger, is the author. I probably got my love for those types of huge villainous devices in the fifties from reading Batman.

Artists are the regulars, Dick Dillin and Chuck Cuidera.