Friday, September 13, 2019

Number 2388: Sheriff Sal, one helluva gal

The town fathers of Red Dog give Sally Starr the job of sheriff because the town is too peaceful. No man wants the job, they claim. Sally overlooks the implied insult to her sex and snaps up the opportunity. Despite the misgivings of some she does a good job as sheriff. That drives her boyfriend, Flash Gannon (he of the green cowboy hat and bright yellow shirt*), crazy. He wants her to quit and marry him. You get a sense of his feelings for Sheriff Sal by how he pins her badge on in the last panel of page one, shone above and where he rests his right hand while doing it.

Western Adventures, from Ace, lasted just six issues in 1949, then the book was cancelled, and continued as Western Love Trails for three more issues before being finally retired. Sally and Flash went through all six of Western Adventures, and appeared in the first issue (#7) of Western Love Trails.

I believe the traditional Western comic was done for boys and young men, and includes some female Western fans. Sally’s story is an example for them that women can do the jobs that are traditionally male. The final story in the love comic shows Sally finally giving in to Flash, thereby letting the young women (and men) who read it know that in order to keep her love, Sally has to return to a “typical” female role.

This story, drawn by King Ward, appeared in Western Adventures #1 (1948).

*Two days ago I showed an example of how Quality Comics went for glaring colors in its early forties period...that tradition lives on with some of the colors in this story.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Number 2387: Uncle Sam is just Fine!

This exquisite collection of original art is all one story of Uncle Sam, from National Comics #13 (1941). I have used the scans from Heritage Auctions. They did a beautiful job showing near-pristine artwork by Lou Fine; very few globs of white paint, no pasteovers — or at least none that I can readily see — and what blue pencil marks I see are very light.

Lou Fine is credited with the artwork for this story, and Will Eisner with the writing. Seeing the original art is depriving you of seeing it in full eye-blasting color, but here is an example from the printed comic book of the phantasmic look it gives to the story.

Blue boulders? Egad. Other pages have bright red skies, and other color anomalies. Like most comic book publishers of the time, Quality Comics’ “quality” in printing left much to be desired, even with the oddball coloring. The colors cover up the delicate line and feathered brush work that Fine was known for, which is why I am showing the original art and not the comic book version.

Heritage Auctions sold the artwork in 2013 for $53,755.00. Thanks to them for providing the art on their website.

Here is the origin story from National Comics #1. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Number 2386: The First Detective

Eugène François Vidocq (sometimes shown as François Eugène Vidocq), born 1775, was a self-reformed criminal (supposedly) who founded the French Sûreté Nationale. Later he founded the first private detective agency, which was at odds with the police agency he had founded. He even ended up arrested and in jail a few times.

He was a colorful historical character, made more colorful by writing a book about himself where he could shape the narrative to make himself sound braver, smarter, and more courageous. This colorful comic book biography from Hillman Periodical’s Crime Detective #3 (1948) follows the lead of Vidocq’s autobiography, and tells a tale of Vidocq in disguise, which I believe may or may not have happened. It is a crime comic, entertainment after all, and longtime readers might remember this blog’s admonition that the word “true” in a crime comic is a floating concept, with much fiction mixed in with the bare bones of the truth.

The artwork is credited to Mort Lawrence, who went on to draw more crime stories for Wanted, another “true” crime comic.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Number 2385: “This will shake the sauerkraut out of your teeth!”

Captain Midnight had several incarnations: radio show, newspaper comic strip, movie serial, television series (re-branded as “Jet Jackson”) and comic book hero. Dell Comics originally, then Fawcett for 67 issues from 1942 to 1948. He was a popular guy.

I’m not an expert on Captain Midnight, but I like some of the Fawcett comics I’ve read. This story caught my eye because it has a familiar concept. It is about a miniature drone, or radio controlled plane, the flying eye, as they call it, with television camera in it to keep tabs on the enemy. Yes, there was television in 1943, but it was still in development. and as I understand it, that development was shelved during the war at the request of the U.S. government. So Captain Midnight, who built the small robot plane, must have been doing the work on TV himself. The story is also about a group of Nazis led by Herr Hacker. “Hacker”? hmmm, a word known to us 21st century folks, but in this story Herr Hacker actually does hack...with his sword.

The Grand Comics Database has no guesses on either a writer or artist, but I think the artwork was done by the Jack Binder comic art shop; the lettering gives it away to me.

From Captain Midnight #10 (1942):