Monday, January 23, 2017

Number 2001: Lady Satan no good for the Hood

The Hood seems generic to me. The character appeared in comics in the mid-forties, including Cat-Man Comics, which is where this story appeared. Here he mixes with Lady Satan, who joins a whole string of Lady Satans throughout comic book history, all of them for different companies and in different degrees of ladylike behavior, Satanic or not.

The Hood also joins the company of comic books characters like Black Hood. The Hood also had no super powers; he was an Army major who put on a costume.

This story was drawn by Jack Alderman, an artist I don’t see as fitting in with costumed characters. I see him doing what I thought he did best, crime stories. His dark panels lend themselves more to nefarious deeds of the underworld than heroics. Alderman drew stiff figures, not good for superhero comics. In order to do a hero socking a bad guy panel (last page) Alderman borrowed a Jack Kirby pose. If you don’t usually draw action poses, Jack Kirby is the artist to swipe.

In the story the Hood’s girlfriend is Ray Herman. Ray, or Rae, was a real person, an editor and publisher in one of the most confusing mixes of comic book publishing ever. Due to some sleight of hand of the guy who started the company — or companies — over 70 years ago it is hard to trace the connections between Et-Es-Go, Continental, Holyoke, et al. Rae Herman was involved in them, and she was co-owner of Orbit Publishing, which published Wanted Comics, Toytown, and Westerner, among others. The story also uses the name “Quinlan“ — a nod to Charles M. Quinlan, mostly identified with Cat-Man, which he drew.

Writing credited to Jack Grogan. From Cat-Man Comics #23 (1944):

Friday, January 20, 2017

Number 2000: Woody: Faced with horror

This is the fourth and last posting of our crime week.

“Faced with Horror!” was written by EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines and editor Al Feldstein, and drawn by Wallace Wood. My interest in showing it to you is not because of the weak story— the surprise ending is telegraphed and obvious — but the artwork by Wood, which overwhelms its flaws.

Wood (signing himself “Woody”) was coming to the top of his form as an artist. His work here is inspired by Eisner, for whom he was also working during this time. Looking at his original art, which was sold at auction by Heritage for $11,950 (cheap!) his drawings, drenched in black india ink, give the story a noirish look, imbued with a power the story probably didn’t deserve. But that was Wood. His personal story, told in the recent Fantagraphics book, The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood, Volume 1,* makes clear that at the time Wood was an obsessive, dedicated to his craft.

Scans of the original art are from Heritage Auctions. The story first appeared in EC’s Crime SuspenStories #3 (1951).

 *Highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Number 1999: “Come and get me, coppers! Ha ha ha!”

This is day three of our crime comics week.

The usually staid DC Comics got into the crime comics business in 1948 when several other publishers flooded the newsstands with gangsters and gunplay. DC did it a different way, by licensing a popular radio show, Gang Busters. Maybe the powers at DC thought that would keep away the outrage from censorious groups. But looking at the cover of Gang Busters #1 we find some of the same elements as we’d find in other crime comics, including a crook getting shot by a cop, and a pretty girl for sex appeal.

In the story, “Crime Agency,” we see other things we have come to expect from crime comics: bondage, shootings, a criminal conspiracy. We also get a crook under fire yelling, “Come and get me, coppers!” Did any crook in the history of crookdom every really yell, “Come and get me, coppers!" at the cops firing at him? Maybe.

Dan Barry did the beautiful art for this tale of a policewoman working undercover for a gang burglarizing the homes of the wealthy. From Gang Busters #1 (1948):

Monday, January 16, 2017

Number 1998: “I think they call it the payoff!”

This is the second day in our week of crime comics. If you missed it, scroll down to the Sunday Supplement from yesterday, showing the complete Famous Crimes #1.

So-called “true crime” comics were obsessed by gangsters, killers and thugs who were part of organized crime. Such was the case of Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll, who was a psychopath and killer during the 1920s, getting lots of press at the time because of his association with big-time mobster Dutch Schultz. There were a lot of criminals out there, but some of the same names, including Coll’s, pop up in several crime comics. I showed another story about Coll, drawn by Leonard Starr, in 2009 (see the link). I am a sucker for stories set during that wild period of the twenties and thirties, when prohibition was the law of the land, gang wars were erupting, and newspaper headlines were screaming bloody murder (literally).

This story is Vincent Coll drawn by Bernie Krigstein. It’s from Hillman’s Crime Detective #3 (1948):

Another version of the Coll story. Just click on the thumbnail.