Friday, July 13, 2018

Number 2206: Ace Powers and the Panther Men

Ace Powers was one of those early comics heroes who went about fighting crime in his civilian clothes, without having the burden of changing into a costume or maintaining a secret identity. (Although “Ace Powers” sounds fake...maybe he changed it from his real name, something like John Smith.) Ace takes on the Panther Men, who are terrorizing a town. The head of the gang gives his henchmen a hacksaw to cut through their bars at the "Insane Asylum” (we don’t use that title anymore; it conjured up visions of murderous maniacs and other boogeymen who were put away in an asylum for the good of society). What I know of hacksaw blades is they break, so these “insane” guys got lucky, or maybe Panther Man had to keep running to the hardware store to buy more blades, and we were spared the boring details.

The story is drawn by Gaspano “Gus” Ricca, another journeyman professional who came to the comics in the 1930s when joining the Funnies Inc. studio, a comic art service. Ricca’s work is seen quite a bit in the forties and early fifties, although he left the business in 1953 when there was a crash in the industry. I have seen his work associated with Fawcett, drawing Ibis the Invincible, and he did some stunning and morbid covers for Harry “A” Chesler’s Dynamic Comics.

Drew Friedman, portraitist, did this painting of Ricca. In the portrait he is smoking a cigarette. Ricca died in 1956 at age 50. Coincidence?

The story is from Silver Streak Comics #5 (1940).

Here is a story that puts Ricca in an infamous comic art gallery: one of the examples used by Dr Fredric Wertham, M.D., in his book Seduction of the Innocent, to warn parents of the evils of comic books. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Number 2205: Jungle love

Love Scandals from Quality Comics is aptly named. In the lead story from issue #4 (1950), Lona, a receptionist for Tacker Rubber Company, meets and falls for Dan Best, wealthy rubber plantation owner. The relationship proceeds at near supersonic speed. One date is enough: Dan and Lona get married and she moves to his plantation with him. No love story runs smooth, and this is no exception. Lona meets and falls for Sam Wells, a local bounder, who charms Lona into nearly running off with him.

The Grand Comics Database doesn’t guess at the artwork, but I’ll throw in my 2¢ worth and say I think Bill Ward did the pencils, and another artist did the inking. Ward is my choice for pencils because we get at least one good lingerie panel. Lona’s face does not look like a typical Ward face, so my guess is that more than one artist is responsible. Besides the lingerie, Ward’s style jumps out at me with the shopgirl on page 5, who looks like a dominatrix. (To me, anyway, heh-heh.)

Monday, July 09, 2018

Number 2204: The Claw; the missing Dick!

Dick Hopkins is one of 2000 soldiers — a whole troop-train full — falling prey to the “World’s Worst Villian” [sic]. Said villian, errrr, I mean villain,* is the Claw, another in a long line of sinister, murderous “Orientals” falling into the genre called the Yellow Peril, a whole bunch of racist pulp literature, movies, et al, popular for far too long. The most (in)famous example would be Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu.

At 25 feet tall the Claw stands out, yet is allowed to roam the American landscape with what looks like hundreds of henchmen, without being caught by the American military. In these stories it is usually a lone white man, in this case Dick Hopkin’s brother, Bill, who defeats the Claw and his army, if only until the next issue.

Signed by artist/co-editor Bob Wood, and originally published in Daredevil Comics #2 (1941).

*Weird also misspelled “wierd.”

Friday, July 06, 2018

Number 2203: Suzie by Bill Woggon: Oh, baby!

Bill Woggon was most famous for his Katy Keene series for Archie Comics. They are somewhat hard to find today in un-mutilated condition, because he included paper dolls, and many of the kids who bought the comic cut out the paper dolls.

No such problem with other features he did for Archie. For instance, in 1946 he drew a couple of Suzie stories for issue #52 of Suzie Comics. In biographical information about Katy Keene, it has been noted that Katy Keene was “clean” — free of sexy innuendoes, anyway. I don’t know for certain because I haven’t seen all that many issues of Katy (that old mutilation thing again). Katy herself dressed in top fashions of the day, wore bathing suits, and Katy “posed” — drawn by the artist in typical pin-up style, so she had an appeal beyond that of just fashion design.

Archie Comics were a bit freer in their early days, after morphing from MLJ Comics, where they had a certain rowdy reputation. Suzie was no different. She was a typical sitcom dumb blonde, and was of her era. She was sexy, shapely, and Woggon seemed to delight in showing her in sexy poses. In “Suzie ‘Clicks’ in a Camera Shop” the plot revolves around photography-shop employee Suzie misunderstanding what a portly gentlemen means by pictures of “his baby.” In the next panel we see him with his “Baby”...a hot chick on his arm. Later we find out the gent is married, and risks disclosure of his affair to his wife, except that Suzie, in her simple way, has solved the problem for him. Oh, make a joyful noise! His adulterous behavior will be undisclosed until another day, and Suzie will not be involved. Yes, sex, even though not blatantly presented, is part of the story. Woggon, who is credited for the script by the Grand Comics Database, stays on this side of decorum, but we can assume the old man is a cad, and on the sly is boffing the sweet young thing in the red dress.

Suzie Comics #52 is actually issue #4.