Monday, October 24, 2016

Number 1962: Airboy the gladiator

Airboy lands his plane in Tarzan territory (see the link below the story). He and his boss, Tex, are captured by Romans, who have built a civilization in the African jungle. The unknown author of this story was probably inspired by the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, Tarzan and the Lost Empire, which was published in 1929.

Drawn by Ernest Schroeder, from Airboy Comics Vol. 6 No. 11 (1949). Cover by Dan Zolnerowich.

Here is a story of Tarzan taking a cruise with some ancient Romans. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Number 1961: "H-Bomb from the moon!" Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub

This is the last entry in our ACG Week.

This week we’ve seen two postings that are deliberately funny, and now this one, which is funny, but in that particular ACG kinda way. Editor Richard E. Hughes, whom I believe wrote this story, was known for being able to concoct some off-the-wall strories, and did so for his entire career. I haven’t gotten around to reading all seven issues of Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub, but this one caught my eye with the H-bomb from the moon theme.

Yes, Virginia, there was a move to put nuclear weapons on the moon! The U.S. wanted to do it by 1965,* but cooler heads prevailed and the moon was declared off-limits for military action. While all kinds of military stuff is orbiting our planet in the form of satellites, luckily no one has used the moon for staging a first strike capability.

In the two-part “Journey to the Moon!” from Commander Battle #3 (1954), off-the-wall is a is more spaced-out. Howlers pile up when Hughes introduces outrageously wrong information (a sub can be converted to a rocket ship — in a couple of panels, yet — the moon has an atmosphere, etc.) Hughes probably knew these things were impossible, but when he wrote a story anything that advanced the plot, no matter how goofy, could be thrown in.

As we have done several times in this blog, for information on a particular feature we go to the late Don Markstein, and his blog, Toonopedia,** to read about the feature. Don didn’t get into how improbable the stories could be.

Artwork is by Sheldon Moldoff. Shelly did a nice portrait of President Dwight Eisenhower...he looks just like he did in the “I Like Ike” campaign pictures when he ran for office.

*Read about Project Horizon.

**Go here for the Toonopedia entry on Commander Battle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Number 1960: The impolite Spencer Spook

It is day three of our ACG Week.

Spencer Spook appeared in ACG’s Giggle Comics. The character was created by writer Hubie Karp and artist Ken Champin for Giggle #21, and carried through to the end of the Giggle run in 1955, when the title of the comic book was changed to Spencer Spook for the last two issues. Unlike another ghostly character, Casper, Spencer was part of a group hired to haunt houses.

My favorite Spencer stories were drawn by Jack Bradbury, like the one I’m showing today. Bradbury was an animator, as were most of the funny animal artists who drew for ACG’s humor comics. He had begun his career in the mid-1930s working for Disney, and ended his career at Western Publishing drawing stories featuring the Disney characters. According to a wonderful website created by his son, Jack Bradbury did over 6600 pages for Disney. Due to copyright none of those pages can be shown. I don’t want to rile Disney lawyers.

In this hilarious tale Spencer is pitted against an angry housewife. In the story we find out Spencer is “the spook of Spencer Plotz.” I don’t think that information is included in Don Markstein’s Toonopedia entry on Spencer..

Bradbury, born in 1914, died in 2004. The story is from Giggle Comics #66 (1949).

Monday, October 17, 2016

Number 1959: Ravin' about the Raven Sisters

It is day two of our ACG Week.

The publisher was prolific with comic books based on the supernatural. Beginning with Adventures Into the Unknown, followed by Forbidden Worlds — both surviving until ACG shut down in 1967 — and then added Out of the Night and Skeleton Hand, and even The Clutching Hand, a one-shot, which were gone by the time the Comics Code was implemented.

The supernaturals usually involved a young couple facing some horrible unearthly menace, yet winning out in the end. It was a formula that worked, because they used it a lot. So it is with “The Raven Sisters” from Out of the Night #3 (1952). Most of the eight pages are backstory, telling us that 300 years ago the Raven Sisters were evil vampire witches who could become ravens (not bats). It also shows the hero, Larry, is very handy with sharpened wooden stakes, using them as javelins against the sisters. Just another day in the life of an American Comics Group supernatural, showing that despite the threatening evil, love conquers all!*

Karswell showed this story in his blog, The Horrors of it All, in 2008. The Grand Comics Database tells us that Pete Riss did the artwork, and Norman Fruman the script. Riss was a journeyman comic book artist who worked for several publishers during the forties and fifties.

*Notice the burning candle on the left side of the splash panel. If it wasn’t a deliberate joke by the artist, then it was Freudian.