Monday, December 05, 2016

Number 1981: Here comes the Sun Girl!

Sun Girl was one of a handful of female superdoers that Timely/Marvel Comics published after World War II. As mentioned in Don Markstein’s Toonopedia, Sun Girl’s powers were ill-defined, even though she had a three-issue run of her own title, and appearances in that publisher’s flagship title, Marvel Mystery Comics.

In this episode, from Marvel Mystery Comics #89 (1948), some odd-looking phantoms appear on the streets of New York, and Sun Girl is drafted to go after them. They have already cost one man his life, but plucky as she is, she goes into their dimension after them.

The Grand Comics Database lists Mike Sekowsky and Carl Burgos as artists. With this issue Marvel Mystery had just a couple of issues left to go before cancellation. The core group, Human Torch, Captain America and Sub-Mariner were still appearing in the title, but the comic book that had launched the publication company that later became Atlas Comics and then Marvel Comics, was gone before the 1950s began.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Number 1980: Curse of the goat legs

Until the recent World Series win by the Chicago Cubs, the curse of the billy goat was used as a reason for the decades since they last played in the Series. You can read about this sports curse here. The World Series has been over for a few weeks now and the “curse” has been overcome. At least for the Chicago Cubs.

Our story today of a goat’s curse is set in a strange south-of-the-border land with swamps and medicinal herbs. It has a wronged drug company employee, Manuel, going to a voodoo man to lay on the curse of the goat. The confusing geography with a Haitian religion mixed in is not found on any map. But I wonder if the writer was familiar with the urban legend of the Chicago Cubs’ goat curse?

No artist or writer identified by the Grand Comics Database. The story is from Mysterious Adventures #10 (1952).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Number 1979: Rodeo romance

John Severin and Will Elder, separate or together, were two superb comic book artists. For several years they were a team, working out of the same studio with Harvey Kurtzman. Their work, Severin penciling, Elder inking, pops up for different publishers during the late forties-early fifties, and then ends as they went their separate ways while both worked for EC Comics.

The two stories they did for Standard’s Western Hearts #5 (1950) are typical of the romance genre, but show the strengths of their collaboration; Severin’s very strong illustrative and storytelling skills, and Elder's solid inking. Looking at the first panel of the historical romance, the 3-page story of the romance of Sam Houston and Eliza Allen, I laughed when I saw the splash panel. With its bucolic Disney elements, little animals joining the lovers during a tender moment in the woods, I thought what Elder could have done with such a scene for Mad a couple of years later. As was usual with Severin, when drawing anything, Western, love, war...he didn’t fake the costuming of the characters.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Number 1978: Crack Comics crack up!

The Black Condor, in one of the captions from today’s story, is said to be “the only man in the world endowed with the gift of flight.” In the self-contained universe the Black Condor occupied in Crack Comics, there is no room for any other flying men...well, except for the kite men, who can throw lightning bolts and bring down buildings. Despite the fine Lou Fine artwork (yuk-yuk), the story is fairly typical humdrum mad scientist with a hideout, directing chaos from a mountaintop

Madam Fatal, at least, is one of the most non-traditional comic book heroes ever, because she is really a he in women’s clothes, masquerading as an old woman. The story of artist Arthur Pinajian is even more interesting. After leaving comic books he took up painting, at which he was unable to earn a living. He never married, and lived with his unmarried sister until he died. After he died over 3000 pieces of art were found when his former home was sold, and Pinajian was at last discovered. As the late art historian, William Innes Homer wrote of Pinajian, “He pursued his goals in isolation with the single-minded focus of a Gauguin or Cézanne, refusing to give up in the face of public indifference.

“He was passionate and unequivocally committed. Ultimately, Pinajian's work reflects the soul of a flawed, yet brilliant, artistic genius. When he hits the mark, especially in his abstractions, he can be ranked among the best artists of his era.” Just as Madam Fatal was unusual for mainstream comic books, so was Pinajian's posthumous success in the rarified air of the art world.

Finally, the Clock ticks along in another story by George E. Brenner. The Clock is a very early masked vigilante character, who was created in 1936. Brenner left the feature when he became editor of Crack Comics, and the Clock chimed his last in 1944.

All stories are from Crack Comics #6 (1940):