Monday, November 12, 2018

Number 2258: Beneath the sea with Chuck Hardy and his gal

Years ago I read about comic artist Frank Thomas, that his comic book career was only four years, from 1939 to 1943. It was likely he was drafted or joined up for duty during World War II. He was born in 1914, so would have been 29 in '43, within the age group of men accepted for military service. Thomas’s style was perfect for the era. After his comic book days were done he was working on his own newspaper comic strips, and ghosting others.

Along with the Eye, the Owl, and Billy and Bonny Bee, Thomas created and drew the feature “Chuck Hardy in the Land Beneath the Sea,” which appeared in Amazing-Man Comics for Centaur. The two episodes I have today are from Amazing-Man #5, but actually #1, and Amazing Man #6, actually #2, both from 1939. Thanks to those folks who collected the Frank Thomas Archives now on Digital Comics Museum and Comic Book Plus, making Thomas’s work available online for free.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Number 2257: The Frankenstein puppet

Writer/artist Dick Briefer breaks the fourth wall, and appears to us in his Frankenstein story from Prize Comics #30 (1943). He claims he hasn’t heard from the monster in some time, and does not know what he is up to, so what we get is a story of a Frankenstein puppet.

Briefer identifies himself in the splash panel as “the guy that does this strip,” and includes some apparent co-workers at Prize Comics. I don’t know whether they are actual caricatures, but Briefer’s version of himself is of a handsome young man. Of all the other characters and many pages he drew for comic books, the Frankenstein character is what he is known for. His Frankenstein went through different versions until his comic book, The Monster of Frankenstein, was finally canceled in 1954: the first an evil villain, the second the funny Frankenstein, and the third the wandering Frankenstein monster who roams the countryside, having encounters with humans.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Number 2256: Sally’s bad boy

Sally has the love of a good guy, Frank, but she doesn’t appreciate him. He’s boring...a square! She meets Buck, a night watchman at Shipman’s Department Store, and  that’s where it all goes wrong. Buck is as bad as Frank is good, as exciting as Frank is boring. Some girls like bad boys. Sally does. Sally also likes the presents Buck gives her, but isn’t inquisitive enough about where they are coming from. Buck expects repayment for his gifts to her, and we all know what that means.

I like the pre-fabricated house inside the department store. Just the thing for illicit love after the store doors are closed. But for Sally, it signals the end of her “Side-Street Love.”

This tale of a good love thrown over for a bad boy lover, is from Harvey Comics’ First Love Illustrated #15 (1951). Artwork is by Bob Powell.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Number 2255: Zippo, the crimefighter on wheels

Zippo, the crime-fighter who has wheels attached to his ankles and gets his mobility from the power of compressed air, was another small-time superhero, this time in eight issues of Hillman’s Clue Comics. When he was introduced in 1943 superheroes had mostly run their course, and a hero like Zippo probably didn’t make any comic book fan’s heart pound, so off he sped into oblivion on his carborundum wheels.

Zippo’s secret identity was detective Joe Blair. Did the creator of Zippo know that a real-life Joe Blair was a comic book writer? Maybe it was an inside joke. Also, so you know that I know, Zippo is the brand-name of a metallic cigarette lighter that can be carried in one’s pocket. My dad used a Zippo in World War II. I am sure many GIs knew what a Zippo was when they bought Clue Comics.

This Zippo story is drawn by longtime comics journeyman, Tony DiPreta. DiPreta drew comic books and comic strips until his retirement. DiPreta could draw straight superheroes (like Zippo), funny animals, teenage, crime comics like Crime Does Not Pay, and later on he drew the comic strip, Rex Morgan M.D. I first saw his signed work on a filler strip, “Vinnie the Vet,” in Beetle Bailey comic books. At the time I thought his art looked like that of Beetle Bailey’s creator, Mort Walker.  He was one of those guys who could draw in different styles, handy for comic books, which were known to change genres overnight. Tony DiPreta, born in 1921, died in 2010 at age 88.

This is Zippo’s second adventure, from Clue Comics #2 (1943).