Monday, November 19, 2018

Number 2261: Through the looking glass with Dr Wertham

What a curious story this is from Adventures Into the Unknown. A dad suffers a radiation accident and fathers twin prodigies, “talking like adults at one year!” The boys’ mother is shown fleetingly, in one panel, then vanishes from the story. The twins take to the Lewis Carroll poem, “Jabberwocky,” and work to decipher it. Bruce, the dad, consults a psychiatrist about the twins’ obsession with the poem. The psychiatrist he consults, Dr Bancroft, is the image of Dr Fredric Wertham, famous critic of the comic book industry, and author of the anti-comics book, Seduction of the Innocent. It is an inside joke, but it makes the tale curiouser and curiouser.

Ogden Whitney did the artwork for this atypical ACG entry, from Adventures Into the Unknown #13 (1950). Whitney would go on to draw dozens of stories for ACG over the years, culminating in his time on the brilliant oddball humor of Herbie, where likenesses of famous people appeared often. As far as I know, I believe this is the only time he drew Dr Wertham.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Number 2260: The Claw, one-man chain gang

Ah me...I showed the prior chapter of this story last August. If anyone thought I was building suspense, it was more that I just forgot. If curious, you may swing back to August 22, 2018 and see the Claw from Pappy’s #2223.

The Claw, big fellow that he is, is held captive with a large chain. He gets slipped some pills (you know they are for him because the name “The Claw” is on the pillbox) and is mysteriously free of the chains. What th--?! At the risk of spoiling it for you, the mystery of the disappearing chains is not solved, but we are told in the last panel that police are looking for “the Orientals who dropped mysterious pills into [the Claw’s] mouth — making his escape possible!”

Another cliffhanger. Now I must find Daredevil Comics #5 and continue the story. If I were you I would not hold my breath waiting, because when it comes to this blog and my memory, nothing is as certain as uncertainty.

Byline credit for Bob Wood, published in Daredevil Comics #4 (1941).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Number 2259: Sergeant Spook was a favorite, said Mickey Spillane

In a shortened online interview from the magazine Alter Ego #11, author Mickey Spillane talked to Roy Thomas about his time at Funnies Inc writing comic books. The quote from Spillane that is relevant for today's post is, “I did a lot of Sergeant Spook; that was a favorite of mine.” Spillane used his time well in writing comic books for a living. After the war he went on to become one of the best selling authors of paperback original novels with his hard-boiled stories about detective Mike Hammer.

Not only did Spillane get a byline for this episode of Sgt Spook, but the story has a gorilla. What else do I need in making a choice to show it? (I am not happy with Sgt Spook punching the gorilla to train it...but it is a precursor to one of the milder ways Spillane’s heroes solved problems.) You can read more about Sgt Spook at Public Domain Super Heroes.

Spillane wrote constantly; there were a lot of comic books and many characters in those days. Spillane not only wrote for the comic book packager, Lloyd Jacquet, who formed Funnies Inc, but he moonlighted writing scripts for others. With such a prodigious career, most of it done anonymously, dozens and maybe hundreds of his comic book stories will probably remain anonymous.

I have no information on artist John Jordan, other than he drew for Funnies Inc.

The story is from Blue Bolt Vol. 3 No. 3 (whole number 27, 1942).

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.