Monday, February 18, 2019

Number 2301: The Gunpowder Plot

Simon and Kirby dipped into the history books for this tale of insurrection and a murder plot during the reign of King James I of England. Guy Fawkes,* who was a conspirator attacking the throne, has had a long lifespan in the history of England .

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon did some fine artwork in this story, and looked as if they enjoyed drawing the old clothing and hair styles, not to mention the armor and fighting men. But the story was used in a crime comic book, so they tweaked it to fit the usual crime comic book clichés. In real life Guy Fawkes, at the moment of his execution, probably did not give a sermon saying, in essence, “Crime does not pay.” History says he gave an apology to the king. He was also not hanged, as the story shows. He jumped off the scaffold and broke his neck, killing himself. It didn’t spare poor Guy’s corpse from being quartered. The public came to see a bloody and cruel execution and the public were not disappointed.

The religious component is left out, also. The Gunpowder plot was an attempt to murder the king and replace him with a Catholic sovereign. You may remember from your history books that James’ relative, Henry VIII, had a falling out with the Pope over his plans to divorce his wife. It has always struck me as backwards that they would leave religion out of a story like this, which sold itself as being historical, but I understand why they did not want to get complaints and letters from offended church members. Instead they did not spare the reader some brutal torture scenes. Like the bloodthirsty public of the 17th century, the 20th century public would be shown the violent stuff so they would not go away disappointed.

From Headline Comics #31 (1947):

*I am aware of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V For Vendetta, and the impact the Guy Fawkes mask has had. I am mentioning it, although it is outside the scope of this blog.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Number 2300: The Fox from Montana

The Montana mentioned in the title of this, my 2300th posting for this blog, is artist Bob Montana. He is best known for being the artist who gave the original look to Archie and his gang back in 1942. Before he became linked to Archie (comic books and a long-running newspaper comic strip), he drew more regular comic book fare for various publishers. That includes this episode of the Fox from Blue-Ribbon Comics #18 (1941).

Montana could draw superhero action as well as the more passive Archie teenage poses. He could also draw the sort of thing that caused the hue and cry of those who thought comic books unfit for young minds. The splash panel for this tale is a good example. In Archie comics being “stabbed in the back” was not shown as literal, as it is here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Number 2299: Advice for a woman in love: lead with your left

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so it is a good time for a love story. First, I love Bill Everett’s artwork on “When a Woman Fights Back.” Everett was one of the best artists in comics, yet I think this is the first love story by him I have seen. For me it is a Valentine’s box of chocolates and Valentine card from my sweetie, all rolled into one.

Being a love story means there is drama: Florrie loses her boyfriend, Ray, to the rich girl, Gloria Dane. Ray is on a success track with her father and cannot refuse her blatant advances. You can see his distress when Gloria tells him she has excellent taste...especially in men! (Last panel, page 3.) Had I been in Ray’s shoes I would have wondered how many she means by using the plural “men.” Florrie’s dad, who has raised her since his wife died in childbirth, is comfortable enough to sit on Florrie’s bed while she sits at her dressing table half dressed. He gives her advice that she should fight for her man. By that he means fight in the boxing sense, and in a public assault Florrie does. I wonder what Florrie would be capable of after she got away with it? Next time shoot her rival...? The story does not extend that far, ending as it does on a happy note of love for the young couple.

This hard-hitting story is from Love Tales #50 (1952).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Number 2298: Rulah and the Ice Beast

Now here is something we don’t often see...if ever. A beautiful barefoot girl in a skimpy two-piece outfit on snow skis. Rulah comes up against a bad man with a weather machine. It looks like an old boiler on wheels, but it can make snow in the jungle.

It is winter as I write this. I live in a place where snow and cold can make life miserable. I commiserate with Rulah’s problems, except going out in the cold without proper warm clothing would put her in danger of frostbite. For not being used to the cold, Rulah is able to maintain her cool (ho-ho), and solve the problem. What else would one expect a jungle goddess to do?

“The Ice Beast” is from Fox’s Zoot Comics #10 (1947). Story and art by the Iger Studio.