Friday, August 17, 2018

Number 2221: Dr Frost: a man with hands as cold as ice

A few days ago we had another story of a costumed hero who had no secret identity...or at least none revealed. That holds true for Dr Frost, also, who can shoot ice out of his fingertips due to his “freezing powers.” People know where he lives, also. While Dr Frost is attempting to sit down, relax and read the newspaper to rest those freezing powers, a lady shows up at his door. She is begging him to help her son who is wanted for murder. You’d think he’d do like some people do, hide in the basement or refuse to answer the door, but no; he is a helpful, albeit really, really cold guy.

Maurice Gutwirth signed the story in the upper right corner. Grand Comics Database credits Ben Thompson with pencils and inks. Thompson may have had something to do with it, but Gutwirth is the primary artist. Gutwirth often drew elongated chins, and several panels have characters with the Gutwirth jawline in them. Gutwirth has also been confused with another elongated chin comic artist, Paul Gattuso, and I plead guilty of that, myself.

The story appeared in Prize Comics #24 (1942):

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Number 2220: Daddy was a con man

As a child Frances Wells traveled around with her dad to foreign lands and also around America. Daddy was a card sharp and confidence man, and so he’d get caught, leave Frances with a relative, or even in boarding school while he does time in prison. You would think young Fran would have had daddy issues with a father like that. And apparently she does: as an adult she still loves the old crook!

Before you get to thinking, as I did, that they had some sort of unhealthy relationship, Fran becomes interested in Cary, the biggest catch in town. Of course, being a love comic, there has to be conflict, and besides Dad being in the background, the conflict is with Doris, who also has her eye on Cary. Cary’s family hire a private detective to check up on Fran’s old man. Do two negatives make a positive? Cary’s family has its own problems, which cancel out the problems with Mr Wells. It is a lot to take in, especially for a love comic with a limited number of pages to get to the nitty-gritty. It appeared in Quality’s Love Scandals #1 (1950), a provocative title for a love comic. Despite the purity of Frances, there is an undercurrent of criminality running throughout the story. Of course, it is conquered in the quest for true love. Sigh. If only true life could be so easy!

Grand Comics Database doesn’t give any credits for writing or artwork, but my eyeballs tell me Bill Ward had something to do with it. Those females are Ward’s, either in the penciling or inking stage. The image of Doris, from the teaser panel on top of this page, is pure Ward.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Number 2019: The Masked Marvel’s mind control

Public Domain Superheroes has this to say of The Masked Marvel: “Masked Marvel was a hero whose secret identity was unknown. He fought crime with the help of a trio of assistants known as ZL, ZR, and ZY. He operated out of a glass-domed mountaintop headquarters. He had a number of gadgets and weapons such as a telepathically controlled plane, a zeppelin, a paralyzing ray gun, and a televisor - a device which let him see anywhere in the world. The Masked Marvel had undefined levels of super strength that included feats such as lifting a dinosaur over his head and may have possessed some form of telekinesis to operate his plane.”

I am disappointed! This episode of The Masked Marvel, from Detective Eye #1 (1940), is missing those three assistants, and some of the other tools of his trade. But it sure appears he must have some form of mind power to fly his plane without controls, because all he has is a stick between his legs that he manipulates with his palm. (Uhhhh, that sounds funny.) What I should say is a word of advice to artists: If asked to draw an airplane’s cockpit, look at a photo of a cockpit. Don’t try to fake it.

Credit for the non-reference-using art is given by Grand Comics Database to Robin King.

For more Masked Marvel and more of what history there is on the character, just click the thumbnail:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Number 2218: Johnny Craig: Tugboat and treasure

Johnny Craig came back to comics a few years after leaving the field in the mid-fifties. But happy as I was to see his work, it wasn’t the same to me as what I was used to in his time with EC. In the case of “The Treasure of Bad Luck Point,” from Unknown Worlds #47 (1966), I wondered what Craig, a writer himself, thought of this story by ACG editor/writer Richard E. Hughes. The backstory of the pirates takes 7 pages, and the hero of the tale doesn’t appear until page 8. It’s another of Hughes’s underdog stories, which asks the question, can a poor tugboat owner win a rich girl? Well, no. He has the girl’s love, but does not have permission from her father to marry her. That took me back. The story takes place in modern days, and in 1966 that attitude was a few decades old, at least. Dad could express his displeasure, but he could not keep her from marrying anyone. Yet his daughter doesn’t fight for her boyfriend. I am sure, like her dad, she was thinking of a lower standard of living if she did marry the guy. She also might have thought she’d earn the nickname of Tugboat Annie.* [SPOILER ALERT: It’s only when, despite being guarded by a ghost,  he finds the pirate treasure, that her dad agrees to her marriage. Avarice wins again! [END SPOILER]

That pseudonym of Craig’s, “Jay Taycee” didn’t fool me, but in 1966 I didn’t think of the reason behind it. Craig’s day job was in an advertising agency. Coming back to the comic book industry, and then not wanting to put his real name on his work, showed there was still a stigma attached to being a comic book artist.

The copy of Unknown Worlds #47 which I found online, is missing pages 4 and 5. I found a copy of a blackline Australian reprint from 1970, Tales of Torment #1, to fill in the missing pages.

*If you don’t know who Tugboat Annie is, look here.