Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Number 70

Al Williamson's You Never Can Tell

After EC Comics folded in the mid-1950s, popular science fiction artist Al Williamson did what a lot of comic book artists did in those days: he found work where he could. Among other companies, he freelanced at Harvey Comics, Atlas and ACG.

ACG published some of Williamson's pre-EC work in the early 1950s, and just a few years later he was doing some more jobs for them.

This story, "You Never Can Tell," is from Adventures Into the Unknown #107, April 1959, written by editor Richard E. Hughes under a pseudonym, Kermit Lundgren. Hughes wrote under a dozen or so pen names to disguise the fact he was the editor and writer of all of the ACG line.

What I remembered about the story from my original reading  was the earth diving suit, which seemed really neat-o! It still does. The idea of a suit able to move through the ground the same way a deep sea diver's suit moved underwater was irresistible to me. It was probably inspired by the earlier Harry Harrison short story, "Rock Diver," in which prospectors used such suits to move underground in their search for precious metals.

The main character and his wife have those unusual names common to Hughes, "Jethro" and "Grenda." Jethro is also one of Hughes' typical losers; a little guy who suddenly stumbles onto something great, only to have it taken away from him. A story posted earlier, in Pappy's Number 10, "The Lonely Life Of Homer Hergis," is typical of that type of story.

This is a fun little 5-page story, made better by Al Williamson's artwork.

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