Monday, May 21, 2007

Number 135

Rocket Ships and Dinosaurs!

This story featuring the character Rocky X (and with that blond hair, he's obviously no relation to Malcolm X), titled "Horror On Kallaxyn," is from Boy Illustories #96, December 1953. I've seen a few of the Rocky X stories and they seem to be part of some long continuity, but it doesn't seem to hurt the story much to get dropped in to the storyline as we are with this episode.

The story was drawn by Ralph Mayo, a comic book artist who had worked for Standard Comics doing work in various genres, but he seemed especially good at love comics. Mayo also did the Crimebuster strip in this issue of Boy, where he signed the splash panel.

The dinosaurs in the Rocky X story appear to be drawn by none other than Joe Kubert. Mayo didn't use the motion and "shock" lines external to the figures like Kubert did, and the dinosaurs look a lot like the dinos Kubert did for his Tor books. Mayo could have swiped them from Kubert's strip, or Kubert could have drawn them himself. There was a connection: Kubert's business partner in those days, Norman Maurer, was the principal artist on the Crimebuster strip for several years, and also drew some of the Rocky X stories I've seen. So did Kubert draw the dinosaurs in this story? I don't know for sure, but in the production of comic books with strict deadlines I've learned that any kind of artist crossover was possible.

As a bonus, I'm including a full-page ad from the same issue of Boy. This is for a Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Sonic Vision helmet, with a one-way visor. It claims invisibility, but as I found out when I was a kid, everyone knew who I was underneath the helmet. "You see people — they can't see you!" Sure.

I love the other claims in this ad: "…sensational discovery is as new as the hydrogen bomb! As exciting as a ride through space! Makes you a super space cadet!" Overstatement was not a concept unknown to this copywriter, and in those days the term "space cadet" didn't mean the same thing as it came to mean years later.

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