Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Number 176

Airboy Gets Ghastly!

When most Golden Age comics fans think of Graham Ingels they think of him as "Ghastly," a nickname earned during his time drawing some of the creepiest horror comics ever published for EC Comics. He well deserved that nickname. But Ingels was an artist who freelanced on various other genres of comics before he signed on at EC. This particular Airboy story, from Airboy Volume 5 Number 7, August 1948, although unsigned, is undoubtedly one of his.

Ingels, who was born in 1915, was about a decade older than his fellow EC artists. Ingels was a mature and polished cartoonist by the time he started his comics career. So it is with this Airboy story, a far-fetched story about criminals killing "bums," (now called "homeless persons"), secreting dope on their bodies and shipping them to their home cities where the dope can be claimed. The crime comics element is foremost in the story, and along with the later horror stories, was a milieu well suited to Ingels' style.

Airboy's dad shows up in this story. He isn't given a name, so is he Airdad?

The comic I scanned this from is from a copy reported unsold after it went off sale. The title strip had been razored off the cover, returned for credit to the distributor. The mutilated comic was then sold by an unscrupulous storeowner or news dealer, probably for 5¢. I used to see those sorts of displays in various stores in the early to mid-1950s. I think after a time they were shut down by local magazine distributors. My copy has tape holding the razored pages together through the first few pages of the story. I didn't do the taping, and I found this issue along with a couple of others in like condition. Fortunately, the tape's adhesive hasn't dried out, so the cellophane is still intact, not fallen off leaving a stained brown residue.

The cover, which I got off the Internet, is also by Ingels, and has a really nice graphic design. The coloring, and the silhouettes of the figures against the sunset make it stand out. It's likely influenced by Will Eisner, who had some very memorable Spirit splash panels set on piers like this.

1 comment:

darkmark said...

Some issues after this, Airboy's dad was named James Nelson.