Friday, November 30, 2007

Number 226

Johnny Peril

Howard Purcell was a longtime artist at DC Comics, with a comic book career going back to 1940. He rarely signed his work. He drew this excellent cover of Showcase#30 in 1961, inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

He also drew a strip I like, the Kirby-styled "Black Knight" feature from Marvel Super-Heroes #17 in 1968. He received credit for this one.

Purcell was a comic book journeymen who labored over a drawing board for many years and drew a lot of features. This is one of his back-up "Johnny Peril" strips for All-Star Comics. This particular episode appeared in #45, February-March 1949. The art is moody and effective, and the story, a variation on Aladdin's lamp from The Arabian Nights, sent me into a fantasy world for awhile. What would I wish for if I had a genie? Hey, I'm not greedy. For starters, I think 10 mint copies of Action Comics #1, which I'd auction off, one a year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Number 225

Bill Everett puts the bite on

Bill Everett drew great stories for the Atlas horror comics. He was also tapped to do some horror-comedy for Atlas' short-lived Mad imitations. "Drag-ula" came from Crazy #2, 1954.

The dialog is taken from old vaudeville and radio Yiddish-dialect comedians. There's some fake German, too. I have a low tolerance for this sort of dialect when it's written. It's hodd to ridd, dollink! The art is good, though. Enchoy, heppy Peppy's ridders!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Number 224

The gold key

I want you to click on the picture of this cover of Twilight Zone #4 from August 1963, and tell me what's happening in this painting. Go ahead and look. I'll wait until you're finished.

Back so soon? I was practicing the Twilight Zone theme music on my kazoo. You're puzzled, but you're right, there is nothing happening on the cover. What we see is a European street scene, and the silhouette of a figure on the wet cobblestones. I don't know how many covers there were that got away with this, but while the painting is mysterious, evoking a rainy night, this is not a typical cover of a comic book, even a Gold Key comic. I don't know who the cover artist is.

The story this cover illustrates--and we know that because the story is called "The Secret Of The Key," and there's a key in the cover painting--is drawn by master comic artist Alex Toth. This is a wonderful 10-pager by Toth, with great drawing. Among his other talents, Toth was excellent at period pieces. He also liked actor Errol Flynn, whose face adorns the lead character, a thief who steals the gold key. And yes, the object is a gold key, just like the name of the comic book company.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Number 223

Talking out of his ass

This is a funny Sparky Watts story from Big Shot Comics #83, dated November 1947. When artist/writer Boody Rogers retired from comic books in 1952 he opened some art supply stores in Arizona. This strip may have been a precursor to life in the Southwest, amongst the Saguaro cacti, scorpions, lizards, and I'm sure, even some jackasses.

I've posted a couple of Sparky Watts strips in previous blogs, so click on the "Sparky Watts" or "Boody Rogers" links below to see more of the "World's Strongest Funnyman." If you're seeing a Boody Rogers strip for the first time, then you are discovering one of the most unique and interesting cartoonists of the golden age. Boody had a fertile and unusual comic imagination and his artwork is still fresh today.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

 Number 222

Beyonders Kill!

Happy Thanksgiving! For you beyonders beyond our borders, today in America we are celebrating our own abundance with a feast of gluttony, enough caloric intake per person to nourish a smaller nation for at least a year. We visit with family, then end our celebration in a stupor on the couch watching an American football game. Good eating, but pass the Pepto-Bismol. Our main course is turkey, a very stupid bird. When someone is pretty damn dumb we call them a turkey.

A year ago I celebrated this day with the first annual Comic Book Turkey Award for dumbest comic book story. The recipient is chosen by me, Pappy, the judgment on said story is all mine, and it's purely subjective. Last year's winner was in Pappy's #57, "The Flat Man," from Superior's Journey Into Fear #19. You can read it by following the link.

This year's story can't top "The Flat Man," but "The Day The World Died" from ACG's Forbidden Worlds #5, March-April 1952, comes at least a close second in stupidity. I won't describe the story to you. You'll have to experience it, and the Beyonders, for yourselves. The Grand Comics Database credits the artwork to George Wilhelms. The story earns three turkeys out of a possible four.

While reading it, have another piece of pumpkin pie, with a double shot of whipped cream. Ummmm, good, isn't it? But not nearly as good as the treat you'll get from "The Day The World Died!" And best of all, no calories!

Note: I made new scans of the pages in August, 2012.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Number 221

The Green Turtle

This story is by request. It's the first Green Turtle story from Blazing Comics #1* from 1944.

Rural Home was the publisher, and as far as I can tell, ultimately not a successful one. Since it was set up during the war when paper was rationed, they probably had ties to an established publisher with access to paper. About any comic printed sold in those days. There's another reason for calling it the Golden Age: Publishing comic books during the war was a golden opportunity to bring in the gold! After the war a peripheral publisher like Rural Home fell apart.

What I know about the creation of the character Green Turtle is hearsay, unless I missed some confirmation somewhere: The story is that a Chinese-American named Chu Hing created Green Turtle as a Chinese superhero, fighting the Japanese in China. Stories of Japanese atrocities in China were well documented. The publisher felt that a Chinese superhero wouldn't go over with American--read, white--readers. The creator came up with the idea of turning his hero's face from view, substituting that odd shadow with eyes. It makes for a striking visual, but could have confused the readers.

The Green Turtle was interesting enough for a cartoonist named Gary Terry. who revived the character for his digest-sized, black-and-white comic book, Atom, Robot Adventurer, in 1975. Here's the splash page for the strip, done up with some kinky gals, and signed with the pseudonym, Stag Fury.

I think The Green Turtle is a bad name for a hero. I can't imagine kids of that era going for a hero with that name when comics starring Captain America, Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, The Flash, to name just a few, were around to compete for their dimes.

*"Jun-Gal," another story from Blazing Comics #1, was posted in Pappy's #179.