Monday, December 31, 2007

Number 241

John Stanley chills us

It seems right to show this chilling tale on a day when in my neighborhood the thermometer peaks around 0 degrees F. It's from the 1962 Dell Giant, Tales From The Tomb, written by John Stanley, scanned from the copy I bought 45 years ago.
Stanley, who had written and guided Little Lulu through that comic's classic years, had stayed behind at Dell when Western Publishing took their licensees and most of their talent and split off into Gold Key Comics. Despite the promise on the cover, Tomb wasn't what I thought of as a horror comic, but more like a collection of stories told by kids around a campfire. Some of Stanley's work--the Oona Goosepimple stories from Nancy, for example--reminded me of Charles Addams. Stanley had a sometimes macabre sense of humor, and stories of this style would appeal to him. Tales From The Tomb is probably what DC's Plop! should have been a decade later.

As good as Stanley's writing is, the anonymous art is OK, not great. It likely scuttled this title.

These three shorties, vignettes, really, are typical of the weird humor of Tomb. The black-and-white one-pagers are the inside front and back covers respectively. The story, "Turnabout," is one of the shorter stories in the book, and is told in as few words as possible. The grim but funny joke it tells is beyond logic, and is told in visuals rather than dialogue or captions.

Finally, it's the end of another year. I'd like to thank Pappy's readers for making this a very successful year for this blog. HAPPY NEW YEAR, everybody.

Your Pappy loves you!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Number 240

Who's Yehudi?

Irv Novick was an artist who produced a staggering amount of work for comics in his lifetime. I didn't appreciate him as much as I should have because he always seemed to be published in comics along with some real hotshots. When I saw his work in DC's war comics he was being published alongside Joe Kubert and Russ Heath.When he did Batman in the early '70s Detective Comics he was alternating issues with Neal Adams. All of those contemporaries were hard acts to follow.

Novick had gone to DC Comics at the invitation of Robert Kanigher, who was writing and editing the war comics. Kanigher had worked with Novick at MLJ Comics in the early 1940s, where he was doing strips like the action-packed Steel Sterling story here, scanned from July, 1943's Zip Comics #38.

Novick died in 2004, and the obituaries I've seen for him are universally respectful of his talent and of his long tenure in the industry.

The "Yehudis" in the story are from a long-running joke by comedian Jerry Colonna on the old Bob Hope radio show. A Yehudi was "a little man who wasn't there," hence the question that became a catchphrase, "Who's Yehudi?" This was also the era of the Gremlins, little guys who sabotaged aircraft used for the war effort. That story is told in Hogan's Alley #15, in "The Trouble With Gremlins, The True Story Of A Never-made Disney Classic," by Jim Korkis.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Number 239

"Can I choose waterboarding instead?"

I read that the Clock is considered the first masked character to appear in comic books. There were costumed and disguised characters in the pulps; the Shadow and Zorro spring to mind, but apparently before the Clock there weren't any characters in comic books who wore masks.

Well, how 'bout that for trivia?

I can't say a lot about the Clock's mask, though, since it is just a piece of black cloth with an odd little flounce at the bottom. It doesn't look like it would inspire terror in any criminals.

This story is from Feature Comics #26, November 1939. The drawing, by Clock creator George Brenner, is 1930s-styled comic book artwork: static figures, strict eight panel pages. The story is straightforward: The Clock is being framed and he goes right at the villain. The coloring, as in a lot of old comics from the Quality Comics line, is primary, and leads to interesting color choices, like a bright red car with yellow fenders. The colorist, obviously blinded by his or her colors, has completely screwed up the coloring in the last three panels, where Captain Kane and Fingers Holts switch colors, and then Captain Kane's suit changes again in the last panel to bright green.

There's one bit that struck me when the Clock threatens Fingers to make him confess. He tells him he's starved a rat, and what if he puts the rat on Fingers' belly under a metal bowl, and then heats the bowl? The rat can't chew the bowl to get out, so what does he chew? Bwooowaaahahahaa. Don't show this to the CIA. They might drop waterboarding in favor of this tasty torture.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Number 238

How Santa Got His Red Suit

It's Christmas Eve! Hope you boys and girls have been good this year, so Santa will give you what you want.

What Pappy wants is to give you are some good comics for Christmas, and here's a Walt Kelly strip from Santa Claus Funnies, Dell Comics Four-Color #61, December 1944.

Santa, who doesn't wear his familiar red suit at the time, but dresses in his "gay costumes," goes on his yearly run, only to get sleighjacked by Jack Frost. Santa ends up with a bunch of naked little guys, who eventually get some clothes made from Santa's suit, and then make Santa the red suit we all know.

"How Santa Got His Red Suit" was reprinted two years later as the second of the March Of Comics giveaway series. The first three March Of Comics were by Kelly, which showed his popularity, even before his fame exploded into the mainstream with the Pogo comic strip five years later.


Ho-ho-ho! As a bonus, here are a couple of Santa Claus covers from vintage issues of Galaxy Science Fiction I picked up a couple of years ago. Santa has an extra set of appendages in these gorgeous Ed Emshwiller illustrations. This unearthly Santa embodies the old saying, "Forewarned is four-armed."

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Number 237

Ghost Rider and the League of the Living Dead!

Oboy! Zombies! Voodoo! Corpses coming out of graves! Dead men shooting down living men, turning them into other dead men! It's all from ME Comics' Ghost Rider #7, 1952, drawn by the great Dick Ayers and his cousin Ernie Bache.

Even though the ending is a bit of a copout, the novelty of the setting, framing a hackneyed Western-rancher-scaring-off-other-ranchers-to-get-their-land story by using voodoo and walking green corpses is irresistible.

I first saw this story in Bill Black's 'zine, Macabre Western #2, back in the early '70s. It was printed on blue paper using magenta ink. I'm not sure what that color scheme was intended for, maybe just to make it look attractive and different. Black's comics, magazines and fanzines have always been very well designed. Black changed Ghost Rider's name to Haunted Horseman so as not to bump up against Marvel Comics, who by then had the name on another character. I think Haunted Horseman is a pretty good name, at least as good as Ghost Rider.When I saw the issue of Ghost Rider #7 with the story I jumped at it, and it became the first issue of Ghost Rider in my collection.

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The Pappy CD collection is pretty good, although I don't buy a lot retail, but instead haunt thrift stores and secondhand outlets for deals. Heh-heh. I said haunt, boils and ghouls! I found this wonderful Christmas CD of the Cryptkeeper doing songs like, "Deck The Halls With Parts Of Charlie," "I Wish You'd Bury The Missus," and "Twelve Days of Cryptmas," among several others. It makes me feel the…sniff…sniff…Christmas spirit, and in the tender glow of that loving, warm feeling, to all of those Pappy's readers I've made angry or mad in the past 12 months, well, I'd like to bury the hatchet. In your heads!