Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Number 254

Dead man's chest

Bob Oksner sure could draw cute girls. He could draw anything, actually, and was one of DC Comics' best caricaturists. He drew both Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope comics for years, because he had a good humorous style. But it's the pretty girls I like.

Lady Danger was a character from Sensation Comics in the late 1940s. This particular tale came from Sensation Comics #85*, January 1949. It's written by Bob Kanigher, who was editor of that title. In those days DC's artists were told to "draw it like Caniff!" who was one of the most popular newspaper cartoonists in America. Oksner was like the rest of the artists and drew it like Milton Caniff, but then, Caniff also had a way with pretty girls.

*According to the Grand Comics Database, it was reprinted in Lois Lane #115, October 1970.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Number 253

Operation Monster

Here's a doctor who thinks it's a good idea to hide his surgical mistakes in the attic. Instead, he should've kept up his malpractice insurance.

"Operation Monster" is from Harvey Comics' Chamber of Chills #5, February 1952. It's drawn by Manny Stallman, who we last saw in Pappy's #128. Heritage Auctions sold the original art in 2004 for $414.00. Here's a scan of the splash page.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Number 252

Alan J. Hanley was a real Goodguy

The late Alan J. Hanley was a talented cartoonist/writer who self-published in the 1960s and '70s. He loved Captain Marvel and funny animal comics of the 1940s, and his comic strips are nostalgic pastiches of that era.

"Goodguy" is from his magazine, Comic Book #6, from 1974. It's the second part of a story, but mostly self-contained, so you can figure it out. Hanley could be didactic, but was still entertaining when sharing his political and moral views. In this strip Goodguy and Green Lama of the Limbo League discuss sex and violence in the comics while Goodguy is strapped to a guided missile headed for Disneyland!

Hanley died tragically young. His friend and contemporary, cartoonist Jim Engel, wrote of Hanley in an e-mail to me:

Alan Jim Hanley (he was going by "Alan" when I first met him in person in--I THINK-- 1970. Later he went more by "Jim") was both a friend and cartooning idol of mine. I thought then (and still do today) that his work was just the greatest---both (as you said) modern and nostalgic all at once. Goodguy, The Mitey Buggers, The Spook, Captain Thunder, All-American Jack (I love Goodguy, but my single favorite Hanley story is, I think, "BACK ON THE TRACK WITH ALL-AMERICAN JACK") were all just perfect by my standards. I wrote a memorial thing about him in THE COMIC READER when he died, and I'm pretty sure I said something like "there's nothing I would have liked better than to do the kind of wonderful stories he did", and 27 years later that's STILL true. I had somebody scan a picture I took of him at the San Diego Comicon in 1977. The hotel screwed up our rooms, and Jim, Chuck Fiala and I were given a big suite to share. That was Jim's first time there. On the easel that's Goodguy shouting "Good Garbage!", and Pogo and Albert as Batman and Robin.

He died in the winter of 1980. He'd driven into the small town he lived in to get his morning coffee and mail. On his way home, his car went off the road and hit a tree. They think he'd blacked out, and the day before he'd complained of a headache/pain . He had a wife and two small daughters. He was 42. Jim's funeral was in a small town called Tomah, Wisconsin, which had cool old metal signs on the lamp posts that pictured Walt and Skeezix, and proclaimed Tomah as the birthplace of Frank King. Chuck and I thought that was kind of appropriate... I often wonder what he could've/would've done in later years if he'd lived. I'd have loved to done some collaborating with him for real as I got better as a cartoonist in those years.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Number 251

Who dunnit? Fred dunnit!

Fred Guardineer, one of the best of the early comic book artists, turns in another excellent job with this "Who Dunnit" feature from Crime Does Not Pay #57, November 1947.

Don't worry, Fredfans, I won't make you turn over your monitor to see the solution to the mystery. I've reproduced it right side up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Number 250

Some people call him the Space Cowboy…

It's Pappy's #250, and to mark the occasion I'm bringing you an entire issue of one of the most screwball science-fiction comics ever. Charlton's Space Western Comics was a hybrid from the '50s — combining cowboys and rocket ships — that has to be seen to be believed. The cover of this 1953 issue, #44, has been reprinted several times, but I don't know if the contents have ever been posted online or printed in a book. Probably not, because as you can see by looking, the artwork is amateurish and the stories are, even though entertaining, to put it plainly, stupid.

When you have a story about hydrogen bombs from Mars landing on earth, demolishing "most" of Paris, as well as London, New York, Moscow and the other world capitol, Honolulu, you find yourself in awe of the audacious writing. Two-fisted, Stetson-wearin' cowboy/astronaut Spurs Jackson, with his Space Vigilantes, tracks the radioactive vapor trails of the missiles to Mars, only to encounter Nazis who escaped the Americans at the end of the war. The story was continued in the next issue, which was the last. Space Western was a continuation of a title, Cowboy Western, and after six issues went back to its original title.

In another story starring Spurs Jackson's pal, the Indian Strong Bow, stone creatures from outer space, resting on earth for 10,000 years, decide it's time to make their move. Strong Bow calls the army base and tells 'em to send an atom bomb, which Spurs delivers, dropping it on the aliens.

On the first page, in the first caption, we're told the year is 1953, so I assume the whole thing takes place in an alternate reality, where a hydrogen bomb will only demolish most of Paris, or one can make a radio call to an army base and order an atom bomb to go.