Monday, March 31, 2008

Number 282

Burke and Hare

"To burke" is to kill by smothering or suffocation. The verb comes from this pair of miscreants, Burke and Hare, immoralized…heh-heh, I mean immortalized, in "Ghoul's Gold" from 1946 in Crime Does Not Pay #43. It's written by Robert Bernstein, who later worked for EC, writing the entire run of the title Psychoanalysis. He was an all-purpose guy. A couple of years later he did Aquaman stories for DC.

Jack Alderman was the artist of "Ghoul's Gold." Jack had a very heavy-handed style. I don't think I've ever seen anything drawn by him in any but Lev Gleason's crime comics. His figures are stiff--get it? stiff?--and his inking is heavy and dark. In other words, just about perfect for this little tale of a couple of infamous murderers…

Friday, March 28, 2008

Number 281

The Starving Ghoul

This is a screwball story from Eerie Publications' Terror Tales #7, March 1969. The title, "Gravestone for Gratis" has nothing to do with the story. Neither does the splash. They look like they've been stuck on from a different story. Other than that it's pretty typical of an early '50s horror comic from which it was reprinted. I don't have the information on its original appearance.

The writer could have let us know early in the story the main character had a medical problem so the plot device at the end wouldn't be so jarring. And speaking of "jarring," the cover is a gruesome Eerie Publications classic.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Number 280

Sexy John Stanley

Besides strips about little kids, Little Lulu and Nancy, in the early '60s John Stanley did some teenage books, including Around The Block with Dunc and Loo and Thirteen Going On Eighteen.

This is an example from Dunc and  Loo #2, Jan.-Mar. 1962. Stanley pokes some sly fun at teenage hormones with a story about Dunc's plot to take some sexy pictures of his girl, Beth, with a typically hilarious Stanley outcome. While the layouts and script are by Stanley, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide credits the art to Bill Williams.

As a teenager in 1962 I had a problem with Dunc and Loo. Even in that distant and long ago year teenagers didn't dress like Stanley's teenagers. They had a style more from the 1940s than the 1960s. Dunc has a bowtie, which would have had him laughed out of my high school, and the hat Loo is wearing is strictly, well, old hat!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Number 279

The Twisted Mr. Twisto

There's no secret to Charles Biro's approach to comic book writing. Focus on the bad guys. Villains are intrinsically more interesting that goody two-shoes good guys. The last time I showed classic Biro was a Daredevil story in Pappy's #229.

Biro's best covers are classics of pulpish sleaze. The cover to MLJ Comics' Zip Comics #9, November 1940, from which this Steel Sterling story is scanned, is a good example. Headless men, their brains in see-thru tubes, are having a punch-up with Steel. There's no story like that, but as a cover it's worth a lot of sales.

As for Mr. Twisto, the bad guy from this circus-based story, he's a villain firmly in the Biro tradition.


Harry Shorten was involved with MLJ Comics from its earliest days. He worked on Archie and other features. He is probably best known to a later generation of comics fans for publishing Tower Comics and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. He even published the infamous Midwood Books. With Al Fagaly, also an MLJ alumnus, he created the There Oughta Be A Law! newspaper comic strip, which ran from 1944 to 1984. Like Jimmy Hatlo's They'll Do It Every Time, the strip that inspired Law, Shorten's strip was a combination of irony and funny names. In these examples check out "Cringely," "Glandula," "Polyp," etc. These strips come from a 1969 Belmont Books collection.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Number 278

Diyos Ko!

Here's a story from Redondo Komix Magasin #159, from 1967, published in the Philippines. I don't know Tagalog, the language, but it's easy enough to follow. It's told economically in only four pages, and is drawn by the late Vicente Catan Jr., known as Vicatan Jr, one of the top Filipino comic artists.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Number 277

The Spider Sorceress

 Here's a little tale of arachnids and sorcery from the Fiction House comic book factory. "Werewolf Hunter" was an ongoing series, and this is a reprint published in Ghost Comics #3, from 1952 when that once robust company was breathing its last.

I get in trouble when I try to identify artists, but the Grand Comics Database has no information, so what if I say Lily Renée? The Comics Journal #279 has an article on Renée, with examples of her art from other episodes of Werewolf Hunter.

There are two Werewolf Hunter stories in this issue of Ghost. This one is credited to Armand Weygand, the other is bylined Armand Broussard. It looks like Fiction House couldn't even keep its pen-names straight. Unless--unlikely as it seems--two guys named Armand actually wrote the stories.