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.

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