Friday, October 24, 2008

Number 401

Tom Trojan

For Pappy's #400 a couple of days ago I showed you Sparky Watts #6, but originally I had another plan. I wanted to show you the whole of The Eye #1 from 1965, an amateur comic book entirely written and drawn by Biljo White, who was also called Captain Biljo.

I googled Biljo's particulars online, only to find out that Bill Schelly, who has documented the first wave of comics fandom of the early 1960s, now has the rights to The Eye, which were given to him by Biljo himself. You can order several books on early fandom from Schelly, including reprints of Biljo's Eye stories.

Ahem. Well, so much for that plan. But while The Eye #1 has two stories of Biljo's titular hero, it also features an older private eye story he did called "Blind Baby Blues," featuring Tom Trojan. (OK, we're all grownups around here. (We are grownups, aren't we?) We all know Trojan is a brand of condom and a private investigator is also called a dick. So we've all got our yuk-yuks out of the title, haven't we? Good.)

Biljo's career was as a firefighter, but comic books were a passion. He kept them in a block building called The White House Of Comics behind his house in Columbia, Missouri. Biljo's art was strictly old school. When I saw it originally in his fanzine, Komix Illustrated, I loved his cartoony style, which harkened back to another era. The Tom Trojan story appears to have been drawn in the early 1950s, complete with headlights and bondage. The Eye stories, even with their influences from Bob Kane's Batman, were drawn in the mid-'60s and appear more polished.

Biljo died in 2003 at age 73.

The postscript to all of this is that I sat down and listed the names of those guys that were important in those early days of comics fandom: Don Thompson, Ronn Foss, Richard "Grass" Green, Howard Keltner, Steve Gerber, Jerry Bails, Biljo White...sadly, all now gone.

Postscript to my postscript: A few hours after posting this I read of the death of yet another important early fan, Tom Fagan. I wrote about the visit my wife and I made to Tom's house in Vermont in 1970. Like Biljo, Tom was a great Batfan.

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