Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Number 457

Spacemen Against the Supernatural

Except for a roster of artists, the American Comics Group was a one-man office: editor/writer Richard E. Hughes, using pseudonyms like Shane O'Shea, Bob Standish, Zev Zimmer, Lafcadio Lee, and the "author" of this story, Kurato Osaki. It seems only fitting that Hughes used pen-names since Hughes wasn't his real name, which is said to have been Leo Rosenbaum.

This is one of those stories you just have to read to believe that it came from someone's brain. The best character in "Spacemen Against the Supernatural" is the villain. On the first page we see that Nazi scientist Hans Ehrlich has invented a modern rack for torture, an improvement on the gas ovens to kill millions (the word "Jews" unused, but understood), and finally we find he was a big part of the V2 rocket program. Yet he's a secondary character. The main character is a typical Hughes doofus.

Hughes was big on hyperbole and not against stretching whatever point it was he was making, so he gives dialogue to the "writer," and artist, Whitney. Whitney "says" for this story he drew in two separate styles. Of course he didn't draw in separate styles, just his usual Ogden Whitney style, which is characterized by solid pencilling and composition, and very precise inking.

All we'd need in this outrageously off-the-wall plot is Herbie and his lollipops and it would be a perfect story.

Midnight Mystery was an ACG title that lasted 7 issues, and this is the only one I own. This is issue #2, dated March-April 1961.


Jerome Wilson said...

I spent my time as a little kid buying Superman and Batman comics when there was stuff like this around? That was one of the most completely demented comic book stories I've ever read. A current hotshot writer like Grant Morrison would probably never come up with something this insane.

Frank M. Young said...

This is a landmark of comix nuttiness. It inspired me to pen an instrumental tune of the same name, which appeared in 1999 on the New Albanian Riots' 2nd release, Unknown Worlds.
(Shameless plug: you can hear it on the Riots' MySpace page. Go there now...)

This story is every bit as wacked-out as the best HERBIE stories...and it's long! Thanks for posting this. The world NEEDS access to "Spacemen Against the Supernatural!"

borky said...

Jerome Wilson: "A current hotshot writer like Grant Morrison would probably never come up with something this insane."

Actually, Jerome, I'll stake you any money the reason Grant Morrison does come up with stuff even more insane than this is precisely because while we were buying Superman and Batman comics as kids, Grant was reading stories like "Spacemen Against the Supernatural!"

As I say, I loved the Superman and Batman stuff as a kid in the '60s myself, but anything with the magic of Ogden Whitney in it - which were extremely rare in Liverpool in the UK in those days - I prized above diamonds!