Monday, March 30, 2009

Number 497

Al Wiseman

Al Wiseman was Hank Ketcham's assistant on Dennis the Menace, but where I encountered him was in the comic book versions of Dennis. Wiseman's artwork was excellent, and not only did he do a great job on Dennis and the other characters, but he could really draw architecture. He gave us a view of 1950s suburban America at Dennis' eye-level.

There were a series of special giant comics that came along in the late '50s-early '60s: Dennis the Menace In Mexico, in Hollywood, in Hawaii, etc. Where they were different for me was that Al Wiseman and writer Fred Toole had write-ups in the comics. They were given credit! Wiseman and Toole got their names and photos in the books. Ketcham must've really thought a lot of them to allow that.

This fun take on Treasure Island from Dennis' point of view is from Dennis the Menace #17, 1956. It was reprinted a couple of times. I think it's an excellent example of Toole and Wiseman's superior work on Dennis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Number 496

Dr. Gordon and Mr. Eclipso

Don Markstein's Toonopedia site gives a pretty concise history of Eclipso, a super villain who is the dark side of a decent guy.

Holy Robert Louis Stevenson.

Anyway, this particular episode, with the tunnel-digging robot ROGER, was published in House of Secrets #67, July-August 1967. Bob Haney wrote it, and Alex Toth illustrated it. I know for sure because he signed the last panel in a most distinguished way. As usual with Toth, the artwork is probably better than the story, and yet the story is pretty good!

I got these scans from the Internet some years ago, 2003 to be exact, off of some DC fan site. I just can't remember where. If the guy who produced these scans will contact me I'll give him credit.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Number 495

Moon Monster

Bernard Baily, who began his comics career almost before there were comic books, drew this moody-looking monster tale for House of Mystery #97, April 1959. I scanned it from DC Special #11, a DC Giant Comic from 1971.

Baily co-created The Spectre, Hourman, had his own comic book art shop, did some of the most gruesome and horrific horror comics covers of the early '50s, and during the Silver Age did a lot of work in DC's mystery comics. That's not to mention his syndicated comic strip work. The guy was busy!

Baily, who was born in 1916, died in 1996 at age 79.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Number 494

The Wolf of Cave Canyon

Dell Comics, like the movies, licensed established characters and then did whatever the hell they wanted with them. It's why in this story Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd are not ventriloquist dummies sitting on Edgar Bergen's knees, but up and walking around like the British movie, Dead of Night, and its countless imitators.

Dell also had a habit of using the same motifs, crossing over standard themes. "The Wolf of Cave Canyon," could have featured Porky Pig and nephew Cicero, or Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken, or any number of other characters. It's probably because the same writers wrote much of the material for many comics.

For all that, Charlie McCarthy #9, from 1952, is pretty entertaining. It's made better by the artwork of Harvey Eisenberg, and as clichéd as the Western setting and plot are, I still like it. So sue me. Sometimes we old-timers, jaded by reading thousands of comics with every possible theme, plot and setting, forget what it was like to be seven or eight years old, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, our six-shooters holstered on our hips, reading a story set in the Wild West of someone's imagination.

Another adventure of Charlie McCarthy is featured in Magic Carpet Burn here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Number 493

Harpy in Central Park

Ace Comics' The Beyond #15, "Harpy in Central Park" is pretty plain in its meaning. A woman who turns into a mythological being, a harpy, uses sex to get her victims, to "snatch men's souls." In the first page one horny guy is looking for a pickup, and is, luckily for him, beaten out by the harpy's victim.

A couple of years after this Ace story appeared, Carl Barks drew "The Golden Fleecing" for Uncle Scrooge #12, and quoting him from 1989's Gladstone Album #19, Barks said, "I almost had to eat those 32 pages of drawings. . .It seems that Harpy or Harpie is an obscure nickname for a streetwalker. I managed to save the story by renaming the old girls LARKIES."

No such dilemma as to what a harpy is existed for the editors at Ace Comics. There is even a noxious odor that accompanies the harpy, and I don't even want to speculate about that. Art attributed to Chic Stone by the Grand Comics Database.