Friday, July 31, 2009

Number 567

A Couple of Miles of Jollity

It's the end of July. I'm stepping on my tongue; it's scorching, dog days. It's a good time to wrap up the month with some relief, a cool and breezy story by the master, Walt Kelly, from Pogo #8, 1953.

See you-uns in August!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Number 566

Forbidden Tales of Oleck and Alcala

A while back I showed you a couple of 1970s DC mystery stories by writer Jack Oleck and artist Alfredo Alcala, and because I admire both of them for their craft at horror, here are two more from that duo. "Head Of the House" is from Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #9, and "The Monster" is from the subsequent issue, Forbidden Tales #10, both dated 1973.

"The Monster" is another from the same swamp that produced the 1940 Unknown story, "It!" by Theodore Sturgeon, which in turn influenced Air Fighters Comics' Heap, Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, Ring-A-Ding the Thing-Thing (that last one I made up), et al. The swamp monster is a genre unto itself. I like Oleck's snap ending to "Head Of the House" because of its ghoulishness. And what can I say about artwork by the late Alfredo Alcala except that it is always a joy, no matter the subject.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Number 565


Not Frosty the Snowman. Just Snowman.

If Tally-Ho Comics #1 (and only) had not been known as the professional debut of Frank Frazetta, it might alternately be known as one of the most off-the-wall comic books published during the 1940s. The cover makes it look something like a kiddie comic, but the interior is anything but. In the lead story, Snowman's nemesis, Fang, is a very scary looking guy. Since there was never another issue we don't know what Snowman was, exactly...or what Fang was, either. John Giunta and Frazetta drew the story, but I don't know who wrote it. H.G. Ferguson, who was Simon and Kirby's letterer on their crime and love comics, did the "lettering designs," one of the only times I've ever seen a letterer so identified in a Golden Age comic book.

Tally-Ho is listed on the inside front cover as being published by Swapper's Quarterly, Chicago, IL, and the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide says Baily Publications, in parentheses. I don't know how they knew that, but if it's true then Golden Age comic book artist, Bernard Baily, likely had something to do with it.

Overstreet dates it as December 1944. To add to the mystery about Tally-Ho, the undated indicia lists no copyright claim. The Swapper's Quarterly publishing credit could have been that being produced during World War II maybe Swapper's Quarterly, of Chicago, IL, had a paper ration that they used to print Tally-Ho.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Number 564

Plastic Man Products

I believe that Jack Cole hit his stride with Plastic Man. No matter what else he did in his career, and he did some truly amazing things both in and out of comic books, when I think of Jack Cole I really think of his work on Plas. DC Special #15, November-December 1971, was the last issue of a great reprint title, and it went out on a very high note by reprinting several Jack Cole classics, including the oft-seen Plastic Man origin from Police Comics #1.

Since Cole was proprietary with Plas, he threw so much into it he couldn't keep up and other artists had to be brought in. They did a good job, considering who they had to follow, but Cole's work was on such a high level I just don't think anyone ever captured the zaniness of the character like him. In this story, "Plastic Man Products," reprinted from Plastic Man #17 in 1949, every panel is alive with inspired frenetic action and comic exaggeration. I think that it wasn't until a few years later, with Mad comics, that anyone ever again reached this level of comedic genius in comic books.

Check out the blog, Cole's Comics, for more of Jack Cole's work.