Sunday, January 31, 2010

Number 676

Hangman hung up

"Gallows Ghoul," expertly illustrated by Bob ("Fuje") Fujitani for the Fall 1943 issue of Hangman Comics #8, is a morbid murder tale partially rewritten, probably because it was too morbid. The clumsy re-lettering in certain captions and speech balloons looks like a last minute attempt to mitigate the horrors of a man killing his wife and then throwing his young son out the window of a tall building. I'm reading between the lines, but changing the murdered woman to a "half-sister" of killer Ed Jennings, and the boy into the half-sister's son doesn't make sense. Just do what I did and substitute the word "wife" for "half-sister." I don't think killing one's half-sister is any more acceptable than one's wife, but it appears that somebody had second thoughts about this story and made the changes before this issue went to press.

The stereotype of mental illness is pretty sickening, also, but it isn't untypical of the era in which it was published.

Hard to believe that MLJ Comics, which published some of the more lurid and sensational comic books of its era, did an about-face and went with the much less objectionable Archie characters. I'm sure a character like Hangman, and stories like "Gallows Ghoul," put the company under scrutiny by censorious types. MLJ made the right choice, since Archie has sustained them to this day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Number 674

Pogo's Number One!

I was going to make mention of this in my last Walt Kelly posting in Pappy's #650 but forgot. It's been just over 36 years since Walt Kelly died in October 1973, way too young at age 60. (Even if 60 seems old to you youngsters it doesn't seem so old to those of us who have passed that mark.) Kelly was one of the true comic geniuses of the twentieth century.

Pogo was not Kelly's first contribution to comic art, but certainly his greatest and most successful. This story, with all of the silliness and fun intact, is from Dell Comics' Pogo Possum* #1, 1949.

*Actually titled Pogo The Possum in the indicia.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Number 673

Whiz Wilson and his Futuroscope

Lightning Comics, a continuation of Ace's Sure-Fire Comics, was a typical anthology comic of the year 1940. It had a superhero, a cowboy, a magician, and Whiz Wilson, a science fiction hero in the Flash Gordon mold. Whiz had what he called a Futuroscope, a really handy device that could move him around in time and space. I'd like one of those, myself. I wonder if anyone has one for sale on eBay...

Anyway, the Grand Comics Database doesn't have any information on Whiz Wilson, but the art in this episode from Lightning Comics #4, is derivative of Alex Raymond, just like a couple of dozen other comic book features. I really don't know how the earliest comics could have existed without Raymond and Hal Foster's Prince Valiant to swipe from.

Just how tied to Flash Gordon was Whiz Wilson? This is the lead sentence from another episode, as quoted by the GCD: "One day Whiz Wilson sets the dials of his Futuroscope to take him to the planet Mongo, in the year 2300..." Mongo. That's where Flash, Flash's girl Dale Arden, Doc Zarkoff and Ming the Merciless hung out.

This particular adventure has Whiz mixing it up with some post-apocalyptic stone age types in South America.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Number 672

Airboy and Valkyrie

This story has been reprinted a few times and for good reason. It's sexy. Valkyrie proclaims as she shoots at Airboy, "Here's a taste of some hot German lead!" Airboy gets both the hot lead and the hot German.

Valkyrie, as drawn by Fred Kida and Bill Quackenbush in her 1943 introductory opus from Air Fighters Volume 2 Number 2, is a Nazi-trained fighter, the cream of "German girlhood." But she realizes the error of her ways. Maybe the sight of a bare-chested Airboy had something to do with that. Speaking of bare-chested, braless Valkyrie looks pretty good in her open blouse. I'm sure the attraction went both ways as shown by the action between the two in the crowded cockpit of Airboy's plane, Birdie.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Number 671

Pussycat, damsel in disguise

It's time to bid adieu to our dear little Pussycat, who has graced Pappy's now for five episodes. (You can see them by typing the word Pussycat in the search engine box at the top left, or go to the link on the bottom and click on the name. You can also click on Bill Ward and see the other sexy stories I've run by this incredible good girl artist.)

This is the sixth and final Bill Ward story from the Pussycat one-shot, black and white magazine published in 1968.

I've also included a Torchy story from the 1992 Torchy Summer Fun Special, published by Innovation. When you're through ogling Torchy, let your eyes wander to the evil scientist, who is a dead ringer for Captain Marvel's Dr. Sivana. Also, I can't swear to it, but the goggle-eyed guy yelling "You're telling us!" looks to be an homage to Al Feldstein.