Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Number 921

Weird invaders from Inferno!

This is my tenth posting of a Blackhawk story since beginning this blog. I've got a thing about the Blackhawks. Must be the uniforms. I wish I had a Blackhawk outfit in my closet. "Hey, honey, wanna play Blackhawk and duplicitous villainess tonight? I've got a long blonde wig for you to wear!"

The Grand Comics Database lists the artwork on this story as being by Bill Ward. Looks like it's Ward with another of the heavy-handed Quality inkers, who could use up a bottle of ink in eight pages. Maybe Chuck Cuidera?

"Blackhawk and the Weird Invaders from Inferno!" is from Blackhawk #47, 1951:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Number 920

Witches of Salem

The Salem witch trials are one of the more bizarre chapters in American history. My earliest American ancestor came to Massachusetts in the 1620s, and for all I know could have been caught up in the superstitious madness. I have a lifelong fascination with the Salem witches. "The Salem Terror" is a concise "true"* story published in Wanted Comics #13, 1948. It's drawn in a garish and sensational style by Maurice del Bourgo, who signed his name "del" at the bottom of the splash panel.

*As I've said before in this blog, "true" is a floating concept for stories in comic books, right alongside ads for "guaranteed" weight loss nostrums and useless cures for pimples or bed wetting.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Number 919

King Solomon's Mines

I read H. Rider Haggard's novel, King Solomon's Mines, a year ago. For a 125-year-old novel it holds up well. I’m half that age and not holding up half as well as the book.

Avon did a very good adaptation as a one-shot comic in 1951, drawn by Lee J. Ames, an artist who went from comics into much acclaim as an artist and author. He did the Draw 50 . . . series of how-to art books for young people. According to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide the Avon version was a movie comic, but that’s never stated on the comic. The 1950 movie, with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger, changes the story into a woman looking for her missing husband rather than a man searching for his missing brother. The Avon version sticks close to Haggard’s novel, without the Hollywood treatment.

Classics Illustrated did their own version of King Solomon’s Mines in 1952, illustrated by Henry C. Kiefer.

Readers familiar with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic series will recognize the character, Allen Quatermain.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Number 918

The Torture Master

It's a testament to how good an artist Russ Heath is that as many horror comics as I've read in 50 years, the splash panel for "The Torture Master" still made my stomach churn. Of course, anything about Nazi death camps or medical experiments is bound have a visceral effect.

Using Himmler gives the story even more verisimilitude. There's one kind of horror when you have vampires and werewolves, the usual horror comics fare, but Himmler and the Nazis were real. If Dracula really existed the Nazis would have scared even him.

This is from Atlas Comics' Men's Adventures #24, 1953: