Friday, April 01, 2011

Number 922

The Ancient Ape!

Consider this your April Fool's posting from Pappy, even if I'm not trying to fool you. (Heh-heh! When I clapped you on the back I planted a Kick Me sign! Har-har-har!)

But enough of that nonsense. It's time for some comic book nonsense. It's said that despite success of superheroes for other comic publishers, ACG editor Richard E. Hughes resisted putting superheroes into his titles. He finally gave in and created some: Nemesis in Adventures Into the Unknown, and Magicman in Forbidden Worlds. Neither of them was successful, although according to the letter columns they had some fans. Personally, I think ACG's stories, screwball to begin with, didn't lose much with the superheroes, which were cut from the same template as the supernatural stories, or even--dare I say it?--Herbie.

Magicman was a Vietnam vet, Tom Cargill. He lived with his former sergeant, Kilkenny, who nagged him about his lack of ambition. It was kind of like how Lois Lane nagged Clark Kent. How kinky is that? Well, it was another era, and people didn't think anything about guys being roommates or even sharing the same bedroom. (In separate beds, of course...there was the Comics Code to deal with.)

The artwork is by Pete Costanza, who had a history drawing adventures of Captain Marvel in the 1940s. Zev Zimmer is yet another pen-name for editor Hughes, who wrote the contents of each ACG book in those days. It's from Forbidden Worlds #132, 1965, and I picked this particular story because as longtime Pappy's readers know, I've got a thing about gorillas in comic books.


Chuck Wells said...

No fooling, Pappy, I have to admit that I've always liked both Magicman and Nemesis. This stuff is so wonky that it is actually fun to read!

spitandbailingwire said...

Way back when, I always wondered why Kurt Schaffenberger signed some of his very distinctive covers for ACG as Pete Constanza. (Such as the Forbidden Worlds cover for this story.) It's definitely Kurt S., not Constanza. Schaffenberger also signed some as Lou Wahl. Maybe he was worried about offending Mort Weisenger, for whom he was drawing Superman.

One of the more minor mysteries of life, I admit, but fanboys can't help pondering such things....

Bill Sherman

borky said...

Pappy: "as longtime Pappy's readers know, I've got a thing about gorillas in comic books."

Don't you find they tend to damage the pages?

borky said...

You've just brought back another powerful childhood memory for me, Pappy:

I was about 7 in the Sixties and I'd gotten one of those giant many coloured 'barrel' pens for my birthday. The only trouble was, out of a selection of about 20, the only two worthwhile colours that worked properly were claret and bright green; (lemon yellow and tangerine - yuk!).

Then, by a curious coincidence, I noticed a porno shop at the top of our street'd opened, and one of the first second hand comics I ever bought there featured this character in this story.

The story's fairly daft - Herbie-ish, as you rightly point out, though without the charm or invention - but I instantly fell in love with the character of Magicman because with his absurd little mask, turban, kinky boots and gloves, he was incredibly easy to draw, (two triangles topped by two circles for the gloves; a circle with a horizontal line across it for the turban and face), especially if the only decent colours you had to draw with were claret and bright green!

(I've a tweaky bit of a suspicion Ed Wood jnr. might just've been a fan of this guy!).


Maybe this four coloured gorilla 'fetish' is a universal thing, because my favourite Flashes were always the ones featuring General Grodd and Gorilla City.

Jeff Overturf said...

Magicman and Nemesis even guest starred in "Herbie" #14 where they all teamed up...I posted it on my blog last October at

Nice to see the cheesy fun of Magicman solo, though Pappy. Makes for a fitting "April Fool's Day" post.

Pappy said...

The Magicman and Nemesis stories are new to me, because I never read them when they came out. For some reason, even though I had the comic books, I just passed them over when reading the other contents of the ACG books. In those days I preferred the Marvel superheroes and disdained DC and ACG as being just too childish. As I've said before, like Bob Dylan, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

Pappy said...

Borky, I've mentioned a time or two that DC found out at some point in the early '50s that gorillas on covers sold comic books. For all I know there could be collectors out there who do nothing but buy comics with gorillas on the covers. I don't go that far, but I do like simians in comics. There's probably some sort of psychological reason, but I might not want to know why.

Pappy said...

Bill, I don't know why Schaffenberger signed with a pseudonym, Lou Wahl. He didn't try to disguise his very distinctive artwork. He sometimes signed his real name, so I don't know if it had to do with Weisinger or not.

As for why he would sign a cover with a living artist's name, in this case Pete Costanza, is baffling. I've looked at the cover and can't really tell. It does look more Kurt S. than Costanza, but since everyone involved is now gone it'll remain a mystery. Maybe Kurt worked it over at editor Hughes' instructions, because Costanza had done a cover that didn't come up to Hughes' standards. That's only a guess on my part.