Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Ellery Queen and the corpse that killed
We featured the Saint on Friday, Perry Mason on Monday, and we're following it up with Ellery Queen. The Saint, Mason and Ellery Queen were born in the golden era of the pulps as leads in detective novels. The Saint was created by Leslie Charteris. Mason was created by prolific Erle Stanley Gardner (who got to a point where he had six secretaries transcribing his tape recorded story dictation). Ellery was created by Manfred Lee and Fred Dannay under the name Ellery Queen.
Unlike this comic book story, which depends on the pseudo-horror angle and less on detecting, the Ellery Queen of the novels is a detective in very clever whodunnits with clues provided for the reader. There was much less finesse and writing skill in this comic book story, but it's still entertaining. The art is by an artist so far unidentified. The style looks familiar, one of those things where I can almost put my finger on whodunnit, but not quite. That's the biggest mystery of "The Corpse That Killed": whodrewit?
At least we know that Norman Saunders did the painted cover for this Ziff-Davis comic.
From Ellery Queen #1, 1952:
Monday, August 29, 2011
Mort Drucker's Perry Mason
"The Night Perry Masonmint Lost A Case" is a favorite of mine, from Mad #48, 1959. Not only am I a fan of of artist Mort Drucker, but I also remember the Raymond Burr TV show with fondness. I watched it every week.
I downloaded the scans of the original art from Heritage Auctions. It went through some production phases in which it was cleaned up, where the bleed edges of the panel borders were covered up, giving it a neater appearance than it had in its primary state. Like many artists whose work was done for black line printing, Drucker used Craftint paper, "painting" with the chemical that brought out the ben day effects. That paper became known as Grafix, and is now no longer produced. (The end of an era.)
The first Perry Mason series lasted for nine seasons on CBS, and there was a time when he actually lost a case on television (CNN did some research at some point and found out he actually lost three of three hundred, not a bad track record). I remember the hoopla around that first "losing" episode. I wonder if this satire gave some Perry Mason producer or writer the idea.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Dead men--and women--tell no tales
Saddle Justice was an EC Comics entry into the field of Western-themed comic books, before they got into the New Trend comics that would make them infamous.
I like the alliterative titles of these stories, and the female protagonists, both of whom are as rough-and-tumble, if not more so, than the men they go up against. Johnny Craig did "The Lady Longrider" and Graham Ingels drew "The Grinning Gun Girl," setting the mood on the first page with the symbolic skull.
[SPOILER ALERT] The lessons of "Gun Girl" are muddled, especially in the last three panels when the law closes in. The posse decides to shoot down psychotic Sally "in cold blood" because it's the "only way we can stop her from killing more people!" The sheriff would rather "take her in alive. . .[but] no sense in running any more risk with a killer like her!" so they shoot her. As she lays dead the sheriff moralizes, "Reckon she was a bad one...human life didn't mean a thing to her it seems!" That's because even in death she has her grin and after shooting her in cold blood, he says, "See, she's still grinning! Sure was cold-blooded...even about her own death!" The code of the West in action! Another crime comics ending, where the law is just as brutal as the criminals they are chasing.
From Saddle Justice #6, 1949:
Friday, August 26, 2011
The Saint and Stumbo
The online copy of Avon's The Saint #5 has an index card identifying various artists who worked on this 1949 Avon comic.
The Grand Comics Database doesn't reflect this information.
If I had not read the I.D. of the artist of "The Saint Breaks A Spell," I would never have guessed it, even though it's a name well known to me. Warren Kremer was Harvey Comics' chief artist for decades, drawing all of the Harvey characters, most notably Casper, Richie Rich, and one of my favorites, Stumbo the Giant. The card tells us that Kremer did two strips in this issue of The Saint. I'm including a Stumbo story from Hot Stuff #17, 1959, to show you that a decade made a lot of difference in that artist's career.
The Saint splash panel provides us yet another example of the Jeepers Girl, who I have featured before. See Pappy's #727 and Pappy's #911, and Pappy's #788, which links to another blogger who has found more examples.