Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Number 1062

Felix steps out

Felix steps out into adventure. The stories starring the famous cat flow almost like a stream-of-consciousness. Otto Messmer, who did these Felix comics, had a way of telling a simple story that appealed to children. In "Rainbow's End" Felix walks out of his house with one dollar in his piggy bank to buy food, and then enters a world of nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters, with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Messmer told a very breezy tale. He did it over and over...and over and over and get the picture. Felix stories didn't change much over the years.

Something I remember about reading these stories as a young child was feeling a sense of wonder. I loved stories that had pots of gold (or Uncle Scrooge's money bin), because they could trigger fantasies of wealth. Wow, what I could do with a pot of gold! I could buy all the comic books on the spinner rack and not just two with my paltry 25¢ allowance.

From Felix the Cat #1, 1948:

Craig Yoe's fantastic collection, Felix the Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails, with many other beautifully drawn Felix adventures like this from Dell Comics, is still available from YoeBooks! All of Craig's books get my highest recommendation.

"If you're looking to spend some Christmas dough, you can't go wrong with Yoe!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Number 1061

Headlights on full beam

In Seduction Of the Innocent, Dr. Fredric Wertham, M.D., provided comic book fans with a new word: headlights. Headlights are what he claimed children of the era called the accentuated breasts in comic books. Just as today, artists took a lot of delight in drawing big boobs, draping them with clothing folds and shadowing to emphasize.

Allen Ulmer, another journeyman comic book artist, drew this back-up story, "The Secret of the Old Mine," starring the Texas Ranger, in Avon's Jesse James #6, from 1952. A girl is captured, beaten (and we assume from her torn clothing) molested by a gang of outlaws looking for her uncle's gold. The story has bondage (another bone in Wertham's throat), and some fine headlights.

Jane Russell, in her character, Rio, from the Howard Hughes movie, The Outlaw, was the inspiration for Joan. Russell had some of the most famous breasts of the time. The sexiness of the movie had Hughes fighting censorship for two years. I found this ad in Dime Mystery Magazine, September 1946.

Ulmer drew comics in the 1940s and '50s, and then went into fine art. He died in 1990, age 68.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Number 1060

Blackhawk, Comrade Vampira, and Hitler's daughter

I've got to give Blackhawk credit for meeting babes, even if he doesn't seem to take advantage. I mean, what would you rather do, hang around with your leather-clad buddies or schmooze good-looking chicks? Blackhawk #97, from 1956, has three stories of Blackhawk fighting evil beauties. I'm presenting two: Comrade Vampira and Hitler's daughter, named Hitla! The Blackhawks should feel right at home with Hitla, who wears a uniform like theirs.

There were only a few more issues of Blackhawk from Quality Comics after this one. Quality sold their characters to DC Comics. DC changed some things about the Blackhawks; they looked the same, but DC switched away from the soldier of fortune adventures they had at Quality, and got more into science fiction.

Stories are drawn by the longtime Blackhawk art duo, Dick Dillin and Chuck Cuidera.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Number 1059

"Keep yer yaps shut!" Lou Cameron's tough guys

Artist Lou Cameron has been featured in my blog, as well as Karswell's The Horrors Of It All several times. I've always thought of Cameron's Golden Age work as being primarily horror, but he did some crime stories, too. I have two of them, from Ace Comics' Crime Must Pay the Penalty.

Cameron's crooks are hardboiled, tough and murderous. They cause lots of mayhem. These are two violent tales, the sort of comics that got the industry in trouble. They were published in issues #40 and #41, which came out in '54, the year of greatest heat on comic books. The next year the Comics Code came out, and Crime Must Pay the Penalty lasted a few issues under the Code.

No matter in what genre he drew, Cameron was superb. He did comics for a few more years, then became a writer, an author of original paperback novels.