Monday, April 29, 2013

Number 1358: Boyoboy, it's the Little Wise Guys!

We have a theme week going, ”Boyoboy! Week” featuring kid gangs of Golden Age comics. Today we have the longest running of all, the Little Wise Guys from Daredevil Comics.

The group of youngsters first appeared in 1942, and lasted until publisher Lev Gleason closed his comic book line in 1956. This war-themed story is from Daredevil Comics #29 (1944), and Daredevil doesn’t appear until page 10 of the 16-page story. Oh, the ignominy —  the title character upstaged by a bunch of street kids!

The story features a torture scene, and off-camera more tortures and murders are alluded to. The cover, signed by Charles Biro, does not represent a scene in the book, but it is one of those covers sure to attract attention on the newsstand.

Drawn by Carl Hubbell, one of Biro’s regular artists, with script credited to editor Biro.

More Daredevil! First without the Little Wise Guys, and then one with them. Click on the pictures to go to the posts.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Number 1357: Boyoboy! The Boy Heroes

We’re beginning another theme week, “Boyoboy! Week,” where we’ll see some of the kid gangs of the Golden Age. I’ve got posts featuring Boy Commandos, the Newsboy Legion, and the Little Wise Guys following up today’s posting of a Boy Heroes strip from Harvey Comics' All-New Comics. A group I won’t be showing is Young Allies, because that bunch included Toro and Bucky, two superhero sidekicks. Our kid gangs are strictly from the streets, and while they might be heroes, they aren’t super.

The Boy Heroes were created by Louis Cazeneuve. The group mainly operated in Europe during the war years, making eight appearances in All-New. To begin this adventure in Transylvania they seem confident, boasting as they motor along, “Boy, we sure took care of them dratted Nazis back in Rumania, eh, kids?”

“Sure, we did! Dey’re duck soup!”

But of course the boys soon end up in the soup, and being in Transylvania they are fighting, of all things, a werewolf. I assume the idea behind having young boys behind enemy lines fighting Nazis was to feed into the fantasy of the young readers back home that even those too young to enlist could accomplish heroics during the war. In real life American kids were urged to collect scrap and buy savings stamps to aid in the war effort, but in the comics they could do what they really wanted to do — kick butt!

I’ve shown this story before back in the early days of this blog, but I’ve re-scanned the pages. Art attributed to Louis Cazeneuve, from All-New Comics #10 (1944):

Friday, April 26, 2013

Number 1356: Sam Hill's Double Trouble

Sam Hill, Private Eye was a short-lived series from Archie Comics. Sam, a bow-tie wearing keyhole-peeper, was a smartass, wise-cracking, two-fisted private eye in the tradition of the time. Sam had the advantage of being drawn by Harry Lucey, who was one of Archie’s top artists. He showed with this series he could draw more than teenage hijinks. He could draw just as sexy and as action-packed as the genre required.

This story, “The Double Trouble Caper,” is from Sam Hill #1 (1950).

In 2011 I showed another story starring Sam Hill. Click the cover pic to see it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Number 1355: “Spending the days with Bill, and the nights with horror!”

Forbidden Worlds, ACG's companion to Adventures Into the Unknown, ended its run at #34 (1954), the last issue before the Comics Code kicked in. It was replaced for three issues with Young Heroes, a more Code-friendly book, numbers 35-37. But Young Heroes didn't last, and Forbidden Worlds came back with an issue dated about a year after #34, continuing the numbering from #35. Confused? Comic books used to change their names but not their numbering (trying to get around a postal regulation for second-class mailing permits), but sometimes they were caught and had to re-number. That may be what happened with Forbidden Worlds

Okay, that's our comic book history lesson for today. Within the pages of FW #34 are a couple of stories that show a change in direction for ACG’s supernatural titles to fit into the new Code, and a last blast from their pre-Code past. The newer-styled story is “Day of Reckoning!” which is science fiction with art attributed by the Grand Comics Database to Paul Gustavson, and the catchy-titled “My Fanged and Fiendish Darling” is a werewolf story, common in ACG’s titles until the Code. It's drawn by Emil Gershwin.

“Fanged and Fiendish” is very odd. A married woman and single man share a secret; they are both able to sit at home and send their “wolf-beings” into the night to rip and tear innocent passers-by. No credible reason is given for Karen taking up such a lycanthropic lifestyle except that she is “ lonely that maybe even terror is welcome!” It’s a crazy plot, but that wasn’t uncommon for ACG.

The Grand Comics Database gives Ken Bald credit for the cover.