Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Number 1411: Horror by three

Craig Yoe has an interesting Facebook page devoted to horror comics. Although I love them, I don’t show a lot of horror comics. Steve “Karswell” Banes in his Horrors Of It All blog does such an excellent job that I try to think of another angle when I do show horror.

So here it is. Three horror stories, slightly different than you might expect. First up, “Weird Tales” from Quality’s Hit Comics #1, which some claim is actually the first comic book horror story, done in 1940. I’m not sure of that, but I’m not ruling it out, either. Something that seems horrible to me is that the artist couldn’t keep the Old Witch’s look consistent on the first page. It also distinguishes itself by the most tepid horrors I’ve ever seen when the hotel “guest” peers through the keyhole at the phantasms haunting the inn. It’s historic, though, if we believe it’s really the first of its genre, so I’m including it.

Superior Comics of Canada published some great horror comics, but the printing was often terrible. The contents of the books were supplied by the Jerry Iger comic shop, and judging by the original artwork for “Here’s to Horror!” from Journey Into Fear #18 (1954), the artists who worked the story did a good job despite knowing how it would look once it came off the presses. A dialog paste-over on page has fallen off, so I’m including the panel from the printed comic where you can see it covered up the girl walking her dog. The artist(s) need not have gone to the trouble to provide an interesting background. Oh, and lead character, the crooner, Lanny, has a condition called spasmodic dysphonia, called “spastic throat” by the doctor in the story.

The scans came from the Heritage Auctions website. Thank you, HA!


Finally, I found this horror story of the living dead in an unlikely place, a comic book about Native Americans called Redskin #9 (1952). (That word is now considered a racial pejorative; my apologies to those offended.) When horror comics got popular then horrors started showing up in comics of other genres. The cover of this issue, though, has no indication that upon reading the book zombies will be encountered. The artwork is by Edwin Goldfarb and Bob Baer, a team who drew reams of crime and horror comics during this period.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Number 1409: Dragon Lady is no drag

Terry and the Pirates, a phenomenally popular strip, well written and drawn by Milton Caniff, was, like all newspaper features, disposable. Newspapers were thrown out after being read, or used to wrap fish. I’m sure there were people clipping and saving the strips day-by-day, but for the most part newspaper comics were one-and-done. That is, until comic books came along with an insatiable need for content. Then many popular newspaper comics, including Terry, got another life.

The Dragon Lady, one of the most popular characters, is introduced in this first issue of the Terry and the Pirates reprint series from Harvey Comics. (The comic says #3, but it was a continuation of Boy Explorers, which lasted only two issues). Although the Dragon Lady had been introduced in newspapers in 1934, the comic book was published in 1947, which gave it a huge new batch of readers who weren’t around when the original strips were published.

It was another era...China was a faraway place, a strange universe of its own, far from America of the 1930s. Stereotypes were used (Connie especially, although next to Chop Chop of the Blackhawks he seems almost acceptable). Despite being the title figure, Terry Lee was something of a secondary character next to his adult pal, Pat Ryan. Terry grew up later, but in these early strips he’s a callow youngster.