Monday, November 11, 2013

Number 1470: Kid Eternity and the Land of Amazons and wimpy men

 It is day two of our Week of Quality theme, presenting examples of the Quality Comics Group.

Kid Eternity, star of Hit Comics from 1942 to 1949 and his own book for 18 issues, had a gimmick. He would travel from his home in Eternity (another name for the afterlife, or heaven), with his buddy, Mr. Keeper. He would solve problems by invoking the word “Eternity!” at which time a (dead) character from history would appear to help out. Apparently in Eternity they don’t distinguish between dead real people or myths and legends. In this story from Kid Eternity #1 (1946), written by William Woolfolk and drawn by Al Bryant, Kid Eternity calls for Paul Bunyan and Sir Galahad. The other person he calls up, fireman Patrick Clancy, well, I don’t know if he was a real fireman or not. Frankly, I don’t care.

The main plot is another of these types of stories* brought back from a male-dominated, chauvinist era. In this case Mr. Keeper is worried because men who hardly have souls are appearing at the gates of Eternity. They’ve been browbeaten by women. Kid E. and Mr. K. travel to the Amazon where they encounter — you guessed it — Amazons, who keep their men tiny and unmanly. (I think page 6 is actually hilarious, where Sir Galahad invokes the knight’s code of chivalry against fighting women: “Page 45, paragraph 15," and the kept men of the Amazons worry about such things as dishwater hands and fixing beet soup.)

If I run into more of these types of stories I’ll post them. Even though most comic books were aimed at a male market, girls and women read them, also. It sends a message to both: guys, you’re in charge, and don’t forget it; gals, your man is in charge, and don’t you dare forget that.


*For the classic “It’s a Woman’s World" from Mystery in Space #8, just click the picture:


Daniel [] said...

Al Bryant could do some wonderful work, …but this isn't it. I don't think that he was slacking; I think that he was trying to stick to the established style for this character. But it seems like a waste.

At least this story doesn't fall to the level of chauvinism at which “It’s a Woman’s World” ended. Kid Eternity in fact summons a woman, Carry Nation, to smite a thug, though Kid could have summoned a man for that task. And Carry Nation tells the reader that Matilda's desire to be directed by a man is transitory.

Unfortunately, Bryant didn't avail himself of a photo-reference for Ms Nation. Her appearance when young would have readily lent itself to comic-book depiction, and in her later years, she looked like a stage caricature.

Brian Barnes said...

The great irony of this story was that the artist was pretty poor at drawing women; the women in the story looked like men!

There is one other important lesson here -- nothing reverses a culture's decades of sexism like somebody you treated like a slave getting shot. I mean, that works, right?

I'd love to have been a writer in the 40s. I'd constantly put up stories where some strong female went to 1940s New York and reversed the power structure, and the minute it happened, all the men go "it's so much better this way!" I don't think I'd get hired!

Daniel [] said...

Mr Barnes

I would agree that these women are not well drawn, but I assure you that Al Bryant was capable of much better.

Pappy said...

Brian, Daniel, my feeling is that Bryant was probably drawing the women to look mannish, to make the males in the story that much more wimpy.