Monday, September 29, 2014
The problem as I see it is the strip is too gimmicky. Like a radio play Atoma describes things we readers can’t see. The only panel with a background is on page one. Comics are a visual medium so the reader is cheated. I don’t know what would have happened if the strip had continued; would it have continued without backgrounds, and that clever way of numbering the pages? I like the comely Atoma and the giant robot, but as a comic book story I’d call it an interesting idea that just does not quite work.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
This story features the Blackhawks of the dark days of World War II, when pulling out a machine gun and mowing down the enemy was just part of the job. You can tell these guys are tough when Hendrickson pipes up with “Ve spit upon you!” to the firing squad about to execute them. Well...how much worse could the situation get at that point, anyway? Needless to say they survived.
The story, from Military Comics #21 (1943) also features some interesting caricatures of Hitler and Herman Göring. The nice artwork is credited by Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr to Al Bryant and P. Palais, by the Grand Comics Database to Reed Crandall.
Our friend Darci has forwarded some information based on the confusion over the credits for the artwork on this story. Roger Hill, who has recently completed a book on Reed Crandall (upcoming from IDW) says, “I . . . own a page of original art from this story. I consider it to be pure Crandall. The pencils are definitely all Crandall, and maybe, just maybe, someone else helped on the inking. But I doubt it.”
Thanks, Darci, and thanks, Roger.
Monday, September 22, 2014
First up, Blue Beetle, who has a long history in comics for a character who bounced around in different titles over different eras, eventually appearing in the sixties in the more-than-capable hands of Steve Ditko (the high-water mark of Blue Beetle for me). But here Blue Beetle is featured in an anthology comic from Fox, co-starring with Phantom Lady, Rulah the Jungle Goddess and Jo-Jo the Congo King. Blue Beetle doesn’t even merit a mention on the cover. But what interested me about this installment is the art. It's by Jack Kamen, who turned out reams of work for the Iger Shop before landing a position at EC Comics. Personally, I enjoy these early stories by Kamen. This one has action and some cheesecake, something Fox was marketing despite objection from the folks who were upset about comics featuring such material.
From All Top Comics #13 (1948):
Friday, September 19, 2014
So...how to explain this story? It uses Shakespeare’s weird sisters (“Double, double, toil and trouble”) from Macbeth as creators of Dr. Horror, a being of pure evil. Beyond that it is an allegory about how nature provides balance and takes care of evil. That’s simplistic, but then so is the story. An eye-catching splash page and several panels of demonic creatures add to its lurid charm.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
In this early story, published in Animal Comics #5 (1943), there are several humans who are overwhelmed by the sight of Albert the Alligator, who is ready to take a train to the big city. They are mostly clownish African-American caricatures,* but if it counts, there are a couple of drunk white hillbillies to add to the bizarre nature of the story. In the early Albert strips a young African-American boy, Bumbazine, was the primary focus, interacting with the animal characters. Humans were quickly dropped from the strip by Kelly.