Monday, September 08, 2014

Number 1628: Little Frankenclones

I love the little Frankenstein monsters created by a junkman using the notes of Dr. Frankenstein. But the little “clones” come with a serious flaw: prick them and they vanish!

This funny tale is cover-featured on Frankenstein #3 (1946). It’s by — who else? — Dick Briefer.

Briefer shows a magician named The Great Bruce. It is a caricature of Bruce Elliott, who helped Briefer write this issue. I don’t know a lot about Elliott except that he did some of the Shadow pulp novels, subbing for regular Shadow author Walter Gibson.

Briefer, who also did a comic strip for The Daily Worker, the Communist Party USA newspaper, takes a humorous dig at capitalism early in the story. Being a known communist in the postwar era would have presented a problem with the general public and certainly would have him on the FBI’s list. I don’t know if Briefer later changed his politics, nor do I know if his affiliation with the party was common knowledge amongst his peers or publishers.


Daniel [] said...

There are a couple of digs here. First, there is the reperesentation of “capitalism” as absurdly promising that every office boy shall someday be president of the company. Secondly, there is the portrayal of the legal owner of capital (in this case, a horse cart) as giving the laborer far less than the value of the laborer's contribution to the productive process.

The Cold War began before the Second World War had ended, but if it had a declaration then that would have been Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech of 5 March 1946. So Communists would have been keeping their heads further down by the time that this story was published than they did during World War II.

Pappy said...

Daniel, the reference to "every office boy shall someday be president of the company" is to those fantasies by Horatio Alger of poor boys finding success by hard work and a lot of luck. They were referred to often in popular culture (and still are) but had been out of print for decades in the thirties and forties when Briefer was associated with the Daily Worker and Communist Party USA.

Daniel [] said...

Alger famously wrote stories in which poor but earnest boys rose from a bottom run to a top, but note also the standard biographies of Andrew Carnegie and of Thomas Edison. These were being presented to children into my childhood, if not beyond.

It's worth noting en passant that the appeal of a radical socialism is often that it makes essentially the same promises that a naïve reading thinks that it finds in the fictions of Alger, of Carnegie, and of Edison.

After all, when a person on Rex Dexter's Earth wants to be President of an enterprise, he just shows up (as the previous president has fortuitously decided to go drive a cab).