Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Number 1834: Inspiration or imitation?

EC Comics were the gold standard of comics for a few years...good artists, popular titles...and of course they were imitated. Story Comics is one of those companies that looks like it was founded on copying EC, but even so, “Trapped” — from Fight Against Crime #17 (1954) —  is more blatant than most. After all, two stories of men attached to one another by handcuffs, and one of them carrying the corpse of the other through the desert is similar enough, but the endings of both are virtually the same.

The EC version came first by at least half a year. It is the first EC story drawn by Reed Crandall, and might have been a shock (heh-heh) to EC’s readers when they picked up Shock Suspenstories #9 (1953). Long time comics veteran Crandall fit right into EC’s style.

The artwork for “Trapped” is by Doug Wildey, who also had a dramatic and very polished illustrative style. (He later went on to help create Jonny Quest in the '60s for Hanna-Barbera). It appears the writer wanted to one-up the EC story with some graphic violence. In “Trapped” there is a shooting of a child, which even for a story where vultures feed on corpses, seems like an extra assault on the readers.

Speaking of assaults, this is my last posting of 2015. See you when the calendar rolls over to January. Happy New Year, all.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Number 1833: Evil eye

Mr Justice (also referred to as the Royal Wraith) was a supernatural hero who appeared in MLJ’s Blue Ribbon Comics. This particular story pulls out all the stops, and includes the evil eye, a soul being yanked from a body, Satan making a deal, and Mr Justice confronting Satan himself on the devil's own territory. It is one of the reasons that the early MLJ Comics were popular. They later got into the Archie business, and dropped their lurid fare for a more “wholesome” style.

The story is written by Joe Blair, and drawn by Sam Cooper. The name of the blind soul-seller, Ribo, is an anagram of Biro. Charles Biro worked for MLJ with the same sort of gusto as he did for other comics, particularly Lev Gleason, with Boy Comics, Daredevil, and Crime Does Not Pay. Besides being an inside joke, I see the name assigned to such a sinister and twisted character as a paean of praise for a master of early comics and exploitation.

From Blue Ribbon Comics #19 (1941).

Friday, December 25, 2015

Number 1832: A Yellow Submarine Christmas

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!

...and having said that, I have no Christmas comics to show you. But I relate Yellow Submarine to a Christmas memory: December, 1968...I had been out of the Army a few weeks;  just before Christmas I saw a screening of the Beatles animated film. I am a Beatlemaniac, through-and-through.

The comic book preceded release of the picture, and as you can see if you are familiar with the movie, is different in many ways from the film. The Grand Comics Database states it was written from an early draft of the script. That happens with these adaptations. With the long lead time on a licensed project like this the publisher would want to get the script and art done as soon as possible, thereby risking what happened here, perhaps disappointing some readers.

Oh well, all you need is love, as the Beatles said. In the spirit of Christmas, I gift this 68 page Gold Key giant comic, with poster. It is written by Paul S. Newman, and drawn by José Delbo.

I got a nifty Christmas present recently, when one of my favorite cartoonists, Jim Engel, sent me a fantastic new logo for this blog. Jim has done a beautiful job, and I am proud to have it adorn Pappy's. It will replace the current logo on January 1. Until then, here is a preview: