Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Number 1728: You want to sacrifice, leave me out of it

Captain Video was an early TV show from the now-defunct Dumont Network. YouTube videos show it was low budget. That must have extended to photos provided by the network to Fawcett Publications, who did five issues of a tie-in Captain Video comic book in 1951. The heavily doctored photos of the actors on both front and back covers of issue #3 are the same.

The best thing about comic books is there is no need for for props or locations. The artist can furnish it all, and the scriptwriter is not impeded by budgets. So it was for the Captain Video comic, which had some fairly grandiose plots. In this story, “The X Project,” drawn by George Evans and inked by Martin Thall, there is a plot of building bridges from America over both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (literal, not figurative, bridges). There is a villain with the fabulous name of Bundello Britt. There is also a moment between Captain Video and the Ranger that got my special attention. Faced with the destruction of the bridge, Captain Video asks his young pal, “Would you be willing to sacrifice your life to make the dream of the bridge a reality? Tell me quickly!”

The Ranger, bravely...stupidly...says, “I would, Captain! What is one life compared to the benefits of all mankind?”

Okay, CUT! Stop rolling film. Were I the young Ranger, I would say to Captain Video: “Are you out of your freakin' mind!? You want to crash the Whirlojet, you drop me off first, and then you can crash away!“ If I was in the Ranger’s place I would mention to Captain Video about my plan to retire someday on a government pension, have a nice, placid life with my wife, kids and grandkids. Nowhere in the plan is deliberate sacrifice.

Luckily, plot twists intervene and the sacrifice is unnecessary. Whew.

From Captain Video #3 (1951).

Here is another Captain Video story. No self-sacrifice is necessary. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Number 1727: Sam, sci-fi, and the Spirit

Sam is an everyday working man, going home one night to his apartment and finding...monsters. And not just monsters, but metal monsters from another planet, checking out Earth so it may be invaded a thousand years hence. What is an ordinary guy like Sam to do? He goes to the authorities but no one believes him. They even throw him in the mental ward. But then he gets the Spirit to buy in to his story...

Originally published in the weekly Spirit Comic Book Supplement on February 3, 1941, this is an example of author/artist Will Eisner’s unique blend of fantasy, as a break from his usual stories of crime and criminals. He used this type of tale occasionally, and I admire how his vision transcends what would be just another alien invasion story.

Years ago in an article about Eisner I saw this panel from the story:

It was forwarded by the newspaper to Eisner through his partner, Everett “Busy” Arnold. An anonymous reader had clipped the panel and attached it to a note, saying if he saw something like this again he would cancel his subscription. I wonder if the reader was offended by the reference to the crucifixion of Christ, or that the Christian is in a strait-jacket.

This reprint — with that panel still intact — is from Police Comics #40 (1945).

Friday, April 24, 2015

Number 1726: Pyramid scheme

We have our final posting for this theme week, Deceased Comics, presenting stories from comic books DC cancelled many years ago. Our story today is from Danger Trail #5 (1951), the final issue of that title.

Alex Toth and Bernard Sachs did the effective work on this Egyptian adventure amongst the pyramids, when our hero (not named until the last panel, when his new girlfriend tells him her name), falls in with some crooks involved with stolen antiquities. The writer is listed by the Grand Comics Database as David Vern.

As to why Danger Trail was cancelled I don’t know. I have speculated before that editor Julius Schwartz might have been too busy. (See the link below the story.) What throws my spec off is that with issue #5 the title of the comic appeared ready to change, dropping Trail. This half page house ad from the issue, with all of DC’s titles listed, shows just Danger. Also, the title between the DC colophons at the tops of each page is blank.

Maybe for a time someone at DC thought the book was worth saving, and that could be done by changing the title. Maybe, as I have also speculated in the past, sales were just bad for a book of stories featuring exotic locales and adventurous characters. It is a bit late for us to know for sure.

As promised, the link to another Danger Trail adventure. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Number 1725: A happy trail for sexy Dale

This is the second of our three-part theme week, Deceased Comics, featuring material from comics no longer published by DC Comics. Today we have a story from Dale Evans Comics. DC published 24 issues from 1948 to 1952. (It was taken up again in 1954-1959 by Dell Comics as Queen Of the West, Dale Evans, for another 24 issues.)

Dale, born in Texas, with a pretty face and body and able to sing, seemed perfect for Hollywood, especially in singing cowboy movies. It is where she met Roy Rogers, whom she eventually married. As her biographical information states, she was his third wife, he was her fourth husband. This seventh-time-is-the-charm marriage worked for both of them.They remained married until Roy died in 1998. Dale died in 2001.

As you can see by this photo, Dale held her own in the glamor department in the thirties and forties.

That fits into our story today, originally published in Dale Evans Comics #2 (1948). Dale notices two of her ranch hands going bug-nutty over a señorita, so she gets into the act of distracting them in her slinkiest red gown. Yowza!  Roy must have been out of town that week!

The Grand Comics Database identifies the writer as likely being Ryerson Johnson, who wrote most of the early issues, and the art is attributed to Jim McArdle.

Here is another Dale Evans story, where she once again charms some local yokels. Just click on the thumbnail.