Friday, June 19, 2015

Number 1750: Hot librarian, cold romance

Darrell Dane, the Doll Man, is handsome, but a “milquetoast,” according to the beautiful librarian. (A milquetoast, as in the popular H. T. Webster newspaper comic panel featuring the wimpish Timid Soul, aka Caspar Milquetoast).

With Doll Man, it is when he becomes small that he becomes a big man, if you know what I mean. Since she has obviously not read the book on superhero behavior, the librarian cannot know Darrell is Doll Man, so she cannot know he is just pretending to be a coward.

This brightly colored, beautifully illustrated entry into the Doll Man series is from Feature Comics #47 (1941). There is a discrepancy with the Grand Comics Database for the artwork credits. Quoting the indexer notes: “According to Lee Boyette in Alter Ego #90, Fran Matera sneaks his initials into panels on pages 5 and 7. According to Jim Amash, in the Quality Companion, and who had done an interview with Matera, he states this art is by Reed Crandall.” I’m siding with Jim Amash on this one.


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I'm not familiar enough with Matera's work but I guess this art has a "Blackhawk" look, at least that's what I thought looking at the panels without reading the intro...
But the hint to Matera's initials is puzzling: one starts to think, "What's written on the ruler?"... "Is the green book a clue to solve the mistery?" etc. ...

About hot librarians: years ago I worked with a girl who was, surprisingly, quite similar to this one, only she wore glasses. She was boss of our team of cataloguers, and we had a couple of dates together, but it just didn't work. Maybe she thought I was a "milquetoast"!

The premise of the story is funny but clever: to reach their goal, even the Beagle Boys had to graduate.

Daniel [] said...

As we've discussed, this business of the hero pretending to be a milquetoast (and thus despised by women) was intended to appeal to readers who really were timid souls (and thus despised by women), but liked to fantasize that it were actually just a pretense and that, if Lois (or whoever) knew the truth, then she'd throw herself adoringly at said readers.

(These characters are descended from Percy Blakeney; however, he adopts the persona of a fop not merely to make it less thinkable that he might be the Scarlet Pimpernel but largely as an act of sexual rejection of Marguerite. This motivation is much more interesting!)

Here, we have the added fantasy element that the desirable woman had been looking admiringly at the hero but that unfortunate circumstances caused her not to express her admiration. Uh huh.

As I believe that I've said in your 'blog, I'd really like someday to have a series in which the woman had recognized the truth from the outset, but feigned ignorance partly to humor the hero, but partly as her own extended joke. Not that the hero would be a fool-in-general, but simply that the young woman would herself be clever and somewhat mischievous.

I see the “FM” on the spine of the book in 7:1. I guess that there's supposed to be another on the measuring stick in 9:6. A lot of the work looks very much like that of Crandall, but there are places where it falls short of what I'd expect from him. *shrug*

Unknown said...

"Now why couldn't that handsome man do something brave like that?" Maybe because he ain't a cop, ya dizzy dame! And you need to stop eyeballing the patrons and concentrate on your job: you put the Atlas of the World on the shelf next to a book on music.

That was nice looking, but the school of crime plot was used a number of times in the golden age.

In "The Physics of Superheoes," James Kakalios wrote that mini-heroes like the Atom and Ant-Man (and, thus, Doll-Man) would shrink to too small a size for full-sized people to hear them when they spoke. But I guess that bit of realism doesn't really matter since we're talking about people who can shrink in the first place.

Pappy said...

Ryan, with all due respect to Kakalios, there is no law of physics for fantasy characters. Superhero powers are a form of magic.

I agree with you, the school of crime story was a tried and true plot for those writers who were bereft of original ideas.

That was a good catch on that World Atlas misplaced next to the book on music. I was looking at the FM on the spine.

Pappy said...

Daniel, there is a meaning to the beautiful girl not knowing the effeminate/cowardly/weak male is really a superhero; it would be, in Superman's case (arguably, the most famous comic book "triangle" — Clark, Superman and Lois) that creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were exactly the type of guys who would have that dream. The canard that Lois could never know Clark was Superman would be a male fantasy of putting something over on the desirable female. "You may be beautiful and have your pick of men, so you reject me, but if you knew my true self, you'd be all over me!" It was probably a common fantasy for the boys and men who would have been attracted to the idea of Superman's true self hidden by a secret identity.

Kurtzman put a pin in that fantasy bubble in "Superduperman" when Superduperman reveals himself to Lois Pain and she says, "Yer still a creep."

I recognize it because I shared that fantasy as a young, socially inept, and gawky teenager. When later I blossomed into the magnificent and manly entity women gaze upon with desire stirring their juices, I no longer had need for such childish fantasy. (Lying is an annoying habit of mine.)

Pappy said...

J D, hot librarians don't figure into my reality, alas. Oh, wait...Mrs Pappy used to be a librarian. My apologies to her.

I am undecided as to whether the artwork on this story is by several artists pitching in, or by one artist with another artist drawing some figures and panels. So Fran Matera could have done some of it, but I also see Reed Crandall's familiar figures in some of the panels

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

For Daniel:
I really appreciate your analysis, very interesting. Never surmised a connection between Clark Kent's acting and the Scarlet Pimpernel. Just never thought about it, though I always connected it with Zorro. Leslie Howard, by the way, looks quite ambiguous in that movie.