Monday, July 13, 2015

Number 1760: Joe Spook, two and out

Joe Spook is really an American named Joe Devaney, hired to “Americanize” young king Nickie, in a very short-lived series: two issues of Fox’s The Eagle. Both stories were done by different artists, the second episode inferior to the one I’m showing today. I like the artwork by the unidentified artist. I think the panels of Joe as a ghost are nicely done. But the giant hand, and the bulbous and bald, spectral figure calling Joe into the it supposed to be God?

A howler in this story is the Nazis trying to get the king to sign an abdication, rather than attempt to take over his tiny kingdom by force. These would be the same Nazis who, in real life, took over much of Europe by overwhelming military force or threats of same.

From The Eagle #3 (1941):


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Ha, ha! This is 24 carat gold in silliness!
From the Boy King to Nazis, to an extracorporeal experience, the interaction between art and writings should be analyzed panel by panel. I think this silly mood cannot be unpremeditated, sometimes you need a brilliant mind to write such stupid stories.
The out of body experience is particularly funny: those who "came back" report about flying towards a bright light, but who would have dreamed of the This-Way-Up pointing hand sign, and the fat face?
Previously, we talked about the TV show "When Things Were Rotten". Well, this story gives me a Mel Brooks feeling here and there (P. 2; 6-7).

P.S.: Nazis didn't Always just storm little countries with their Panzers. They were more subtle and uncertain, especially before 1941.

Daniel [] said...

Joe Spook would seem to be a very low-rent Spectre.

Indeed, it might be that forcing the King to abdicate would be a more effective approach, and that the people of Luzano would otherwise resist to their last breath, but that wouldn't have been the Nazi approach. The Nazis would have resorted to brutality, escalating until Luzano were conquered or some greater power drove the Nazis from that land.

(In passing, let me recommend “The Last Article”, by Harry Turtledove, an alternate-history story in which Gandhi takes on the Nazis — with the result that any reasonable person would expect.)

I'm not sure what to make of the giant hand and head. Possibly the writer and artist didn't have much respect for common theories of G_d, and were mocking the idea as openly as they dared. Or that entity might be analogous to Mr Keeper — not G_d, but some sort of divine functionary.

Ryan Anthony said...

"I demand a policy of peace!" Or what? And what kind of democracy is this with a king? Was he duly elected, like on the planet Naboo in Star Wars Episode I? Or is he like the Windsors, who have no real power in the UK? The worst part of this silly story was the panel layout: I'm all for varying the size and arrangement as long as you always know how to read the page, but this one was confusing.

See? The Balkan people certainly don't dress like those native folks in the "Captain Daring" story from last Wednesday.

Yes, the plot to have Nicky abdicate is absurd, but remember, Pap, in 'Casablanca' (my favorite movie), the story hangs on the idea that the Nazis will let anyone leave their territories with just a signature from Charles De Gaulle.

Pappy said...

Ryan, I always wondered about those "letters of transit" in Casablanca. Maybe the Nazis said they were letting people leave Nazi-held territory, while flying them directly to a concentration camp.

From an article, "Documents that Changed the World: Casablanca letters of transit" by Peter Kelley, on Professor Joe Janes of the University of Washington Information School, and what he said about those fictitious documents:

"A contrivance of the film’s (multiple) writers, the imaginary letters of transit allowed the bearer to travel through Nazi-occupied countries and set up action and motivation in the film story.

“I’m a major film nut, and of course, Casablanca is Casablanca, Janes said when asked why he chose this particular fictional document. “I’ve known for years that there were no such things as letters of transit, but in researching this I learned just how compelling that idea would have been in 1943 given the context of travel at that time.”

He added, “I think that’s something we can’t fully appreciate now, just how appealing and tantalizing the idea is of being able to escape, to get away, in a chaotic and frightening world.”

Film dictionaries cite the letters as an example of a “MacGuffin,” a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock and writer Angus McPhail to describe a movie plot point deliberately left vague to keep from distracting from the larger story but interesting enough to propel the story’s action along."

Pappy said...

Daniel, J D, the fat-faced figure is an enigma, and so we are scratching our heads wondering what it means. If it is God it is certainly a non-traditional depiction. If a Mr. Keeper-type then he is not explained as such. A guess would be that the artist or editor wanted to present a supernatural figure, but wanted to stay away from the more traditional St. Peter or God at the risk of causing offense? But, probably not. Maybe the artist was an atheist. Basically, it doesn't matter, of course, because it is just a dopey story in an ancient comic book, but for me interesting because I pay attention to how popular culture presents an afterlife, or deity.

J D, once again I congratulate you on your English. For a guy to whom English is a foreign language you have a better grasp of vocabulary than many native English speakers. For instance, "extracorporeal." You could ask a hundred random English speakers to define "extracorporeal" and if one of them could I would be surprised. No, I would be shocked.

Alicia American said...

I cant beleev how meny dead dudes were in theze old comix Pappity OMG!!! I think Specter, Kid Enternity & this dude shuld 4m a like "Super-Dead Squad" yo #MegaBadass I dont think it was "God" I think it was the fat guy that was alwys tagging along w/Kid E

Daniel [] said...

Mr LaRue, while the Nazis hesitated in the conquest of Switzerland, the plan still was to use military force, rather than some more subtle means.

Mr Anthony, in The Probability Broach, an alternate-history/parallel-universe novel by L Neil Smith, the UK discarded its state in the early 20th Century, yet effectively retained its King Edward as “the Great Anarch”.

But I'm not at all sure that the Windsors have no real power. No one really seems prepared to test the matter, but in the monarch might have a lot of retained power. I'm rather sorry that the present Queen doesn't attempt to use such power, to force the state to act against clear injustices such as the Rotherham rapes.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

@Daniel: The story about the clash of two different philosophies? Ghandi Vs Walter Model? Let me say you have great taste in literature. I read it in the 80's and I had almost forgot it... in the same anthology book there was "The Lucky Strike" by Kim Stanley Robinson, where pilot Frank January deliberately misses Hiroshima (and thus is gunned down by order of Harry Truman), and the very funny and bittersweet "Ubermensch!" by Kim Newman (What if little Kal-El's ship hits the Black Forest, and he is raised not in Smallville, but in a town called Kleinstadt in Nazi Germany?)

@Ryan: I think there's an old "Abbie and Slats" story by Raeburn Van Buren that's really worse than this one. It's about the young prince of a Balcan State, Borania (why don't they just call "Zenda" all these places?), visiting Crabtree Corner (incognito) to learn Good Old American Way Of Life. Stupid and stereotypical story, and lacking the silly humor, too.

Mr. Pappy, thanks. "Extracorporeal" is a cinch: we have the Italian version "extracorporeo", and it's not a false friend :-)

Pappy said...

Alicia, you can interpret it however you want. If you want it to be Mr. Keeper, then so be it. I think they used dead guys in comics because...well...death is really the Great Unknown, is it not? A writer can envision anything and it will work.

Pappy said...

Brian, EC alums Wood, Severin, Davis, Williamson, all passed through Marvel at one time or another. Craig came late, in the late sixties, and you are right, he was too slow. Besides that, Marvel artists were expected to write the stories ("Marvel style").

Good catch picking up that there are no women in the story. I don't know how much Wood did on the story, or whether Dan Adkins did the bulk of the penciling. Adkins could have been responsible for the castle and other backgrounds, leaving the human figures to Wood.