Monday, November 30, 2015

Number 1821: Asque Miss Masque

Miss Masque came in as regular Nedor superheroes Fighting Yank and Black Terror were on their way out...the heroes of World War II were being replaced by other comic book features. Miss Masque was, as was typical, a bored socialite who put on a sexy red costume with cape, mini-skirt, hat, and mask (or “masque”) and took on the bad guys.

As is also typical of many other masked heroes or heroines, once she donned the mask it seemed beyond the people who knew her best (her aunt, among them) to recognize her.

The Grand Comics Database has some guesses on the artwork, giving us Bob Oksner with a question mark and Paul Gattuso with a question mark for the penciling. I think I can tell based on how Gattuso drew faces and figures in action that it is more likely to be the former, Bob Oksner. Oksner had a way with pretty girls, and went on for the rest of his career, spent at DC Comics, proving it. The GCD also equivocates when choosing an inker, giving us three guesses, including Lin Streeter and Paul Gattuso, along with Oksner.

The cover is by Alex Schomburg, signing himself Xela, who gave Miss Masque a leggy pin-up pose. It is from America’s Best Comics #25 (1948):

Friday, November 27, 2015

Number 1820: The Sad and torture

Sad Sack was created by George Baker during World War II for an Army newspaper, so the strip was aimed at male adults. The Harvey comic book was sold along with their line of comics for children, but sometimes had more adult themes. These three stories show what I mean.

“Cold World,” (Sad Sack #107, 1960) the torture story, is real dark humor. It ends in Sack being egged on to commit suicide! Definitely not one for the kiddies. To add to Sack’s misery, he even gets his dog taken from him. “They Laughed” reminds me of my favorite fantasy when I was a U.S. soldier in Germany during 1967 and 1968. Sack gets lucky. I didn’t. Then there is “The Dope-Offs.” It’s about soldiers malingering (a punishable offense), and includes a performance by “Marilyn Mulroe” doing a sexy dance for the guys in the hospital. The latter two stories are likely reprints. Marilyn Monroe had been dead for 7 years when the version I scanned was printed. Both it and “They Laughed” were printed in Sad Sack Laugh Special #4 (1969).

The sad story of Fred Rhoads after years of drawing Sad Sack. Click on the thumbnail, soldier.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Number 1819: Hitler, the god of evil

Today is Thanksgiving Day, the American holiday where we are thankful for mass quantities of food. It is the time when I issue my self-proclaimed Turkey Awards. After skipping this event in 2014, the tradition is revived, at least for this year. I have found a story I believe qualifies as the most oddball story I have encountered this year.

Dr Miracle, yet another of the glut of early comic book magicians based on Mandrake, has a Ouija board that acts like an iPad. It has a screen that reaches to Hitler’s home in Berchtesgaden, and at that very moment he witnesses — coincidence of coincidences! — the takeover of Hitler by “the Egyptian Satan,” Set, who wants to ensure all the war dead will be his slaves in the afterworld. Whew. I found it hard to even synopsize that much. The rest of this crazy story is up to you.

For all of those outrageous qualities, even during a time of war and the demonizing of the enemy’s leader, this story earns three turkeys.

Alex Blum is credited by the Grand Comics Database with the artwork. The story is from Champ Comics #24 (1942), published by Harvey Comics.

To see the past winners of the Thanksgiving Turkey Award go to this entry from 2013. It will guide you to past winners going back to 2006. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Number 1818: Mr Murder

I suspect, not having read every pulp magazine and comic book ever published (although some days it feels like it), that the plot device of a rich person being threatened with murder by some demented villain for the purposes of extortion must have been common. It just doesn’t ring with originality. One of the most famous from the genre is the Joker’s introduction in Batman, when the Joker pulled off “the grinning death.” Mr Murder doesn’t go that far in this Bulletman episode, but the plot seems inspired by that, and probably numberless other stories before Batman.

Here’s a hint: when a story is only 8 or 9 pages long, every new, non-series character should be suspected of being the alter ego of the disguised, slouch-hatted villain. Not trying to spoil the story for you...I’m just sayin'.

The Grand Comics Database gives Charles Sultan credit for the artwork. The story is from Fawcett’s Master Comics #15 (1941):

Come back tomorrow, when I bring back the Thanksgiving Turkey Awards for the most oddball story I have read all year.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Number 1817: The desensitized

A illustration from First Love #35 (1953) is shown in Dr. Wertham’s anti-comics book, Seduction of the Innocent, with a panel lifted from the story, “Forbidden to Love Him,” drawn by Bill Draut.

As I have mentioned before, comics with panels in Wertham’s book are identified and prized. Dr. W. took this shocking panel out of the larger context of the story. It was because of that caption naming the comic as First Love I thought it was a man slapping his wife or girlfriend. As I found by actually reading the story, it is a father slapping his daughter for daring to love an Indian. The story is about ugly racism. It doesn’t make the image less startling or unpleasant, but Wertham did not bother to tell his readers the subject was actually racism. That was one of his ways of selling his message. As far as a story on prejudice goes, it has a scant five pages to play out the drama.

Two more from the Pappy archives of SOTI stories. Just click on the thumbnails