Friday, January 15, 2016

Number 1841: One-eyed monster men of Mars!

In late 1939, readers who picked up Planet Comics #1 were greeted by a story done by cartoonist Dick Briefer, seen in Pappy’s many times. He was creator of three incarnations of the Frankenstein comic book character, and all around illustrator, cartoonist and storyteller. He worked for several publishers in those early days.

“Flint Baker” is the character from this first issue. Flint picks up a crew of murderers, released from prison as volunteers for his Mars mission. (Of course, all three murderers are innocent, you see. They tell their stories of being misunderstood and wrongly convicted.) Briefer even works in the cliché of having a girl reporter sneak on board as a stowaway.

When on Mars Flint and his men (and woman) are in a sort of Flash Gordon world with a ruler who has a beautiful daughter...and those one-eyed monsters of the story’s title. And don’t pay any attention to that twaddle about Mars having a “dark side...” Every planet has a dark side when that side faces away from the sun. Dark side is a misnomer...our moon’s “dark side” is called that because one side is always facing us, and the other side is hidden from us looking at it from Earth. But it isn’t dark, and neither is Mars. (That will be on the test, by the way.)


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

"Sappo"? So, John Sappo went to Mars.
Doesn't fit with "Thimble theatre's" continuity...

Anyway, it's nice to see a non-Frankenstein Briefer, for a change.
Briefer is one of those artists (like Cole, Wolverton or Fletcher Hanks) who are oddities in their own era.
He, like Wolverton, had a "split personality" (comedic and tragic), in his case expressed as two "sides" of the same character (Frankenstein).

We are currently discussing Wolverton, Cole and Hanks on a blog called "Sauro Piace alle Ragazze", hosted by the talented comic writer Sauro Pennacchioli.
For those who care to have a look:

My point is:
Wolverton had two "sides" (Comedic vs. Weird-dramatic); Cole had two "sides" (Crime comics vs. light-hearted strips and Plastic Man); Hanks had only one (grim) side. I guess we can add Briefer, who shows his "two sides" in just one character.

Aside from that funny discussion, the automobile in page 2 is enough to make me love this story.
And the "pick up convicts to accomplish a desperate mission" is a good, classic plot device.

Brian Barnes said...

I mostly know Briefer from the work you publish, and had no idea he was that good with the space stuff, as comically silly as it was. There's a bit of Wolverton in there, especially in the splash.

Yup, there isn't a bit of this story that doesn't feel recycled. I did enjoy "wait, you are the guy that hypnotized me with your amazing hypnotic powers on Earth" bit. I thought that the crew member's story was a bit too descriptive (and silly) and wondered if we'd see the old Chehkov's Hypnotic Powers later on. Luckily, he forgot he had them!

Why do women reporters always drape themselves in a sexy pose when they reveal they've snuck onto something? Is that in the handbook?

rnigma said...

I remember reading about this story in "All in Color for a Dime." The author of the essay on Planet Comics wrote that the three convicts' backstories were "nominees for a special Banality Award."

There was an artist using the name "Flint Baker" that worked at one or two of the indie publishers contributing to the "80s Comics Glut. (I think his actual first name was Cary.)

Pappy said...

rnigma, I have a copy of All In Color for a Dime (one of the first mainstream books to discuss old comic books — the other being The Great Comic Book Heroes), and the article on Planet Comics: “Me To Your Leader Take” by Richard Ellington. That book, and numerous fanzine articles by the book’s writers, are the genesis of Pappy's. The difference is that I get to show the stories, whereas the older articles mainly re-told stories in prose, which I sometimes found borrrring.

Pappy said...

Brian, it's kind of nice to see a sexy chick in a Briefer story. What I notice about his later work is the women don't look this good.

If I was a crewman on that ship and found her waiting I'd be much less likely to pitch her into space for adding weight, and depleting the supplies of food and oxygen.

Pappy said...

J D, I wish I had the mastery of Italian that you have of English.

At least I don't say "Eye-talian" like some other Amurricans I know.

Finally, I think "sappo" was another Americanism that came from the same time period as names like Groucho, Harpo, etc. Sappo comes from sap, which you probably know is slang for a stupid person. The word has slipped out of common usage over the past few decades but I still like to pull it out on special occasions, like talking about certain politicians: "Man, that guy is a real sap."