Monday, June 20, 2016

Number 1908: Blackhawk, Red Laura, Nazis...and ratty Scavengers

This very early Blackhawk story looks a lot like Will Eisner’s work, but is signed by Chuck Cuidera. Eisner is credited with creating the feature, and Cuidera drew the origin in Military Comics #1. In this story, from Military Comics #5 (1941), the resemblance of Blackhawk, shirtless and tied to a whipping post, and the Spirit in many stories penciled by Eisner, is striking.

It also has some other Eisner hallmarks, including grotesque villains (the rat-like Scavengers) and a beautiful bad girl, Red Laura. Cuidera handled the feature until he entered military service, then returned after the war to become Quality Comics’ art director, and among other assignments, inker of Blackhawk. He went with his penciler, Dick Dillin, to DC, when Quality publisher Everett “Busy” Arnold sold his entire line to his former competition. Blackhawk continued on until 1968 with the Dillin and Cuidera team.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out Chop Chop. In this story he’s almost as ugly as the Scavengers. Cuidera was with Blackhawk long enough that later the depictions of Chop Chop became human. He was even a member of the team, not just a cartoon buffoon. But this early entry in the Blackhawk saga has Chop Chop in his full-on racist version. It was the times, folks...and we show 'em as they were.

In 2013 I showed the last Blackhawk story published by Quality, followed by the first story done by DC. You can see them by clicking on the thumbnail.


Brian Barnes said...

There's Eisner hallmarks, but Cuidera could have really stuck around a bit longer and picked up some paneling or staging from Eisner. If anything made Eisner stick out like the genius he was, it was his ability to understand the camera, the perspective, and play with the paneling without it being distracting. Cuidera's is pretty boring here and makes some odd decisions in places, but a lot of 40s art was like that.

Speaking of hallmarks, what kind of card do you get murderous Nazi's who happen to be hot babes that switch sides because they see you shirtless? Now-a-days, that's got to be a small market, but in 40s comics, you'd think the Nazi's would have learned to stop having hot women agents, it always goes badly for them!

Russ said...

Eisner and his studio had a hand in the creation of many of Quality's early superheroes,from what I've read. I've long loved Reed Crandall's work on Blackhawk, but picking up DC's Archive edition really made me a fan of Cuidera's more animated work. And some of the scripts were just brilliant, like a Douglas Fairbanks movie on paper.

Anonymous said...

"Chust like a voman to turn chicken-hearted ofer a handsome face!!" Yes, Red Laura could have had a boyfriend from any number of identical rat-faced, =cough= goon boys and what does she do? Goes mushy (cluck-hearted) over BLACKHAWK. I have to use all caps to write his name as the comment box does not allow any kind of cursive writing, dag gummit. Wonder why the caption boxes call the leader BLACKHAWK and his comrades, BLACKHAWKS in cursive script? I guess it means they are special. They all have the hat gear of officers, too. A hard-working bunch of comic book justice mongers. Pretty good series for what it was. Thanks.

Pappy said...

7f7, now that you mention it, I assume they were trying to make sure those who read the story were able to differentiate between Blackhawk (the man) and Blackhawks (the group). If so, then they really aren't giving readers enough credit for being able to tell the difference. Or, it could have just been an affectation.

Damn, the time machine I ordered from keeps getting put on back order. But when it arrives I'll make sure I put it on my list of things to check out and questions to ask in person.

Pappy said...

Russ, I love DC's Archive Editions, and notice it is still available. Oh, for those days when purchases like those were made easier with more disposable income. Much of my disposable income has been disposed of, heh-heh, although there is still enough nowadays to get me to the freeway exit with my cardboard sign, "Help an old comic book fan."

Pappy said...

Brian, I still see fantasies of female enemy agents becoming romantically involved with hunky heroes (and vice versa). I guess it goes back to the days when "love" was shown more romantically, and has progressed to two impossibly hot people with opposing ideologies brought together by that ol' devil, sex, as is the cliché of our era.

(As another cliché goes, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!")