Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Number 1933: Rulah looks cute in her little Zoot suit

Rulah, Jungle Goddess, was once a rich society playgirl named Jane Dodge. That explains why she is telling one of the attractive half-dressed “native” girls around her (page 2, panel 2), “You should see your hair now, just like they were wearing the last time I was on Park Avenue...” You can read more about the strange career of Jane/Rulah in Don Markstein’s Toonopedia. Don tells not only of Rulah’s original origin, but a second origin story, told less than two years later when her real name inexplicably became Joan Grayson.*

Rulah was popular enough to be the lead feature in Zoot Comics, later changed to Rulah, Jungle Goddess. She was also featured in All-Top Comics. As has been mentioned before, Rulah’s stories were designed to appeal to guys who like girls in abbreviated costumes. The other aspects of Rulah’s jungle domain are still unclear; for instance, why the girls are white and the men are black, as our friend Daniel brought up in our comments section the last time I showed a Rulah story. Comic book jungles are fantasy places, as witness all of the stories of Sheena, Lorna, and even Tarzan I have shown on this blog, whose African jungles are places where the geography and settings remind me not of Africa but of Never-Neverland..

Despite her obvious charms, Rulah was only published in comics for about two years (not counting various reprints that came later from other publishers). I’m not sure what happened, but Rulah was provided to Fox Features by the Jerry Iger shop, and they may have had a falling out. Victor Fox was notorious for not paying, and went out of business not long after. As much as I respect the late Don Markstein, he got it wrong when he said Matt Baker was the artist for the run of this feature.

This story comes from Zoot Comics #9 (1947), which was Rulah’s third appearance.

*Thanks to sharp-eyed Darci for pointing out a mistake I made in Rulah's civilian name. I edited it to show the correct name.


Darci said...

Hi Pappy,
This story is infamous for its fresh-water octopus, which as far as is known doesn't exist (they're all salt water denizens).

I think Don was following the lead of Bob Overstreet, who listed Matt Baker as the artist (though Bob may have been quoting someone else even earlier). Jim Vadebonecoeur Jr, has been slowly revising almost all the Matt Baker credits to someone else. He's of the opinion Jerry Iger told his artists to model their work on Baker. Unfortunately they'll probably always remain anonymous.

Pappy said...

Darci, I also got a note some time ago telling me that the famous Phantom Lady bondage cover shown in Seduction of the Innocent is not Baker, but more likely Feldstein. I didn't publish the comment because I wasn't sure if that was correct or not. But I know that Baker gets credit for comics of this era he did not draw. The art on Rulah is just too crude to be Baker, and I will go along with the idea that Iger told his artists to draw it like Baker.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Finally, I got the time to post a comment, and a pretty useless one, I'm afraid.

I really wish I was more expert at recognizing the work of various artists. These jungle stories, however, were never my cup of tea, so I'll stick to small talk if you don't mind.

"The huge cats don't fully sense that their leader is in trouble, yet the sight of the figthing women excite them"...

Can't blame those cats. I think this is the very raison d'etre of these comics.

Brian Barnes said...

Page 3, middle panel, is the most ludicrous good girl art I've ever seen. I know comics are famous for "broke back" poses, but her butt has shifted to one side of her body.

And, are you telling me, that in comics, somebody stopped paying artists and writers for their work? Why, poppycock! That never happens! Why, I'd bet my Warren magazines on it! :)

Even worse than octopuses being in fresh water (a death sentence for them), striking and killing out of the water (which you'll notice the attacks happened) is very difficult for a creature without bones or exoskeletons. Somebody had watched "Bride of the Monster" once too often!

Anonymous said...

"I have learned never to scoff at jungle ways, Chief!" "We've done the jungle a justice, Nimbo!" Comic book jungle ways and justice always had a way to triumph even in the most careening plot. And this story really careened. 12 pages and just make sure the jungle gal has to knife a snake, octopus, python and a panther or two. That and plenty of almost naked, nubile women. Add the bonus wall of fire behind which the villainess gets comeuppance from fire-fearing felines. That's the jungle justice way and no mistake. Just between you me and the hut wall, Chief —I mean, Pappy— I thought Taho(e) would meet her end in a lake. Shows what I know.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

"yet the sight of the fighting women excites them"

Heh! That there's what they call "subtlety!"

Pappy said...

Billy, 7f7, Brian, J D, Darci...

Looks like y'all got the essence of this story right off. Fresh water octopus (maybe from Tarzan's Pal-ul-Don? Strange things happen in Pal-ul-Don), big cats excited by fighting women, etc., etc.

And speaking of excitable, how about the looks the redhead and Rulah are giving each other in the last panel of page 3?

It is this sort of thing that attracts me to screwball stories like this. No filters, stream-of-consciousness or whatever method the, I mean writer dreamed up was fine with the editor. If there was an editor at Fox, that is.

As for not paying artists, I believe it was Harry Harrison who told the story of Wally Wood going to collect payment that Fox was ducking. Harrison said Wood, playing tough guy, put his cigarette out on Fox's desk, which got him his money.