Friday, September 30, 2016

Number 1952: The bad man who loved orchids

Gangster Johnny Orchid loves 'em...orchids, that is. He also loves the gangster life. I guess there is no reason a guy can’t love both. Oh, and of course there is a girl. He loves her, too. Despite all that love it ends bad. It’s a crime story, after all.

This melodrama comes from Men’s Adventures #4 (1950). We showed another story, “He Called Me a Coward!” from this same issue a couple of weeks ago. The earlier story has a moral of sorts (young man, disappointing to father, becomes a man in his eyes), but “Johnny Orchid” is a straightforward crime comics story, and ends with the main character dead.

The main reason I’m showing it is because under that sloppy coloring and cheap printing is art by Gene Colan, ably inked by Syd Shores.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Number 1951: Captain Marvel Jr and the Poore man’s radioactive attack!

I didn’t misspell “poor” in the header above. Spencer Poore is a businessman in “Captain Marvel Jr and the Radioactive Air!” from Marvel Family #54 (1951). What we comic book readers learned early on — and this is a spoiler if you haven’t learned it yet — is any new character introduced into a story will likely be the bad guy at the end.

This entertaining bit of hokum involves a real-life threat of the time, radioactivity. The Atomic Age was upon us!

I have thought about what friend and frequent commenter Daniel said about the Marvels...they should just stay in their superhero personas. I can see why Billy and Mary Batson go back to their civilian identities (in Billy’s case, he has a job at station WHIZ), but poor Freddy Freeman is left to peddle his papers while supported by a crutch. I know this is a comic book and uses comic book logic, but of the three Marvel Family characters, Freddy is the one who could bypass his handicap by staying a superhero.

Grand Comics Database doesn’t name a scripter, but guesses Kurt Schaffenberger was the artist. Just go back a couple of weeks to Pappy’s #1943, and see the lead story from that issue, which was drawn by Schaffenberger, then compare. I am not sure who drew this Captain Marvel Jr story, but it wasn’t Schaffenberger.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Number 1950: Talking flag

In answer to a reader’s request for more from DC’s short-lived, early-fifties anthology comic, Danger Trail, here is a story by Alex Toth. Not only did Toth draw it, he did the lettering. Characteristic of Toth’s lettering is the use of underlining for emphasis, rather than the usual bold-faced italic used by other letterers.

This story also depends on a literary device I don’t much care for, told from the point of view of an inanimate object, in this case a battle flag. It is a tricky way to tell a story, and in this case unnecessary except to give the main character someone (or some thing) to talk to.

Grand Comics Database gives credit to Robert Kanigher for the script. “Battle Flag of the Foreign Legion” is from Danger Trail #3 (1950):

Friday, September 23, 2016

Number 1949: Machine Gun Grogan steals Machine Gun Kelly’s story

Unlike many crime comics, there is no BASED ON A TRUE STORY! label anywhere In Crime and Justice #1 (1951) from Charlton Comics. But the story of Machine Gun Grogan is based on truth, just not George Grogan. (The most famous person named George Grogan, based on my googling of the name, is a brigadier general in the British Army during World War I. Grogan won the Victoria Cross, so he is not our gangster George Grogan.) The story is based on the famous story of George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and his wife, Kathryn. Why they chose to use fake names for the story I don’t know. It isn’t like famous thirties gangsters like the Kelly couple weren’t fair game for crime comics. See the link below the story for EC Comics’ version of the Kelly story.

The Grand Comics Database doesn’t guess the artist or writer. They use a tagline on the story, “The Wages of Crime is...DEATH!!!” which is true. It is true because the wages of everything is death, whether we live our lives as good, bad or indifferent. (A recent birthday is making Ol’ Pappy philosophical.)

For the EC War Against Crime version of the Machine Gun Kelly story, go to this 2010 posting:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Number 1948: Lorna: the terror of the deep, and the shallow boyfriend

Lorna is handy when her boyrfriend, Greg, gets into trouble. Not only does Lorna save him over and over, she loves him. In “Terror of the Deep” she hints that she’d like Greg to propose marriage. Greg is not dumb...he knows what Lorna is doing. He just chooses to change the subject. In those days men were expected to be head of the family, and Greg knew that in a marriage to the superbly capable and resourceful Lorna he would not be the one in charge.

From Lorna, Jungle Girl #8 (1954). Story by Don Rico, art by Werner Roth.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Number 1947: Talk Like a Pirate Day, 2016

Today is the annual Talk Like a Pirate Day, and while I have a pirate tale, there's no “Yo-ho-ho” or “Arrrrr, mateys!” in the dialogue. It’s from Dick Briefer, with one of his Pirate Prince stories for Daredevil Comics, this one from issue #16 (1943).

We had a Dick Briefer Frankenstein story a couple of weeks and I commented it appeared to have some of Briefer’s attitudes toward bosses. Briefer, as noted before, did a comic strip for The Daily Worker, the Communist Party USA newspaper. There is another such observation for this story, especially page 2, panel 2, when the Master gives an employee two flintlock loads of reduction-in-force, and a hearty Donald Trump-like “You are fired!” Moving away from politics, the tale turns sexy when a bunch of island girls move to seduce the pirate crew for help in getting rid of the Master.

This may not be the most piratical sounding story I could have chosen for Talk Like a Pirate Day, but scuttle my scuppers if it isn’t a treasure chest full of entertainment!