Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Number 1979: Rodeo romance

John Severin and Will Elder, separate or together, were two superb comic book artists. For several years they were a team, working out of the same studio with Harvey Kurtzman. Their work, Severin penciling, Elder inking, pops up for different publishers during the late forties-early fifties, and then ends as they went their separate ways while both worked for EC Comics.

The two stories they did for Standard’s Western Hearts #5 (1950) are typical of the romance genre, but show the strengths of their collaboration; Severin’s very strong illustrative and storytelling skills, and Elder's solid inking. Looking at the first panel of the historical romance, the 3-page story of the romance of Sam Houston and Eliza Allen, I laughed when I saw the splash panel. With its bucolic Disney elements, little animals joining the lovers during a tender moment in the woods, I thought what Elder could have done with such a scene for Mad a couple of years later. As was usual with Severin, when drawing anything, Western, love, war...he didn’t fake the costuming of the characters.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Number 1978: Crack Comics crack up!

The Black Condor, in one of the captions from today’s story, is said to be “the only man in the world endowed with the gift of flight.” In the self-contained universe the Black Condor occupied in Crack Comics, there is no room for any other flying men...well, except for the kite men, who can throw lightning bolts and bring down buildings. Despite the fine Lou Fine artwork (yuk-yuk), the story is fairly typical humdrum mad scientist with a hideout, directing chaos from a mountaintop

Madam Fatal, at least, is one of the most non-traditional comic book heroes ever, because she is really a he in women’s clothes, masquerading as an old woman. The story of artist Arthur Pinajian is even more interesting. After leaving comic books he took up painting, at which he was unable to earn a living. He never married, and lived with his unmarried sister until he died. After he died over 3000 pieces of art were found when his former home was sold, and Pinajian was at last discovered. As the late art historian, William Innes Homer wrote of Pinajian, “He pursued his goals in isolation with the single-minded focus of a Gauguin or Cézanne, refusing to give up in the face of public indifference.

“He was passionate and unequivocally committed. Ultimately, Pinajian's work reflects the soul of a flawed, yet brilliant, artistic genius. When he hits the mark, especially in his abstractions, he can be ranked among the best artists of his era.” Just as Madam Fatal was unusual for mainstream comic books, so was Pinajian's posthumous success in the rarified air of the art world.

Finally, the Clock ticks along in another story by George E. Brenner. The Clock is a very early masked vigilante character, who was created in 1936. Brenner left the feature when he became editor of Crack Comics, and the Clock chimed his last in 1944.

All stories are from Crack Comics #6 (1940):

Friday, November 25, 2016

Number 1977: Ghastly: Two heads are better than none

When it came to the seedy, seamy side of life, Graham “Ghastly” Ingels could be called on by Al Feldstein, his editor at EC Comics, to provide the seediest and the seamiest. In those days traveling carnivals had that reputation. Maybe they still do. I haven’t been to one in years. Regardless, in “Heads-Up,” from Crime Suspenstories #4 (1951) the carnival is a backdrop for a tale of adultery and murder and jars full of human oddities. And why wouldn’t a wife and her lover want to kill a husband for his jars, especially when they can bring in $23.00 on a good day?

Heritage Auctions, from whence these scans of the original art came, sold the complete story in 2009 for $13,145.00...a bit better than 23 bucks.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Number 1976: Thanksgiving Turkey Award 2016: Dr Hypno

Today is the traditional American holiday, Thanksgiving Day. Here at Pappy’s it is time for our annual Thanksgiving Turkey Award, where I present the most off-the-wall story I’ve read all year. This year’s honor goes to Dr Hypno...a psychologist with no other identity, except as a crime fighter. He has a unique power. He can hypnotize animals, then take over their bodies while his own body lies in coma. But he can put the animal in danger when he goes after crooks.

In this initial adventure, from Amazing Man Comics #14 (1940), Dr Hypno uses a parrot and a dog.

Dr Hypno, created, written and drawn by Frank Thomas, no stranger to odd characters (“The Eye” was another memorable creation of Thomas’s), gets three turkeys from me because I can say, at least in this first episode of eight published in Amazing Man, that Dr Hypno is a bird brain. Dr Hypno tells his manservant, Wun, that while his mind occupies the body of an animal, if the animal is killed then he will be killed, also. He doesn’t say anything about being a dog, and needing to be walked. In that state one hopes Wun uses a doggy bag to pick up Dr Hypno’s droppings. And that is all I want to say about that.

If you go back to our last year’s entry, you can begin to link back to the 2006 beginnings of this turkey of a tradition. Just click on the thumbnail.