Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pappy's Sunday Supplement #4: Thun'da King of the Congo #1

I reveal my ignorance of Frank Frazetta history by admitting I did not know that he created the character, Thun’da, that Gardner Fox did the scripts for the first issue, and that it caused Frazetta to leave that company when ME Comics sold the movie rights without giving him anything. That is what I read in Don Markstein’s Toonopedia. What I did know before reading Markstein was the original concept for the character, that he was a regular guy, Roger Drum, who crash landed into a lost jungle world of dinosaurs and prehistoric dangers, was watered down and subsequent to the first issue Thun’da became just another white jungle character.

The cringe-worthy cover and depictions of black cannibals with filed teeth is from that era when some artists, editors and publishers didn’t see anything wrong with that sort of racial caricature. Be warned.

Thun’da #1 has been reprinted several times. I have two of the reprints. In the seventies Russ Cochran did a beautiful oversized edition on heavy art paper, reproduced from the original art. I have that one, as well as an equally outstanding 1987 edition in a color comic book format by Fantagraphics. My scans today are taken from the original comic, published in 1952.

Cochran demanded the best reproduction, and since I know I will never own any of the original art, at least I can look at printed pages like this.

Since Frazetta assisted other artists, like Al Williamson, did Williamson (and other artists) help Frazetta with the artwork? More of my ignorance. I don’t know.

The inside front cover is an ad for an airline. When is the last time you saw an ad for airline travel in a comic book? I don’t remember seeing any, although it is possible. I just don’t think that comic book readers were the best use for advertising dollars from that industry.

In the blackline ad page on the inside back cover, in 1952 you could order a switchblade knife through the mail (for $1.65). That changed in 1958. I am quoting from Wikipedia: “In the USA, switchblades remain illegal to import from abroad or to purchase through interstate commerce since 1958 under the Switchblade Knife Act (15 U.S.C. §§1241-1245).” Take that, Jets and Sharks!


Daniel [] said...

That was all of course beautifully illustrated. Much of it shows an influence by Burne Hogarth, but without the unfortunate preciousness that could inform Hogarth's work.

The episodes are too much thrown together. Thunda's origin story brings to mind that of Zomax. Pursued by a horde of brutes, Roger bangs a gong just to see what might come of that. Shiv Islip seems twice to forget a sabre tooth tiger, and it just doesn't occur to him to put a bullet into it. The populace bows down to one gun, but not to many. Geologic events happen at remarkably convenient times.

Automatic knives (“switchblades”) were outlawed on a theory that only thugs would want one. Well, of course, some professional emergency responders have a perfectly good reason for wanting one, so the law makes an exception for them. Non-professional emergency responders … uhm….

Eventually, a challenge will be taken to the Supreme Court, which may notice that the Second Amendment refers to “arms”, and not just to “firearms”.

I have a couple of automatic knives. I don't carry them on my person, which would be illegal in my state (though not in states such as Arizona); but I can open the tactical folder that I do carry about as rapidly as a typical thug could open an automatic knife. No one is made more safe by these laws; a few people are made less safe; a large number of people are inconvenienced.

Daniel [] said...

Oh, and Freddie Gray, murdered by Baltimore police, was arrested for carrying an automatic knife.

Pappy said...

Daniel, thanks to your note I looked up "automatic knives" and just like you said, saw they are available to certain military and emergency personnel.

My late friend, Richard "Grass" Green, sometime comic artist and underground cartoonist, told of visiting Tijuana with his wife, and buying both of them switchblade knives, which were confiscated at the border, with an admonition from a customs guy that "you are not allowed to have these in the States." And that was basically all I knew about switchblade knives until looking up the 1958 law against them.

Ah, Daniel...when it comes to Thun'da, one just has to look at the pretty pictures. The story, as you have pointed out, makes little sense.