Friday, December 15, 2017

Number 2142: Man and Hangman

I feel that Bob “Fuge” Fujitani was the Hangman artist. The dark character originated when he stood in for his murdered brother, the Comet, created by Jack Cole. Fujitani’s art has a mood of its own, and in this particular episode from Pep Comics #47 (1944), the drama is heightened by his camera angles and dynamic figure drawing. He worked early on with the Eisner-Iger Shop and you can see the Eisner influence in his inking. At some point he left the shop to work directly for Quality Comics. He worked for many comics publishers over the years, and did a lot of work with Dan Barry on the Flash Gordon daily comic strip. Over time his style changed from the Eisnerish look of this story to a more illustrative style seen on this cover drawing of the Hangman, which he did in 2002:

According to an interview in Alter Ego #28 (2003), Fujitani joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. but he was kicked our because his father was Japanese. He was also issued a less-than-honorable discharge. When I hear stories like that I have a sense of outrage. I was relieved to read that a few years later, after an appeal, he was given an honorable discharge, which made him eligible for veteran’s benefits.

I am writing this in October, 2017, and the biographies I read online about Fujitani don’t mention whether he is still alive. He was born in 1920, so he will be 98 in 2018. He is one of the very last of the original comic book men who came into the industry in its early days.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Number 2141: Check this out: “The Kissing Bandit”

Edna Murray was known as “the Kissing Bandit” for a kiss she gave a victim of a robbery she committed. She was an all around public enemy, whose associations were with criminals, as she is portrayed in this story from Avon’s Gangsters and Gun Molls #2 (1951).

Like most “true” crime comic book stories, there is a mix of some fact and some fiction. Some names are changed, but Edna’s is not. I have wondered in this blog if changing the names of criminals in crime comics was a way to avoid being sued by that person if they were still alive when the comic was published. But Edna lived until 1966, and she is named, so I guess my theory is still just that. Edna was involved with the infamous Barker-Karpis gang in that late Wild West era of the early 1930s. She went to prison. She was involved with Volney Davis (re-named “Owney” Davis in the story), who went to Alcatraz, and was eventually released. He died in 1979, not in a shootout with the police in front of Edna, as portrayed in the story.

The story is drawn in a striking Wallace Wood style by artist Sid Check (his name is on a teller’s window in the splash panel). Despite appropriating the style of someone else, Check was a talented artist about whom not much has been published. Alex Jay of the Tenth Letter of the Alphabet blog, has done an outstanding job of collecting what is known of Check in the public record. Check left comics about 1958. His comic book career began about 1950, and he was part of that talented group of comic book men, including Wood. Check was born in 1930, and died just short of his 72nd birthday in 2002.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Number 2140: Young-old-young Rex Dexter

Rex Dexter takes quite a trip in this tale from Fox’s Mystery Men #5 (1939): he becomes old, then regains his youth. The story is another from the vivid imaginings of writer-artist Dick Briefer. Briefer was later known for his series of Frankenstein tales, spread over the decades of the forties and early fifties.

Today’s story is educational. We learn how name of Rex Dexter’s girlfriend and interplanetary traveling companion, Cynde, is pronounced.

A few years ago I showed the origin of Rex Dexter. You can read it by going to the link below.

The origin(s) of Rex Dexter. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Number 2139: Professor Memory forgets

Professor Memory has a special job, but unfortunately can’t remember what it is. Also unfortunate is how much Professor Memory’s memory problems remind me

What was a I saying? I remember: Professor Memory. He is helped by Green Lantern and GL’s little buddy, Doiby Dickles. Since we have featured some superheroes with boy sidekicks recently, along with my snarky comments, it is a relief to tell you that Doiby is an adult. Or, presumably so. He is a taxi driver and a good guy, except for mangling the English language. More snarky comments on dialect-writing are in order, but offhand I can’t remember any.

The story, from Comic Cavalcade #10 (1945) is from the period when publisher Maxwell Gaines decided to pull his comic book line, All American Comics, away from DC Comics. Later, as the story goes — if I remember it correctly, and I believe I do — Gaines sold his business, and his paper ration, to DC Comics. The war ended shortly thereafter and Gaines made enough to start another company, Educational Comics (EC), which eventually became the infamous Entertaining Comics (EC), with the late Mr Gaines’s son, William (Bill) Gaines) in the publisher’s chair.

The story is drawn by Jon Chester Kozlak, whose comic book career was mainly for DC in the forties. Also according to the Grand Comics Database, the script is by Alfred Bester. He later became a top-selling science fiction author who did classic novels like The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man.

Here is another tale of Green Lantern and Doiby, originally posted in 2012. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Number 2138: Montana and Wolverton, comic book/comic strips

Bob Montana had a career drawing the Archie characters for a successful newspaper comic strip. I read it every day in my daily newspaper, and liked it more than the comic books, which were aimed at a younger audience. Before his comic strip work, Montana worked in comic books, both for MLJ (later Archie Comics) and Comic House, where this Dickie Dean, Boy Inventor feature appeared. Montana died young, at age 54, of a heart attack. It was a loss I still feel when I remember reading about his death in 1975.

On the other hand, despite having a national audience in 1948 when he won Al Capp’s Lena the Hyena contest for the Li'l Abner comic strip, Basil Wolverton just never achieved his dream of a daily newspaper feature. In the early days of comic books many of the early artists for that genre worked toward achieving the success of someone like Al Capp. These episodes of Wolverton’s character, Scoop Scuttle, are done in the daily strip format, and were likely prepared originally to sell to a newspaper syndicate. Many are called, but few are chosen, as the cliché goes. It was a tough field to enter, whereas early comic books allowed artists great latitude, and during the height of their early popularity, a lot easier to get a job with them than a newspaper.

Both the Dickie and Scoop episodes I am showing today were published in Silver Streak Comics #20 (1942).