Friday, March 10, 2017

Number 2021: Terrible Tom’s Ark

If you are a religious person do you get offended by stories which treat Bible stories as funny? Just curious. The Old Testament is the basis for a lot of fiction, with endless variations. In this case I am showing a Supermouse story which is inspired by the story of Noah and the great flood. Stories of floods that destroy the world go back further than the Bible, but for our purposes the Noah and his ark story is the basis for this particular funny animal comic version from Supermouse #36 (1956).

Artwork is by Milt Stein.


Unknown said...

Whenever I see stuff like this--with the little (mouse) guy up against the much bigger evil guy in an airplane, I immediately think of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse and Pegleg Pete. As in this Supermouse story, Mickey and friends always referred to themselves as people (and white people, at that), with the nontalking beasts as the "real" animals. But the writer confuses things in this strip by having the "animals" talk, too!

Another cartoon property that came to mind while reading this was The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle--the caption at the bottom of page 4 and the final panel, in which Terrible Tom apparently hears Supermouse talking though he's far away, bear the strongest likenesses.

I've said this on the blog before, but I'm not a big fan of kiddie animal comics, but this one was more engaging because of the creative compositions. Milt Stein didn't need to put the work into this that he did; few children would've appreciated it. But he engaged me with his different angles, the Captain Marvel-type silhouettes, and cute touches like Page 2, Panel 1 (the gears in Supie's head) and Page 3, Panel 4 (the almost art deco-style shot of Tom's hand pressing the button). Did Stein also write this? It's hard to imagine him getting a script with "Terrible Tom flies his plane in the clouds with the Earth below" and "the geese ring out the cloud over Supie's head."

Anyway, it was very entertaining. Thanks, Pap!

Brian Barnes said...

Very cute, I especially like the tiger, menacing and adorable at the same time!

This is another funny comic where there's a real lack of backgrounds. I run hot and cold about that. It helps the figures stand out and draws your attention, but at the same time it looks like half the comic is taking place in the void. I guess it comes down to the artist, but I'd always error on the side of backgrounds.

Pappy said...

Brian, I don't disagree with your note in general terms. Looking back through my old Milt Stein postings he did backgrounds like everyone else. Maybe on this story he had a tight deadline, or who knows?

When comic artists were drawing those huge twice-up pages (approximately 13" x 18") they definitely had more room to draw than in the sixties when the standard page size went to 10" x 15"...that's no excuse here, but I didn't even notice it until you brought it up.

I'm biased lately when it comes to the humor stuff because I have been thinking about Charles Schulz's philosophy for Peanuts, to "only show what is absolutely necessary," which is also a mantra for gag cartoonists. Different artists interpret it different ways.

Pappy said...

Ryan, I have no idea whether Stein wrote it or not, but a longtime pro like him would probably be given carte blanche to interpret the script as he saw fit.

Have you and the other readers gotten yet that I don't really distinguish much between different genres? I have loved all genres of comics, and the thing that always got me interested was the artwork. As a youngster I didn't discriminate if a story was funny animal, super hero or "mystery", even though the art styles could be wildly different. If it was good art I liked it.

In my teens I mostly got away from the kiddie comics, but went back to them in the seventies, when I looked at big stacks of kids comics. That was because I was simultaneously studying the old cartoonists of the early 1900s and the animators of the early years to mid-fifties.