Monday, March 27, 2017

Number 2028: Not so alarming adventures

“Trapped in the Human Aquarium” has some pretty pictures, credited to Reed Crandall and Al Williamson, but the story is a supernatural “mystery” story of the era. What a difference in Harvey Comics from just a few years earlier, when they published some of the liveliest horror comics in the biz. By 1962, when Alarming Adventures #2 was published, it was an example of the Comics Code during its most powerful period.

I bought the comic when it was new because of the John Severin cover, the Crandall/Williamson story I am showing today, and two short stories by Bob Powell.


Daniel [] said...

What is sometimes called “rapture of the deep”* is better called “nitrogen narcosis”. It results from the effect of nitrogen under pressure. And one way to avoid it is simply to avoid having nitrogen (or some gas with similar effect) in one's tank.

Nitrogen provides a different sort of hazard if one whirls upward from great depth — decompression sickness, also known as “the bends”. Nitrogen goes out of solution in the blood, forming bubbles. A variety of symptoms can result, including death. Even if Flemming were relatively lucky, he almost certainly would have suffered disabling joint injury. Divers avoid decompression sickness either by slowed ascent, or by ascending within pressure chambers that are subsequently gradually depressurized; though I suppose they might instead breathe pure oxygen beginning well before and then during a dive.

The twist ending to this story is just awful, given how much comic strips and comic books otherwise used backwards writing and mirror writing. Anyone might call himself “Neptune” (or “∃ᴎUTꟼ∃ᴎ”) without being otherwise extraordinary. And why an undersea race would favor the French of English form over the Latin “Neptunus” could bear some explanation.

I would be curious to see other stories pencilled by Crandall and then inked by Williamson.

By the way, back in the days when I bothered to edit Wikipedia, Williamson was still alive, and got annoyed at me for using his birth-name (“Alfonso”) in the lede of the article about him. (My use was as per protocol.) He changed it. After I'd left Wikipedia and he'd died, someone restored that use.
* The Very Worst Comic-Book Writer in the World once provided an ill-informed mini-lecture about what he called “rhapsody of the deep” in a bronze-age story about Jason Bard.

Brian Barnes said...

I'm always bad at this but it looks like Reed handled most of the backgrounds/objects and Williamson handled most of the faces and figures. I might be way off base, though!

Yeah, they put some great work into this story. Too bad it's this story!

Brad S. said...

I like the ghostly cut off CCA seal....never saw it anything but white

darkmark said...

Quite frankly, I'm glad the code *was* as powerful as it was. I liked the stuff in AMAZING ADVENTURES a lot better than the gory stories that preceded it. Harvey also did a lot better financially with the Casper stories, too.

Pappy said...

Brad S., I'm not sure why, but Harvey Comics sometimes made the Code seal part of the cover color. I guess as long as the seal was on the cover, then the Code office didn't require it to be white.

Pappy said...

Brian, I recollect that Crandall worked with other artists during the sixties, as well as solo. I remember George Evans saying that he got a low-paying assignment from Classics Illustrated and on a tight deadline asked Crandall to do the inking. He said he would have expected Crandall to not do his usual excellent work for the pay, but it came back to Evans looking just as polished and detailed as Crandall's best. Just pride in his work, I presume.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I am left to guess who The Very Worst Comic Book Writer in the World is.

Although I have friends who love diving and swimming in the ocean, I avoid water except for drinking and bathing. A near-drowning incident in the late fifties has since kept me on the dry side of any ocean or sea I have been near.