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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Number 2041: I see by your outfit that you are a pirate


This shorty — four pages — was filler for The Phantom #18 (1966). After 17 issues from Gold Key, it was the first issue of King Features’ attempt at publishing its own syndicate properties. I recently showed a story from Mandrake the Magician #1, which was also published by King. It probably sounded like a better idea than it turned out to be. The line only lasted a couple of years before King dropped out, and licensed their characters (again) to other publishers.

Wallace Wood is credited with drawing the story. I believe he was helped by his assistant and collaborator, Dan Adkins. I recognized at least one panel (page 2, panel 7) as having its origin in Wood’s classic Flash Gordon parody (“Flesh Garden,” the panel from that story for that story’s appearance in The Mad Reader). Wood and Adkins were not averse to a swipe when they needed it.

I got a kick out of space pirate Straker, who carries a cutlass. He and his men wear costumes with the skull and crossbones on their chests. Only in the comics!





Monday, April 24, 2017

Number 2040: “Who summons Satan?”

Nick Rico has a great lawyer. Nick keeps getting arrested for his gangland murders, and his lawyer gets him off, every time. Not only does that defy the odds, but Nick has a hot blonde girlfriend — appropriately named Dolly — who is lucky enough to find a bookstore selling a book on necromancy and black magic. She uses it to summon no less than Satan himself! That shop looks like a fun place to browse.

Stan Lee wrote it, and Russ Heath drew it. Heath did his usual excellent work. “Gentlemen of the Jury” was originally published in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #17 (1953), but I scanned it from a reprint in Vault of Evil #9 (1974).







Friday, April 21, 2017

Number 2039: The original, marvelous Captain Marvel

Here is the original Captain Marvel: the young boy, Billy Batson, given the power of a magic word, Shazam!, which changed him into a fully grown man with super powers. There is a usurper Captain Marvel coming soon to theaters, a woman no less. I have nothing against her except this Captain Marvel I present today is the one I recognize. (If you came here looking for her, you are now disappointed.)

The stories are taken from the UK version of Captain Marvel Adventures #125 (1951). Grand Comics Database tells us that C.C. Beck and Pete Costanza did the artwork for “The Return of the Ancient Villain,” and Beck did the art chores for “The Mechanical Man Mystery.” Otto Binder wrote both stories. Otto also created the sentient robot, Adam Link, in Amazing Stories, so he knew a bit about mechanical men with personalities.

I presume Binder also knew that Robert E. Howard created a character called King Kull, but by the time Binder used the name Howard was dead, and Binder could have thought that his young audience would probably not notice. I noticed when I saw the first reprinting of the story in the volume Shazam from the Forties to the Seventies, which Harmony Books published in 1977

















Here is a Marvel Family story I especially enjoyed, posted in 2012. Just click on the thumbnail.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Number 2038: You gotta be a football heroine

Babe was Boody Rogers’ comic book answer to the Li’l Abner newspaper comic phenomenon. Although Babe was a female version of Al Capp’s famous hillbilly, like Abner Babe never lacked for courage or strength. Matter of fact, she was tougher than the whole Chicago Crushers “pro-fesh-nul” football team. Just practicing with the team put it out of business when she put the players out of action.

It has been at least a couple of years since I showed a story by Rogers. I never get tired of his bizarre stories and broad vaudeville-style humor, but his work in comic books was cut short when he quit the business. He created three features, Babe, Sparky Watts (his longest-running), and Dudley, a teenage comic. All of them ended in 1949-1950, with the last issue of Babe, re-titled Babe, Darling of the Hills, cover dated April-May, 1950.

From Babe #4 (1949):

















The infamous story of Babe among the mountain centaurs! Just click on the thumbnail.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Number 2037: Kid Eternity calls on Plastic Man

I don’t recall any crossovers in Quality Comics, no Plastic Man appearing in Blackhawk or vice versa. If they happened I may have missed them. If anyone knows of any please let me know. Here is the closest thing I know to a crossover from that publisher. It appeared in Hit Comics #32 (1944), when Kid Eternity needed help and called on Plastic Man by shouting out the word “Eternity!”

Plastic Man doesn’t have a lot to do, so crossover might be too strong a word. It is more like a guest appearance. He appears in 6 panels over two pages. When an old lady turns into Merlin the Magician he gives up and zaps back to Police Comics.

I have high regard for the artwork, credited to Alex Kotzky for pencils. No inker known.
















Kid Eternity mixes with Amazons. Just click the thumbnail.