Monday, July 24, 2017

Number 2079: Skyman flies in

The Skyman was a charter member of the Big Shot Comics line-up. Columbia Comic Corporation, a small publishing company, had a nine-year run without putting out a lot of product. Big Shot Comics lasted for 104 issues, succumbing finally in 1949. That left adrift not only Skyman (who ended in issue #101), but Tony Trent (formerly the Face), and Boody Rogers’s eccentric and funny Sparky Watts.

Skyman’s initial appearance in Big Shot Comics #1 (1940), shown today, did not explain his origin. Skyman was yet another rich guy who made it his mission to fight crime and bad guys. He even paid for his own advanced aircraft, Wing. As one source explained it, aviation comic strips were popular in the thirties, so not only did comic books feature many of them, like the Skyman they were sometimes costumed characters.

Ogden Whitney did the artwork. He was born in 1918, so he was about 21 or 22 when he first drew Skyman. I have featured many stories with Whitney’s artwork, and to my eyes there was very little change in his style or approach to drawing from this early time until the last artwork he did in comics. Whitney died in the early '70s, according to some accounts. For as long as Ogden Whitney was active in comics, and the wide range of publishers he worked for, there seems to be very little information about him.

What information I have on Skyman has him created and written by Gardner Fox.


Daniel [] said...

With work of this quality, Whitney was one of the better comic-book artists in 1940. But indeed his style didn't evolve much further, and the middle of the pack caught-up with him.

The relationship between the upper torso and the legs of the Skyman seems less bizarre than it would later be. (But, if I recall correctly, eventually his appearance moved away from the freakish.)

The Skyman may have had a peculiar device for causing his plane to remain suspended in the air, but the Batman had a device for causing his autogyro to remain suspended in the air, and autogyros are just much cooler than airplanes.

The anti-war comic books had foreign saboteurs acting within the territory of the United States to get us into war, which doesn't make a lot of sense unless these were false-flag operations by the British or by their allies. Actually there may have just such an incident at the World's Fair, with a bomb planted at the British exhibition (which bomb killed two American police officers and wounded others).

The pro-war comic books had agents of the Axis engaged in sabotage within the territory of the United States … uhm… just because. There wasn't even an attempt to make sense. In reälity, the Axis found itself already in a secret and limited war with the United States. While sabotage could impair the ability of the US to pursue war of that sort, sabotage would risk igniting pro-war sentiment within America, so that the US could engage in an open and far less limited war. Naturally then, there just wasn't a lot of sabotage before Pearl Harbor (and in fact there doesn't seem to have been much subsequently).

Pappy said...

Daniel, good thing the Germans didn't have the Internet for really wreaking havoc!