Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Number 2095: Midnight meets Gabby

Gabby is a talking monkey. Gabby got the ability to speak after a series of operations by a beautiful woman known only as Miss O’Day. Gabby becomes the partner of crime fighter, Midnight, but Miss O’Day...she does not fare so well.

Dave Clark, radio announcer, was Midnight. Midnight, drawn by Jack Cole, looked like another Quality Comics character wearing a blue suit and a domino mask, the Spirit.

This is the original appearance of Gabby. Another of Midnight’s cronies, Doc Wackey, came along a few issues later. Midnight gives comic art fans another reason to appreciate Jack Cole and his special art of cartooning. Herein is a crimefighter story made much more fun by Cole’s great gifts for comic exaggeration.

From Smash Comics #21 (1941):

Monday, August 28, 2017

Number 2094: Space Smith and the 7th son of the great Skomaw

A couple of weeks ago I showed the first Stardust story by Fletcher Hanks. There are two stories by Hanks in Fantastic Comics #1 (1939), Stardust and Space Smith. Hanks got to sign his Stardust story with his own name, but used a pen name, Hank Christy, for Space Smith.

Not that it matters. Both stories are off the wall, but Stardust really wins the prize for most oddball of the two. I have read many Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers imitations from the early years of comic books and Space Smith fits into the space hero oeuvre. He travels with his girlfriend, Dianna — and did anyone complain about Flash and Dale, Buck and Wilma, not to mention all of their imitators, traveling with partners without being married? Oh, the scandal! — so like many other space heroes, Space and Dianna meet some crazed dictator who wants to take over the Earth, and by the way, wants to marry the girlfriend, too. (Considering her status as girlfriend, maybe Dianna should have considered the offer.)

In this case the dictator is Skomaw, “the 7th son of the great Skomaw.” (I am glad he made his lineage clear for the sake of anyone looking into his claim to the throne.) Also typical: Space and Dianna bust out and encounter some Martian horrors along the way, including a giant mosquito. With that, Skomaw and his giant brain and the “imp men,” I think Fletcher Hanks hangs on to his reputation as creator of some of the screwiest of screwy early comics.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Number 2093: Killer green fog

Skyman, a hero from Big Shot Comics for the duration of the forties, shared something with Airboy. They both flew tricked-out aircraft, and during wartime did not have a problem getting aviation fuel. I don’t know how Airboy got fuel, but Allan “Skyman” Turner was another rich comic book playboy who acted the fop, yet was really the masked aviator fighting America’s enemies, foreign and domestic. (My guess is Skyman might have bought some fuel on the black market, and if he did, shame on him.)

In this story from Skyman #2 (1942), he is up against a mysterious killer green fog. The villain has figured out how to condense various poison gases into the fog. Luckily for the civilians caught in that fog no gas mask is needed, just a wet handkerchief over the face. (Note: it would not work.) The unknown writer, not credited by the Grand Comics Database, not only gave bum information for surviving a poison gas attack, but used dialogue like this: “I’m a fisherman by nature and by inheritance...” Eh? Just “I’m a fisherman” will suffice, Mr Nature and Inheritance.

Nice artwork, as always, by Ogden Whitney, an artist by nature. I’m not sure about inheritance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Number 2092: Vampire under the big top

My hand is in the air, waving wildly, and I have a question. How did Countess Elyra Barovna get her job as a trapeze artist with the circus? She did not demonstrate her abilities to Lortiz Hugenberg, the circus owner. He just took her word that she could swing!

The Countess has feminine charms, and since she is a vampire (I hope I didn’t ruin the surprise for you) perhaps she used the vampiric mind control trick to get her own way. It happened between the panels, I suppose, since we don’t see it. Were I in Mr Hugenberg’s position I would wonder about taking on a new performer and then finding others in my troupe drained of blood. He had to have been hypnotized.

What I really like about “Big Top Nightmare” is the dynamic artwork by Lin Streeter. Streeter is an artist about whom not a lot is known, but whose name pops up in comic books going back to the very early days (circa 1940), for various publishing companies.

The story appeared originally in The Beyond #5 (1951), from Ace Comics.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Number 2091: Plastic Man finalizes his look

In the past couple of months we have looked at early Plastic Man from the first few issues of Police Comics. Plas’s costume changed slightly each issue until he achieved his final look in Police #4. I am showing the two-parter from issues #4 and 5 (1941). Plas alone faces Madam Brawn and her Crime School for Delinquent Girls. (Woozy Winks has not yet made his appearance)

The first part has my favorite panel to snicker over. The line of Madam Brawn’s, “I’ve got the toughest molls on spike heels!! Any one of ‘em can lick two men at the same time!! makes me laugh every time I read it. It triggers my still close-to-the-surface adolescent mind. Did Cole sneak that past the editor and get away with something? I dunno. But I bet it got a few laughs from readers in 1941, also.

This was brought to my attention recently. Marty Murphy's Plastic Man cartoon appeared in the April 1999 issue of Playboy. Murphy drew Plas in his original costume. Copyright © 1999 by Playboy.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Pappy's Sunday Supplement Number 12: The Spirit

We skipped our monthly Sunday Supplement feature last month. I was busy  hosting out-of-town guests (my grandchildren) all month. I barely got my regular postings done.

Today we have a very early Spirit Section from the Will Eisner studio. It is from June 30, 1940, which makes it the fifth Spirit story to appear. In it we look back at health care in America, 1940-style. It begins with a dose of pathos, a doctor’s pronouncement, “Your wife has a week to live,” and the prescription is to take her to Arizona. The husband is broke, so he gambles to get the money to take her. That turns out bad, so the Spirit steps in. In this early story we see the Spirit clean out the gambling joints with his gambling skills. He apparently has a skill-set we weren’t aware of. He also pulls a gun. We are used to a Spirit who uses his fists.

Chuck Mazoujian, using the name “Ford Davis,” drew the 4-page Lady Luck story. Mazoujian went into the Army, and I found a page of his drawings of soldiers in training in the February 9, 1942 issue of Life. When his time in the Army was done he went into advertising.

Another top artist, Bob Powell, who spent his whole career in comics, did the Mister Mystic story. I confess, I looked at it but didn’t read it.

Another early Spirit Section, #7, from 1940. Just click on the thumbnail.