Monday, October 30, 2017

Number 2121: Poor humanfly

Tomorrow is Halloween, so this is the last of my Halloween stories. I showed “Bug-a-Boo” by Doug Wildey first in 2007. It is time to bring it back again with new scans from my personal copy of Mysterious Adventures #17 (1953).

Wildey went on in his career to create Jonny Quest for Hanna-Barbera. But he had his apprenticeship doing comic book stories, as quoted in the Wikipedia page for Wildey, for “every publisher but EC, ‘the good one.’” His technique on this story is inspired by the look of EC.

As for the story, some soldiers and a scientist go into the unexplored part of the Amazon jungle for a secret project. As a horror story it uses the EC template of rough justice: a person does something awful, and a doom equivalent to his deed kills him.

Enjoy your Halloween!


Brian Barnes said...

ATOMIC PESTICIDE? Yeesh, that'll be worse than the giant, intelligent flies!

This story stretches belief to the breaking point for any number of reasons that I could list but it all serves to get our insect hating human into the giant fly world. That said, the art is good, and it even makes a decent jungle story, as is.

Happy Halloween Pappy!

Daniel [] said...

I'm sure that the fear of enormous flying insects is not as common as the fear of giant spiders, but I'd note that the same issues of physics apply to the legs and exoskeletons of insects, and that a new issue of flight is introduced. The ability of wings to lift increases with the surface area of those wings, but the mass of the insect and the mass (and hence weight) of the wings considered separately increase with their volumes, which is to say that, once again, squared dimensions are opposed by cubed dimensions. There is an upper limit even on the size of flying birds, and Aepyornis was probably near that limit.

The largest flying insects found in fossil form had wing-spans of about 2½ft (0.75m). The fact that flying insects once grew that large is used to support a theory that the atmosphere was once significantly more dense than now, with strikes by extraterrestrial bodies later causing the atmosphere to thin, and making it impossible for modern flying insects to achieve such size.

Had Wildey wanted to work at EC (something not actually clear from the Wikipedia quote), then he should have developed and employed a style more distinctively his own — something that Gaines or Feldstein would have wanted to offer in their magazines. The illustration here is certainly credible, but EC was already well positioned to crank-out much like it. Even if an editor told Wildey that he wanted the EC look (which indeed I would guess, based upon the Leroy lettering), Wildey could have included touches to make his work stand-out.

Colonel Ladd should have been court-martialed upon return. It's brutally obvious that, once it was clear that Burns was actively hostile to Talbot, Ladd should have moved Talbot to his tent, and Leeds to the tent with Burns.

If the area into which the team was heading were free of human inhabitants, then there wouldn't have been much motivation for flies to hang human paper. And, even with an occasional stray human in the area, the paper wouldn't typically work, especially if it were bright pink. (A flypaper would be of such color exactly to reduce the chances of a human stumbling into it.)

Burns's injuries at the end were remarkably bloodless. (I think that the colorist should be faulted on that score, rather than Wildey.)

(Speaking of Leroy lettering, I recently completed assembling a collection of Leroy scribers of each sort made by Keuffel & Esser. There were something like 20 different varieties, though I'd have to take an inventory to be assured of the exact count. There were far more than 20 different sorts of set; I am only referring to the scribers.)

Pappy said...

Hey guys...I thought a Halloween curse was upon me this weekend. I lost Internet, my wife's iPhone conked out...our television was futzing up.

Then Monday everything went back to normal. Internet came back, as did Mrs Pappy's iPhone, and the television looks fine, even to my glassy eyeballs.

I want to say something to Daniel about Leroy lettering...once you asked how they did those exclamation points, because there aren't any in the set. Careful looks at several different examples shows that the exclamation points were added by the old-fashioned way, drawn in with pen and ink.

Oh, and on the EC look of Wildey's work, and whether the editor asked him to use their style, I understand the editor at Story Comics was Harry Harrison. Harrison, who later went on to become a famous science fiction writer, was once an artist, then went into editing and writing. He had worked with Wallace Wood for various publishers, including EC, for a few years, so...take that as you will.

Thanks for the comments on the Halloween postings.

darkmark said...

Very good stuff! I got to interview Wildey once.