Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Number 2135: The High Moderator vs the Mad Imperator

From comes this about Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man:
Ultra-Man: 1939All-American Comics #8. When Gary Concord loses his parents in WWI, he vows to wipe out war. By 1950, he has created a chemical that is so powerful it would frighten mankind to peace. However, another war breaks out and in a bombing raid in the U.S., his lab is blown up and Gary is chemically thrust into suspended animation. He wakes in 2174 to a world engulfed in war. Gary has undergone a transformation as well, taller than most men and superior strength. He uses his knowledge and new talents to bring about peace. His son, Gary Jr., inherits his father's stature and strength, becomes caretaker of his father's formula and continues the fight for peace as Ultra-Man.”
I like that Gary is the High Moderator of the United States of North America, which is a distinguished title. The villain of the tale is Tor, who also has a title, the Mad Imperator. If nothing else, the writer-artist, Jon L. Blummer, gets thumbs up from me for such important sounding offices, even if one is “Mad.”

“The Miasma of Death!” — something of a stinker of a tale, ho-ho — is from All-American Comics #14 (1940). and is credited with writing, penciling and inking by Jon L. Blummer. All-American Comics was the flagship title from publisher Maxwell Gaines, future publisher of EC Comics, and father of William M. Gaines, who went on to publish Mad comics and magazine. The editor of All-American was Sheldon Mayer, who was in his early twenties at the time, but already an accomplished cartoonist (“Scribbly”) and future creator/artist of the long-running Sugar and Spike comic book for DC

Monday, November 27, 2017

Number 2134: “More'n one way ta skin a catamount!”

For those of you wondering, a catamount is a medium-sized wild cat, especially a cougar. But Texas Ranger Dallas Boone is also making a pun, substituting “catamount” for “cat” as in more than one way to...ah, forget it.

All I need to say about this tale of a Texas Ranger riding to the rescue of a pretty girl ranch owner is that it is drawn by Graham Ingels, before his “Ghastly” horror comics days. Before specializing in said horror comics during his time at EC Comics, he had a background illustrating various genres of comic book stories: science fiction, crime, love, and Western, such as this story from Outlaws #2 (1948).

Friday, November 24, 2017

Number 2133: Leftover turkey: Red Rocket and the mutant monsters

On the day after the big Thanksgiving feast, and having slept off the effect of the tryptophan-loaded turkey, I look forward to turkey sandwiches! Yes, that amazing bird gives us leftovers for several days. With that in mind I give you a turkey leftover, a runner-up story, once considered for the Turkey Awards.

Red Rocket was another short-lived feature of the 1940s, lasting from issues #7 to #11 of Captain Flight comics. Today we have Red Rocket’s final adventure. Since it is about mutations produced from atomic radiation (a big topic after the first nuclear weapons were used), Red Rocket might have fallen prey to radiation sickness and died. After all, Martian mutants had him strapped to a radiation deathtrap, and although he appeared all right at the end of the story, he might have died shortly thereafter. There is no word on those babies born in radiation-rigged hospitals, which triggered Red Rocket’s flight to Mars. I am sad to say they probably came to a very bad end.

“Monstrous Mutants” is from Captain Flight #11 (1946). The artwork is signed Geo. H. Appel.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Number 2132: Thanksgiving Turkey Award, 2017: Madhouse Murder!

It is Thanksgiving Day, an annual holiday where Americans stuff themselves in an orgy of eating. That describes Pappy’s household, anyway.

It is also a day when I pick the most unusual, oddball, screwy or worst story I have read in the past year. I picked the story this year for the honor last year, only to be beaten to publication by Booksteve in his Four Color Shadows blog. He posted it a week or so before Thanksgiving 2016. Booksteve could not know the panic it caused me, but I found a substitute and acted like nothing had happened. Now it can be told.

In his blog Steve described “The Madhouse Murder Mystery” as “inventive and utterly compelling.” Steve is much more charitable than I. I will add my opinion that it was drawn by someone who had no formal art training, and perhaps was in his or her teens. The figure drawing is crude and the busy inking technique is that of an artist looking to cover up weaknesses in the pencils. The artist is identified in the splash panel as E.F. Webster.

So if you can get by the artwork, you have an old school melodrama set in a “nuthouse” (panel 3), a menacing figure in a hood and gown kidnapping a nurse with the intention of swapping brains between her and his pal, the slow-minded and brutish Quando.

I give it two-and-a-half Turkeys, not many for this prestigious (ho-ho) award. I go with Steve in his “utterly compelling” description, if only because I have not seen anything else quite like it in mainstream comic books. By adding some four-letter words and a graphic sex scene or two it might have fit into underground comix of the late '60s. Art standards varied widely in the undergrounds in their heyday. In that way “Madhouse Murder Mystery” seems familiar to me.

From Amazing Mystery Funnies Vol. 2 No. 3 (1939):

The Thanksgiving Turkey Awards go back to 2006. To begin your journey through the turkey farm, begin with last year’s posting, which will direct you. Just click on the thumbnail. Or, if you want them all at once, just type in "Thanksgiving Turkey Awards" in that little box in the upper left corner of this page.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Number 2131: Brothers with wings

I skipped over the dinosaur/ World War II combat stories DC did in the sixties. DC made a regular series of the idea. “The War That Time Forgot” was the overall name of the individual stories, and they must’ve appealed to many readers, because they kept churning them out. Despite my opinion other comic buyers thought differently enough to keep buying them. Because I didn’t buy them I missed artists like Russ Heath, who wasn’t concerned with how screwy the plot, he just turned in his usual beautifully illustrated job. And a bonus is the cover by Kubert.

Still, there is the trait in the stories of using repetition in comics edited and/or written by Robert Kanigher. Here it is the human, Tommy, raised Tarzan-like among the dino “birds,” with panel after panel of him talking to them and calling them, "My brothers with wings.” It gets annoying after awhile, you know?

The Grand Comics Database credits Howard Liss with the script. From Star Spangled War Stories #129 (1966).

This is a warm-up for the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Awards series, in itself repetitive and annoying. I am guilty of that also. Come back tomorrow.