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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. 2 (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.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Number 2130: Raven Hood

The Raven is a modern day Robin Hood. Modern in 1941, that is. He robs the bad guys and gives to the needy. Far from being simple there are moral issues. The Raven is the disguise of Police Detective Sergeant Danny Dartin. In cahoots with Danny in his sub rosa activities as a masked robber are his assistant, Mike, and Lola Lash, the daughter of the Police Chief.  The Raven, as Danny, has sworn to uphold the law, yet he is breaking it. And robbing the rich to give to the poor is a bit complicated. For instance, to begin this episode, from Lightning Comics, Vol. 2 No. 2 (1941), the Raven drops in (literally, see above) on an upscale soiree and robs Mamma Ravel, “the biggest jewel thief in the country.” While his actions seem honorable, taking the jewels from Mamma and giving them to the poor, what about the people from whom Mamma stole the jewels? They were probably reimbursed for their losses by their insurance companies, another link in the dubious morality of the Raven’s actions.

Then the Raven goes up against another robber gang, the Green Hoods, who hijack the loot he so self-righteously stole, just perpetuating the cycle. It’s no wonder this stuff gives me a headache.

The Grand Comics Database does not guess who wrote or drew this tale.











Friday, November 17, 2017

Number 2129: Ghost of the Gorgon

John (or Johnny) Bell (né Belcastro) was a comic book artist with a short list of published work in the early 1950s. He worked mostly for Fiction House, and is probably best known for his moody artwork, like this example, “The Ghost of the Gorgon,” which appeared in issue #10 (1954) of Ghost Comics.

According to what short biographical information I am able to find on Bell/Belcastro from the Internet, he was born in 1924, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, got his art training the way many of the best comic book artists of the post-War era got theirs, in classes conducted by Burne Hogarth. When Fiction House shut down Belcastro worked on a couple of newspaper comics, then went into commercial art in his hometown of Albany, New York. Belcastro died in his mid-eighties, in 2010. Like some other artists of the era in which he did comic books, he borrowed some techniques from the EC Comics artists.

In the story itself the Gorgon appears to be nude on top (page 6). That’s something we usually didn’t see in comic books. The hapless guy who looks upon the Gorgon is turned to stone, but it’s the eyes of the monster that do it. I am sure that before transforming into a solid object, he took a peek at other parts of her.