Monday, June 18, 2018

Number 2195: Satan has no b*lls

EH! was another Mad imitation, published by Charlton, from the early '50s. The indicia reads “Designed by Al Fago Studios,” so we know to whom we can assign the blame. When I first read “Paradise Gained” I had some hope for it based on the Dick Ayers artwork, but after a couple of pages hope died. I wonder — rhetorically, since I don’t believe anyone is still alive to answer my question — if it was designed by someone who used other Mad imitators as a guide, rather than Mad itself?

In the story you see Satan in a department store. You see Satan is very popular with women. You see Satan appears to be nude under his cloak and cowl, yet without genitalia (page 5). Make of that what you will.

From EH! #2 (1954):

Friday, June 15, 2018

Number 2194: The Avenger and the sea monsters

The Avenger, published by Magazine Enterprises in 1955, lasted four issues. One of the more notable things about the four issues is that comic book journeyman Dick Ayers drew the first issue, and another top comic book professional, Bob Powell, did the next three.

Today we offer The Avenger fighting off some sea monsters. Not monsters in the sense of the Creature from the Black Lagoon monster, but regular denizens of the deep, a shark, an octopus, both of which could look monstrous if they are coming after you.

It is too bad the series only lasted four issues, but it was just a couple of years early for a superhero revival in comics.
For the origin of The Avenger, you can go to the link below.

The story is from The Avenger #2 (1955): Art by Bob Powell.

As promised, the origin story. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Number 2193: Albert the Alligator sings!

Bumbazine was the only human character to appear regularly in what eventually became the Pogo comic strip.* Pogo Possum, seen here in his second appearance, looked more like an opossum and less like the cuter and more marketable Pogo that came later. Like all good comic characters, Pogo and Albert the Alligator had a ways to go before their images matured under Kelly’s hand, and “Pogo” became a longtime hit in newspapers. That’s a whole other story.

In this early episode (the second) Bumbazine and Albert are the title characters. Albert tries to pull off lip-syncing in order to win a singing contest. (His own voice sounds like “Roo-oo-oof! Wuff! Yowp!” which sounds more like ol' Hound Dog, who had not yet become a character in the feature.) Bumbazine was later dropped from the strip. Including a human just did not fit into the swamp universe as Kelly later envisioned it. Also, it might have turned off some of the Southern newspapers in those segregation days. Another whole other story.

Written and drawn by Walt Kelly. From Animal Comics #2 (1943):

*However, Bumbazine was not the only human character to appear in an Albert the Alligator story. Here we have several. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Number 2192: Good night, Dr Mid-Nite

Dr Mid-Nite, the secret identity of blind Dr Charles McNider, was a stable, if second tier superhero, for DC Comics from 1941 to 1948. His Wikipedia entry claims he was the first superhero to have a physical impairment. He pre-dated Marvel’s Daredevil by a couple of decades. His first appearance was in All-American Comics #25 (1941), his origin told by creators Chuck Rozenstein and Stan Aschmeier, who signed his work Stan Asch.

Once again, as we showed with Green Lantern a few weeks ago (Pappy’s Number 2080), the hero disappeared after a final appearance in All-American Comics #102 (1948). The only warnings to the reader were replacing Green Lantern on the cover with the Western star, Johnny Thunder, and an announcement on the bottom of the one of the pages to watch for all new adventures of Johnny Thunder in the new All-American Western.

The decision to replace the superhero contents of All-American with cowboys probably disappointed those superhero fans still left, but such is the nature of the business. The characters served their purpose, but when they no longer sold other genres were tried.

No scripter is listed by the Grand Comics Database for this final Dr Mid-Nite story, but the artwork is credited to Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Number 2191: A cowgirl’s unrequited love

Whoa there, Hoss! I read this six-page story for Cowgirl Romances #10 (1952), only to be kicked by a horse (figuratively, that is) by the ending. It is not what I expect from a love comic.

Checking it with the Grand Comics Database I see it is a reworked filler strip for Fiction House’s Movie Comics #4, originally published in 1947. In the original version, “Mitzi in Hollywood,” the heroine is a movie extra; in the rewritten version she lives on a ranch where a movie is being filmed. In both versions she has a crush on a cowboy movie star.

I guess it would be cheaper for the publisher to have a story — especially one drawn by the great Matt Baker — rewritten than have another artist illustrate a brand new story that follows the usual love comics pattern of girl winning boy in the end. But I ask why they would go to the trouble? They could have just shown the original “Mitzi” story and no one would have cared. As it is, either version is entertaining, and Baker’s work drawing a beautiful girl in cowboy gear makes up for the story’s shortcomings.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Number 2190: The Spirit: comics noir

Postwar was a time of cynicism and concern about atom bombs, about the Russians (hmm, we’re still thinking about them today!) and about comic books leading children into a life of crime. Thank goodness they could show crime stories in the Sunday newspaper funnies. One assumes that if kids were reading crime comic books then they were probably reading “Dick Tracy,” and if they got it in their town, “The Spirit.”

Chester Gould used a lot of black in “Dick Tracy.” He also used sadism and torture. The violence might have driven some people to read Dick Tracy for the forbidden thrills. Pulp magazines were full of the same thing, but presumably not available to youngsters. Today’s posting, a Spirit Section from August 24, 1947, calls to mind the more gruesome of Dick Tracy’s adventures, and one-ups Gould. Eisner shows a bloodied crook, tied up, then shot in the head by the Octopus. Since I have been re-reading Dick Tracy lately, I’m showing a page from The Celebrated Cases of Dick Tracy, where we see a torture device set up by the Brow, then used on a young girl. Both the sequence from Dick Tracy and the bloody killing from The Spirit might have been more than a concerned parent would have wanted a young child to see.

But, I am not a young child and after all we’ve been together with crime comic book stories I assume you are also mature enough to look at this sort of thing.

Something else about this Spirit episode: It one-ups Gould in its use of black ink. It sets a perfect noirish mood.

The Grand Comics Database credits Will Eisner for the script and the artwork, except where Jerry Grandenetti drew backgrounds.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Number 2189: Now Junior, behave yourself!

Before Al Feldstein worked for Bill Gaines at EC Comics, he did his time in the trenches with Victor Fox. Many things have been said about Victor “I’m the king of the comics!” Fox, but if I have ever read anything good about him, I have forgotten it. Fox was a publisher who got in financial trouble and tried to cut corners by not paying his artists.

For awhile Feldstein worked for the Iger Studio, but later went out on his own, and that is where we find him with Junior. In looking over some of the Junior stories, I think it is probably as close a rip-off of Archie as you are likely to find, even in a trend-driven industry like comic books. When Archie became a hit most every publisher jumped in with their own version of the Riverdale gang. In Junior’s case we have Goofy for Jughead, and of course there are a blonde and a brunette, Gwenny and Deena standing in for Betty and Veronica. (Feldstein also did Sunny and Meet Corliss Archer for Fox. I suppose one day I’ll have to look at them.)

As we have seen before in this blog, Archie Comics could be pretty sexy, and the audience for Junior is the same. There were eight issues, and all the covers have a nubile young female showing legs. Fox was open about sexy girls in his comics. He probably learned that from the example set by Fiction House (another Iger Studio client).

The Junior stories were attributed to “Bill Brown,” but Feldstein usually also signed his initials. In this story look in the lower right corner of the splash panel for “ABF.”

This is from Junior #14 (1948):