Monday, March 19, 2018

Number 2156: Congo Bill in the jungle of dinosaurs

Congo Bill was a longtime second banana character for DC. I remember him from the fifties when he palled around with Janu, the Jungle Boy. (Here we go again, with grown men and young boys going on adventures together.) Quoting Wikipedia: “Congo Bill was a long-running DC Comics adventure comic strip, running in various DC Comics titles from 1940 until Action Comics #248 (January 1959), when Congo Bill was transformed into Congorilla (the title of the strip was likewise changed). The Congo Bill strip was a standard adventure strip, often reminiscent of Alex Raymond's Jungle Jim newspaper strip.”

I like gorillas, but I drew the line at Congo Bill becoming a gorilla. Even at the tender age I was in 1959, I knew this was a non-starter of an idea, so I dropped Congo(rilla) Bill from my reading list.

This earlier story, from before Janu the Jungle Boy showed up, is from Action Comics #40. This 1941story has a science fiction slant. No gorillas, but dinosaurs. Fred Ray, who drew it, was one of DC’s top artists, working on Superman covers and later doing a long stretch on Tomahawk. I am not vouching for any dinosaur details being correct in this story, but it is a breezy six-pager. For being a guy who survived for years in the back pages of DC Comics, Congo Bill lasted quite a long time, even if he did end up a gorilla. Someone must have had a sentimental attachment for him.


Daniel [] said...

Someone really should have written a story that had the protagonist thinking “Huh! Another valley full of dinosaurs!” as time forgot a great many lands in the DC and Marvel universes, and dinosaurs abounded.

(But, abounding or not, that brontosaur-like creature should not have been able to climb that mountain-side as it did, nor to stand in that manner if somehow hoisted into position.)

The visual rendering of this story is an odd hybrid of mundane comic-book style with attempts at the look of Raymond or perhaps of Hogarth. It would have benefitted quite a lot from Ray just doing a little more layout work before proceeding.

If I read a comic book at all, then I read pretty much everything in it but some of the ads. I read series that I hated because they were amongst those that I liked in magazines. If Congo Bill was swappin' bodies wit' the Golden Gorilla in a magazine that I had for other reasons, then I would read the story, even if I were consciously thinking that it were stupid.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I always wondered why someone who found a lost valley full of prehistoric life didn't run right for civilization and tell everyone within earshot.

Wait. Didn’t Professor Challenger do that? It's been 50 years or more since I read The Lost World by Doyle and I don’t remember.

Of course Turok and Andar couldn’t find their way out of the lost valley of dinosaurs and cavemen. If they had and reported it to their chief, the chief might have asked if they had been chewing peyote buttons.

Daniel [] said...

Ah! Professor Challenger announced his discovery, but his was of a plateau, not of a valley! That inversion makes all the difference in the (lost) world!

(Huh. I just realized that I'm only three degrees of separation away from Doyle, since I met Ray Harryhausen.)

Pappy said...

A mesa...the mists of time are parting and now that you remind me...yes, Professor Challenger found a mesa with dinosaurs.

I can't one-up you on meeting Ray Harryhausen. I think I saw the back of his head bobbing through the crowds of a long ago SD Comic Con, but that's as close as I got.