Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Number 2187. Black Rider, fake gold

The opening of this Black Rider story reminds me of macabre conversations my buddies and I had when we were very young. What would be the absolute worst way to die? My personal fear was being buried up to my chin, having honey poured on me, then eaten by ants. (I was a morbid kid.) Nowadays I can think of a couple of dozen usual ways I don’t want to die, and despite all of the things that can kill me within the range of possibility, eaten by ants, no matter how rarely that would happen, makes me shudder.

Black Rider, who is secretly Doc Masters, goes up against a gang making counterfeit gold coins from lead and “good Mexican gold.”

The art is done by one of Atlas Comics’ top artists of the fifties, Jay Scott Pike. It is written by Robert Bernstein, another long-time comic book scripter.

“Vultures of the Rio Grande” is from Wild Western #19 (1951).

Monday, May 28, 2018

Number 2186: Black Condor, fake Condor

Black Condor had a Tarzan-like origin: Tarzan was a baby adopted by a mama ape...Black Condor was a baby adopted by a mama condor. He was raised by condors and he even learned to fly like them! If you can get by that then you can accept that when the boy grew up and came to the USA he was able to get elected to the United States Senate. I have an opinion of senators I would call bird brains, but apparently Senator Tom Wright, who really does have something of a bird brain, does okay in his day job. One wonders how he gets away from roll calls, votes, committee assignments and hearings in order to flap around Washington DC righting wrongs.

This story is of labor trouble, and an evil, greedy company owner whose workers are in peonage, paid in scrip good only at the company store, forcing them into debt they can never repay. It features a fake Black Condor, who runs when being pummeled by workers. I haven’t any idea how he can jump off the roof of a tall building and simulate flight, landing on the workers who pummel him. Ah, comic books...where anything that can be drawn can happen.

Art by Lou Fine. From Crack Comics #14 (1941).

Friday, May 25, 2018

Number 2185: Russ Heath, Kurtzman fan

Russ Heath was one of Timely/Marvel/Atlas’ top artists. He drew most everything, including stories for the Atlas Mad imitations.

In the splash panel of “Big Wheels” Heath gives a nod to Harvey Kurtzman, creator and editor of Mad, by using a little character Harvey used in his “Hey Look!” filler pages for Stan Lee.

(More “Hey Look!” at the Hairy Green Eyeball blog.)

As for the story itself, it could have used some help from Kurtzman. It appears that either Heath or whomever wrote it tried to jam as many jokes into each panel as space allowed. That stuff worked in Mad, but it seems a bit strained here. (Hey look! It’s just my opinion.) You might find it very funny. Heath did one story for Kurtzman at Mad: “Plastic Sam,” where he just basically inked in the figures Kurtzman drew in his script. Kurtzman liked it. Long after Harvey and Mad parted company, Heath worked at times with Harvey and Will Elder on “Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy.

From Wild #3 (1954):

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Number 2184: The star-faced supernatural superhero

Captain Courageous was a supernatural hero appearing in Banner Comics, then one issue of Captain Courageous (#6, 1942, from where this story today came). That issue was a one-shot, a continuation of Banner Comics, which ended with that issue. From there Captain Courageous went to Four Favorites and lasted the rest of the war years. After a time he made a bewildering and unexplained change to civilian clothes, and was without his supernatural powers. His career ended with issue #28.

What grabs me is that star-shaped mask, which looks silly. I guess if he is a guy who is called forth to help during a time of war and crisis he can wear what he wants. But every time I see it I wonder how it could be taken seriously. Maybe it’s just me.

“The Black Mayor” is drawn by Harry Sahle. Captain Courageous is an Ace Comic. Sahle worked mostly for MLJ/Archie Comics. Besides his other work, he drew some of the Suzie episodes I have shown in this blog.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Number 2183: The Dead and the Living and the Dead

As a reader of horror stories I have read many stories of dead people returning from their graves to be among the living. In EC Comics it was usually because the dead had been wronged and were back for revenge. In “The Dead,” from Atlas Comics’ Adventures Into Weird Worlds #26 (1954), deceased relatives come out of their graves for an unknown purpose. Maybe they simply want a family reunion, but since they didn’t bring the potato salad the still-living family members are none too happy to see them. Dick Ayers did the artwork, working around an unwieldy script.  Too many words. A good editor would have cut the verbiage down by at least 50% or even more.

“The Living and the Dead” is a supernatural story about a writer for the very comics carrying the same type of horror stories we are reading today. This story is from Mystic #26, 1954. Writer and artist unknown. I have heard that horror stories often articulate unspoken fears. I had a lot of fears when young: ghosts, monsters in the closet...all the usual scary stuff kids worry about. Little did I know that when we become adults there are a lot more fears to worry about: earning a living, mortgages, car payments, raising children...I was more terrified by them than by any dead people

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pappy’s Sunday Supplement #14: Harvey Hits #1, featuring The Phantom

I did a run of Sunday Supplements last year, until I got cramped for time. It is still my intention — time permitting — to show complete issues of comic books I find interesting. That includes today’s entry, Harvey Hits #1 (1957), which starred The Phantom.

I read The Phantom in the newspaper from an early age, and when I spotted Harvey Hits on the comic book spinner I grabbed it. I have a clear recollection of this particular comic book, because it could have killed my father!

I bought it while in company with my brother and my parents. While we drove home it was next to me on the back seat of the family car. The windows were rolled down and a gust of wind suddenly caught it, then carried it out the window and onto the roadway. I put up such a loud fuss that my father parked the car, then ran out into the road to retrieve it for me. Luckily he only had to hang back on the side of the road for a short bit, maybe 20 seconds or so, before traffic cleared. He dashed out, grabbed the comic, and shoved it through the window at me. He was angry, shouting, “How would you feel if I’d been run over and killed?”

I whimpered, "Thanks, Dad.” Obviously I would have felt terrible if Dad had been killed. But by golly, it did not happen and I got my comic book back!

I was smitten by the back-up feature, “Shirl the Jungle Girl,” by Howard Nostrand. At the time I was buying the Mad paperback reprints of the original comic book issues, and that is what “Shirl” looked like to me. Years later I surmised it was an inventory story, done for an unpublished Harvey comic. The Grand Comics Database confirmed it with this note: “Originally prepared for the unpublished Flip #3. History of story appears in Squa Tront #13 (2012). Unknown artist did last panel and other corrections.”

For the Phantom story we get this information from the GCD: Written by Lee Falk; drawn by Ray Moore and Wilson McCoy, lettered by Dorothy McCoy. The story originally appeared in the newspaper continuity from February 18, 1946 to July 13, 1946, under its original title, “Princess Valerie.”