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 Years later I surmised it was an inventory story, done for an unpublished Harvey comic. The Grand Comics Database confirmed it with this note: “Originally prepared for the unpublished Flip #3.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.”


Daniel [] said...

The Phantom seemed to have concerned himself solely with the fate of the princess, and not with that of the people who had been ruled with an iron fist.

I'm a great believer in the principle that all morality is local, such that the Phantom should have concerned himself with the welfare of the aforementioned princess and not engaged in the jackassery of attempted utilitarian calculation. But that does not intrinsically entail leaving a dictator in power and the various victims of said dictator uncompensated, let alone still his subjects.

Pappy said...

Something I would not have noticed in 1957 that sticks out at me now is the implied racism. Actually, more like the approved racism, since in those colonial days white people assumed themselves far superior to the native people over whom they ruled.

The Phantom's domain was a cross between India and Africa. White people were usually the focus of the stories, even when they were the villains. It figures the Phantom would pay more attention to a little white girl.