Monday, July 30, 2018

Number 2213: Tarzan Jungle Annual: de-tailing Pan-at-lee

Om-at and his love, Pan-at-lee, are characters from Tarzan the Terrible. In the book, The Tarzan Novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs: An Illustrated Reader’s Guide by David A. Ullery, Pan-at-lee (meaning “Soft-tailed-doe”) is described as “the beautiful black and hairy female Waz-don who was in love with Om-at.” She is depicted in the Gold Key adaptation of Tarzan the Terrible from 1967, as being dark blue, and having a tail. Go to the link below for scans of that comic from ERBzine.*

The versions of Pan-at-lee and her love, Om-at, that appeared in Tarzan Jungle Annual #4 (1955) are shown to be African humans...with no tails. I have also seen a panel online from a Dell Comic that depicts Pan-at-lee as Caucasian. Perhaps the characters gave the folks at Dell a problem, and they thought the solution was to render them tail-less. For the 1967 version they went with Burroughs’ description of the characters in his 1921 novel.

Grand Comics Database gives Gaylord DuBois credit for the script and names Russ Manning for the artwork. If it is Manning, he stayed close to the Jesse Marsh version.

*The entire issue of Tarzan #166, adapting Tarzan the Terrible is scanned in two parts for Bill and Sue-On Hillman’s ERBzine. Click on the thumbnail for part one, which contains a link for part two.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Number 2212: Lily Munster, Slave Girl!

Okay, so I lured you in with clickbait...using a snappy title to get you to look. It’s what I learned on the Internet. The posting has nothing to do with Lily Munster, really, except that Lily was portrayed by actress Yvonne DeCarlo, whose career began in the 1940s, and where she was usually in some sort of sexy costume.

Before Lily — the character she is most known for (thanks to the power of television in the 1960s) — Yvonne played roles in costume movies; in Slave Girl she is a motion picture fantasy of a harem girl.

In the listing for this movie, someone points out that Lumpy the Camel, who speaks, preceded Francis the Talking Mule by a couple of years. I have never seen Slave Girl, so I can only imagine what a movie with a talking camel would be like. I am already familiar with Francis and even Mr. Ed, and talking animals don’t tickle my funnybone.

This adaptation of the movie is drawn by Matt Baker, as Robert Lash, according to the Grand Comics Database. It appeared in Fiction House’s Movie Comics #4 (1947). I don’t know if the bondage element of the above movie poster appeared in the movie, but if any of my readers feel cheated because it doesn’t appear in the comic book version, I showed it because it is just more chicanery by me to get you to look.

In 2014 I showed stories from Slave Girl Comics #1 (1949), published by Avon. The story has nothing to do with the movie, but like the movie it is a fantasy. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Number 2211: The Most Dangerous Island of Death Game

I imagine a conversation between Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Gaines or Al Feldstein...or Bill and Al together: “Harvey, we need you to write and draw a horror story for the new book, Vault of Horror.” This would be in 1950, and so far EC Comics had dabbled a bit in horror, some horror stories in their crime comics titles (soon canceled), and finally in titles of their own. Kurtzman might have pulled a book off the shelf, an anthology with “The Most Dangerous Game,” written by Richard Connel. (I am still imagining.) Since its original publication in 1924 it has become a very famous short story, its plot swiped more times than I can count, from desperate writers who need to get a project done. It has also been made into movies more than once (the first time in 1932).

Harvey did a few stories for Feldstein’s books before being given editorial responsibilities. “Island of Death,” from The Vault of Horror #13 (actual #2, 1950) is not a horror story; not even a suspense story like “The Most Dangerous Game,” so it fails under both categories. But Harvey Kurtzman went on to create Mad and his war books for EC, The Jungle Book for Ballantine Books in 1959, “Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy...the list goes on. This story does not cry out with originality, but it is by Kurtzman, and therefore interesting to me.*

The scans come from the 1990 Gladstone reprint, The Vault of Horror #3.

*The New Yorker did a tribute to Harvey Kurtzman in their March 29, 1993, issue. It takes up four pages: a full-page illustration by Will Elder,  a tribute with a brief history of Kurtzman’s work by Adam Gopnick, then a two-page tribute by Art Spiegleman. This is Elder’s page:

Monday, July 23, 2018

Number 2210: Night horrors appearo!

Friar Diablo is a co-conspirator with Baron Doom, trying to find a treasure and also get rid of Captain Battle, and Captain Battle’s son, Captain Battle Jr. We have gone over my opinions of youthful companions of costumed heroes, and I would not be taking my son along to face some sorcery, but at least CB Jr is not one of those “wards” of a superhero, and if his dad wants to take him, well, I guess that is okay with me.

I like Friar Diablo’s magic words, which are just common words with an “o” on the end. For instance, all you would have to know is the everyday word, disappear, then shout “disappearo!” and your enemy would be gone. Very cool; I may try it on someone sometime.

Although they are shown flying, Captain Battle and his son cannot fly on their own. They are using Luceflyers strapped to their backs. Public Domain Superheroes tells us this about Captain Battle: “He had no superpowers but has advanced technology, including the Curvoscope, which allowed him to see anywhere on earth, a Dissolvo Gun which disintegrated matter, a gyroscope-like Luceflyer, and a jetpack.” (Hmm, I’d be interested in something called a Curvoscope, and a Dissolvo Gun sounds very handy.)

At the very end of this adventure Captain Battle tells his son, “This race for treasure isn’t over yet!” but alas, it was. The story appeared in Silver Streak Comics #21 (1942), which was the last issue of that comic. With issue number 22 it continued on as Crime Does Not Pay — where the bad guys didn’t use magic, just tried-and-true guns and knives to get rid of their enemies.

The Grand Comics Database has no guess for a writer, but they credit Jack Binder with the artwork.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Number 2209: “Dam the rotten luck!” Murder morals in a crime comic

Joseph Federal is a very bad man. He strangles women for money. In “Joseph Medley Lady Killer,” from Murder Incorporated #3 (1948), he curses his luck after killing a young woman: “She wasn’t lying I know! That money is nowhere in this room. Dam the rotten luck!” Yes, the word “damn” was deliberately misspelled.

The story was reprinted four years later in Shock Detective Cases #20,* and “dam” was replaced by a standard comic book “#*@*”, using symbols to replace cursing. Showing murder wasn’t forbidden...just some mild swearing.

 Original printing, 1948

Censored, 1952.

The original version was published by Fox, and came from the height of the crime comics boom in 1948. It was the sort of thing that got parents, teachers, and guardians of public morals in a dither. I don’t think Dr Wertham ever saw this, because if he had he could have easily used several panels in his book, Seduction of the Innocent, to show how brutal crime comics could be. Sexy, too. L.B. Cole, editor of Shock Detective Cases, in a couple of panels had the dresses extended to appear more modest. This is the world of editorial decision-making: what an editor thinks goes too far, and how to fix it.

Artwork, signed by Carter, is actually by Rudy Palais. Palais, who died in 2004, was an early comic book artist who had work in various genres, including crime and horror. His artwork for Harvey’s horror comics line is known for the sweat drops flying off characters’ faces, although his style is so distinctive I don’t need sweat drops to identify it