Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Number 2220: Daddy was a con man

As a child Frances Wells traveled around with her dad to foreign lands and also around America. Daddy was a card sharp and confidence man, and so he’d get caught, leave Frances with a relative, or even in boarding school while he does time in prison. You would think young Fran would have had daddy issues with a father like that. And apparently she does: as an adult she still loves the old crook!

Before you get to thinking, as I did, that they had some sort of unhealthy relationship, Fran becomes interested in Cary, the biggest catch in town. Of course, being a love comic, there has to be conflict, and besides Dad being in the background, the conflict is with Doris, who also has her eye on Cary. Cary’s family hire a private detective to check up on Fran’s old man. Do two negatives make a positive? Cary’s family has its own problems, which cancel out the problems with Mr Wells. It is a lot to take in, especially for a love comic with a limited number of pages to get to the nitty-gritty. It appeared in Quality’s Love Scandals #1 (1950), a provocative title for a love comic. Despite the purity of Frances, there is an undercurrent of criminality running throughout the story. Of course, it is conquered in the quest for true love. Sigh. If only true life could be so easy!

Grand Comics Database doesn’t give any credits for writing or artwork, but my eyeballs tell me Bill Ward had something to do with it. Those females are Ward’s, either in the penciling or inking stage. The image of Doris, from the teaser panel on top of this page, is pure Ward.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Number 2019: The Masked Marvel’s mind control

Public Domain Superheroes has this to say of The Masked Marvel: “Masked Marvel was a hero whose secret identity was unknown. He fought crime with the help of a trio of assistants known as ZL, ZR, and ZY. He operated out of a glass-domed mountaintop headquarters. He had a number of gadgets and weapons such as a telepathically controlled plane, a zeppelin, a paralyzing ray gun, and a televisor - a device which let him see anywhere in the world. The Masked Marvel had undefined levels of super strength that included feats such as lifting a dinosaur over his head and may have possessed some form of telekinesis to operate his plane.”

I am disappointed! This episode of The Masked Marvel, from Detective Eye #1 (1940), is missing those three assistants, and some of the other tools of his trade. But it sure appears he must have some form of mind power to fly his plane without controls, because all he has is a stick between his legs that he manipulates with his palm. (Uhhhh, that sounds funny.) What I should say is a word of advice to artists: If asked to draw an airplane’s cockpit, look at a photo of a cockpit. Don’t try to fake it.

Credit for the non-reference-using art is given by Grand Comics Database to Robin King.

For more Masked Marvel and more of what history there is on the character, just click the thumbnail:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Number 2218: Johnny Craig: Tugboat and treasure

Johnny Craig came back to comics a few years after leaving the field in the mid-fifties. But happy as I was to see his work, it wasn’t the same to me as what I was used to in his time with EC. In the case of “The Treasure of Bad Luck Point,” from Unknown Worlds #47 (1966), I wondered what Craig, a writer himself, thought of this story by ACG editor/writer Richard E. Hughes. The backstory of the pirates takes 7 pages, and the hero of the tale doesn’t appear until page 8. It’s another of Hughes’s underdog stories, which asks the question, can a poor tugboat owner win a rich girl? Well, no. He has the girl’s love, but does not have permission from her father to marry her. That took me back. The story takes place in modern days, and in 1966 that attitude was a few decades old, at least. Dad could express his displeasure, but he could not keep her from marrying anyone. Yet his daughter doesn’t fight for her boyfriend. I am sure, like her dad, she was thinking of a lower standard of living if she did marry the guy. She also might have thought she’d earn the nickname of Tugboat Annie.* [SPOILER ALERT: It’s only when, despite being guarded by a ghost,  he finds the pirate treasure, that her dad agrees to her marriage. Avarice wins again! [END SPOILER]

That pseudonym of Craig’s, “Jay Taycee” didn’t fool me, but in 1966 I didn’t think of the reason behind it. Craig’s day job was in an advertising agency. Coming back to the comic book industry, and then not wanting to put his real name on his work, showed there was still a stigma attached to being a comic book artist.

The copy of Unknown Worlds #47 which I found online, is missing pages 4 and 5. I found a copy of a blackline Australian reprint from 1970, Tales of Torment #1, to fill in the missing pages.

*If you don’t know who Tugboat Annie is, look here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Number 2217: Alias the Spider: “Hiya, Rat!”

Spiders do have certain powers, spinning webs, walking on walls and upside down on ceilings. They can also engender revulsion from humans out of proportion to their existence, unless the spider is as big as your thumb, and you meet it when you blindly walk into its web with your face. Just the thought of that gives me the shudders.

Alias the, not so much revulsion, but although he came from powerhouse Quality Comics, not such a long career. Here is what Don Markstein’s Toonopedia says: “He didn't have any superhuman abilities, or any special ones that were particularly spider-like. In fact, nothing about his appearance or actions suggested spiders, except naming his car (fastest in town, of course) The Black Widow. Apparently he just thought calling himself The Spider sounded cool.

Whatever the reason, the character was created by cartoonist Paul Gustavson, whose other creations for Quality include The Human Bomb and The Jester. Gustavson continued writing and drawing ‘Alias The Spider’ for about two and a half years, which was most of the time the feature lasted.”

The feature ended in Crack Comics #30; this is from Crack #21 (1942), written and drawn by Paul Gustavson.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Number 2216: Spurs Jackson and the Sun Masters

In the late 1970s and early ’80s I worked in a bookstore for Ken S., who introduced me to Charlton’s Space Western Comics. Ken knew my taste, and knew I loved this sort of oddball stuff. He loved it too. Ken sometimes used the name Spurs Jackson as a pseudonym. Bless Ken...errrr...Spurs.

In this sizzling adventure with Spurs Jackson and his Space Vigilantes, the bad guys come from the Sun. Just a thought, do people who live on the Sun wear earthblock when going outside?

Scripter unknown, drawn by Stan Campbell for Space Western #42 (1953):

Here is Spurs Jackson’s first adventure, from Space Western Comics #40. Just click on the thumbnail: