Friday, October 19, 2018

Number 2248: Hero and the Porcupine

Twilight is another character from the moldering archives of old comic books. He appeared in Hillman’s Clue Comics #’s 1-5, 7-9, and then like a lot of masked crimefighters, was gone. I can't say I like his costume; the color is what I’ve heard described as “sh-t-brindle brown.” In this story he is up against a character called The Porcupine, which may be one of the more unusual villains I have seen. And yes, Porkie (as Twilight calls him in one panel), shoots quills.

Twilight is credited by Public Domain Super Heroes and Grand Comics Database as being created and drawn by John Cassone. Comic art spotter extraordinaire Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr also claims in a note with the online scans that Reed Crandall worked with Cassone on the story. I see figures that look like Crandall’s...and I know Cassone and Crandall both worked for early Quality Comics. The only biographical information I can find on Cassone is in an obituary published online that gives his birth year as 1923, and his death in 2008, making him 85 when he died. He would have been about 20 when this story, and his stories of the sexy Black Angel, were published in Air Fighters Comics, also published by Hillman. You can find a link to a Black Angel story below.

There is also a talking parrot who goes around with Twilight. Talking animals weren’t common, like the underage boys who were sidekicks of superheroes, but I have also seen some other non-human sidekicks.

From Clue Comics Vol. 1 No. 2 (1943).

Here is a story by John Cassone of the Black Angel. It is from Air Fighters Comics #3. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Number 2247: Fantomah’s secret pit of jungle horrors

Here we go again into the mind of Fletcher Hanks, who had a vengeful view of good vs evil. And characters. And his artwork.

Four white men in pith helmets are forcing Africans to work for them in a diamond mine. Fantomah, who can do things such as turn her face into a skull, and fly, and wiggle her fingers and make magic, wreaks her vengeance on them. In an unusual story development (“unusual” is the key word) Fantomah puts all the white men into one body. Such weird doings are known to pop up in Hanks’s stories. Fantomah then banishes the four-in-one bad man to the place of jungle horrors. Horrors is right! Besides strange giant green men, there are white cobras, looking like sex-education diagrams of sperms heading for the egg. (Maybe it’s just my comic book mind seeing things in pictures.)

There was only one Fletcher Hanks, and he left comics (or was asked to leave) early on. I wonder what his work would have turned into had he kept on drawing comics. I can imagine 1950s horror comics by Hanks that were never to be.

From Jungle Comics #7 (1940):

Monday, October 15, 2018

Number 2246: “Ripped from today’s headlines”

Reading this Black Rider episode, published in 1951, is like reading this morning’s newspaper: Unwanted sexual attention and assault, scapegoating an emigrant, and rich man using his power for nefarious deeds. Of course those problems have been around for the history of humankind, but it doesn’t make “The Strange Man” seem any less relevant. Being a comic book story, though, means the problems are solved in nine pages by a masked vigilante.

Black Rider stories used the comic book template, featuring a disguised hero. In this case Black Rider is the secret identity of town physician, Dr Masters.

It is well drawn, as per the Grand Comics Database, penciled by Al Hartley and inked by Jay Scott Pike. If pretty, sexy females were needed at the company that eventually became Marvel Comics, they weren’t drawn any better than by those artists, in this case working together. The story is credited to Robert Bernstein, a writer who worked in comic books for decades.

From Black Rider #13 (1951):

Friday, October 12, 2018

Number 2245: Supermind and Dan fulfill their plan

Here is the second/concluding part of the Professor Supermind and Son story I began a couple of days ago. If you want to read part 1 before part 2, go back a couple of days to Pappy’s Number 2243.

We have seen Professor Supermind’s television (“Televisoscope”) and him zapping his son with electricity to charge his super powers, but in this episode we see his invisible rocketship. It makes Wonder Woman’s propeller-driven invisible plane look antique.

Despite the clunkiness of the story (America invaded? What else is new?) the artwork is top notch. Grand Comics Database does not credit the artist, but it appears the artist’s inspiration was Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. I have said before that were it not for those popular Sunday features, Flash Gordon and Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, to serve for inspiration and swipes, early comic books would have had a much different look.

From Popular Comics #66 (1941):

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Number 2244: Sisters of the witch

It is Halloween month, so I have a story about witches.

The three sisters who are “The Sisters of the Witch” are a mean bunch. They are beauties, and flirt with a hunk, Rob. Their older sister, Martha, is plain and in love with Rob, who ignores her. She whips up some spells and takes care of at least two-thirds of her rivals. In this case I am rooting for Martha because her sisters are mean girls, insulting Martha about her lack of beauty. I think they deserve what they get.

Karswell showed the story in his blog, The Horrors of It All, in 2012. These are scans from Tales of Horror #5 (1953). The artwork is by comic book journeyman Barnard Baily. The writer is unknown.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Number 2243: Supermind and Son: Undersea invasion

Despite the cumbersome name for the feature, “Professor Supermind and Son” is interesting in its filial relationship. Father and son, Professor Warren and Dan Warren, fight off the invaders of America, working in tandem by using a magic see-all television and an electrical charge to give Dan a jolt of super powers. In today’s story, they are able to detect and fight off a planned invasion by tunnel from the Azores to America.

I have a link below to a 2013 Pappy’s posting with the first two episodes from Popular Comics #’s 60 and 61 (1941).

No artist and writer credited by the Grand Comics Database. The story is from Dell’s Popular Comics #65 (1941). It has a cliffhanger ending, and I’ll leave you with my own cliffhanger: Will Pappy show the next episode? STAY TUNED!

Two of the earliest episodes of Supermind and Son. Just click on the thumbnail.