Friday, November 30, 2018

Number 2267: Herbie goes through Hell Hades for good ol’ Peepwhistle Prep

In a comment for a 2012 posting, “Herbie and the Spirits*,” reader Kirk says, “I love the deadpan drawing style. It makes Herbie seem even weirder, and funnier.” A thought that might take me 100 words to express is boiled down to 14 words. Thanks, Kirk. You not only kept it succinct, but perfectly captured my attitude toward Herbie. Ogden Whitney, represented in this blog, was capable of drawing many things. Over his long career he had drawn superheroes, crime, horror, romance and even more genres I can’t think of right now. It seems only right that all of his skill as an artist came to a culmination in his team-up with ACG editor Richard E. Hughes, writing as Shane O’Shea, with his “deadpan” drawing style.

“Good Old Peepwhistle” has Herbie, at his father Pincus Popnecker’s demand, going on to higher education, Peepwhistle Preparatory School. He is invited to join a fraternity, Tappa Kegga Koke (ho-ho), until other frat members meet him. What else can I say except that Herbie is misjudged by people at first, but he’s more than capable of the most impossible tasks.

From Herbie #7 (1965):

*The “Spirits” story. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Number 2266: The lost H-bomb

For this posting I did a little (very little) research, and found out that not only is a hydrogen bomb (explosion created by fusion) much more powerful than the atomic bomb (big boom from fission), but it can be made smaller, to fit on an ICBM. Oh, great. The H-bomb can be 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima A-bomb, but is also more handy for launching at the enemy. Definitely more bang for the buck! I mention the size because in this story from ME’s The Avenger one of the commie bad guys is carrying an H-bomb in a box.

The Avenger is sent out to find the bomb in the midst of London, England, which would be a big task for an army of searchers, much less a single person, even a costumed hero equipped with his own special jet plane and small flying saucers fitted with geiger counters. Never fear, people of London! A single American shall save you.

Bob Powell drew it, and a guess from the Grand Comics Database is for Gardner Fox as writer. From The Avenger #2 (1955):

Monday, November 26, 2018

Number 2265: Killing is a bad career choice

Si Reddy and Arnie Walsh are a couple of old-time gangsters who are in the business of murdering people for money. Their reputations would spread by word of mouth.  Murder for hire might be lucrative enough, but doesn’t include health or dental insurance. There's no pension plan; none that I know of, anyway. A killer could make out pretty well until it was time to cut and run. In this case Si and Arnie don’t get a chance to enjoy their retirement or old age. For a killer, premature death is an occupational hazard.

“Trigger-Men by Trade” appeared in Fox Comics’ March of Crime* #7 (actually #1, 1950). No writer is listed, but the artist is Wallace Wood. Grand Comics Database gives him total credit, and he may have done it himself, but I think the odds are that another artist or two helped him out. It seems most, if not all, of Wood’s jobs for Fox have something in common: the splash page is usually the best artwork in the story. Early Wood collaborator Harry Harrison explained the team’s dealing with the art director at Fox in an interview in Graphic Story Magazine in 1970: “We would slide in this ten-page pile of crap with a real good splash page for the first page on top. He would look at only the top page and count the other nine, flipping through them real fast. Nobody really cared about the quality. No one looked at these books; no one read the things very carefully.”

Also, Fox was a slow-payer, if he paid at all. He soon went bankrupt and Star Comics, run by L.B. Cole, picked up his inventory. Over the next couple of years Star reprinted many stories originally published by Fox, the self-proclaimed “King of the Comics.” This story does not have a GCD record of being reprinted.

*March of Crime was a play on words, in this case the newsreel series, The March of Time, shown in movie theaters from 1935 to 1951, and heard on radio from 1935-1945. Time, Inc., publisher of both Time and Life magazines, might have taken a dim view of a garish crime comic book using a variation on their title, which may be why the comic book only lasted three issues

Friday, November 23, 2018

Number 2264: Plastic Man set in Concrete

We complete our Thanksgiving week postings with Plastic Man, meeting up with a crook who sells cheap cement to make concrete that ultimately costs lives. Now that particular part of the story isn’t funny but tragic, and has happened in real life. What is funny are the drawings by Jack Cole, and the breakneck action panels. I am always amazed at how many ways Cole could contort the body of not only the stretchable Plastic Man, but other characters who supposedly have human bodies.

This appeared in Plastic Man #14 (1948). The Grand Comics Database gives writing credit to Joe Millard* and art credits to Jack Cole (pencils), and Alex Kotzky (? ), question mark meaning they aren't sure, for inks.

Although they have the same name, the villain Concrete is not the same as the character, Concrete, created by Paul Chadwick in the 1980s.

*I am a fan of the “Who Created the Comic Books?” blog by Martin O’Hearn, who by studying their styles, has proved he is observant and knowledgeable about writers and artists. I went to the blog to see if his research might show a corroboration with the Grand Comics Database that Joe Millard was the author of this story, based on the use of two unusual utterances I have seen before in other comics: “GRAWK!” and “YAWP!” In his posts concerning Millard’s style he does not mention them, which makes me wonder if GCD identified the writer of the story correctly, or if it is another writer who uses those made-up words? To look at Martin’s blog and his outstanding research go to the right and click on the link in the sidebar of this blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Number 2263: 2018 Thanksgiving Turkey Award: The Cat-Crook Caper!

If you are new to this, today is Pappy’s Golden Age Comics Blogzine’s annual Turkey Award, wherein I recognize the American holiday of gathering family for a sumptuous meal and (hopefully) conviviality. The main dish for this meal is usually turkey, and the word “turkey” is also American slang for foolish, stupid or inept. I use the word to mean the most offbeat, stupid, or unusual comic book story I have read all year. Since I read hundreds of comic book stories each year a Turkey Award is a singular award. It is also my decision, and there is no public input in the project.

In this case, I have chosen the story, “Krypto’s Cat-Crook Capers!” from Superboy #132 (1966), for being truly offbeat, stupid or unusual, although I also give it credit for being true to the spirit of many of the stories that appeared in the Superman family of comic books during the latter part of the career of editor Mort Weisinger. He would have had a conference with the writer, usually discussing plots, and told him to write said story. From a viewpoint of 52 years after the story appeared, today’s award winner looks to me to be even more oddball than usual, and that can be saying a lot when it comes to Weisinger. As soon as I saw it I knew it was going to be honored today, and has the additional honor of being scanned from my personal copy of Superboy #132, which is from a stack of sixties DC comics I got from who-knows-where, who-knows-when. I had forgotten it until some archaeology in my basement produced the comic, and immediate shouts of “Voila!” and “We have our winner!” The story earns three-and-a-half turkeys.

It is written by Otto Binder, who also wrote the goofy “Rex King” story I showed yesterday. Otto, who wrote hundreds, and maybe thousands, of comic book scripts in his long career, had a sense of humor, and I believe he probably got a kick out of writing something like this. George Papp was the artist. As an additional treat, see the circulation figures for Superboy on the last page, which shows that as wacky as comics edited by Weisinger could be, they appealed to a lot of readers.

If you wish to see past Turkey Awards winners, just click on the thumbnail from the 2017 winner, and follow the links. By following them you will eventually end up in 2006.