Monday, March 18, 2019

Number 2313: Dickie Dean and the hallucination lamp

Dickie Dean was a boy genius inspired by the fictional Tom Swift, who was patterned after the real-life Thomas Edison. In this example of Dickie’s inventiveness, he created a lamp that causes hallucinations. No forcing an enemy to ingest a substance to make him see things that weren’t there...Dickie just turned it on by flipping a switch, which in turn turned the enemy on.

Dickie should have warned his buddy, Zip, who has a really bad trip thanks to Dickie’s lamp.

Dickie Dean was created by Jack Cole and first appeared in Silver Streak Comics #7 (1940). Bob Montana also drew Dickie Dean. He did this episode close to the time he drew the first story featuring Archie for Pep Comics. Charles Biro, editor of Silver Streak Comics, had also worked for MLJ, publisher of Pep Comics before the MLJ line began its transition from wild blood-and-thunder superhero adventures to a line devoted to teenage hijinks.

This episode is from Silver Streak Comics #20 (1941), drawn by Bob Montana.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Number 2312: Tom Mix, “Mixacan”

“Bondage in the West” as a title sounds a lot more perverted than it really is. It has to do with a rancher ripping off (and murdering) Mexican laborers working on his ranch.

Tom Mix shows up in disguise...he puts on a sombrero and a fake mustache, and fools the crooked rancher! (The villain must have that peculiar face blindness that shows up often in comic books where characters wear a disguise.)

We hear a lot about illegal aliens nowadays, but this story is from 1949, and people coming into the U.S. from south of the border has been going on since America sliced off pieces of Mexico and made them United States territories, then states. American bad guys, yeah, we see a lot of them, also. Good thing our hero Tom is willing to get into the “Mix” to help fellow human beings!

Art by Carl Pfeufer and John Jordan. Writer unknown. From Master Comics #105 (1949):

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Number 2311: “Your Name is Frankenstein!”

I like the old Atlas stories written by Stan Lee. His issues of the horror comic, Menace, are good examples of his skill and style. It helps that he had top illustrators to do the artwork. In this issue, besides the stories being written by Lee, the comic has artwork by Syd Shores, Joe Sinnott, Russ Heath, and the illustrator of today’s offering, Joe Maneely. A stellar lineup of talent.

Menace #7 (1953) was one of the first pre-Code horror comics I owned, thanks to Bill Thailing of Cleveland, Ohio, a very early comic book dealer. I think it cost me 50¢.

I showed the Frankenstein story in the very early days of this blog. I had only my own copy to scan and present, and it was in bad shape when I scanned it. Today I am showing much better scans from a copy I found online.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Number 2310: Little man in a big world, big man in the comics

It was once my opinion of Doll Man, who could shrink yet retain the strength of a grown man, that boys may have been reluctant to buy a comic book with the word “Doll” in the title. Doll Man was the star of Feature Comics for a long time, and shared the mark of success with other Quality Comics heroes, like Plastic Man, by gaining his own title. Wartime paper rationing caused the title Doll Man Quarterly to be suspended in 1943, but Quality revived Doll Man’s comic book in 1946. He continued appearing on newsstands until 1953. I assume from Doll Man’s track record that boys were not deterred from buying a comic book with the word “Doll.” So much for assumptions.

This is the first story from the first issue of Doll Man Quarterly (1941). Grand Comics Database lists the artist as John Cassone with a ? to indicate they are not sure.

Doll Man was created by Will Eisner. Here is the origin story, plus a get-small horror story, and a link to the origin of Doll Girl. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Number 2309: Little Lulu: “The Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Ghosts”

John Stanley’s Little Lulu stories for Dell Comics are some of my favorite comics from a lifetime of reading comics. As I felt when I was very young, I think the best stories are the tales that Lulu spins for her neighbor, Alvin. Alvin pesters Lulu to tell him a story, and to get rid of him Lulu has to come up with yet another in her long series about the Little Girl. This episode predates the very popular stories about Witch Hazel and Little Itch, always outsmarted by the Little Girl, but it still has a supernatural element. The Little Girl comes upon a school for ghosts while looking for her parents, a pair of sparrows. These stories are stories within stories. Alvin does something obnoxious. After all, he is a boy, a brat! But as Lulu’s Mom tells Lulu’s Pop when Alvin interrupts their sleep, “Lulu will keep him quiet.” The framing devices for Lulu’s fanciful fabrications are funny.

From Little Lulu #24 (1950). Story by Stanley, art by the Irving Tripp studio.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Number 2308: Real American #1

“Real American #1” — aka “Bronze Terror” — was the son of an Apache chief, and went after some bad white men. This story is the origin story from 1941, in Daredevil Comics #2. The feature lasted another 10 issues before disappearing.

It was created, written and drawn by Dick Briefer, who created several characters for the comics, but is best known for his long string of Frankenstein stories which he kept up until late 1954 when the Comics Code came in. Briefer then left comics. Some biographical sources tell about Briefer’s comic strip work for the Communist Party USA newspaper, The Daily Worker. If he intended a call for racial justice with this presentation then I think the synthetic nature of comic book heroes kept that from happening. The story contains stock clichés about Indians, giving the story a false sincerity.

Jeff Dixon is the chief’s son (...and where did he get the the name “Jeff,” or for that matter “Dixon” from an Apache father who wears full native regalia?) Jeff is patterned after the famous real-life Native American athlete, Jim Thorpe (aha! Another American-sounding moniker!) For better or worse, Indians in comic books were not that uncommon, but some representations of their lives and culture were more accurate than others, including this one.