Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Number 2352: George Evans’s Lost World

George Evans, a superb comic book artist with an illustrator’s style, worked for a time at Fiction House, and included in his assignments “The Lost World,” which he drew in Planet Comics #50-64.

I have never tried to read the whole run of “The Lost World,” although it is one of the better series from Planet Comics. I have shown more stories from it than any other from Planet, I believe. It was popular, and probably because it had good artists working on it. George Evans is on my favorite artists list, and after Fiction House he worked for Fawcett, then went on to EC Comics. After EC went under he free-lanced, and eventually ended up drawing the Secret Agent Corrigan comic strip. Something I noticed about this Planet Comics story is it appears Evans used photographic references. If you look at the panels which feature different men in shorts, they all have the same legs. Maybe he had his wife take pictures of him posing, and then used them as reference. I am not holding it against him. It was (and perhaps still is) a common practice.

No credit for writer given by Grand Comics Database; George Evans signed the story as artist. Joe Doolin did the cover, which features the main characters, Hunt and Lyssa.

From Planet Comics #60 (1949):

Monday, June 17, 2019

Number 2351: Plastic Man’s Gay Nineties Nightmare

Any comic book fan who loved Plastic Man would have been ecstatic to pay 10¢ for Plastic Man #2, issued in 1944. All new stories and great artwork from Jack Cole. Yow! The thought of confronting it for the first time makes old Pappy go all mushy with delight.

It was not published by Quality Comics, which published Plastic Man in Police Comics as a company called “Comic Magazines” with offices on Lexington Ave. in New York City. Instead it was published by “Vital Publications, Inc., New York, a division of Wm C Popper and Co., ‘Book publishers since 1893.’” The reason for Quality Comics jobbing it out to another publisher was undoubtedly the paper rationing during World War II. During the war a publisher would be smart to pay a sub-contractor to have a book printed with their paper ration, rather than having to cut back on a couple of issues of regular monthly or bi-monthly periodicals to have the printing done.

In my not-so-humble opinion, this issue of Plastic Man is one of the best comics published during that time. “The Gay Nineties Nightmare” is the lead story, and got the cover, also.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Number 2350: Crusade of the Time Retarder

Rodney Kent and his boy companion, Mark Swift, get in their Time Retarder to travel to the days of King Arthur. But, ooops! The controls are “clogged,” which I interpret as stuck. Their time travel ends in the midst of the Crusades, and like many a comic book time traveler of fiction, they meet famous people. Their clogged controls have taken them to a battle between Saladin and King Richard the Lion-Hearted.

Kent uses his pistol, and just as quickly loses it during an act of treachery. You see, he has both interested the Lady Edith, and invoked the wrath of another swain, Sir Simrak. “Sir Kent” as they call Rodney, is a man of charm. When Lady Edith proclaims her interest in him by saying, “Never saw I a man like thee!” he responds with, “You’re not so bad yourself, Lady Edith!” I’ll bet Sir Kent would do well at a singles bar with that line. (Sarcasm, of course.) Sir Simrak pays back her lack of interest in him by going to the enemy with a nefarious plot in mind.

The feature is named after Mark, the youngster, and only lasted for the seven issues of Slam-Bang Comics, from Fawcett. I believe the title probably did not last because it had no costumed super heroes. Mark is a brave, resourceful boy, but I ask why his adult companion has put him in such mortal danger. Perhaps retarding time has affected Kent’s supposedly more mature judgment.

Writer and artist unknown by the Grand Comics Database; from Slam-Bang Comics #2 (1940):

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Number 2349: Sub-Mariner: a couple of laughs in the torture chamber

I love the fifties versions of Sub-Mariner, Captain America and Human Torch. Atlas, formerly Timely, later Marvel, tried to bring their wartime heroes back to fight commies a few years after their publications were cancelled, but didn’t have much luck. It would be another few years before they came back into new popularity.* Sub-Mariner was fortunate enough to be drawn by his creator, Bill Everett. Everett was a busy artist in the fifties, and no matter what the stories are about, I love just about everything he did during that period.

This story appeared originally in Sub-Mariner #34 (1954), and I scanned it from a reprint in Marvel Super-Heroes #14 (1968). I got a big kick out of the sequence on page 3 when Namor is put in the torture chamber and encounters a large, brutish blue man who tells him, “Chee! I allus wanted t’meet d’famous Sub-Mariner! You used t’be my hero when I wuz just a liddle kid, mister!” Everett, who is credited with  the story (as well as drawing and lettering it) by the Grand Comics Database, avoided showing torture scenes with some comedy.

*All those Marvel movies...where is Sub-Mariner? Has he appeared in one and I missed it?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Number 2348: Landau x 2: some rottin' tales

In 1969 Stanley Morse introduced Shock,* a competitor for Myron Fass’s sleazy line from Eerie Publications. Morse had been a comic book publisher, and the first couple of issues of Shock reprinted some stories from his own comics, then went to other sources, including the recently (1967) deceased ACG. He printed them in blackline, like Eerie Publications. At least one of the stories I’m showing today came from ACG: “Yawning Graves!” from The Clutching Hand #1 and only issue, published without the ACG logo. (Did Morse buy out what was left of ACG when it shut down? The stories appear to be reprinted from proof sheets, or perhaps even the original lithographic negatives. It seems very soon — two years — to be publishing stories from another publisher, even one no longer in business.)

Both “Yawning Graves!” and the other story, “Within the Tomb,” are drawn by Kenneth Landau. Landau had a long career as an artist, with only a few years as a comic book artist. But if he showed anything in comics, he showed he could draw decomposing corpses as well as anybody in the business. Ken Landau signed his work. Yay! Not every artist was proud to put his or her name on horror comics art. He wanted people to know who drew it. Beyond that, I think Kenneth Landau is underrated for his comic art.

The Grand Comics Database has no listing for “Within the Tomb.” With the inclusion of a horror host (top panel, page one), it eliminates thought it could be from an ACG publication. It is loosely inspired by “The Premature Burial” by Poe, although the story is modernized, and takes a scientific approach: people can appear dead and still be alive with an anesthesia invented by Chauncey Joad. Chauncey has a scheme to use the appearance of death for a criminal act. It is a horror story, so you can probably guess what happens next.

*Morse also published newsstand fodder like men’s magazines. He became the second-biggest publisher of men’s adventure magazines after Martin Goodman, who also published Marvel Comics. Information from