Monday, August 19, 2019

Number 2377: Farr and away with ‘Ace’ Brady

Jack Farr will be added to my list of comic book cartoonists who were born in the late 19th century and began their careers in the early years of the 20th. If I ever get around to compiling the list, that is.

Farr was born in 1889, and his death date is not known, but is usually assumed to be circa 1948. He did several features for several comic book publishers during the late ‘30s and ‘40s. His stories are easily spotted because he did his own lettering, and his display lettering for his titles is easily recognizable. His works, usually filler material, were mostly comedic, harking back to his time as a gag cartoonist in the ‘20s. Today’s story, “‘Ace’ Brady, Super-sleuth,” is done in a more conventional adventure hero style…but in this case looks like something from the generation before comic books. It is from Dell’s Popular Comics #49 (1940).

Friday, August 16, 2019

Number 2376: Legendary John Buscema and the legend of the clock

One of the finest illustrative comic book artists ever, John Buscema worked his artistic magic on stories from ACG in the fifties, including today’s offering from Forbidden Worlds #75 (1959). I was reading the ACG titles at the time; I remember Buscema and I marveled at his drawings. Marvel Comics readers also “marveled” at his drawings a few years later when he became one of Marvel’s most prolific action artists.

“Legend of the Clock” has a mood which I know well. Mrs Pappy and I visit antique stores quite often. Although we love them, we have never had an antique store manager give us a story like the young couple gets in this tick-tock tale. Ol' skeptic Pappy wouldn’t believe it, anyway.

Here are two 1959 stories from Adventures Into the Unknown. Just click on the thumbnail:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Number 2375: The Black Condor...he’s so Fine!

Don Markstein’s Toonopedia says of the character, Black Condor: “The Condor's origin story wasn't too implausible, at least by superhero standards.” I guess if you consider being raised by condors, and learning to fly by watching other condors not too implausible, then yes, Black Condor fared well by the standard of superhero origins. If that is not enough, the Black Condor’s secret identity was him taking the place of a deceased United States Senator, Tom Wright. There are so many things illegal about impersonating a senator, alive or even dead, that I cannot imagine it happening except in a comic book.

What truly redeems Black Condor as a feature of early comic books is the artwork of Lou Fine, born Louis Kenneth Fine in 1914. He was one of the (excuse me) finest artists of the Golden Age, whose work was not only influential to other artists, but jumped off the newsstands at comic book readers. The Black Condor was done and gone in Quality’s Crack Comics after issue 31. Fine, who had been helping to ghost the Spirit while Will Eisner was doing military service, left comic books in 1944 and went into advertising. Later in his career he drew some newspaper comic strips. Fine died of a heart attack in 1971 at the young age of 56.

From Crack Comics #15 (1941):

Monday, August 12, 2019

Number 2374: “Face the wall!” The St Valentine’s Day massacre

When the prohibition of alcohol became the law in 1920 it created a nation of scofflaws unwilling to give up drinking. The act had good intentions, but is a good example of the law of unintended consequences. With the demand for illegal alcohol came the gangsters, and with the gangsters came the wars between gangsters. The Valentine’s Day Massacre was one such incident. Gunmen, dressed as police officers and using Thompson submachine guns killed several rivals in a Chicago garage, and it caught the fancy of the public. Then, as now, the appetite for violent murder stories is strong. Crime comics did their bit to tell the tale.

The Grand Comics Database has no guesses for whom to give credit for story and artwork. This version of the murders is from ME Comics’ Guns of Fact and Fiction, a 1948 one-shot collection of gangster and Western gunmen stories.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Number 2373: The Blonde Bomber is introduced

I like stories about women that are drawn by women. Honey Blake, the Blonde Bomber, is a young reporter, along with her cameraman, Jimmy Slapso, from the generation before television. Her time was during the newsreel era, when to see the news one went to a movie theater and got glimpses of the outside world that we now take for granted. Honey and Slapso got involved in their stories.

The Blonde Bomber had a good run in Harvey Comics, including Green Hornet, but also appeared in a few issues of All-New Comics and Speed Comics. According to online sources Blonde Bomber was created by Barbara Hall, who is credited with the artwork on this origin story from Green Hornet Comics #7 (1942).

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Number 2372: She was born a coal miner’s daughter

Pat has a wonderful father, a widowed coal miner who is willing to spend his life savings to make sure Pat gets a top notch education. But in order to pull it off Pat must put on a charade; she must pretend to be wealthy, like the girls who are her classmates.

The story skips over the part about Pat having to apply to the school and be accepted. Perhaps her dad has found someone at the college to bribe, so she is admitted. Whatever happened, Pat is soon plopped into a sorority and gains an instant rival for the affections of Professor Chris Ralston. Such hanky-panky! Having some hunky guy as a teacher in a school full of rich girls seems a lot like the proverbial fox in the henhouse.

Bob Powell drew “I Was a Coalmine Cinderella” for Harvey Comics’ First Love Comics #5 (1949).

Monday, August 05, 2019

Number 2371: Pappy gets into the Spirit

I have been spending time excavating in my basement, going through boxes and files.  Some parts of my collection are spread out, and I have had some fun (when not choking from the dust) finding things I thought lost. Such was a copy of Help!, Vol. 2 No. 1, dated February 1962. I bought it off the stands when I was 14, and it was my introduction to Will Eisner’s Spirit.

The episode is the second part of the Sand Saref story, but is actually repurposed from another project by Eisner, a character called John Law, Detective, drawn in 1948, but never published until the early ’80s by Eclipse. Harvey Kurtzman was the editor of Help!, and if he picked the Spirit story to use, he found one of the best examples of Eisner’s storytelling.

After 58 years most memories grow dim, but I definitely remember the effect seeing this had on me. I didn’t know the term “film noir” then, but I recognized how cinematic it is. It appeared in the weekly Spirit Section, January 15, 1950.