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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Number 2290: Tommy Tomorrow is so yesterday

Tommy Tomorrow lives in a simple world. He can rescue some farmers who bought land on Mercury not knowing it was too hot, making their crops wither and die. Tommy, a Planeteer, helps them by relocating them to “impossible worlds,” planets too difficult for humans. Tommy goes to “the government” for permission to relocate, and zip...he gets it. In Tommy’s simple world it does not take years, including several studies and court battles, to get things done from the government. Tommy even uses extortion on the crook who sold the Mercury land to the farmers in the first place, and gets away with it. He must know somebody really high up in the government.

Tommy had a fairly long career in DC Comics, from appearances in Real Fact Comics after the war ended, to 1962 when he soloed in a series for Showcase. Between those times he appeared in Action Comics until replaced by Supergirl, and then on to World’s Finest Comics until he lost that spot, also. After Showcase Tommy must have retired, perhaps to a plush desk job with the government.

This particular episode is from Action Comics #146 (1950), credited by the GCD to writer Otto Binder, and artists Curt Swan and John Fishschetti.









Monday, January 21, 2019

Number 2289: In the Madhouse

Madhouse was publisher Robert Farrell’s attempt to get on the Mad bandwagon. He turned over the creative end to the Iger Studio, which produced the comic book. There were no artists like those found in Mad, nor a writer/editor like Harvey Kurtzman, but in its own way Madhouse has an amiable goofiness about it.

A pair of ghostly failures, needing help in haunting a house, go to expert haunter Emily Ghost. It is a takeoff of Emily Post, the famous author of books of etiquette. The image of Emily in the story is inspired by Chas Addams’s slinky Morticia,* who was an inspiration to Vampira and others.

 I found this scan of Addams’s original art online.

From Madhouse #3 (1954):






*The characters of the macabre family, created by Addams, were unnamed until the television show, The Addams Family, was created in the early sixties.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Number 2288: The Greatest Sinners of History

I think someone had a bad experience as a youth in Sunday School: the unknown writer, and possibly also the unknown artist of this story, who tell of evildoers who are all from the Bible: Judas, Cain...and of course, the devil, or Satan or Lucifer or whatever name you append to him. They are part of a group called The Greatest Sinners of History, who have come back to “kill all good and its champions,” including the Hooded Wasp. But, who is the Hooded Wasp, you ask? Well, I don't know because the usual places I go for info, Public Domain Super Heroes and Don Markstein’s Toonopedia don’t have him. Just from looking at this story, done by an unknown writer and equally unknown artist, Hooded Wasp hangs out with a girl named Honey Wasp and his young friend, Wasplet.

The story also brings up the concept of sin. The story’s bad guys are sinners. Sin is a religious idea. Some religions consider all human beings sinners. The only good thing about sin is that most of the religious sins are not illegal under the law. While I am trying to make my way through life during my time on Planet Earth, I am only worrying about things that might send me to jail, and the list of sins I have accrued so far don’t include any felonies...maybe a few misdemeanors, but I think the statute of limitations has expired on most, if not all, of them.

From Shadow Comics, #30 (formally numbered Volume 3 Number 6, 1943).









Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Number 2287: Ghost of the geek

The word “geek” has changed its meaning over the past couple of decades. Now its primary use is as a person who is “an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity; computer geek.” (from Merriam-Webster.com). It can also mean a socially inept person, or, in this story, a guy who works for a carnival and does outrageous things like bite the heads off live chickens. On page 3 panel 6 the geek, Walter Bascomb, is about to take a bite, but is shown in the act of choking the chicken (which has a double meaning I won’t go into here). Ugh! The disgusting cruelty was made popular by the 1946 novel, Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham, which spawned a film noir classic starring Tyrone Power, and more recently a graphic novel by Spain Rodriguez.

That is the long way around describing a story of revenge from beyond the grave. It was published by ACG in 1954, while it was making the short-lived transition to what they called shock stories, the EC comics type of horror stories. “Terror Under the Big Top” retains an element of the more common ACG story, a ghost haunting a loving couple, and the ghost committing murder. In an EC comic it would not be a ghost, but a walking, rotting corpse returned from the grave committing the murders. The shock stories were killed by the Comics Code, which came along less than a year later.

The story is drawn by Kenneth Landau, and appeared in Forbidden Worlds #27 (1954):









Monday, January 14, 2019

Number 2286: The boy who fooled Hawkman’s hawks

Young Timmy is the son of a rich man. Timmy is an artist. His father is an antiques collector. Timmy’s dad is trying to discourage him from painting, telling him if he quits he’ll buy him a motorboat. Dad would rather have an indolent son than one with artistic talent.

Dad is targeted by a couple of crooks who steal his valuable antiques and young Timmy is kidnapped.

Joe Kubert, about the same age as the fictional Timmy (Kubert would have been 19 when he drew “Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New!”) was something of a prodigy himself.

I have a couple of gripes: Hawkman faces a dinosaur on the cover; the “dinosaur” in the story is one of Timmy’s lifelike three-dimensional paintings. Here he has painted the dinosaur on grass, which caught Hawkman’s attention while flying over. I also spotted the word “shone” mistakenly used for “shown” in one of the speech balloons. Sheldon Mayer is listed as editor by the Grand Comics Database, with Julius Schwartz and Ted Udall as story editors. The letterer and the editor(s) missed it. I mention it because I used the same hawk eye to spot the spelling error that Hawkman’s hawks use in finding Timmy.

From Flash Comics #67 (1945):











Friday, January 11, 2019

Number 2285: Fighting Females Week: Nyoka the Jungle Girl

This is the third and final posting for our theme week of Fighting Females.

Today we have Nyoka the Jungle Girl. Nyoka did not go to the regular jungle girl stores, judging by her outfit. While others like Sheena and Lorna and Rulah wore as little as possible in jungle attire, Nyoka went the other way. She dressed sensibly. I can tell the boots she wears, rather than going barefoot, would make walking on the jungle floor much easier on the feet.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1932 novel, Jungle Girl,* was the genesis of the Nyoka comic book. When a 15-chapter Jungle Girl serial was made in 1941 it bore no relation to Burroughs’ work, so he had his name taken off the serial’s credits. There were two Nyoka serials, and in 1944 Nyoka began appearing in Fawcett comics, in Master Comics and also her own title. There were some efforts to simulate the movie serial format, having continued stories in the same issue. I haven’t read too many Nyoka stories, but this one doesn’t stray too far from the template for jungle adventure plots: crooked white people rip off African tribesman, and Nyoka comes along to save the day.

One thing, though...in this story Nyoka owns a gift shop, where the villainess steals the costume with which she bamboozles the natives. I’ve seen some oddball things in jungle comics, but a gift shop...?

Grand Comics Database gives no writer or artist credits for Nyoka the Jungle Girl #6 (1946).

*The filmmakers did a clean sweep of disposing of the original novel and its characters. They didn’t use the name, Fou-Tan, Burroughs’ jungle girl.