Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Number 2293: Warlock and the golden hand

Warlock the Wizard, as stated by the Public Domain Super Heroes website, is a magician who uses real magic. ( Aren’t all comic book heroes with super powers “magic”?) But in this case I am talking about a magician in the traditional sense of the word.

Most comic book magicians, if not all, are descended from Mandrake the Magician, a very popular newspaper strip. Mandrake used hypnotism. Okay, the results of his hypnotic spells were more-or-less magic, but I digress.

Warlock the Wizard has a golden hand which he uses to combat evil. He also has a thing about strangulation, which as far as a super magician hero goes, seems weird. Or is it? According to various dictionaries I checked, a warlock is a male witch, and uses black magic for evil. Warlock the Wizard as a name seems redundant, but snappy with its alliteration. Warlock lasted for seven issues of Nickel Comics. Nickel Comics lasted one more issue after that. This episode appeared in Nickel Comics #2 (1940).

Grand Comics Database doesn't know who wrote or drew the story. I will guess Bill Parker for the script, because of his annoying use of captions which explain what we are already seeing. The artwork I don’t recognize.

Here is a Bulletman story written by Parker and drawn by Ed Smalle, and more of my kvetching about captions, also from Nickel Comics #2. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Number 2292: Spunky, Junior Cowboy, and Stanley the horse in the ghost cave

Jack Bradbury’s cartoon drawing style is a favorite of mine. I find the characters he both created and drew, Spunky, Junior Cowboy, and his horse, Stanley, irresistible. I am a great admirer of the moonlighting animators who worked in comic books during the forties and fifties; they were gifted in the main, but even among his fellow funnymen, Bradbury stands out for me.

This story, from the first issue of Spunky, shows his solid craft and professionalism. It is also funny; a funny ghost story, no less.

From Spunky #1 (1949):

Friday, January 25, 2019

Number 2291: Kubert’s Zebra

In my experience, the Zebra, a character that went through the war years and even beyond, was usually drawn by Bob Fujitani. This episode is drawn by the young Joe Kubert. I showed a Hawkman story from Flash Comics just a couple of weeks ago. Joe was so young that in retrospect he seems like a child prodigy. As a callow youth, he was mentored by other artists, Mort Meskin for one. He also got credit for coloring some stories for Will Eisner. The kid got around.

Looking back over his career, Kubert hit a high level of professionalism very early on and never faltered. Joe Kubert is gone now, but he has left thousands of beautifully illustrated pages of comic art as his legacy.

As for the Zebra...I understand the striped shirt, but the pair of skin tight swim trunks and bare legs I guarantee would not make it through a winter. I mention it because I don’t remember any blizzards in superhero comics, leaving the characters able to walk around dressed like it’s a warm, sunny day at the beach, and because a large winter storm is knocking on my door as I write this. When I go out in a few hours with shovel in hand to clear sidewalks and driveway, I will be bundled up like an Antarctic explorer, yet still thinking that in the never-never land of comic books the heroes never seem bothered by weather.

From Green Hornet Comics #20 (1944):

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 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).