Friday, February 15, 2019

Number 2300: The Fox from Montana

 The Montana mentioned in the title of this, my 2300th posting for this blog, is artist Bob Montana. He is best known for being the artist who gave the original look to Archie and his gang back in 1942. Before he became linked to Archie (comic books and a long-running newspaper comic strip), he drew more regular comic book fare for various publishers. That includes this episode of the Fox from Blue-Ribbon Comics #18 (1941).

Montana could draw superhero action as well as the more passive Archie teenage poses. He could also draw the sort of thing that caused the hue and cry of those who thought comic books unfit for young minds. The splash panel for this tale is a good example. In Archie comics being “stabbed in the back” was not shown as literal, as it is here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Number 2299: Advice for a woman in love: lead with your left

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so it is a good time for a love story. First, I love Bill Everett’s artwork on “When a Woman Fights Back.” Everett was one of the best artists in comics, yet I think this is the first love story by him I have seen. For me it is a Valentine’s box of chocolates and Valentine card from my sweetie, all rolled into one.

Being a love story means there is drama: Florrie loses her boyfriend, Ray, to the rich girl, Gloria Dane. Ray is on a success track with her father and cannot refuse her blatant advances. You can see his distress when Gloria tells him she has excellent taste...especially in men! (Last panel, page 3.) Had I been in Ray’s shoes I would have wondered how many she means by using the plural “men.” Florrie’s dad, who has raised her since his wife died in childbirth, is comfortable enough to sit on Florrie’s bed while she sits at her dressing table half dressed. He gives her advice that she should fight for her man. By that he means fight in the boxing sense, and in a public assault Florrie does. I wonder what Florrie would be capable of after she got away with it? Next time shoot her rival...? The story does not extend that far, ending as it does on a happy note of love for the young couple.

This hard-hitting story is from Love Tales #50 (1952).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Number 2298: Rulah and the Ice Beast

Now here is something we don’t often see...if ever. A beautiful barefoot girl in a skimpy two-piece outfit on snow skis. Rulah comes up against a bad man with a weather machine. It looks like an old boiler on wheels, but it can make snow in the jungle.

It is winter as I write this. I live in a place where snow and cold can make life miserable. I commiserate with Rulah’s problems, except going out in the cold without proper warm clothing would put her in danger of frostbite. For not being used to the cold, Rulah is able to maintain her cool (ho-ho), and solve the problem. What else would one expect a jungle goddess to do?

“The Ice Beast” is from Fox’s Zoot Comics #10 (1947). Story and art by the Iger Studio.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Number 2297: Angel flying too close to the ground

Although his status was as a filler superhero, and never a star, going back to Marvel Comics #1 (1939), the Angel was featured in several Timely Comics of the 1940s. The character was created by Paul Gustavson, who went on to Quality Comics, and is considered one of the better comic book artists of that early period. At first the Angel had no secret identity, and nothing to identify why he was in such a gaudy costume.

From Don Markstein's Toonopedia:

“[The Angel] did have a secret identity, private detective Tom Halloway. A text page written by Ray Gill (who also has credits at Lev Gleason, Novelty Press and elsewhere) in Marvel Mystery Comics (as Marvel Comics had been re-titled with its second issue) #20 (June, 1941) gave his background. Halloway's mother had died in childbirth and his father, a prison warden, had raised him in the prison, isolated from outside human contact except for the experts the warden brought in to teach the boy everything there was to know — successfully, it appears, as his range of knowledge sometimes seems to have rivaled that of The Junior Woodchucks' Guide Book.”

I chose this particular story because it is more gruesome than usual (reflecting the kind of mood I am in as I write this). A man has a rare disease, needs constant blood supplies to keep him alive, so when the hospitals can’t help him anymore he kills people and takes their blood. (I have a question about blood types, which the story does not address.) In one panel we have a scene which would have been right at home a decade later in Dr Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. Human corpses on meat hooks in a slaughter house! Yow.

From Marvel Mystery Comics #30 (1942). No writer or artist is listed by the Grand Comics Database.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Number 2296: Planet Patrol smash the Toad-Men of Titan

The Planet Patrol, or what we can see of them, consists of a chief, then Captain Ken Keen and his girlfriend, Nirma. You know they are a couple when they show up before the commander looking like they are there for a wedding ceremony. Instead they get sent to Titan to avenge colonists who were inexplicably killed. I love how the commander tells Ken to take what men he needs, and Ken says he’ll just take Nirma, and the chief thinks that is just fine. Despite what I think is breaking whatever protocol they have in Planet Patrol, they don’t even give Nirma a uniform or fatigues. She has to go to another planet wearing a dress and heels.

The Toad-Men of Titan aren’t a very good looking bunch, and are trying to get rid of those settlers from Earth. This story was published in 1940, when it was the prerogative of some humans to go in and take over another country, without much worry about what happened to the indigenous population. The Toad-Men want to fight, but a “kind” Toad-Man wants to work with the Earth people. Big mistake! Humans have a sorry reputation of pushing weaker people aside — often killing them — then taking what they want. So for this story, I have to stand in support of those Toad-Men who are fighting to keep those Earth people away from what is theirs.

No writer or artist is given by Grand Comics Database for this tale of attempted colonization. The printing is in duotone, red and black, which was done in the early days of comic books to save some money. That type of story was soon taken over by comic books being done all in the four-color process. It was originally published in Silver Streak Comics #5 (1940).

Monday, February 04, 2019

Number 2295: The Flagman: Loose dips sink ships

Major Hornet is Flagman, who is at the beck and call of the President of the United States. Said president orders Major Hornet to find out who is sinking ships in the harbor and stealing all the ships’ cargo. Being a patriotic sort who wears a flag, Flagman doesn’t say no to the president, so he and his young companion, Rusty, take off after the criminal gang who are doing the ship-sinking and cargo-stealing. Something surprises me for a comic book story published in 1942...the crooks are regular crooks, not Nazi saboteurs. Well, they could have called them Nazi saboteurs and it would not have made any difference in the story. Note: at that time, Nazi U-boats lurked off the East Coast of the U.S. and sank as many ships as possible, because they were transporting weapons to our allies.

Flagman is said to have super strength, but seems otherwise mortal. He appeared in Captain Aero Comics #'s 1-14. Captain Aero had a screwball numbering system, which you can read about in the listing for that comic book at the Grand Comics Database. The cover says it is #2, but the indicia says it is Vol. 1 No. 8. Sometimes the business practices of the publishers were more unusual than the characters they featured.

According to the Grand Comics Database the artwork for this story is by Charles Quinlan.