Friday, June 28, 2019

Number 2355: Money for nothin' and the house for free

What an offer! Such a deal! A free house, free food, free giant screen television (that black and white comes in high definition, I hope). Meals are cooked for the occupants, and they even have a guaranteed income of $200 a cash. Oh, and they have robots to do the work. Those occupants, the Jenkins family, have hit the jackpot, and just when they were at their lowest point, sharing a tiny apartment with another family. They are offered a dream house, making their dreams come true. Who wouldn’t take the word of a kindly old man like Mr Appleby, who is so generous?

Me, for one. I remember the old saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And for the Jenkins family, it is not only too good, it comes with a hidden price.

“The Dream House” was written by Gardner Fox, using the pseudonym, Robert Starr, for Strange Adventures #3 (1950). It was drawn by Jim Mooney, pencils, and Ray Burnley, inks

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Number 2354: Black Rider rides again

Black Rider, a popular Western character from Atlas Comics, had his book cancelled with issue #31 in 1955, and was revived for a one-shot, Black Rider Rides Again #1, in late 1957. Black Rider featured some of the top artists in the Atlas stable, like Syd Shores and Joe Maneely. His revival has a great cover by John Severin, plus an action-packed retelling of his origin by Jack Kirby. Kirby also did the other two Black Rider stories in the issue.  In Kirby’s version the mask of the Black Rider was changed from a bandanna to cover his face to a domino mask. A skinny little mask to me is no disguise at all, but if the Lone Ranger could get away it...then why not?

Here is the Black Rider origin story from 1951. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Pappy’s Favorites Number 9: Dick Tracy, Flattop Jr and the conscience lesson

I have never lost the fannish pleasure of reading Dick Tracy. I have read it all my life, in newspapers and also in comic books. I did this posting in 2010 to share my fascination for a particular sequence with bad guy Flattop Jr. When I read the Harvey Comics reprint of the story I was still a pre-teen, and the images of the murdered girl, Skinny, clinging to her killer’s neck, were very powerful for me. Like the character in the 2006 comic strip, “Crankshaft,” which I also show with the story, these issues of Dick Tracy Monthly have stayed with me all my life.

Click on the thumbnail to see it.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Number 2353: Mr Justice and the big Green Ghoul

Don Markstein’s Toonopedia tells us about Mr Justice:

The Royal Wraith, as Mr. Justice was sometimes called, was Prince James of England, lured to his death by Scottish rebels in the year 1040. He murdered them back, but afterward, his destiny thwarted (according to an unseen voice), his spirit was trapped in the castle where all this took place. In 1940, the castle was dismantled and shipped to America, where it was to be re-assembled, but the ship carrying it was sunk by a Nazi submarine. James's spirit was thus released into the modern world. He then re-assumed corporeal form, took on the ‘Mr. Justice’ monicker, and, love interest being de rigeur for a 1940s superhero, picked up with an American woman named Pat Clark. The story was written by MLJ regular Joe Blair and drawn by Sam Cooper, both of whom stayed with the character through most of his run.

Don also tells us that Satan is featured in the strip, as he is in this episode. Mr Justice is a supernatural being, which is fine. Despite the hokum surrounding how super heroes are made, most of their origins seem like magic.

This story is from Blue Ribbon Comics #18 (1941).

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.