Friday, August 30, 2019

Number 2382: Taking photographs on the radio

Casey Crime Photographer was a radio program on CBS from 1943 to 1955...there was a television show for a short time, and then there were four issues of a comic book published by the 1949 version of Marvel Comics. Fascinated as I am by stories featuring simians, I chose the first story from the first issue. Reading the story’s intro on the splash panel I found this: “Orang-utans — known to science as simia satyrus.” Who says comic books aren’t educational? Someday I could haul that little factoid out to impress folks at a party. If I get invited to a party.

Casey was created by George Harmon Coxe, a mystery writer for many years, in an early '30s issue of Black Mask, the widely respected pulp that taught the world what, besides eggs, “hard-boiled” means.

Art is credited by the Grand Comics Database to Vernon Henkel, an artist who worked in comic books from the very early days of the business.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Number 2381: Green Hornet: the mummy done told him

I like stories with mummies. Must be because of my love for mummy movies. This mummy story is from Green Hornet Comics #7 (1942). Grand Comics Database doesn’t know who drew it except to credit artist Arturo Cazeneuve with drawing Green Hornet’s face. I think the rest of it was a job by an art shop. Harvey Comics, as Family Comics, Inc, was licensed to make the comic book of the hit radio show, Green Hornet.

When did a plot to scare people away from the scene of the crime succeed? By that I mean having the crime scene look like something supernatural is happening? I believe such a scene would attract more of the curious, as well as lawmen. Tutankamen (as “Tutankiem”), is the culprit. According to the story, there is a curse on Tutankiem’s tomb, and his mummy is “a thousand years old.” That is at least a couple of thousand years off the real history and death of Tutankamen.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Number 2380: Supermouse in the land of the jinn

Supermouse gets involved with some folks out of the land of the fictional Arabian nights. The story has Supermouse (or “Soupie,” as he is called) involved with his arch enemy, Terrible Tom, and also a genie. The story calls that character a “jinn,” the name of the spirits (“lower than the angels,” as Wikipedia calls them) in that part of the world. As Americans we have concocted our own version of jinn, which in the sixties gave shape (and what a shape!) to the female jinn, Jeannie, in the situation comedy, “I Dream of Jeannie.”

Okay. Barbara “Jeannie” Eden has absolutely nothing to do with this Supermouse story, but in the sixties she changed my ideas of genies (oops, jinn) forever.

The real reason we are here is the story drawn by Milt Stein; it is from Supermouse #30 (1954).

Some more Supermouse. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Number 2379: Doc Savage and the television peril

When they came out in the 1960s I read many of the Doc Savage series of paperback reprints from the original pulp magazine novels. Doc was strictly human, but he had superhero-style attributes: smarter, stronger, tougher than his enemies. He had a group of guys who went along on most of his adventures, but later in the series the gang shrank to its two core members, Monk and Ham. I had never read any of the comic book stories published by the original Doc publisher, Street and Smith, although I remember picking up and reading some of the comic book versions published in the '70s.

Like most of the readers who came along with the Bantam paperbacks, I was used to seeing Doc as artist James Bama pictured him, in a torn khaki shirt and hair with a widow’s peak. This 1948 comic book version goes along with the original conception of Doc as readers saw him in the 1930s.

By the time “Television Peril” was published in 1948 Doc had about reached the end of his original pulp run, which ended in 1949. The story has a science fiction premise of a wannabe dictator using television as a means of transporting an army through TV sets. Television has a lot of power, and at times can be considered to do about as much damage as having enemy soldiers trooping through the set and into your living room.

In the story Doc’s retinue has shrunk down to Monk only. A redeeming feature of the story is that Bob Powell did the artwork.

From Shadow Comics Vol. 8, No. 11 (1948):

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Number 2378: Strange neighbors, indeed...

“Our Strange Neighbors,” from Atlas’ Journey Into Unknown Worlds #51 (1956), is a well-meaning story that falls short. In the era when segregation was being dismantled by court orders, many areas of so-called non-segregated America were far from integrated. There was a de facto nationwide segregation policy when it came to housing, especially in the spreading suburbs. Stories in comic books about offensive real-life racist policies were generally avoided, but when they were done, as in this story, surrogates for African-Americans were used to avoid pissing off magazine distributors, politicians, or any Klan members who might take offense. Did it work? It might have escaped notice by being the last story in the comic book, but anyone who read it could have seen right through it.

To add to the obvious, one of the alien characters is called Mr Neeg.

The message of this short 4-pager is diluted. A story about a mob pushing out the otherworldly aliens who only want to be good neighbors, having the unwanted green people as tokens who would have brought great things for the white citizens but being denied by a mob, is weak and an artifact of its time.

Despite what I consider the tale’s failings it is a curiosity of its era, and well drawn by John Forte. No writer is credited.