Sunday, July 05, 2020

Number 2440: Tom Mix and a hearty breakfast

Ralston-Purina made animal food, and also made breakfast cereal. Both the animal food division and the breakfast cereal division have been sold a few times, and I’m not really interested in all that. I am interested in Ralston-Purina’s affiliation with Western movie star Tom Mix. A radio show based on Mix was sponsored by Ralston-Purina, and in 1940 they produced a comic book version of Mix. For two box tops from Ralston Purina cereal a fan could get the comic book in the mail! That’s worth buying a couple of boxes of cereal, I guess. The first issue came out in 1940, and I have the whole issue here.

It looks like some thought (and hard work) went into it. It is a top-notch comic book for 1940. The artwork, by Fred Meagher (pronounced “Mar”) for the Tom Mix stories is excellent. It looks like the issue may have been produced with help from Charles Biro (Daredevil, Boy Comics, Crime Does Not Pay, et al.) Biro signed one of the stories. There are also a couple of racial caricatures of a type sadly common 80 years ago, so be aware.

Tom Mix Comics had nine issues, then three more as Tom Mix Commandos Comics, switching to a wartime theme. The partnership with Tom Mix ended there, although Tom Mix had nothing to do with it, as he was deceased. He died in 1940 on an Arizona road when he crashed his 1937 Cord. The Tom Mix business continued without Tom Mix. Other actors had been portraying Mix on the radio show. The posthumous heroics of Tom Mix continued with a series of stories in a couple of Fawcett’s anthology comics, Master Comics and Western Heroes, as well as his own title for 61 issues, from 1948 until Fawcett ended its comic book line in 1953.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Number 2439: “I can shoot faster than you can slit throats!”

I saw a picture of a crime comics cover years ago, and the title stuck in my head: Seven Dead Men. It is an intriguing title, but what got my attention was the garish cover lettering.It was another example of a comic book fighting to command attention on newsstands, and probably succeeding. It came out in 1948, which was the year that newsstands saw an onslaught of crime comics. 

I didn’t see the actual comic until much later. The title is officially Complete Mystery #1, in small print. It is a private eye story; a tale of some hidden stolen loot and some gangsters getting bumped off by a guy looking for that loot. 

Best information on the creators are from Dr Michael J Vassallo, who knows more about the magazine and comic book empire of publisher Martin Goodman than anyone. In the Grand Comics Database he says that it is Gene Colan’s pencil art with an unknown inker, and script by Stan Lee. There are no credits for either the short “Tommy Tyme” story or the U.S. Post Office's requirement for two pages of text material, “The Stuffed Rubber.”

 I showed the lead story in 2014. These are new scans of the entire book.