Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Number 2501: Stolen tombstones

The unlucky “Guest of the Ghouls” is a man (a bad man, because this is a horror comic) who steals tombstones. Tombstones! What would someone do with a tombstone? I know about collectors, especially comic book collectors, but I’ll be in the ground with dirt being shoveled over me and still not understand what one would do with another person's tombstone. They get very bulky, and heavy.

Oh, yeah...I did say it is a horror comic, and logic flies — in bat shapes perhaps? — out the window  in a horror comic. The walking dead also have evil deeds of their own, but they get after Javitt Rodman, because as one of the ghouls says, “You have robbed the dead of their only identity after death, their tombstones!”

Saying something positive about the story, artist Sid Check, using his best Wallace Wood imitation, does a good, creepy job with the corpses. It is from Beware #7 (1954). (Mr Karswell showed the story in 2009, so it is time to show it again. I swear I did not steal his scans.)

 A couple of my favorite Sid Check stories here. Just click on the thumbnail.



Monday, March 01, 2021

Number 2500: Fearless Fosdick and Anyface, the man with the Plastic Man face

This adaptation for a comic book from the Li'l Abner comic strip starts with an interesting inside cover. (The same page appears in the next issue, #69, which was the last from Harvey Comics.) Al Capp, satirically speaking through Li'l Abner, goes after  those critics who complain about crime comic books. In my opinion Capp makes a common mistake, trying to answer the ardent comic book critics by using the argument that crime comics are no more dangerous than fairy tales or classic Edgar Allan Poe. The argument was doomed to fail. Far from seeing comic books as being akin to fairy tales or classics like Poe, the critics saw comic books as being aimed at children, and the publishers of comic books as being more like sleazy pornographers seducing the young.

In this issue of Li'l Abner, published by Harvey Comics before Al Capp and his brother, Elliott Caplin, started their own comic book company, Li’l Abner is obsessed with the “comical” strip, “Fearless Fosdick.” Lester Gooch, creator, writer and artist of Fosdick, has become mentally unstable, so much so that he is hiding in the broom closet of an asylum, drawing his strip. As a devoted Fosdick fan, Abner sits outside the door and a pretty nurse supplies him with the daily newspaper funnies and Abner’s favorite strip.

It is dark humor, but is it like a crime comic book? It appeared first in newspapers, with their internal censorship of anything that might bring down the wrath of their readers. Syndicate editors had to approve it before sending it to client newspapers. In the story Fosdick shoots a man who is standing with his wife and children (see the panel on top of this page), mistaking the dad for the villain Anyface. In the story there are at least a couple more panels with bullets going through heads, typical for a Fearless Fosdick episode. Capp was satirizing the Dick Tracy comic strip. Tracy creator Chester Gould’s narratives usually have the heroes escape the death traps, and the criminals aren’t incarcerated, but they usually end up dead before ever going to court, or prison.

I think Anyface, stretching out his face and able to make himself look like someone else, is inspired by Jack Cole and Plastic Man.

From Li'l Abner #68 (1949):

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Number 2499: My torch still burns for Torchy

Modern Comics #102 (1950) was the last issue of the comic that began as Military Comics. One of its features, Torchy, had been created by artist Bill Ward during World War II. After the war she became a character in Modern Comics, which cover featured Blackhawk. Later Ward got busy doing Quality Comics’ love comics, and Torchy was turned over to Gill Fox, who, like Ward, could draw a pretty girl.

The blue-nosed censors wanted to get rid of all comic books featuring such “unsavory fare.” Torchy had her own comic book for six issues, but Quality Comics dropped that, and after the last issue of  Modern Torchy was then featured in Doll Man, the place where she started her career. Gradually other artists took over and that is when my torch for Torchy gets extinguished. The story here is, as usual, silly, but I am sure the drawings were why most readers looked at it. Did anyone read it? I did, which is why I know it’s silly, but who cares, now or in 1950? Torchy’s sex appeal affected without apology. 

The Grand Comics Database credits Gill Fox for both the story and art.