Monday, June 21, 2021

Number 2532: Doll Man’s girlfriend...she's a hit!

John Cassone drew for several publishers, and in my opinion was one of the better artists of the period, so I would like to know more about this skilled artist. Cassone signed the first page of this Doll Man story in tiny letters, but spelled it Casson. If anyone knows more about John Cassone please let me know.

Looking for information on Cassone made me almost neglect the story. On first reading, from Doll Man Quarterly #3 (1942), it has a panel with his girlfriend getting punched in the jaw and rendered unconscious by Doll Man. It may be too late to apologize for showing it in this blog, but I'll do it anyway: I'm sorry. It is an example of changing times. For some reason when this was published, 80 years ago, it was considered all right for the hero to hit a woman.The woman he was in love with, no less. It is brazen to show it in a comic book ostensibly for kids, and one has to wonder what the editor, writer and artist thought about the subject. If they thought at all, that is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Number 2531: The Uncanny Heath

Recently I showed a Western story drawn by Russ Heath. Russ was very versatile as an artist. He drew stories from many genres, including horror comics. This story, “Meet Mr Jones” comes from Atlas’s Uncanny Tales #13 (1953). It has underwater scenes, something Heath did very well. (A decade later he would draw several issues of Sea Devils, a soaked saga of a group of divers whose business is to be underwater, fighting off monsters.)

This story has a couple of bad guys after sunken treasure, a violent murder by stabbing, and an electric chair. I don’t think Mr Jones’s true identity is any surprise, but at its least the story is dynamically drawn.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Number 2530: Gary Concord and the death by miasma

We see Gary Concord, the main hero among the other heroes of this tale, in the first panel of “The Miasma of Death!” Gary is an Important Man in 2240 A.D. He is the High Moderator of the United States of North America. That sounds important, all right. Gary gets to wear a stylish blue helmet and short-shorts that look like he put on his underwear that morning and forgot to wear his trousers.

A madman (or course he must be mad!), Dr Tor, is issuing dire threats with the diabolical form of death, so Gary and his pal Alec, and a beautiful blonde called Carlotta Zambezi (a great scientist, as claimed by Dr Stark) have quite a threat to stop. Our High Moderator says, after hearing a description of the malodorous gas, “Its victims strangle on their own exhalations!”

Wait, Gary...we residents of Earth in 2021 A.D. have paper masks we are using to try and fend off a deadly virus. Maybe if you ask around you’ll find a box of them somewhere in storage.

I have one more thing to add. Gary’s pal, Alec, has a handsome mustache, waxed on the ends, making him look like the villain in a melodrama. In one of the last panels Alec has his arms around two men with beards. Hairy faces being in vogue right now gives them all a classic look.

From All-American Comics #14 (1940). Grand Comic Database credits Jon L. Blummer for both writing and drawing.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Number 2529: Lorna in the Lost World

The Lost World is hidden from the rest of the jungle by some dense vegetation. Not so dense that Lorna, the Jungle Girl, cannot find her way in. As I read the story I was halfway expecting to see Professor Challenger, of Arthur Conan Doyle Lost World fame, but saw instead a man in a pith helmet who has trained the giants of the Lost World into doing his evil deeds. Since the story has only six pages, there isn’t enough space to have any suspense, but at least Lorna is nice to look at, drawn as she is by Jay Scott Pike. In Pike’s artistic life, while drawing  comic books, he also did illustrations for men’s magazines, and painted pulchritudinous pin-up girls, a la Gil Elvgren.

From Lorna the Jungle Girl #13 (1955).

Monday, June 07, 2021

Number 2528: “...or if you want something visual that’s not too abysmal, we could take in an old Steve Reeves movie.”

Hercules here is the Hercules whose movies were made in Italy, starring the American body builder Steve Reeves. They were dubbed into other languages, including English, from the late '50s into the sixties. I never saw any Hercules movies in theaters, with an explanation why in the next paragraph.

I saw some of the movies on television, long ago. What I remember most about Italian muscle movies dubbed into English is that producer Joseph E. Levine, who was an exploitation specialist, bought the rights to the Italian production Hercules for $120,000 (a lot more money, obviously, in the late ’50s than it would be today), after it was turned down by American studios. Levine put up a massive advertising campaign on television, got his name in newspapers a lot and the movie became a box office hit. My mother had a saying, “The more a movie is advertised the worse it is.” That would explain why she didn’t drive me into town to the theater playing the film.

I don’t have the Dell Comics version of the original Hercules, but I have the follow-up, Hercules Unchained. Forgetting all of the hyperbole and Joseph E. Levine’s selling of the movie in many TV commercials, the comic book is exceptional because of the artwork of Reed Crandall and George Evans. Crandall is credited with penciling, and both Crandall and Evans are given credit for inking. The adaptation of the screenplay of Hercules Unchained was done by Paul S. Newman, and is Dell Four Color #1121, from 1960.