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.


Oz Gibbs said...

Early Superman often rendered Lois unconscious so he could swap IDs. Of course, he used something like a Vulcan nerve pinch instead of just hauling off and slugging her.

Daniel [] said...

I'd not previously seen an adventure of the Doll Man drawn as if humorous fantasy.

Part of the myth of the Doll Man was that he retained his strength even as he compressed himself; that retention was, after all, why he could knock over or knock out the Bad Guys. Thus, Dane didn't need to enlarge in order to carry Martha to safety. Perhaps the writer wasn't thinking, but it seems as if he or she was just looking for a way to work-in that punch. I'm reminded of the 1935 movie adaptation of The Glass Key, in which Ed (George Raft) punches Opal to shut her up. (No such punch is thrown in the 1942 adaptation.) I don't know how anyone in real life could land a blow to the head guaranteed to render another person unconscious without inflicting serious damaged to his or to her brain.

Personally, I take the prohibition against hitting women quite seriously, and ended-up with some serious injuries from a girl-friend who decided to take perverse advantage of my unwillingness to hit her.

Alaric said...

One of the weirdest things about this story is that it takes place during the strange period where the writers forgot that Martha knew Doll Man's true identity (and had, ever since Doll Man's first appearance). They eventually remembered. Note that Martha herself wasn't simply some generic superhero's girlfriend; she had her own backup stories where she solved mysteries and stuff, and eventually, in the later days of Quality's super heroes, she became Doll Girl.

Smurfswacker said...

I don't know if this factoid helps anything. In the 80s The Los Angeles Times Magazine published a story about a proposed Sunday newspaper strip adapting The Martian Chronicles. The first adaptation was to have been "Mars is Heaven." LA artist Doug Wildey had drawn several sample pages. The magazine ran these pages in color. For the sake of completeness the Times commissioned "local artist" John Cassone to draw a couple more pages hurriedly wrapping up the story. It was the first time I'd heard of Cassone. His art was in a much more mainstream style than this Dollman story, no over-the-top caricature. It was also pretty far from Doug Wildey's photo-based style.

Smurfswacker said...

Following up on my earlier comment: I should have researched first and remembered second. The strips appeared in 1975 in West magazine, which was the Los Angeles Times' Sunday magazine. Heritage Auctions sold an original page in 2017. Their description read:

Doug Wildey and John Cassone West Magazine "The Martian Chronicles" Comic Strip signed by Ray Bradbury Original Art dated 3-12-75 (Los Angeles Times, 1975). West Magazine, the weekly supplement to The Los Angeles Times, specially commissioned a comic strip based on Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Editorial notes from its inaugural issue read: "In 1950, Bradbury published what is still his most famous book -- The Martian Chronicles. Since he had long been a fan and collector of comic books, the possibility of turning that episodic book into a comic strip occurred to him immediately... it wasn't for 22 years that the project was finally completed, thanks to a special commission from West."

The Heritabe listing implies the entire story was drawn for West in 1975 but the "editorial notes" suggest that, as I remembered, Wildey had drawn the initial pages at an earlier time (1953?) and the Times' contribution was commissioning Cassone to "finally complete" the project.

Pappy said...

Smurfswacker, maybe it's my ancient eyeballs or my often elusive memory, but during my search for Cassone I did read about The Martian Chronicles, and didn't mention it. Thanks for your research.

When I go searching online for high school classmates or friends from my two years in the Army part of my search includes Find a Grave and there is where some of my old friends now reside. I didn't find a grave for Cassone, although the odds are that if a person drew comic books in 1940 they are now deceased, unless they have lived to be 100 or more.

Pappy said...

Quoting you, Daniel: "I take the prohibition against hitting women quite seriously, and ended-up with some serious injuries from a girl-friend who decided to take perverse advantage of my unwillingness to hit her." I hope it didn't leave any scars (mentally or physically.)

I had a girlfriend when I was in high school who hauled off and smacked me, but it with a slap, not a punch. As much as the slap stung (mentally and physically), I was glad she didn't use her fist. As kids in the early '50s we watched old '30s Western movies on afternoon TV (which also included Popeye cartoons and a serial chapter). Cowboys, mostly the good guys, were always getting conked on the head with gun butts. So naturally, since we were outfitted with cowboy hats and toy guns we went around conking each other. Luckily we had the hats to cushion the blows.

Pappy said...

Oz, didn't Superman have some form of super-hypnosis or something? I am surprised he felt the need to render Lois unconscious, even if it is with a pinch and not a punch.

But then, I always thought Superman and Lois's relationship was kind of weird, anyway.

Smurfswacker said...

Pappy, for what it's worth I found a brief obit for Cassone from the Torrance, CA Daily Breeze,, dated 2008. It said,

"John Cassone was born in New York City on March 12, 1923 and passed away in Murrieta, CA on October 16, 2008 at age 85. All his life, this gifted intellectual evolved his passion for art and philosophy. John's 40-year career as an art professor at LA Harbor College included major network TV appearances, as well as a National award for excellence in education; meanwhile his own illustrations were published worldwide for nearly half a century."

Pappy said...

Smurfswacker, thanks for finding that obit and passing it along to me. I am struck by how the obit writer did not mention Cassone's early work in comic books by saying, "his own illustrations were published worldwide for nearly half a century."