Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Number 2543: “Fire burn, cauldron bubble...”

Note to students: do not use this Shakespeare story to write a book report. Just thought I’d warn you. The story does hit some high points of Macbeth’s plot. The ending was made to fit a horror comic (as is explained in the splash panel), but not exactly what I would have expected. A better ending for me would be to have all of those of Macbeth’s assassination victims come back from the dead and go after Macbeth.

Charles (Chuck) A. Winter drew “Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble” in a definite horror-story style. Lots of dark panels with heavy shadows, lots of work on evil grimacing faces, too. Winter was a guy who entered the comic book business by working for the art shops of Harry “A” Chesler and Jerry Iger. He also freelanced. Chuck Winter was born in 1896, and when he drew this story he’d been in Ye Olde Comick Booke business since 1938. I remember seeing his work in DC Comics of the early '40s, and the list of publishers who had used his work is fairly long. He appears to be an artist who dropped out of the industry after a while, and his biographical information ends right about then. I don’t know what he did after comic books. He died in 1967, age 70.

From Atlas’s Adventures Into Terror #27 (1954):

Monday, July 26, 2021

Number 2542: The devil is in the details

This well drawn comic book is another from Indian comic books published as Indrajal Comics by the Times of India, and...oh, wow! They have their own “Approved by the Comics Code” stamp on the cover! It is slightly modified from the American Comics Code stamp. At one point in the story they show a woman who may have been nude in the comic strip, and then covered up by an artist for the comic book, so that Comics Code stamp appears in the panel.

Garth is the hero, from the long running British comic strip created in 1943. In his original incarnation Garth was published until 1997. In 1971 Frank Bellamy (Dan Dare) took over the artwork, but Bellamy died in 1976. This comic book has the sort of sophisticated artwork I would expect from a strip from the UK, but I don't know when it appeared in the newspaper, and I don’t know who drew it.

Writer Peter O’Donnell (Modesty Blaise) who took over scripting Garth for awhile, said “The Garth stories are fantasy adventures about a very strong man whose best friend is a scientist, Professor Lumiere. In the stories, Garth can go back into the past or anywhere in the universe.” In “The Fiendish Mission” he goes up against the devil, who in the story is called Belial.

From Intrajal Comics #420 (1982):


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Number 2541: The Maker of Monsters

I have looked at Landor, Maker of Monsters a couple of times when going through early Speed Comics, but never stopped to read. I think I sensed what I later found to be true: as a monster maker Landor usually fell short of total success, and he would get his butt kicked for his efforts. Apparently Landor had at least one couple who would get rid of the monsters, Jack Torrence and his girlfriend, Marcia. You’ll see them in this episode.

Where are the villagers waving torches, like in Frankenstein movies and comics? Is there no one except Jack and Marcia who care that monsters are being produced locally?

Landor lasted for 11 issues of Speed Comics. The story today was apparently the last, appearing as it did in Speed Comics #11 (1940). The stories were fillers, and show it. The main interest for me is that Landor artwork is credited to Bob Powell. In this story I can’t tell if it’s Powell art or not. Maybe one of you without burnt cinders for eyeballs, like me, can tell me if it is Powell.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Number 2540: Forever ambergris

This story sent me to the Internet to see exactly what ambergris is. All I remembered about  ambergris is it is used in perfumes. Ambergris is now illegal to own because it is from a sperm whale, an endangered species. Ambergris is rare.*

The tale is from Plastic Man #3 (1946). In one scene Plastic Man’s pal, Woozy Winks, walks in on a man with a gun to his head. Eleven years later Jack Cole put a gun to his head, then shot and killed himself. But, it is better not to make connections with a real event by attaching it to a comic book event. I looked up the credits for Plastic Man #3 on Grand Comics Database, and found the writing credit is not given to Jack Cole, but to Gwen Hansen. A very short biography online credits Ms Hansen as a writer/editor for Quality Comics. She was a humor writer, notably on Torchy stories that Gill Fox illustrated. Writer Manly Wade Wellman described Hansen as “a good editor, intelligent, educated, fair-minded, and very pretty.” A photo of her bears that out. With that I leave the subject.

*A couple of weeks after completing this post and putting it in the queue I read an article in the July 2, 2021 issue of The Week magazine: “A group of fishermen from Yemen struck it rich when they reeled in a 280-pound chunk of whale vomit worth $1.5 million . . . the 35-person crew captured a sperm whale’s carcass whose stench suggested the presence of ambergris, a waxy substance produced in the whale’s intestines. They found a massive block of the substance, prized by perfumers because it makes fragrances last longer. They split the money equally, buying new homes, cars, and boats. ‘It was an unimaginable price,’ said one. ‘We are all poor. We never expected this thing would give us such a huge amount.’”