Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Number 2569: Halloween treat from Powell and Nostrand

Halloween is this weekend, on Sunday. More candy treats, kids! Get those cavities young! Halloween candy will rot your teeth, just as surely as old horror comics will rot your mind.

But speaking of treats, we have two stories from 1953 Harvey Comics today. It is interesting to me that artist Howard Nostrand was an assistant to Bob Powell, and also did solo work. I read years ago in a fanzine that someone was mistaking Nostrand for artist Jack Davis. It's apparent, in my opinion, that the aforementioned fanzine writer did not see that Nostrand's inking style, while “borrowed” from Davis, the artist had his own drawing style under the Davis-like inking.

In the pre-internet days we had to depend on the printed word, so we had to take the bad information along with the good. Bill Spicer's superb Graphic Story, Magazine #16 (1974) was good. He had an interview with Nostrand. That is where I found out the artist's identity. And the cover by Howard Nostrand is beautiful, in a horror comics kind of way, that is.

“Big Joke” is by Powell, and was originally published in Tomb of Terror #10 (1953), and “The Blonde Man” was published in Black Cat #46 (1953). I found scans of the original art from Heritage Auctions (and thanks again to Heritage for such sharp scans). I had the scans in a file called “Comic Art 2005,” which is a year before I began this blog.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Number 2568: The naughty L and I

Flick Falcon is an unusual name for a science fiction hero. Flick appeared in Fox Features' Fantastic Comics. This was the the last issue he went by the moniker Flick; in the next issue he was re-named Flip. Someone at Fox probably realized the "flick problem" in comic books. Because of the all-capitals lettering in comics some publishers prohibited words with the letters “L” and “I” close together in a speech balloon. And also in the large display lettering, FLICK FALCON, in the splash panel. The fear was that a dirty-minded letterer, or the fast and and sloppy printing of comic books might make the L and I appear close together and create the forbidden “F-word.” We can imagine critics of the comics in that era seeing that word. 

Flick/Flip was created by comic book journeyman, Don Rico, still in his and the comics' early days (Rico did comics at least through the mid-'50s). The online Marvel Database lists Rico as a triple achiever: writer, artist and inker. Grand Comics Database gives Rico the credit for this story. Some of the publishers Rico worked for are Marvel, Atlas, Timely (all published by Martin Goodman), Fox Comics, Lev Gleason, Fiction House, Ace Magazines, and Gilberton Publications (Classics Illustrated).

As for me, I am not very impressed by Flick, but I do like his sexy, pretty girlfriend.

From Fantastic Comics #3 (1939):

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Number 2567: Sparky Watts, glamour boy

Sparky Watts, the creation of cartoonist Gordon “Boody” Rogers, got his super powers from Doc Static and Doc's cosmic ray machine. Sparky was the strongest man on Earth, and could fly, but for some reason he still wore glasses. Occasionally Sparky had to get his powers recharged by Doc Static’s cosmic rays.  In this story Doc Static makes a mistake and Sparky becomes beloved by all, because Doc pushed the wrong button, the glamour button.

The story was published in a one-shot, Columbia Comics #1, in 1943. Boody Rogers had joined the Army the year before, but he had done a Sparky Watts newspaper comic strip before leaving civilian life, and this story appears to be an edited version of one of the continuities from the newspaper appearances. The story seems a bit crude compared to Rogers’ postwar work in Big Shot Comics and occasional full-length Sparky Watts comic books.

In the story Sparky defines “mugging” as a violent crime and robbery. He then flies off to catch the muggers. I remember as a kid being puzzled by the word “mugging.” In the context I knew it did not mean a drinking cup. When I asked my mother she said “mugging” was a slang word that meant kissing. Good thing I didn’t go to a big city and based on her definition, look to be mugged.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Number 2566: My brother, the super dead hero


Captain Triumph, singular, is actually two characters, one dead. Lance and Michael Gallant (appropriate last name for a super hero) are identical twins. They even share a birthmark on their wrists. Michael gets blown up by some Nazi saboteurs, and Lance swears vengeance. He is visited by the ghost of Michael, who tells him when there is some derring-do what they will dare to do to get vengeance against Nazis. Lance just rubs the birthmark and voila! Lance now has Michael's powers, bequeathed to him by “The Fates of Greek Mythology” and becomes a superhero with the name Captain Triumph. I'm showing the origin story here, so you can see how it works. I notice that Michael doesn't get a funeral. He is dead, yet quick to reveal himself to Lance, explaining the new super hero job, and there is no mourning or a pretense of grieving for a dead brother.

Captain Triumph appeared in Crack Comics for a few years, originally drawn by Alfred Andriola. Andriola’s career was resurrected a few times. He began as an assistant to Milton Caniff on Terry and the Pirates, then got the job of doing the Charlie Chan comic strip. Charlie Chan was a popular detective character of the time, but the comic strip only lasted a short time and if I’ve got this right, was cancelled after Pearl Harbor. Perhaps it was like today, when people don’t distinguish Asians from each other. Andriola then became an assistant on the Dan Dunn comic strip, which ended a year later. The day after it ended Andriola was back with Kerry Drake, a comic strip character in the Dick Tracy tradition that went on in newspapers until Andriola died in 1983.

The origin story of Captain Triumph is from Crack Comics #27 (1943):


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Number 2565: Rootin' tootin' shootin' romance on the range

Cowgirl Romances was a Western-styled love comic, which seems a natural. Even during shooting wars. In this tale there was time for love while fighting the lawless in another of the all-American love stories of horses, bad outlaws, good guys, girls (both bad and good), guns, and shoot-outs.

I have said before that Maurice Whitman is an artist who has not gotten the kudos for excellence I think he deserves. He was self-taught, and good enough that he did many covers and interiors of various genres for the Fiction House line. When Fiction House folded he went to Charlton. He drew for the mix of titles they published, even the characters Atomic Mouse and Atomic Rabbit.

“The Ranch of Riddles” was the lead-off story from the last issue of Cowgirl Romances. It appeared in Cowgirl Romances #12 (1953).