Monday, January 31, 2022

Number 2597: When Madam Fatal could have been arrested

It is no secret that the character, Madam Fatal, dressed as an old woman. Madam was risking arrest in several cities, including (or all places) San Francisco. It was illegal for a man or woman in less enlightened times to cross-dress. The actor, Richard Stanton, took up the role as the old woman to help him solve the crime of his daughter’s disappearance.

Art Pinajian created the character of Madam Fatal, who appeared in Quality’s Crack Comics #1-22.

I've also included a two page story of Slap Happy Pappy, who is yet another Li'l Abner take off. He was created by artist Gill Fox for Crack Comics #1, and continued on after Crack Comics #9 with stories and artwork by Jack Cole.

Using a mirror as evidence, I, your aging blogger, Pappy, look more like Slap Happy Pappy every day.

From Crack Comics #1 (1940):

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Number 2596: The life (and death) of Riley

Does anyone still use the phrase “the life of Riley”? It indicates someone enjoying a great life. The story here is called “The Life of Riley,” to indicate a criminal named Riley who has his own life of Riley after a successful robbery.

It is a horror comic, so a good life can turn bad before the end of the story. At least for Riley.

The artwork is signed by Myron Fass, who drew comic books for a few years. Fass began living the life of Riley when he started his own magazine publishing business after his career in comics. Fass’s magazines were lowbrow, but successful. I don’t believe any comics fan who collects 1970s materials was not aware of Fass’s Eerie Publications, which covered the sleasy magazine market well during those times. Fass died in 2006.

From Beware #7 (1954):

Monday, January 24, 2022

Number 2595: The great lover, Jon Juan

Jon Juan, is, as today’s title declares, a great lover. In the story we are told he is a man who gets what he wants.

Jerry Siegel and Alex Schomburg are the writer and artist who did this story of a gallant gentleman/sex addict. Jon is not only the world’s greatest lover, he can fight, too. Swordplay! Even a scene of knife fighting! To Jon Juan a kiss is worth risking a fight with armed interlopers. He is immortal. On the make and doesn't die. A longtime dream of many men...although 'tis just a fantasy. 

The story was originally published in Toby Comics’ one-shot, Jon Juan (1950). I got it from a 1958 IW reprint, Dream of Love #8. I showed the story previously in 2011.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Number 2594: That law-breaking district attorney, Mr Scarlet

The Fawcett comics hero, Mr Scarlet, is Brian Butler, a District Attorney. As a DA he can’t put all of the crooks and criminals away, so at night he dresses up in a bright red costume and goes out to kick crook butts. The Public Domain superheroes website calls him a “vigilante,” which, to Brian, is okay. If he goes around the law, well then, why not? He’d probably only get bounced from office if the voters knew. Or maybe not. In the era Mr Scarlet and Pinky appeared the idea of a vigilante wasn’t as shady as it is now.

Mr Scarlet (and Pinky) were around for a few years as secondary characters, never getting their own comic book, unlike several other Fawcett heroes.

What surprised me is that writer France Herron and artist Jack Kirby are given credit for creating Mr Scarlet. I should not be surprised, because I have always felt that Jack Kirby could come up with a superhero at the snap of his fast-drawing fingers. But in my opinion, Mr Scarlet seems mostly from hunger, derived from other superheroes.

From Wow Comics #10 (1943). No writer or artist is credited by the Grand Comics Database.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Number 2593: A key not to own, here in the Twilight Zone

Like my peers in the late '50s and early '60s, I watched television, everything everybody else watched. We watched Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, One Step Beyond, Outer Limits, and of course The Twilight Zone. Even if one had never watched the latter, today we know that the show’s title has taken on a meaning as part of our speech, “twilight zone” means to me an event that has a level of strangeness, not easily understood. Other definitions may vary, but people know it means something mysterious when they hear the phrase.

There was nothing new about such stories with O'Henry-style endings, but the musical theme and host Rod Serling’s dramatic openings to the the stories have stayed in the culture for decades now...60 years at least.

When I saw a Twilight Zone comic book I snapped it up. I showed this story from the Gold Key Twilight Zone #4 (1963) in 2007. It’s drawn by Alex Toth, and its ending fits into those stories enjoyed by the fans of the Twilight Zone and the genre.