Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Monday, November 10, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
Sadly this British weekly comics isn’t an adaptation of Carla Lane’s situation comedy of the same name*. This Solo was a masala of strips based on movies and TV shows of the era that’s kind of oddball even for a British weekly comic. It’s probably best known for the strips and other material based on the Mysterons, the bad guys from the Gerry Anderson show Captain Scarlet..
First up there’s Project Sword a strip based on a toy line created by Gerry Anderson that for some reason never got a TV series of its. own.
There was quite a bit of Disney material, like this true-fact page taken from one of their nature documentaries.
The internet tells me The Adventures of the Seaspray was an Australian kids series and I have no reason to doubt it.
Here’s a chance to see some glorious Dan Spiegel artwork in black and white, as in this adaptation of That Darn Cat.
1967 seems a bit late for there to be a Sgt. Bilko comic but I assume the repeats were currently running on British television.
Here’s that Mysterons strip I was talking about.
Here’s an intriguing original about a time traveller in the old west.
As well as a not bad Man From U.N.C.L.E. strip.
The real oddity here though just might be a one pager based on the short-lived American sitcom Run, Buddy, Run which had the hilarious premise of a regular guy constantly on the run from the mob.
And here’s another couple of pages of wonderful Dan Spiegel black and white art from an adaptation of the Disney movie Bullwhip Griffin.
*Having seen Good Neighbors a.k.a. The Good Life at a vulnerable age I have had a livelong Felicity Kendal addition. So I was much pleased that while studying in London I was able to see the first season of Solo. I assumed I would never get a chance to see the second. But thanks to the magic of illegal downloads I was finally able to see it about a year ago. And, as so often is with the highly anticipated, season two is more than a bit of a disappointment. Mostly because the initial premise, a young woman struggling to find her place in the world after being cheated on by her boyfriend, lost most of it’s playful tone. Like Lane’s other notable situation comedy, Butterflies it suffers from a central character who’s vague dissatisfaction with a male dominated middle class existence. But like it her unhappiness is cloaked in feminist rhetoric but what she really needs (in my opinion) is therapy and/or antidepressants.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Today’s installment concerns yet another Captain Atom. In a previous installment I revealed there had been a little know and lesser seen Captain Atom back in the 50′s who had appeared in a short-lived series of comics in a less than the standard format. Well there was an even lesser known (in America anyway) one from Australia written and drawn by Arthur Mather for Atlas Publications in the late 40′s. My experience with Australian comics is less than I would like, but I have noticed they seem to like their costumed adventurers to be of the regular guy two-fisted variety. But Captain Atom is a proper superhero with actual atom powers. And the art is, well, distinctive. Me, I like it, but you don’t often see an artist who’s clearly inspired by both Dick Sprang and Milton Caniff.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Having always been a fat kid I probably shouldn’t have any tolerance for wholesome super student athletes along the lines of dime novel hero Frank Merriwell. But that having been said I must confess I have a grudging tolerance for Dick Cole. Perhaps because he started life as a “Wonder Boy”, one of those “raised by a scientist to achieve the peak of human development” types. But he then upended all expectations by instead of fighting crime in a homemade costume he became a military cadet. He started out battling mad scientists and punching dinosaurs but was quickly shorn of his super strength and dealt with the usual assortment of jealous rivals, crooked gamblers and spy rings. He had a fairly long run in Target Comics and appeared in three issues of his own title.
One of the interesting to the verge of oddball thing about Novelty Press were the little “messages” they frequently placed at the bottom of their pages. They didn’t seem to be directed so much as the kid reader as the adult buying the comic. As I’ve said before, Novelty Press titles seemed to be carefully designed to not offend Grandparents and Great Aunts.
First up is a Dick Cole adventure drawn by Jim Wilcox in the awkward, blocky style the series was known for.
I’m on the record for liking the adventures of street level supernatural crimefighter Sergeant Spook but honestly, the art was usually only so-so at best. But not here. Al McWilliams delivers some really handsome, well laid out pages, though I do have to wonder how exactly orphan boy Jerry (no last name) got invited to go on an Egyptian archeological dig. For the record in the series the afterworld was known as “Ghost Town” and in his early adventures the Sarge would regularly visit to get help from the various spirits. He did it less frequently after his psychic sidekick Jerry was introduced, but the concept is referenced in this outing.
Edison Bell was originally a classic comic book boy inventor. Meaning he created robots, fantastic vehicles and the like, but that clearly was too much for the Grandmas so he became a “real world” boy inventor. Meaning he did little science projects and/or experiments to get out of scrapes and the stories would end with tutorials for the kids on how they could do the same at home. But in this “adventure” he doesn’t even do that; here he heroically puts on a Halloween costume.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
This week I’ll be revisiting Popular Comics, a particularly strong looking anthology title that had always featured wonderfully designed covers. For most of it’s run its breads and various butters were comic strip reprints but for a time it had it’s own stable of original characters. Most of these were surprisingly well written and drawn and even gave original takes on tropes that were pretty well trod even by the early 1940′s.
Take, for example, the awkwardly titled Professor Supermind and Son. Handsomely drawn by Maurice Kashuba the feature concerned Professor Harmon (“America’s Supermind” was apparently his nickname; apparently all the good ones were already taken) and his son. One of his inventions temporarily turned junior into a kind of a minimalist, generic superhero (no pseudonym, no chest insignia, etc.) but instead of fighting crime they meddled into the affairs of sovereign nations. Captain America and Johnny Canuck may have punched Hitler in the jaw, but Dan Harmon did some real damage by shaming him with a misogynistic slur. Either that or he was outing Hitler as a female crossdresser; I’m not sure which.
I’ve covered The Hurricane Kids, Alan and Dave Burnham, are a couple of All-American kids who generally had pretty prosaic South Sea style adventures, in a previous installment. But thankfully they did veer over into the fantastic elements lane as we see where they go from battling Zulus to blowing up a dinosaur real good.
But there were still comic strip reprints like Herky. Man, I love me that Herky.
Heere’s an episode of Martan the Marvel Man who sadly isn’t from Mars to make the alliteration complete. Not that you could tell from his his outing which is heavy on the spy vs spy stuff but along with a hot wife he possessed super powers and a alien/super suit. It was a sweet like number that was vaguely faux Roman with kickass shoulder pads (lots of 40′s superheroes fought crime with bare legs but Martan was the only one I know of who did it in a skirt; a skirt shorter than his wives).
Wally Williams was one of those college boy heroes whose minor key “adventures” fill the middle of many a 40′s anthology comic. Most of them were super student athletes battling jealous rivals, shady gamblers and Nazi spy rings that they conveniently found operating in the closest conveniently located haunted house; essentially endless pressings from the Frank Merriwell template. It’s the sort of thing I usually leaf through to get to something more substantial but creators Victor Boni and Tom Hickey happily foreswore such trite antics and created something nicely homey and ordinary.
On the other hand The Masked Pilot was just another aviator with a domino mask. Pass.
And finally there’s The Voice who was more Invisible Man as a low rent superhero than a factory second Shadow. But he was also kind of that as well.
Monday, August 25, 2014
I’ve already dealt with Smash, the British weekly comic that ran 257 issues between 1966 and 1971 that featured an oddball hodgepodge mix of British and American comics, but there’s several points of interest in this 1969 Annual edition of the title. Like, the way the cover doesn’t feature your standard symbolic, iconic image. Instead, it’s first of a three page color story featuring the characters from the humor features (Grimly Feendish, Percy’s Pets, the Swots and the Blots, Bad Penny, The Man from B.U.N.G.L.E., The Nervs, Charlie’s Choice, Ronnie Rich) engaging in a game of footie. While these kinds of crossovers weren’t unknown in British comics they were definitely pretty rare.
First up there’s a nicely drawn outing of undoubtedly the dullest stretchable hero in comics, Rubber Man, formerly James Hollis whose “powers” was actually a cruse given him by an Indian fakir.
Next up the first of two stories featuring the Legend Testers, Rollo Stones and Danny Charters who worked for the Museum of Legend of Myth in the 40th Century and traveled in time to test artifacts to discover whether the legends around them were true. People who know more than me about British artists tell me the art here was done by the series regular artist Jordi Bernet. Like Rubber Man the Legend Testers make a cameo in Albion, the 2005 limited series published by DC.
This one off science fiction story Inferno which appears to be a Spanish origin.
Lieutenant Lightning may very well be the goofiest British superhero of the 60′s, and that’s saying something. For the record his chest insignia reads “Tin”, which is the name of the future organization that emplows him.
Monday, August 18, 2014
You may very well consider this week’s installment of whatever the hell this is supposed a deviation from it’s designated mission station, that being to read all the comic books I’ve always wanted to read before I died. Not to mention the fact it’s a new all-time low in my over reliance on what I generously like to thin of as the cut and paste school of journal (pick a subject, do some research, collect images, read other peoples posts then do a bit of cut and pasting; rewrite and you’re done). But truthfully I am just as over fascinated with comic strips as I am comic books and that goes double for Hugo Hercules, William H.D. Koerner’s short-lived strip. It ran for five months, September 1902 to January 1903 in the Chicago Tribune and is thought by many to be the funny pages very first superhuman. Albeit one who didn’t wage an never ending battle against evil so much as wander around aimlessly sans agency or visible means of support looking for cool stuff to do. The strip itself was admittedly pretty meh; like a lot of early strips it relentlessly stuck to a repetitious single theme and rarely deviated from it. In this case Hugo getting mixed up in stock situations that require a demonstration of super strength, punctuated by his not particularly catchy catch phrase.
Not being what you’d call a success Koerner left cartooning to become a painter. In a lot of ways it’s still ahead of its time; as much as the trope of the superhuman has been, often brutally, deconstructed, no one to my knowledge has created so casual a ‘crimefighter’; maybe it’s time for someone to dust Hugo off and see what they could do with him..
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