Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Monday, January 19, 2015
As previously established I’ve always had an abiding passion for the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters, especially in their original incarnations. Oh, I know that it’s good that they evolved over the years, but I also believe the further they got from their beginnings the weaker they got. I’ve never had the chance to read the a lot of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies comic books, especially the early ones, but I recently came across a treasure trove of them online. And boy, am I happy.
I find them to be charming and wonderfully “on model” (as they say in the animation industry), so it’s a shame that the Grand Comic Book Database has no idea who wrote or drew any of these stories. They’re also more than a little odd; that’s certainly the case with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies #8.
There’s a lot of material to cover here and I won’t be covering most of it. Like the Bugs Bunny story with an Arabian Knights theme and toxic African-American stereotypes. I know enough about funny animal comics to know that the Sniffles and Mary Jane stories are generally well thought of, but I frankly wasn’t impressed with this outing. Plus there’s a Kandi the Cave Kid strip by Walt Kelly, but frankly, I wasn’t that crazy about it either.
What did make the cut was an unlikely team-up between two straight men, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd who along with Petunia Pig get involved in a fairly straight adventure story It ends with a “continued” blur and them shipwrecked on a desert island
Next up is a story where Elmer actually gets top billing over Bugs in an outing where Elmer is a farmer dissatisfied with his animals output and Bugs a prop in a stage magician’s act looking for a handout. Elmer is clearly demonstrating poor management by cruelly berating his livestock for their poor performance which Bugs sees as an opportunity to seed descent among them. For a moment, I actually expected Bugs to lead them into an Animal Farm style revolt but no, instead he encourages them to seek fame and fortune at the county fair. This, of course, is an unmitigated failure, but all is well in the end thanks to the healing power of an image of FDR.
Next up is an original character that never made it into animated cartoons, RingyRoonga. A roonga being an imaginary African animal created for another strip in a previous issue of Looney Tunes. Here Ringy has been redesigned into a cuter, fully anthropomorphized character, a lost soul who is always being mistaken for a skunk. In this nicely drawn story, he’s teamed with Freddy Fox, a heavy from the short Porky’s Hired Hand.
And finally there’s the feature where the roonga originated, Pat, Patsy and Pete, a strip about two kids and their talking penguin pal. Smith left the feature and went on to do a similar comic, Peter and Pudgie for both Crackajack and Popular Comics
Monday, December 29, 2014
Here’s an Atlas comic that I’ve wanted to read for quite a while. For reasons unknown around the middle of the eighteen issues run of the military anthology comic Navy Action became Sailor Sweeney, after which it became Navy Action again. This series within a series was focused on the peace-time somewhat comic adventures of Sweeney and his mates, eating machine “Tubby”, girl chasing “Lover Boy”, gambler ”Big Deal” and New Yorker “Broadway”. But whether fighting commies, busting crooks or getting involved in sit-com style antics the focus of the stories invariably were on Sweeney and his immediate superior, Petty Officer Mulligan. Perhaps because both were smitten with the pretty Commander’s niece Joanie Jones, Mulligan hated Sweeney’s guts and always thought he was up to unspecified “something”. Which was pure paranoia on Mulligans part; because whether on duty or on shore leave, Sweeney, as well as the rest of the crew, were perfect gentlemen. During the height of WWII, comics were full of similar comic features where soldiers, sailors, and Marines routinely engaged in brawls and girls chasing. Maybe it was just a different time, or Stan Lee didn’t want to jeopardize the sales of Atlas comics at military PX’s, but Sweeney and his pals conducted themselves like perfect gentlemen.
Once you get past the really nice Joe Maneely cover you got three pretty solid stories drawn by Syd Shores (plus a darn nice non-Sweeney Navy four page story by Don Heck ,”Torpedoes Away!”, which Heck even got to sign, which I’ve chosen not to post).
Monday, December 8, 2014
I have previously dealt with a number of comics featuring perhaps my favorite Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Huckleberry Hound, the blue hound dog voiced by Daws Butler. I’ve even already covered the UK’s Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear Weekly more than once, so why cover this particular issue of that title from 1967? Two words; Space Ghost! Or, is that Space Ghosts? Please to check out the cover:
Now, check out the covers to the following two issues:
See it yet? How about now?
That’s right, for some reason on the cover the comic refers to the property in the plural, Space Ghosts. Now, being a man of a certain age I grew up watching the show and am just enough of a know-it-all that I like to think I know everything about it. But is it possible that at some point in its development was it called Space Ghosts (the cover art seems like it was taken from early promotional material) because Jan and Jace were also known as Space Ghosts? Was it called Space Ghosts in other English speaking characters for some reason? Or was it some kind of very mistake? I’m working on a mystery without any clues over here so if any of you have any idea what’s behind this you know how reach me.
As with previous issues of this title this one is a mix of what appears to be US produced material, which is good to great, and British material which is shaky to substandard.
One point of interest about the above ‘eh’ Jonny Quest strip?
Jonny’s packing heat! He couldn’t have gotten away with that in the cartoon series, even back then.
As much as I love British comics I must concede that on average their licensed comics are pretty awful and that does double when the material is more or less straight adventure. Take this double page spread of a Space Ghost installment featuring not so much Space Ghost, but someone who dresses up like him for kid’s parties fighting a guy in a dress.
Another example of the ‘meh’ quality of British licensed comic is The Impossibles strip, which is pretty painful for someone like me with fond memories of the slow. I’m just glad that Frankenstein Jr. was spared this sort of spectacularly lackadaisical, slapdash, off model treatment.
But as you can see the good stuff is pretty good.
And finally, an ad for Jelly Babies!
Monday, December 1, 2014
As previously established I am more of a mere rank, yank enthusiast than an actual expert on British comics so slack must be cut for me. For instance, I’ve frequently said that the British comic industry was pretty much dead and done by the 1980′s and that’s not entirely true. Both of the major of publishers, Fleetway and DC Thomson, made some valiant efforts to try to turn things around during this period by making their comics more contemporary and more violent. I speak specifically of the notorious ‘comic nasty’ Action but you could lump Warlord, Bullet as well as the revival of Eagle and the launch of 2000AD. A much milder attempt at doing a new story paper for slightly younger boys was DC Thomson’s Buddy.
It ran from 1980 to 1983 and was aimed at “boys who like action, adventure and sport” and serving as a combination mascot and host was generic regular kid named Buddy. As is often the case the first issue included a free gift in this case a “Pop Pistol with Two Free Bullets”. And is often the case it wasn’t canceled, but ‘merged’ with Victor, another DC Thomson comic.
To my admittedly American eyes DC Thomson comics of this era were drawn in a rougher, darker style (which could have been an honest attempt to connect to contemporary kids or just cheaper to produce, one or the other) and each strip featured a striking, eye catching logo.
First up is Limp-Along Leslie (which was originally a text feature in the comic Wizard from 1922 to 1963). It featured the adventures of an orphan kid who walked with a limp due to a car accident, making him an early example of a comic featuring a differentially abled protagonist.
Another strip that began like as a text feature was The Wolf of Kabul, about a British agent named Bill Sampson who was disguised as a native, Lawrence of Arabia style.
Deep-Sea Danny’s Iron Fish was another long-running feature that began life as a text feature about a kid named (naturally) Danny and his one-boy super submarine that was shaped like a fish. Originally it was boyed by a Danny Gray but in the Buddy version it was (for some reaosn) Danny Boyle.
Tuffy, A Boy All Alone, about a homeless kid and his faithful dog.
Each issue featured a biography of a current sports hero or TV personality. I have to take them at their word that this was and is an actual person.
There’s the nicely drawn, highly detailed historical strip Hammer.
Buddy was short on humor features but it did have the brilliant Jonah by the great Ken Reid.
I had no idea there was an 80′s revival of one of my all time favorite British characters, Billy the Cat.
And finally there was the nightmarish Boy On The Run. Sure, it was a standard ‘kid in trouble on his own’ strip but rarely has the word ‘nightmarish’ been more accurate. By keeping the details maddeningly vague as to who the kid actually is and who’s pursuing him makes things seriously shuddersome.
According to the internet future issues included adventures of such classic characters as General Jumbo and Q-Bikes so I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
I’ve been away from these pages for awhile, and I won’t bore any of you with why.
I’m back today, because I just last week traded roughly half of my San Francisco Illustrated Wasp issues to Richard Samuel West (who wrote the definitive book on The Wasp, which you can find and purchase by clicking here. I highly recommend it.) Before I traded those issues away, I snapped lots of pictures of them, which I’d like to do something useful with. Such as sharing them here.
San Francisco’s Wasp was the West Coast equivalent to New York City’s Puck, both beginning publication within months of each other. The latter 1870′s was the period of the western Indian Wars, during which the U.S. Government conquered and locked onto reservations, the final free Native American tribes. I previously showed a sampling of cartoons on this subject, published by East Coast publications (click here to see those). November being Native American Heritage Month, I present here a few pictures on the subject, as seen by California residents, via The Wasp.
Keep in mind, that these are pictures drawn by whites, for a white audience. They are historically accurate only so far as being a record of how whites back then viewed the topic. All images are by the Wasp’s primary cartoonist & founder, George Frederick Keller. Let’s get to it.
At top, from the front cover of the July 28th, 1877 issue (number 52), we have “A New Method of Fighting the Indians”, making fun of U.S. General Oliver Howard.
The prime target of Howard’s western campaign, was the Nez Perces. Beneath, the left center page from issue 57, September 1st, 1877, “The Nez Perces Campaign Idaho”.
Above, the right center page from July 28th, 1877; below, whites’ ultimate goal for natives (from the rear cover of issue 49, July 7th, 1877).
Monday, November 24, 2014
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 was 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 traveler 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 this 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 season. But thanks to the magic of illegal downloads I was finally able 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 middle-class dissatisfaction with a male dominated society and purposeless existence is often more annoying than endearing. But while her unhappiness is cloaked in feminist rhetoric what she really needs (in my opinion) is therapy and/or antidepressants.
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