Archive for November, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It’s Frankentime again!
The last three Tuesdays I’ve been spotlighting the new Frankenstein book and the music that goes with it. Why stop now?
Is it my imagination, or is Frankenstein watching me?
This week’s tune is a gem by Gene Moss, a kiddie show host who recorded a legendary novelty record called Dracula Sings. He manages to fill two sides of the LP with songs about monsters, all of them sung in his Bela Lugosi voice. (Although he often sounds more like the proprietor of a New York delicatessen.)
In keeping with our “bride” theme, the song is a switcheroo on the classic Frankie and Johnny. Enjoy!
Our hero: Dick Briefer
Click the link below to listen!
The New Frankenstein And Johnny Song – Gene Moss
— DJ David B.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The great ugly artist Basil Wolverton playing at straight–as here on Spacehawk–seems almost a waste but there is, after all, a certain Fletcher Hanks quality to it.
Over at the Dojo, Ol’ Rip offers up a nice covers tribute to veteran Charlton, Archie and Marvel humor artist, letterer and colorist Jon D’Agostino who passed away yesterday.
National Comics–with its proverbial gorilla fetish– probably kicked itself all through the Silver Age for not thinking of licensing Konga, the giant gorilla from the movie of the same name. Instead, Charlton Comics did so.
Finally today, artist William Overgard’s exquisite over-the-top Steve Canyon parody highlights a post from St John’s fifties Mad knock-off title, Whack that also includes Kubert and Maurer parodying their own 3-D comics.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Like I keep saying one of the best parts of this whole middle life vision quest “trying to get sixty years of comics before I die” trip* that I’m on is I keep finding out just wrong I can be. For instance, back when I worked in a comic book shop occasionally I’d get an older customer who would claim that you used to be able to get a comic for five cents. Wanting to keep my job I didn’t tell them comics never cost a nickel. O.K., sure Fawcett published eight biweekly issues of Nickel Comics in 1941…
..but it was a failed attempt to raise sales by lowering prices, but that’s it. Except while researching this piece I went to the Grand Comic Book Database looking for a better cover scan of Fawcett’s Nickel Comics I came across a completely unrelated Nickel Comics, this one a one-shot published in 1938 by Dell Comics.
Then I came across a random issue of Captain Atom. Not that one;
Image via Wikipedia
Or this one.
Image via Wikipedia
After a little digging I discovered between 1950-1952 a publisher calling itself Nation-Wide Publishing experimented with a line of miniature (5 inches by 7 1/2 inches tall) monthly 52 page color comics cover priced a nickel.
There were five titles in all in the line including Captain Atom; Lucky Star (‘all western cowboy stories’, as opposed to all eastern cowboy stories, I suppose), Do-Do (‘funny animal circus stories’). I’m going to stop right there for a moment so you can process that. There really was a comic book called Do-Do that featured ‘funny animal circus stories’. It’s titular star Do-Do being a, um, circus clown dog; a strong contender for the top five most unusual characters to have their own series in American comics.
And, finally, there was Mazie (‘tops in teenage fun stories’). The title rang a bell from all my research on Archie imitators; its not commonly known but not only did Harvey Comics have an entry in the teen comics derby called Mazie, but it was relatively long running and spawned the spin-offs Stevie and Mortie. At first I wasn’t sure this was the same character because the Harvey Mazie looked like this:
And the Nation-Wide Mazie looked like this:
The logo’s are different and the art is, to be extremely kind, very different. According to the GCBD both Harvey and Nation-Wide shared the same address so I’m just going to go ahead and assume the companies are in some way related.
Getting back to Captain Atom, it lasted seven issues (plus a one-shot called Captain Atom “Secret of the Columbian Jungle”). In spite of all the evidence to the contrary (patently fake name, distinctive wardrobe, young lookalike assistant/son/nephew/clone who dressed in a similar outfit, etc.), this Captain Atom wasn’t so much a superhero as one of those two-fisted scientific adventurers that were all the rage in the 1950′s.
A word about that outfit; as I have previously noted oddly enough once short pants were considered perfectly acceptable attire for grown-up costumed adventurers. It is a bold fashion statement though and if it was me, I would have stuck with just that. But Captain Atom double downs with short-sleeves as well plus a tunic with a lightning motif collar, Saturn chest insignia and a unnecessary accessory in a ‘A’ belt buckle. I’m just saying it’s a trifle ‘busy’.
According to the Public Domain Super Heroes Wiki among the many inventions he used against the filthy Commies were a ”walkie-talkie television, atom powered noiseless ram rocket, and an auto-gyro parachute”. Nation-Wide really played up the whole “based on scientific facts” thing to try and put an educational veneer on Captain Atom, most stories ending with one of these overheated, hyperbolic “It’s a Fact!” panels, like so:
I’ve only read Captain Atom #6 and have no idea who wrote it or drew it but it’s pretty awful and this story is dull, long and cramped; you can blame two out of three of those things on the smaller than usual space the writer and artist had to work with. But that doesn’t excuse the ‘dull’ part.
But one thing you can say for Captain Action; he had his own letter’s page.
*the longer I do this the more I’m reminded of my old boss I had who had a mid-life crisis, took a leave of absence and decided to visit every AAA baseball park in America in a desperate attempt to find himself. He returned three months later, mission accomplished; it hadn’t helped one bit.
— Steve Bennett
Monday, November 29, 2010
WARNING: The following cartoons contain racist imagery and slurs.
To close out our series on Native American Heritage Month (until next year), we bring you artist Livingston Hopkins’ Big Scalper & Big Smoker.
During the nineteenth century, there were a great number of sources that reinforced the projected image that Native Americans were uncivilized, hostile, and lazy savages, thus justifying to the expanding European descendant/immigrant population the stealing of native land, and destruction/decimation of their cultures. Amongst these sources, was popular advertising, some of whom used cartoon and comic strip humor to capture the attention of their intended audience. The images shown here, are but a single example.
Above, from the back pages of the November 1872 issue of the magazine Harper’s Monthly, we find the early Hopkins comic strip story, Big Scalper — A Legend of the Noble Red Man. Though not an advertisement, it is shown here, as it served as the basis for the comic strip story Hopkins created below, for tobacco company W.T. Blackwell.
Big Smoker — A Legend of Blackwell’s Durham — also by Livingston Hopkins — was first published January 22nd, 1878, as a giveaway comic advertising Genuine Durham Smoking Tobacco. In 1908, on the 30th anniversary of its publication, Durham Tobacco reprinted the pamphlet (the scans here were made from a 1908 copy). (A “drummer“, for those who haven’t seen our earlier series, is late 19th century jargon for a travelling salesman.)
To see the prior entries in our Native American Heritage Month series, click here. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we could show on this subject, so, we’ll be back next November with more.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Remember when comic book stories hit the reader over the head with “relevance?” Here’s Wonder Woman in the latter days of her Emma Peel phase with just such a story drawn by Dick Giordano and written by sci-fi author Chip Delany.
Proving that it’s all done with mirrors, here’s one of Rip’s collections of comic book covers all based on a similar theme–everyone form Little Lotta and Little Dot to Plastic Man, Aquaman and Donald Duck gets the funhouse treatment.
Here’s a rarity–Reed Crandall’s originally unpublished EC redo of a classic Al Feldstein story. Intended for a 3-D comic that never happened, this was eventually did appear in an EC fanzine.
Finally today, there’s a whole bunch more faux, fun covers of Marvel-DC hybrid heroes–and in the case of the above, villains– over at the Amalgam Age of Comics .
Friday, November 26, 2010
We start this post holiday feast of comics goodness with Teen Love Stories, a long-forgotten Warren magazine that was a cross between Tiger Beat and a romance comics, reprinting black and white European romance comics.
Pappy shares some of the legendary Joe Kubert’s Tor--in this case St John’s pioneering 3-D version only here without the 3-D for those of us like myself who can’t see 3-D! Got it?
Golden Age Comic Book Stories shares a portfolio of some very early science fiction illustrations from the 1930′s by the great Basil Wolverton, creator of Lena the Hyena and Powerhouse Pepper.
Finally, how long has it been since you’ve checked out The Stripper’s Guide blog? Items found at this wonderful resource recently include Granny Goodthing from 1910, Gene Deitch’s Terr’ble Thompson and a 1929 article on cartoonist Denys Wortman!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The Green Hornet is returning to theaters in January but the classic radio character has appeared off and on in comic books from the 1940′s through today, sadly with never any major success-Here’s Dan Spiegle with a 1966 TV tie-in version.
Dark Domain, published by uber-fan Phil Seuling in 1970, was the first book published on comics artist Gray Morrow and one of the first on any single comics artist. Here are the covers and intro with more to come over at Shades of Gray.
Put the history of Marvel Comics in perspective with this timeline showing every single comic published by the company by month and year, starting in 1939. Interesting to me to note that in the first 3 months I collected comics, in 1966, I bought not one single Marvel!
Finally today, here’s Pappy’s long-awaited choice for the biggest comic book turkey of all time–Satanas, the Most Evil Man in the Universe!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
For Thanksgiving Day and Native American Heritage Month, we bring you a few sample images from late nineteenth century comic periodicals.
(For prior postings in the Native American Heritage series, click here.)
The first two examples are idealized images, depicting peaceful co-existence between European settlers and the indigenous natives. Repeating to these publications’ predominantly white readers, the false myth that the settlers were peaceful. The latter two images continue the narrative told by the conquerors, showing those settlers as innocent victims of their savage neighbors, helping to justify to the public both its “Manifest Destiny” to spread from coast-to-coast, and, the manner by which all knew it was being accomplished.
Left, the front cover to the 1894 Thanksgiving issue of Life magazine (November 22), depicting a white settler just arrived, his ship seen offshore, as two indian maidens look on.
Below, The Puritans and Their Neighbors — The First Thanksgiving Day, by artist F.G. Attwood, from the November 28, 1889 issue of Life.
Click on any picture, to open an enlarged version.
Next, The Thanksgiving of Our Forefathers, by “Chips” Bellew, from the November 20, 1890 Life.
Finally, Frederick Burr Opper’s The Thrilling Escape of Mynheer Van Strumpf, from the December 20th, 1893 issue of Puck magazine.
Monday, our final Native American Heritage Month entry (for this year).
NYPuck NYLife NativeAmericanHistory Francis Gilbert Attwood
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I never read National’s long-running Tomahawk back in the day but I loved to look at the wacky mid-sixties covers such as the one with the giant Indian gorilla with a bow and arrow. Finally, here’s the story behind that cover!
Here’s a gallery of paintings from Bob Larkin, an artist whose cover work literally defined the seventies black and white magazine comics–as well as a ton of pukp paperbacks of the period.
Okay, so it’s the wrong holiday but who can say no to some new years resolutions from Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and, yes, even Louie…especially when they’re presented by the great Carl Barks.
Hey, Look! Finally today, we have some Kurtzman kraziness. Don’t ask. Just go and appreciate.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
For those who may have missed it, we re-present for Native American Heritage Month an article from this past Spring, on how comic periodicals covered the 1887 tour of England by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Bill and his show, filled with Native Americans, had been sent as America’s main contribution to the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee (her 50th year as soverign). Though the article is focused on Bill, it also provides an example of how Native Americans and the “Conquest of the West” (i.e., stealing the natives’ lands) were then being presented to white Americans and Europeans, as entertainment.
Click on any picture, to see an enlarged and/or expanded version.
American comic periodicals were filled with anticipation of the meeting of Bill and Victoria, and how she and the English public would receive him, Annie Oakley, Chief Red Shirt, and the troupe of cowboys and native americans. (Warning, there is some definitively politically incorrect material coming up.) The above cartoon by F. G. Attwood, from the May 26, 1887 issue of Life, accompanied the article Buffalo Bill at Windsor (which you can read in its entirety by clicking on the picture). A facetious review of the meeting, both article and cartoon were created before the performance actually took place.
Also created and published in advance of the event was the below Puck centerspread by Frederick Burr Opper, April 13, 1887. It’s note at the bottom — “We are sorry to get ahead of Mr. Du Maurier, of Punch, in this way, but business is business” — revealed the anticipation of American cartoonists to see what their British counter-parts would do with the event.
The British reaction, however, was different. The below left cartoon, in the April 13, 1887 issue of Judy, accompanied a brief notice (click on the picture to read it), the high point of which is, “The idea of a horde of untamed savages running amuck down Fleet Street and the Strand tomahawking and scalping harmless newspaper men makes one nervous.” While written in jest, it likely played upon actual sentiments then being voiced.
The advertising cartoon below right by J.R. Williams, collected in the 1889 American Barker’s Illustrated Almanac, picked up on the theme of British fright, showing a native in the background saying, “Be nofraid Vickey no scalpe you.”
American artists happily placed Queen Victoria and Buffalo Bill together in the same cartoons, with Judge magazine having the additional temerity (below left) of showing heir apparent, the Prince of Wales, telling Bill, “I’ll never be King of anything if the old lady holds on much longer” (cartoon by Zim, from a detail in Judge’s June 25, 1887 centerspread).
British artists however, despite the hopes of Opper and Puck, solidly avoided depicting Queen Victoria or any other royal, in any cartoon involving Buffalo Bill. Du Maurier illustrated nothing on the subject, and leading Punch competitor Fun, completely ignored the Wild West Show’s visit. (I surveyed all the leading British comic periodicals from March through July 1887, except for Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, which I truly regret not having access to for that period, as in my head at least, I can’t imagine artist W.G. Baxter not doing a wild and beautiful cover showing Ally dressed up as Bill, or in native costume, or… something.)
What British cartoonists did do, was show Prime Minister Gladstone interacting with Chief Red Shirt (center, by Archibald Chasemore, from the May 11, 1887 Judy magazine; and, right, from the May 7, 1887 Punch, cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne, accompanying a small text piece titled Chiefs in Council — click on picture to read it).
They also showed Buffalo Bill’s troupe in interactions with the public. Below left, Getting It Hot, from the June 15, 1887 issue of Judy, by G. Renaud. Below right, a Chasemore cartoon accompanying a comic poem titled A Derby Romance, and What Came of It (click on picture to read it), again from Judy, May 25, 1887. It involves a brief romance between Buffalo Bill and a female jockey. Reputedly, there was quite a bit of “brief romancing” going on, surrounding the Wild West Show’s tour of England. And below right, from Moonshine, May 21, 1887, British artists depicted the popularity and celebrity of Buffalo Bill amongst the public, satirizing its effects.
As for the critics, there are the somewhat negative reviews found in the May 21, 1887 Moonshine, below left, referring to the Show as simply an overly large and slow circus; and the far longer review, With the Indians on the Derby Day, in the June 4, 1887 issue of Punch (below right, click on picture to read).
Judy, instead, took the far more fun angle of presenting a serialized review (supposedly) written by an enthusiastic youngster. Click on the below texts, from left-to-right, to open up each of the three weekly installments, On the Wild West (June 15, 1887), On the Wilder West (June 22), and On the Wildest West (June 29).
Meanwhile back in the Colonies, as the Brits parodied the influence of Buffalo Bill upon England, American cartoonists were wondering how England might influence Bill & his troupe by the time of their return. Below left, C.J. Taylor‘s cover art for the May 25, 1887 issue of Puck; and below right, one week later, from inside the June 4, 1887 issue of Judge, what certainly appears to be a poor knockoff by Mitchell, of same concept of a returning, Anglicized Buffalo Bill and Chief Red Shirt.
Artist J. Saulsbury, in the June 23, 1887 Life, took the above satires one step further, having the Anglicized Buffalo Bill of Puck and Judge, returning to England, only to find that Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales had gone Wild West…
Finally, Fred Opper, who had taken the earliest shot at the event, wrapped things up, in his June 29, 1887 Puck speculation, Why Wouldn’t a “Wild East” Show be Popular, Too?
Next Monday, another new entry in this series. For prior posts hilighting Native American History Month, click here.
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