I have in the past expressed a certain ambivalence about the Golden Age output of the publisher MLJ/Archie, but the truth is there is a lot to admire about their comics. Take, for example, Blue Ribbon Comics #9. If I was really only into Golden Age superheroes I would of course be focusing on it marking the first appearance of Mr. Justice who was one of my favorite MLJ characters in spite of the fact he was essentially just a slightly less spooky version of The Spectre with a better color scheme and attitude.
No, for reasons that pass all understanding for me Blue Ribbon Comics will always be about Rang-A-Tang The Wonder Dog. I honestly couldn’t tell you why, other than the idea of a comic about a dog was an incredibly exotic one for a kid raised on a steady diet of 60′s Marvel and DC comics. I understood early on that the name “Rang-A-Tang” was intentionally supposed to sound like the celluloid dog hero Rin-Tin-Tin, but it honestly never occurred to me that his name was also supposed to sound like one of the a great apes, the Orangutan. The ads for it certainly made it look cool.
And those covers…those covers resonated inside me like a struck crystal. The first stories were very pulpy indeed (as the first two covers would suggest) and focused on the “almost human” Rang’s partnership with hardboiled detective Hy Speed. Soon afterward, no doubt to capture some much needed kiddy appeal, Rang partnered up with “Richy the Amazing Boy”, who while a game lad was a lot more ordinary than amazing.
Especially this one. With covers like this you’d fully expect the stories inside would involve Richy the Amazing Boy and his faithful hound plunging into the underground headquarters of something called The Tribe of the Skull. But no such scene appears inside the comic and frankly I’m still more than a little bitter about it.
None can say just how popular Rang-A-Tang actually was, but he had his own fan club and in spite of the ever increasing number of fairly lame superheroes that kept getting added onto the contents of Blue Ribbon Comics Rang held onto his spot until the very last issue in 1942.
Besides being entirely bereft of underground dwelling green skinned monsters most of the Rang-A-Tang stories were creakingly old fashioned in both script and art. But this one by Joe Blair and Ed Smalle is actually pretty lively by comparison.
Here’s a darn nice looking story featuring The Fox by Joe Blair and the great Irwin Hasen.
And, finally, this just lovely adventure of Ty Gor, Son of the Tiger by the incredibly prolific Joe Blair and drawn by Mort Meskin. It really comes as a revelation; it’s smart and funny and finds a unique spin on the whole “junior jungle man” genre. Which makes me wonder why the hell I didn’t know about this before.
And finally, this ad. I can not tell you how much I love these kind of ads.
— Steve Bennett