Anyone with even an ounce of empathy, especially writers, should feel sympathy for Jerry Siegel, who along with his partner Joe Shuster had exactly one big idea then spent the remainder of his career trying to come up with something else that was even half as popular and profitable. He had a major misfire in was supposed to have been his next big thing, Funnyman. Not only wasn’t it very good it just seems to try to launch a new superhero in 1948 when comic book companies couldn’t stop publishing them fast enough was a bit of a miscalculation. In the 60′s during the superhero revival he got work writing Archie’s Mighty Comics and at Charlton, and he even got some assignments from overseas publishers, like the UK’s Fleetway — I’m betting there’s a story behind that, I just wish I knew what it was.
He worked on The Spider during the period where the character went from being a cool super thief to a far less impressive superhero and created Gadgetman and Gimmick-Kid. It ran in my beloved Lion starting in the May 4th, 1968 issue (which frankly seems a little late if the editors were hoping to get in on the rapidly retreating superhero bandwagon, but then in England time flowed differently; there the 1960′s didn’t actually end until around 1974) and was drawn by Geoff Campion, best known for his work on the Fleetway strips Typhoon Tracy and The Spellbinder.
But what I didn’t know about Campion before starting this piece was that in the 80′s he drew a color strip version of Tales of the Gold Monkey for TV Comic, a comic specializing in strips based on then popular TV shows. Tales of the Gold Monkey was a 1982 series that was intended to be a TV version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but was actually a lot more like a melange of 40′s Warner Bros. movies (To Have And Have Not in particular) and old radio shows and movie serials. Created by Donald P. Bellisario. the man who created Magnum, P.I., and although it only lasted one season it was definitely influential — according to it’s creator Jymn Magon the animated series Tailspin was “inspired” by the show — having seen both I can definitely see it. In fact,it’s so obvious I’m a little startled I never made the connection before.
I remember it being solid entertainment, not that I want to test my memories by watching it again, but Campions strips definitely captures the flavor of the show, as I remember it anyway. Anyone interested can read them at this website: http://www.goldmonkey.com/tvcomic/.
Gadgetman was secretly millionaire industrialist Burt Travis while Gimmick-Kid was lowly “lab apprentice” (which I’m going to go out on a limb and assume wasn’t a real thing) Gary Stewart. The art was pretty solid, and the scripts while not nearly as camp Siegel’s work for Archie was definitely right there on the very edge of outre. Take, for example, bad guys like the Taunting Titan, a giant waterskiing robot.
It only lasted until October, ’69, and so far I’ve only been able to find these three installments, but the first posted here is the first.
— Steve Bennett