Monday, February 29, 2016

Number 1861: Otherworldly Tales: “I, Rocket”

We are ending February and beginning the month of March with three stories in a theme week I call Otherworldly Tales. These are science fiction tales set in space or in the case of Friday’s offering, on Mars.

First up is an EC adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic 1944 short story, “I, Rocket,” which first appeared in the May, 1944 issue of Amazing Stories, told from the point of view of the rocket ship. Al Williamson signed the artwork, which also shows contributions (sans signatures) from Frank Frazetta and Roy Krenkel. Editor Al Feldstein did the adaptation. It was published in Weird Fantasy #20 (1953).

I am showing it in the form of the scans made by those wonderful folks at Heritage Auctions. It gives us all a chance to study the techniques used by the artists. Heritage sold the entire story in 2003 for a winning bid of $16,675.00.

Ray Bradbury’s original text version of “I, Rocket” can be read on the Amazing Stories website. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Number 1859: The invisible woman

There are claims that Scarlet O'Neil, by achieving the powers of invisibility — from a ray invented by her scientist father, and controlled by pressing a nerve in her left wrist — is the first super heroine in comics. She made her debut in daily newspapers June 3, 1940, created by Russell Stamm, who had been an assistant to Chester Gould (Dick Tracy). The comic strip lasted until 1955, although Scarlet stopped using her invisiblity trick in 1950.

She had a career in comic books, appearing in Famous Funnies, and in four separate issues from Harvey Comics. I am showing #3 (1951), the last of her short-lived series. (She also appeared in a Harvey Comics Hits one-shot packaged as Tales of the Invisible.)

Here is a tip for you young folks. Live long enough and you too can achieve invisibility. Or at least a form of it. The older we get the less visible we become. It works for me. Store clerks, beautiful girls, teenagers...they all look right through me as if I am not there. Don’t feel sorry for me. It can be handy to watch the world go by without being noticed. Someday you may feel my hot breath on the back of your neck and whirl about. “That’s funny,” I will hear you say. “I thought there was someone behind me, but I don’t see anyone.”


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Number 1858: Frankenstein’s pet dinosaur

There is a “Gertie the Dinosaur” vibe to this story by Dick Briefer, from Frankenstein #5 (1946). I would not be surprised if that famous animated feature was a springboard for the Briefer story. “Gertie,” made by artist Winsor McCay (“Little Nemo in Slumberland”) had been popular in the early days of motion pictures. The first time I saw anything of “Gertie” was on the old Disneyland program of the 1950s, and I was fascinated by the stories of it being drawn frame by frame, over 10,000 drawings, to make the animation. To me, the definition of labor intensive.

You can see the McCay cartoon (featuring McCay and another well-known cartoonist of the era, George McManus, in a wrap-around to the animation) below.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Number 1857: Yea, though he walks through the Valley of Death...

The Sniper finds himself in the Valley of Death, and despite its biblical connotations, this Valley of Death is full of Japanese soldiers and poison gas.

Dressed in his stylin' Robin Hood attire, armed with his sniper rifle, the Sniper is able to fix what the U.S. Army and Air Force can’t. The story is from Military Comics #28 (1944), and is drawn by Vernon Henkel.