Sunday, August 20, 2017

Pappy's Sunday Supplement Number 12: The Spirit

We skipped our monthly Sunday Supplement feature last month. I was busy  hosting out-of-town guests (my grandchildren) all month. I barely got my regular postings done.

Today we have a very early Spirit Section from the Will Eisner studio. It is from June 30, 1940, which makes it the fifth Spirit story to appear. In it we look back at health care in America, 1940-style. It begins with a dose of pathos, a doctor’s pronouncement, “Your wife has a week to live,” and the prescription is to take her to Arizona. The husband is broke, so he gambles to get the money to take her. That turns out bad, so the Spirit steps in. In this early story we see the Spirit clean out the gambling joints with his gambling skills. He apparently has a skill-set we weren’t aware of. He also pulls a gun. We are used to a Spirit who uses his fists.

Chuck Mazoujian, using the name “Ford Davis,” drew the 4-page Lady Luck story. Mazoujian went into the Army, and I found a page of his drawings of soldiers in training in the February 9, 1942 issue of Life. When his time in the Army was done he went into advertising.

Another top artist, Bob Powell, who spent his whole career in comics, did the Mister Mystic story. I confess, I looked at it but didn’t read it.

Another early Spirit Section, #7, from 1940. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Number 2090: Ghost Woman

According to the Grand Comics Database, “Ghost Woman” appeared in the 1945 giant one-shot comic, Star-Studded Comics (1945). The story is a one-off, not intended to be a series. Ghost Woman helps her husband get rid of some werewolves, then decides to go on to her final reward. There is a certain rough charm to the artwork, but it isn’t signed. I believe it is a shop job, probably using more than one artist.

Artist Bernard Baily, journeyman comic book man (the Spectre, Hourman, among others) worked in the field through much of the sixties, at least. He packaged one-shots during the war years and after in a comics shop business, Bernard Baily Studio, with Mac Raboy. They used different names for publishing companies. My belief is that they contracted with businesses that had paper rations, which during the war were needed for printing...even for stuff like comic books.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Number 2089: The robot with AI and ESP

Martin Chesterton has worked for years to build a robot with artificial intelligence. It works, but not in the way he intended. “The Robot” is a story where the robot not only has AI, but the ability to read Chesterton’s thoughts: a personal mechanical genie granting an unwitting master’s wishes.

Not withstanding the ESP elements, this is a fairly well thought out story. Sometimes when ACG had stories like these they were inspired by other sources, so if it is swiped from a science fiction story by someone else I’d like to know. To me it does not have typical Richard E. Hughes elements. The script may be by someone other than editor Hughes, who eventually he took over all the writing at ACG.

Art is credited to Mike Suchorsky, based on an interview with the artist. Quoting from the Grand Comics Database: “Art credits from Suchorsky in an interview with Hames Ware and Jim Vadeboncouer, Jr. in the pages of Alter Ego #27 (August, 2003), which reprinted a page of this story.” Cover is by Ogden Whitney.

The story appeared in Adventures Into the Unknown #67 (1955).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Number 2088: A sprinkle of Stardust

Fletcher Hanks deserves his reputation as one of the most unique of the early comic book creator/artists. His stories can be...well...berserk.

In the origin tale of Stardust, for instance, Stardust’s arrival on Earth is foretold by a voice on the radio. Stardust, whose attitude toward justice is very Old Testament, is heralded by a disembodied voice like that of an angel, as if Stardust were a god. Hanks, who died years later on a park bench, presumably of alcoholism, probably had his own demons working on him. Whatever the reason, his works, almost 80 years old, are now prized as being both crazy and entertaining. His huge lettering shouts a god’s punishments for evil.

Paul Karasik’s two volumes for Fantagraphics reprinting the entire Hanks story collection,* are still available, and highly recommended.

From Fantastic Comics #1 (1939):

*“I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets” and Turn Loose the Death Rays and Kill Them All!: The Complete Works of Fletcher Hanks.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Number 2087: “Perverted little heart beating...”

Our third and last entry for our theme week, comic book women of the forties. Today we have Rulah, Goddess of the Jungle

I have written of my belief that comics with sexy women like Rulah, Sheena, and all the other revealing-costumed tree-swingers were designed to sell comics to young guys, especially servicemen. But comics were sold to anyone, so even the very young got a peek at those glamorous queens, princesses, and goddesses of the jungle. I recently found a copy of Cruisin’ With the Hound, a compilation of autobiographical comic strips by the late Spain Rodriquez, famous underground cartoonist. This panel struck me:

Rodriguez, born in 1940, was about 8 or 9 when Rulah was being published. Because they featured hot chicks, Zoot Comics and Rulah probably had a longer life than most comic books, passed around and treasured by young guys like Spain. We have further proof: the fact we are ogling Rulah seven decades after the comics were published shows Rulah may have worn a brief costume, but she had a long lifespan.

“The Harpies from Hades” is from Zoot Comics #10 (1948); the art was done by the Iger comics shop.