Friday, September 22, 2017

Number 2105: Uncle Otto takes it with him

Uncle Otto looked for his dead wife’s fortune for 15 years. He killed her for it. He died just a couple of hours before his niece, Fran, and her fiancé, Vic, showed up at his rotting old mansion. Not only does the ghost of Fran’s aunt Edna appear to the couple, but also the ghost of Uncle Otto. Otto is not deterred by being dead; he wants to defy the old adage, “You can’t take it with you.” Or if he can’t take it with him, at least he can keep it from the interlopers to whom Aunt Edna bestows her hidden wealth.

“Rendezvous with Death” is from Forbidden Worlds #34 (1954), the last issue before the Comics Code would turn thumbs-down on a story like this. It even defies the usual ACG plot, where the young couple is able to triumph over the evil supernatural forces and proclaim their love in the final panel. By the end there is no love left.

Lately, in our comments section, we have talked of the Jeepers Girl. Artist Kenneth Landau drew a version of her in the splash panel.

Here are two more stories from the final pre-Code issue of Forbidden Worlds. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Number 2104: Kid cartoonist draws Kid Colt

Russ Heath wasn’t exactly a kid when he drew this Kid Colt story for Marvel’s Two Gun Kid #10, in 1949, but at my age anyone in their early twenties is a kid. To my way of thinking, Heath, born in 1926, was still a youngster, developing as an artist in his early career drawing cowboys. (To read more about Heath’s fascination with cowboys go to the link below.)

Heath went on to become one of the top artists for Marvel/Atlas doing war, horror, science fiction, satire...and then he went to DC and did his amazing Silver Age work. Heath also branched out, doing excellent work for Harvey Kurtzman on “Little Annie Fanny” at Playboy, then worked for National Lampoon and Jim Warren’s magazine group. As I write this Russ Heath is still with us at age 90, and I hope he is doing well now that he’s no longer a “kid.”

In 2011 I presented another early Russ Heath Western featuring Kid Colt. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Number 2103: Blackhawks on the moon

Blackhawk and his band of buddies volunteer to fly to the moon, and set up camp. They will be waiting for a group who will stay on the moon permanently. If that isn’t incredible enough, they appear to be helping a pair who look like V.I. Lenin and Albert Einstein. That is just the kickoff for one of the goofiest Blackhawk stories I have read, presented in Modern Comics #99 (1950). On the moon the Blackhawks meet two hostiles from a non-democratic nation (the word "communist" is not used), Zorak (has a beard) and Telga (beautiful female spy).

Among the plot elements of this goofball tale, the bad guys have a make-up kit with which they disguise themselves as Blackhawk and Chuck (Telga as Chuck).

I assume that this lunar lunacy was “inspired” by the George Pal movie, Destination Moon, which was heavily hyped in early 1950 before its release in August of that year. Life magazine had an article about it in its April 24 issue.

Grand Comics Database is not sure of the artists, but they guess the pencils are by John Forte and the inks are by Chuck Cuidera.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pappy’s Sunday Supplement #13: Dick Tracy gets Mumps

In the late 1940s Dell Comics, licensed to publish reprints of various newspaper comics, went to original material. For Dick Tracy Monthly, it happened with issue #19 (1949), which I am showing today.

It was a short run; the lifespan of Dell’s original Dick Tracy stories lasted five issues. With issue #25 (1950), Harvey Comics took up the license. I have never heard whether switching their comic book licensee was a decision made by Dell, or by the Chicago Tribune, which had the rights to Tracy, or even Chester Gould, who created Dick Tracy and with his assistants drew the daily and Sunday comic strip until his retirement. Gould’s name isn’t anywhere to be found in this issue, whereas he got a biography on the inside front cover of the first Harvey issue (which also began a reprint of the famous Flattop saga).

I don’t believe Gould had much to do with this story. There may have been assistants from his studio who worked on it, but frankly, the story seems more an imitation than genuine Gould. 

The five issues of original material from Dell stayed with the main Dick Tracy themes, Tracy and his pal Sam chase down murderers, get into death traps, then find their way out, and ultimately the villain comes to a bad end. And not in a courtroom. They didn’t feature other characters like Junior or Tess, but the back of the book was devoted to the Plenty family, B.O., Gravel Gertie and their daughter, Sparkle Plenty.

P.S. The villain of the piece, Mumps, doesn’t look to me like a guy with mumps, but more like U.S. right-wing radio commentator, Rush Limbaugh. Just saying.