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  1. Space Angel

    February 6, 2012 by The Belated Nerd

    Space Angel, which debuted in syndication on February 6, 1962, was one of those bizarro productions that married the best and the worst of early Sixties television animation.  The “best” is the wonderful panel art drawn by the legendary Alex Toth. The “worst” is the stagnant animation and the use of the Clutch Cargo style Synchro-Vox method of animating the characters’ lips. Another cost-cutting move was to lift the music from Roger Corman’s War of the Satellites for the theme music. Each story was serialized over five 5-minute episodes which were intended to be shown one a day through the week, climaxing on Friday.

    The show featured the three-person crew of the spaceship Starduster: Captain Scott McCloud (“The Space Angel”), Electronics and Communications expert Crystal Mace, and Scottish born Engineer Taurus. You’re forgiven if you are compelled to think of these characters as precursors to Kirk, Uhura, and Scotty. The Starduster was part of an Interplanetary Space Force made up of squadrons detailed to the various planets of the solar system. The ISF’s primary foes were the “Athenians” whose dress and customs more closely resembled ancient Romans than Greeks. Another recurring threat was the Evil Queen of Space and her toadies The General and The Major. Although the Evil Queen sported an ancient Egyptian motif, she and her minions spoke with decidedly Eastern European accents.

    Although Space Angel and his crew could usually thwart an enemy on their own, sometimes they would have to call on the rest of the ISF whose ships were identifiable by the astronomical symbols of the planets they were responsible for.

    In 1963, Alex Toth drew a Space Angel comic strip that was published in Jack & Jill magazine.

     



  2. The Comic Strip Christmas Party

    January 4, 2012 by The Belated Nerd

    Another fantastic Wally Wood parody of the funny pages appeared in MAD #68 (January, 1962).  Click the image for a readable view.


  3. The Editors at DC offer their…No, YOUR…2 Cents.

    December 31, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    From the inside front cover of every DC comic book to hit the stands in December, 1961:


  4. Linda Carter, Student Nurse

    November 18, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Linda Carter, Student Nurse debuted in 1961 and ran for nine issues until it was cancelled to make room for The Amazing Spider-Man.  The first issue (Sept. 1961) was clearly intended by creators Stan Lee and Al Hartley to be firmly in the genre camp of teenage humor, but by issue 2, the title was well on the way to becoming a more traditional Romance comic, a transition that was also made by the Hartley drawn Patsy Walker.

    Most conflict in the series was sparked by a blonde student nurse named Gwen Glitter who envied how men (doctors, patients, college boys, anything with a Y chromosome) were constantly falling in love with Linda. Linda was blithely unaware of Gwen’s schemes to sabotage her love life since they all ultimately backfired. Other supporting characters included doctors Steve Stuart and Jackson Jangle, classmate Dolly Noonan, and the tough but motherly Nurse Barker. In addition to the stories, the title often contained fashion features such as cut-out paper dolls and reader polls suggesting new hair styles and uniforms for the characters.

    Linda Carter would return as Night Nurse in 1972 but as a blonde with an entirely different cast of friends and co-workers.



  5. Showdown in Century City

    November 17, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Due to ruinous budget overruns by the makers of the Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton epic Cleopatra, 20th Century Fox was almost bankrupt and was forced to sell off most of its backlot to developers planning the new business community of Century City. In late 1961, the sets used to film hundreds of Fox westerns and other films were bulldozed to make room for high-rise office buildings and hotels. Where the likes of Tyrone Power and Gary Cooper once faced off on a dusty small town thoroughfare, two bulldozer operators reenact a familiar scene before getting to work ripping down a piece of movie history.

     Two years later, Cleopatra, initially budgeted at $2 million, was released in theaters and became the top grossing film of the year raking in $26 million at the box office. Unfortunately, by that time, Fox had spent $44 million on the film.

    Images from the LIFE photo archive hosted by Google


  6. Li’l Abner Served Two Ways

    November 16, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Just for kicks, here are two parodies from 1961 of Al Capp’s classic comic strip done by two different EC alumni; Wally Wood and Will Elder.

    Wood’s Li’l Abneh appeared in the same Sunday Funnies pullout from The Worst from MAD #4 as his Blondie and Pogo parodies. Panels from Elder’s Dopgatch Revisited are from Harvey Kurtzman’s Warren publication Help!


  7. So, What Was Lois Lane Up To 50 Years Ago? (#4)

    November 15, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    From Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #30:

    “Lois Lane, Daily Planet reporter, has braved a thousand dangers without fear for her life! And why? Because she knows that, like a circus acrobat, she always has a ‘safety net’ under her that will prevent her from being killed! Lois’ ‘net’, of course, is Superman who usually keeps an eye on his reckless reporter girl friend! But one day, shockingly, Superman loses interest in saving the impetuous newshawk! It is then that the Planet’s star reporter faces certain doom on the fateful day…WHEN SUPERMAN ABANDONED LOIS LANE!”

    It’s a busy day  for Lois Lane. On her schedule:  She must get a manicure before attending dinner with boss Perry White and his wife. Then she needs to acquire a window cleaner’s uniform so she can spy on mobster Phil the Wrecker (who she just happens to be scheduled to give evidence against at trial.)  Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen warn her of how dangerous her plans are (the spying, not the dinner party) but Lois insists that she can always count on Superman to save her if things get dicey. As usual, things don’t go according to plan. Her magnificently manicured fingernails alert Wrecker’s gang that the person outside their window can’t be a a real window cleaner, but is in fact a GIRL!

    Wrecker and his gang see their opportunity to rid themselves a witness in his upcoming trial and unclip Lois’ safety belt. Superman arrives in the nick of time before Lois and her fresh manicure make contact with the sidewalk below. Superman lets Lois know that he is fed up with her recklessness and that he might not always be able to come to her rescue. Knowing Lois has not been sufficiently chastised by his lecture, Superman knows it’s time to teach Lois another lesson.

    The next day, Clark and Lois visit a local dog show where Lois spots a drug smuggler making a drop. She ignores Clark’s suggestion that they alert the police and let them handle it, and pursues the criminal herself. Spotted by the smuggler, Lois nonchalantly buys a chocolate pop from an ice cream vendor. Before she can take a bite, a large black dog snatches the pop from Lois’ hand and gobbles it down. The dog suddenly convulses and collapses, whereupon Clark announces that the dog is dead and that the ice cream must have been poisoned. And Superman wasn’t there to help her if it had been her instead of the dog who swallowed the poisoned ice cream pop. We soon learn that the dog was Superman’s friend Krypto in disguise and that the whole thing was part of Clark/ Superman’s campaign to get Lois to stop thinking she can always count on Superman to come to the rescue.

    As Superman and all the readers know, one lesson is never sufficient for Lois (three lessons are the accepted minimum). Just before scuba diving for a murder weapon, Lois is warned that the local waters are infested with killer octopi.  Sure that Superman will save her if she gets in trouble Lois dives to the sea floor where she is almost immediately seized by the eight tentacles of a giant octopus. Once again, Superman does not come to her rescue. Only the timely distraction of another swimmer saves her from being eaten by the creature. It turns out that Superman called in a favor from Aquaman (the other swimmer) and his friend Topo the octopus.

    Lesson number three occurs at a recently burglarized fur warehouse where Lois gets herself locked in cold storage. Clark waits outside monitoring Lois’ condition with his x-ray vision. Not until Lois has almost frozen to death does Clark (not Superman) free her from the deep freeze.

    Finally convinced that Superman has abandoned her, Lois notifies Perry White that she won’t accept any more dangerous assignments. Clark can barely suppress his pleasure with the success of his campaign but Jimmy Olsen is worried for Lois’ safety since she is due to testify against Wrecker and his gang the next day.

    Jimmy’s fears are realized when Lois is met in her apartment that evening by Wrecker and his gang. Almost immediately, “Superman” appears and the crooks flee after their bullets bounce off of his chest. Lois is thrilled that Superman hasn’t abandoned her after all, and declares she will now return to taking whatever chances are necessary secure in the knowledge that Superman will always be there to protect her. No sooner does Lois rush downstairs to pursue her would be attackers, the real Superman arrives to confront his doppelgänger who turns out to be Jimmy Olsen wearing his Superman disguise and a bulletproof vest.  Alas, all of Superman’s efforts to teach Lois a lesson have been for naught.


  8. The Education of Johnny Storm

    November 12, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    This is the third installment in a series highlighting each of the four superheroes who inaugurated the Marvel Universe in the Fall of 1961.  We’ve already covered the Invisible Girl and The Thing. Today we take a look at the modern Human Torch and his introduction in Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961).

    The most striking thing about the debut of the MU’s first teenage superhero is how little control he has over his powers. In his first appearance, he spots the FF’s emergency flare signal from inside the hot rod he is working on; a passion he admits is only second to his calling as a hero. Instead of stepping out of the car before “flaming on” he flies through the roof leaving the vehicle a molten mess. No sooner does he take to the sky then a squadron of US Air Force jets converge on him to investigate the flaming object over Manhattan. So unused to the powers bequeathed to him by the cosmic rays he was recently exposed to, he can’t avoid melting the planes from around their surprised pilots. The pilots parachute to safety as the planes plummet toward the city below. It’s left to Mr. Fantastic to save his bacon when a guided missile is on his tail and again when Johnny is about to plummet to his death.

    Never fear, by the end of issue #1, the new Human Torch is the one who ultimately fends off the menace from the cover (Giganto) and seals up the Mole Man’s monsters in their underground lair by melting the rock surrounding the passage to the surface. By issue #4, the Human Torch has such precise control over his powers that he can use them for a job as delicate as giving the Sub-Mariner a shave.


  9. The Legion of Super-Heroes from the 21st Century

    November 11, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Okay, it’s probably a typo (Wikipedia assures me that DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes is from the 30th Century)  but everything else about this extra from Superman Annual #4 is very informative, especially for someone like me who grew up reading mostly Marvel books (where one might win a no-prize for correcting such a millennial flub).


  10. Channel Chuckles

    November 10, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    In memory of Bil Keane who passed away on Tuesday, here are a few of his Channel Chuckles from 1961.