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‘Comic Books’ Category

  1. Robert Service a la John Severin

    November 7, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    While other EC Comics alumni like Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Al Jaffee, and Al Feldstein went to work with the premier humor magazine of the early ’60s, MAD, John Severin was a contributor to the second-tier CRACKED. Every now and then, Severin would elevate the brow of the humor magazine with features such as these illustrations to a famous poem by “the Bard of the Yukon”,  Robert Service.

    From CRACKED #19 (1961)

     


  2. Marvel Monster Roll Call for Nov. 1961

    November 1, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Sserpo! Amazing Adventures #6: When a frustrated scientist disposes of an experimental growth formula by tossing it into the ocean it is consumed by a tiny lizard-like creature living on the ocean floor. The missing ingredient for the growth formula was simply water so Sserpo begins to grow. Sserpo is caught by fishermen but by the time they reach port the lizard is large enough to sink the entire island. Nearly 1000 feet tall, the monster heads toward Australia. The Australian Navy diverts the creature with rockets but Sserpo (now 2000 feet high) is headed straight for Japan. Worried that the giant monster will sink their entire country when he first set foot on Japanese soil, the Japanese use an H-Bomb to scare the monster away. As Sserpo continues to grow, scientists fear that he will grow so large that he will upset the orbit of the Earth. Just in time, the inhabitants of Jupiter send a giant skyhook to snag Sserpo and carry him into space.

    The Creature from Krogarr Tales to Astonish #25: An alien contacts an Earthman through his TV set and offers to make him famous if he will just make a few adjustments to his TV and allow his body to pass from the alien’s planet to Earth. After the man does this, the alien  seizes the man and takes him back to his home planet. The alien tells the man that he will be  proof that his revolutionary new method of travel works and puts him in a cage while he calls his superiors. Once his superiors arrive and have seen the human, he is to be killed and invasion plans will be drawn up. Suddenly, the Earthman fades away just before the superiors arrive. Angered, they kill the inventor and destroy his machine which they assume is worthless. Luckily, the man had neglected to pay his electric bill and the power to the TV set was shut off, thus saving Earth.

    Giganto Fantastic Four #1:  Giganto is one of many Deviant Mutates dwelling on Monster Isle. During the first adventure of the Fantastic Four, the Mole Man makes Giganto his servant and uses him to attack nuclear power plants all over the world. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch succeeds (at least temporarily) in sealing Giganto and the Mole Man’s other monsters in their underground lair by melting the rock around the passage to the Earth’s surface.

     

    The Thing in the Black Box Journey into Mystery #74: A victim of a shipwreck washes up on a not quite deserted isle where he stumbles over beautiful Pandora and her box. Pandora is malevolent and tricks him into opening the box for her whereupon she commands the demon that emerges to make all of mankind her slave. The man begs Pandora to be allowed to return to the mainland, and she grants his request, but he has a plan and returns with a set of mirrors which he rings around the sleeping Pandora. When she awakes she cries out in despair that they be taken away. The man had gambled that centuries-old Pandora’s beauty had to be the result of hypnosis, but no one can hypnotize a mirror. He says the mirrors will be removed if she orders the demon back into the box. She does so, and they bury the box deep in the earth, and leave Pandora on her isle with her illusion of beauty.

    Orrgo…The Unconquerable Strange Tales #90: Two billion miles from earth the imperialistic race, the Mentelleronites, discuss their plan to conqure the planet Earth. One of the Mentelleronites, Orrgo, volunteers to be the planet’s invader. Orrgo believes his race to be so superior to the humans that he can accomplish the feat single-handedly. Teleporting himself across the galaxy, Orrgo materializes in a circus and tells the people audience to bow to him. The police and military are called but no one can withstand his hypnotic power. After hypnotizing the entire world’s population, Orrgo falls asleep near the circus where he originally materialized. Jo-Jo the circus gorilla becomes infuriated that his hypnotized master has not fed him and breaks out of his cage. Jo-Jo finds the sleeping Orrgo and senses  that he is responsible for his hunger. The angry ape strikes down Orrgo and saves the world. The others on Orrgo’s world sense that their brother has been defeated and decide not to try to invade Earth again, as they must be more powerful than originally thought.

    The Creature from the Black Bog Tales of Suspense #23 A retired couple exploring the Everglades comes upon an alien who has been mired in the bog after landing to make repairs and was making his way back to the ship. In exchange for their help in securing enough vines to pull him free of the bog, he removes their memories of the incident and makes them younger. Read the whole story here.

      

      


  3. The Pixie Dust of Science

    October 25, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    As all comic book readers in 1961 knew, Cosmic Rays are the pixie dust of science. There was  no telling what effects or uses could be attributed to the darn things. They granted fantastic powers like invisibility or controlled human combustion. They could transform a normal man into a super strong pile of orange rocks. They could enable certain speedsters to travel through time.

    I’m not going to burst any bubbles of fantasy on this page, but if you really want to know what cosmic rays are all about, checkout this Japanese educational comic book published in 2008: What are Cosmic Rays?


  4. The Other DC (Commando & Victor Comics)

    October 22, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    D. C. Thomson & Co. is a publishing company based in Dundee, Scotland, which in addition to  publishing newspapers like The Dundee Courier, The Evening Telegraph and The Sunday Post, also produces comic books like Beano, The Dandy and Commando.   In 1884, David Coupar Thomson took over his family’s publishing business and in 1905 established it as D.C. Thomson. Thomson and his company were (and, to an extent, still are) notable for their conservatism. Early in the century, D. C. Thomson & Co vigorously opposed the introduction of trade unions into their workforce, and even refused to hire Catholics.

    This conservatism was reflected in the extreme British nationalism on display in two fervently patriotic comic book titles introduced in 1961; The Victor and Commando. The Victor debuted in January 1961 and had an incredible run of 1,657 issues before its cancellation in 1992. Commando, which was first published in June 1961, is still being published with an astounding issue count rapidly approaching 4,500!  Here is a small sample of covers from those two books’  inaugural year:


  5. Closer Than We Think!

    October 21, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Arthur Radebaugh was an industrial designer who spent most of his career working  for the  automotive industry. Between 1958 and 1962 he moonlit as a futurist illustrator writing and drawing the syndicated Sunday comic strip Closer Than We Think! 

    Click the images for a larger view.


  6. What was Lois Lane up to 50 Years Ago? (Pt. 3)

    October 18, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Not that I ever need an excuse to revisit the goofy world of Lois Lane in 1961, but yesterday was Margot Kidder’s birthday and I feel kind of bad that I didn’t post this installment of “What was Lois Lane up to 50 Years Ago” a day earlier.  This story is one that was somehow overlooked when I posted about DC weddings a few weeks ago.

    In Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #28 (October, 1961) we find  a story called “Lois Lane, Gun-Moll”.

    “There’s an old theory that, as in the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — each person has two personalities — one good, one evil — and that they battle for control until one dominates the other! Theory…or fact? You’ll soon see for yourself, as you watch a familiar friend change from good to evil — from reporter to robber — to become known as the notorious… Lois Lane, Gun-Moll!

    Of course, Lois’ reaction to the ray is only delayed. When it kicks in, Perry and Jimmy are the first to observe Lois in her new “evil” persona. Lois’ sister and roomie, Lucy also notices a difference.

    While snooping around in Lois’ room Lucy discovers some stolen jewelry and realizes that Lois is moonlighting as Metropolis’ newest super-villainess, the Leopard Lady. Lois chloroforms her sister and (after punching Lucy’s boyfriend Jimmy Olsen in the nose) takes her back to the Leopard Lady’s secret lair where Lois and her gang are planning their next job.

    The robbery at the Daily Planet  is interrupted by Superman in his guise as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Kent pretends to be knocked unconscious when Leopard Lady Lois cracks him in the head with the butt of a tommy-gun, and then follows Lois and her gang back to their hideout. Superman quickly takes out Lois’ two goons but Lois lays him low with a boulder made of synthetic kryptonite. While Superman struggles against the effects of the kryptonite, Lois informs him that she’s sick of waiting around for him to return her love and has found a new man…Lex Luthor! Lois and Luthor announce their intention to be married and make a quick exit before the synthetic kryptonite wears off.

    True to their promise, the next day, the self-proclaimed King and Queen of Crime are married on the steps of city hall where a force field prevents the police or Superman from doing anything about it. As the justice of the peace asks if anyone objects to the union, Superman pounds on the force field screaming, “I object! I do! If only I could batter through!” After the justice proclaims Mr. and Mrs. Lex Luthor man and wife, Lois turns to Superman and sneers, “Hear that, Superman? That makes it official! You had your chance to marry me, but you muffed it!” The force dome explodes and the newlyweds make their escape. Superman is so dejected, even Lana Lang doesn’t want to exploit the mopey superhero’s new relationship status.

    Meanwhile back at the hideout Lex Luthor and his gang are yucking it up over the look on Superman’s face at the wedding.  The merriment is short-lived as Superman bursts through the door and turns to Lois still in her bridal gown and proclaims, “There is evil in you Lois, an evil that must be destroyed — burned out!”  Superman then uses his heat-ray vision to…reduce Lois Lane to a pile of ashes!

    Relax! It was a robot Lois Lane all along!

       


  7. Black Magic

    October 16, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Black Magic was a horror anthology comic book created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for the Crestwood imprint Prize Comics in 1950  The contents of the book were tame enough to endure little change when the Comics Code was imposed in 1954, although it’s quite surprising that the CCA didn’t demand a title change.  A total of fifty issues were produced by the time the book ended in 1961. The numbering system used by Black Magic was reset at the beginning of each year, so the final six issues published in 1961 have cover numbers of 1-6 although they are, in fact, issues 45-50.

    By 1961, Kirby and Simon had parted ways. While Kirby was laying the foundations of the Marvel Universe with Stan Lee over at Marvel, Joe Simon still had a hand in editing Black Magic (although most of his attention was given over to his humor magazine, SICK.) Joe Simon is credited as the cover artist for all of the issues of Black Magic in 1961, although it looks like most of the work was done by inker Dick Ayers who not only inked much of the interior art but also the original pencils.  Along with Ayers, Ted Galindo and Bob Powell were responsible for drawing most of the five or six stories found in each issue. Steve Ditko makes an appearance in #47 with the 6-pager “The Black Fog” (Detail on right).

    One sign that the end was near for Black Magic is that a half-dozen or more stories (but not art) that appeared in its final year were lifted from EC’s pre-code comic book, Weird Fantasy. The cancellation of Black Magic marked the beginning of a five-year hiatus away from comic books for Joe Simon who focused his efforts on SICK and freelance work in advertising. He wouldn’t return until 1966 when he was hired to create a line of superhero books for Harvey Comics.

    Black Magic would be briefly resurrected by DC in the 1970s, reprinting the original stories from the Fifties and early Sixties.

     


  8. Peanutz

    October 14, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    I just can’t get enough of these MAD comic strip parodies; it’s the element of truth in them that makes them so wonderful. This and  fifteen more original comic strip parodies were part of a Sunday funnies pullout included with a MAD magazine collection in 1961 (The Worst from MAD #4).  This one is by Bob Clarke, who may well have been the first to point out that Peanuts isn’t about children or dogs; Peanuts is all about an adult named Charles Schulz. Click the image for a larger view.

     

    Bob Clarke 2011


  9. Marvel Monsters Roll Call for Oct. 1961

    October 13, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Monsteroso – Amazing Adventures #5: The alien child Monsteroso accidentally presses the escape pod button of his parent’s spaceship and is carried down to Earth where the pod crashes in the African jungle.  Monsteroso’s unconscious body is discovered by an American circus owner who sells the supposedly dead creature to a New York museum.  The alien child awakes and  explores the city until the military attacks him. The frightened monster tries to flee by climbing to the top of  the UN building. The army shoots him with a tranquilizer dart and he falls into the river. His parents suddenly arrive and rescue their child warning the earthlings that, “It is fortunate he is unharmed. Fortunate…FOR YOU.” and leave Earth.

    The Spider – Journey into Mystery #73:  A physicist working at an atomic research lab in New Mexico goes into work one day unknowingly with a spider in his pants cuff. The creature becomes bombarded by the atomic rays and grows to a huge size, gaining the power to think and speak, and then attacks the humans. The physicist tricks the spider into snagging a missile test with its web and when it climbs towards it, the missile detonates and kills The Spider.

    Fin Fang Foom – Strange Tales #89: In his debut, Fin Fang Foom was merely an ancient hibernating dragon  who is deliberately awakened from his slumber in a cave by an anti-communist Taiwanese man,  Chen Liuchow, whose homeland is under threat from the Red Chinese. Chen uses a special herb to awaken the dragon, and taunts Foom with the threat of another herb that will put him back to sleep. Chen goads Foom into chasing him, and leads him straight into the Communist invasion force, which Foom destroys. With the Red threat eliminated, Chen leads Fin Fang Foom back into his cave, where the sleep herb returns Foom to his hibernative state. But that wasn’t the last the Marvel Universe would hear from Fin Fang Foom.

    The Abominable Snowman – Tales to Astonish #24: A TV producer receives a request to produce a film of the Abominable Snowman so he and his crew set off for the Himalayas. Unconvinced that such a creature exists, the producer dresses up in a costume, but one of his assistants sees him and follows behind. Suddenly, the fur-clad producer is seized by a much larger furry creature who claims that he had been searching for him. The creature (revealed to be a lizardman in disguise) takes the producer to a drill machine and the assistant sneaks in too. They travel deep underground to a city of lizardmen who have been looking for a lost explorer who wears a shaggy costume for protection from the cold. He must still be alive as they live for a thousand years. They are hostile to the producer and attempt to place him into a cage. He makes a break for it and runs into the cave of a thousand winds. While he is helplessly buffeted by winds from different directions, the assistant sneaks up behind the lizardmen guarding the cave’s mouth and lobs explosives at them which throw them into the cave’s strong winds as well. The assistant extends a rope to the producer and they escape toward the black pool which holds a ”octo-monster”. They escape from its clutches and come across the drill machine while fleeing the lizardmen. They take the machine back to the surface and destroy it with the remaining explosives.

    Bruttu – Tales of Suspense #22: A milksop scientist working on an experimental machine is thinking of a comic book monster when an accidental discharge of energy transforms him into the creature’s likeness. He goes on an unintended rampage through town because he can no longer speak and communicate his non-hostile intentions, the military authorities attack and drive him into the woods. While approaching a small house he gets the idea that he can write with an object, but the owner drives him away with a rifle. He loves his research assistant and, coming to the realization that the army will eventually destroy him, resolves to see her one last time. He approaches her home and uses a rake to write in the ground he means no harm, but since the scientist disappeared when the monster appeared, the woman jumps to the conclusion that he “has killed the man I loved.” Since he realizes now what a fool he has been for wanting to be big and strong since the woman he loved loved him just the way he was, he returns to the atomic machine and bathes in its rays once more thinking of the man he had been. He changes back and embraces his true love.



  10. The Human Light Bulb

    October 12, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    I love superhero origin stories; even those that never went anywhere. My thanks to the posters at the DC Comics Time Capsule for this page scan from House of Mystery #117 (1961).  Besides the human light bulb, the George Roussos drawn story, “The Three Who Changed” also featured a human acetylene torch and a human grasshopper.