Friday, December 31, 2010

Nibble and Nubble-Walt Kelly-1947

Most fans realize that the classic newspaper strip POGO started out as a comic book series in Dell's ANIMAL COMICS. Creator Walt Kelly didn't limit himself to the Okeefenokee critters in the early days, however. Here we have a cute but genuinely funny tale of a naive kitten and a worldly mouse. That's all you need to know.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mary Jane and Sniffles-Looney Tunes-1959

Although only a back-up in the long-running Dell LOONEY TUNES title, the MARY JANE & SNIFFLES series has been spread as a secret treat amongst the comics cognoscenti for decades. I first heard of it when Maggie Thompson wrote of the strip's gentle pleasures and inventiveness in CBG back in the eighties. Sniffles, of course, was the annoying Warner Brothers mouse whose only real claim to fame is as a stepping stone in the career of cartoon director/genius Chuck Jones. Mary Jane was a little girl added for this strip in the early forties. Together, the pair appeared for 20 years straight in the comics in clever, whimsical flights of fancy such as the one we have here today. Although there are no exact credits to be found, many of the strips were written by editor Chase Craig and much of the Chuck Jones-like art from this late period was by Al Hubbard.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Traitor's Island-Fighting Man Annual-1952

Unfortunately this is another one that I could find no info on at all so I have no idea who wrote it or drew it. It comes from 1952's Ajax-Farrell one-shot FIGHTING MAN ANNUAL. That 100 page collection of Korean war stories and anti-communist propaganda might well have been made up of reprints from earlier issues of the company's FIGHTING MAN comic. This particular story stands out though as basically "Tarzan fights the Reds!" The names have been changed to protect all involved but you be the judge.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Witchcraft Then and Now-Gladir/Busino-1961

According to writer George Gladir, this one-off story drawn by Orlando Busino in a late 1961 issue of TALES CALCULATED TO DRIVE YOU BATS was his inspiration for his later creation, with Dan DeCarlo, of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. It's a funny piece contrasting the old world's reaction to witches with the space age's reaction in the age of talk-shows and bestselling memoirs. Sabrina would debut in BATS' sister mag (parent mag?), ARCHIE'S MAD HOUSE and a later issue of that mag would, in fact, reprint this prototypical tale!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Clancy and Looney-Carl Hubbell-1942

GCD has a question mark after the artist's name on this so take it with the proverbial grain of salt. That said, it's a fun tale of two comic relief supporting characters from MLJ's popular STEEL STERLING strip given their own mystery to solve while the hero goes off on an off-camera mission, appearing only at the beginning and the end!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dead End-Crime Can't Win-1952

I hate stories like this where parts of the art look so familiar and yet I can't identify the artist. In this case, it's mainly the story's blond antagonist whose style resonates. If it weren't for the fact that Jim Starlin would've been two years old when this came out, I'd say I see his style in that guy, especially in panels on pages 2, 3 and 4! It's that splash panel face that gets to me though. It looks so clearly to be by....who??? Any guesses? Oh, read it, too. Don't just look at it. It's a pretty good little scene with a fun moment at the ending which leaves you wondering if the character's ultimate actions were on purpose.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mr. Weatherbee and Svenson-1978

Hope everyone is enjoying family and friends today. We'll be back tomorrow after we dig out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Last Look-Bernie Krigstein-1957

One of the great experimenters in comics, EC vet Bernard Krigstein is seen to good advantage in this code-approved MARVEL TALES story from 1957. The industry just didn't seem to know what to do with Krigstein so he ended up leaving it behind just a few years later, never looking back. His career is well-chronicled in a coffee-table history that came out around 2004.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snake Worship in the USA-Picture News-1945

Here's yet another fascinating slice of life from 1946, drawn by an unknown artist in PICTURE NEWS. This one tells the story of a popular Governor and his holier than thou troopers stamping out snake handling religions in Virginia in the 1940's. I'm not saying the snake handlers weren't a bit naive and ill-educated but it's hard to root for the brown-shirted troops who bust up a religious ceremony and start shooting...and yet they're the heroes of the piece! According to Wikipedia, snake handling is still in practice today in Alabama, Kentucky and a few other Southern states, albeit illegally. It is, however, completely LEGAL in West Virginia. Apparently the troopers did well way back then, though, as there is NO mention of snake handling in Virginia anymore.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The American Crusader-Max Plaisted-1941

Here we have the long and exciting origin story of the American Crusader, a colorful but rather basic THRILLING COMICS superhero who premiered in 1941. The ad above, an alternate version of the splash page below, heralded his coming in THRILLING's sister publication, STARTLING COMICS. Art is credited in GCD to journeyman Max Plaisted whose pulp background is evidenced by a scene where a surprisingly braless woman is stripped and about to be whipped by the bad guys.