Thursday, November 26, 2015

Number 1819: Hitler, the god of evil

Today is Thanksgiving Day, the American holiday where we are thankful for mass quantities of food. It is the time when I issue my self-proclaimed Turkey Awards. After skipping this event in 2014, the tradition is revived, at least for this year. I have found a story I believe qualifies as the most oddball story I have encountered this year.

Dr Miracle, yet another of the glut of early comic book magicians based on Mandrake, has a Ouija board that acts like an iPad. It has a screen that reaches to Hitler’s home in Berchtesgaden, and at that very moment he witnesses — coincidence of coincidences! — the takeover of Hitler by “the Egyptian Satan,” Set, who wants to ensure all the war dead will be his slaves in the afterworld. Whew. I found it hard to even synopsize that much. The rest of this crazy story is up to you.

For all of those outrageous qualities, even during a time of war and the demonizing of the enemy’s leader, this story earns three turkeys.

Alex Blum is credited by the Grand Comics Database with the artwork. The story is from Champ Comics #24 (1942), published by Harvey Comics.

To see the past winners of the Thanksgiving Turkey Award go to this entry from 2013. It will guide you to past winners going back to 2006. Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Number 1818: Mr Murder

I suspect, not having read every pulp magazine and comic book ever published (although some days it feels like it), that the plot device of a rich person being threatened with murder by some demented villain for the purposes of extortion must have been common. It just doesn’t ring with originality. One of the most famous from the genre is the Joker’s introduction in Batman, when the Joker pulled off “the grinning death.” Mr Murder doesn’t go that far in this Bulletman episode, but the plot seems inspired by that, and probably numberless other stories before Batman.

Here’s a hint: when a story is only 8 or 9 pages long, every new, non-series character should be suspected of being the alter ego of the disguised, slouch-hatted villain. Not trying to spoil the story for you...I’m just sayin'.

The Grand Comics Database gives Charles Sultan credit for the artwork. The story is from Fawcett’s Master Comics #15 (1941):

Come back tomorrow, when I bring back the Thanksgiving Turkey Awards for the most oddball story I have read all year.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Number 1817: The desensitized

A illustration from First Love #35 (1953) is shown in Dr. Wertham’s anti-comics book, Seduction of the Innocent, with a panel lifted from the story, “Forbidden to Love Him,” drawn by Bill Draut.

As I have mentioned before, comics with panels in Wertham’s book are identified and prized. Dr. W. took this shocking panel out of the larger context of the story. It was because of that caption naming the comic as First Love I thought it was a man slapping his wife or girlfriend. As I found by actually reading the story, it is a father slapping his daughter for daring to love an Indian. The story is about ugly racism. It doesn’t make the image less startling or unpleasant, but Wertham did not bother to tell his readers the subject was actually racism. That was one of his ways of selling his message. As far as a story on prejudice goes, it has a scant five pages to play out the drama.

Two more from the Pappy archives of SOTI stories. Just click on the thumbnails

Friday, November 20, 2015

Number 1816: Herbie debuts as the Fat Fury

In Herbie #8 (1965), bowing to the popularity of superhero comics and their sixties renaissance, Herbie Popnecker became a superhero called, appropriately, the Fat Fury (aka the “Plump Lump”).

Herbie is a fat kid, and his dad is abusive in his remarks (“Little fat nothing!”), but Herbie is also a very special person. He has very special powers already (levitation, talks to animals, knows absolutely everyone from queens to commoners). Why put him in a costume? Especially one like this? Well, I dunno...I dunno why editor Richard Hughes did many of the things he did, but in this case what he did apparently heightened the popularity of Herbie, even beyond that which had been already achieved. Herbie was a hit from his first appearance in Forbidden Worlds, right through to the end of ACG comics in 1967. If a barefoot Herbie with a toilet plunger on his head, wearing long underwear and a cape increased sales, well, so be it.