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Sunday, September 11, 2016

ARCHIE COMICS #50
(On Newsstands in March 1951)

The final cover of this classic Bob Montana run would prove to be his most iconic. Betty's pose and provacative statement exemplified the fantasies of a generation of Post War America where dreams can come true!
Or... it was... ya know... kinda hot! 
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Bob Montana)



On the inside though, the change coming to Archie Comics was evident, as we again get a story disguising a public service announcement, again involving public safety. This was a pre-Rock n Roll generation, but I suppose the interest in coming of age and getting your first car was already quite the thing. And since, the information age was still a long ways off, Archie Comics was doing it's part to remind young drivers to BE SAFE.
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Samm Schwartz?)


The other Archie trend of social commentary in the their stories continued as well (many erroneously believe that started in the mid-60's), as here they lament the pay of good School Teachers vs employment as a Secretary - something that could still be lamented even today!
This is also another story speculated to be drawn by Dan DeCarlo, pre-B&V #4, the issue traditionally thought to be his first Archie Comics work. 
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Dan DeCarlo?)


Addressing the DeCarlo speculation - it IS early in his career, but you can see in this cover he did for Atlas/Marvel a few months earlier, that the DeCarlo style was already there, and he would begin his Yardbirds work in G.I. Joe soon after this. That's not to say he wasn't trying to alter his style to fit what Archie Comics asked for, or what he believed they were looking for, but, personally, if I had to put money on it, I don't think its his work.
I certainly could be wrong, but the Dark Horse Archie Archives Series is getting close to these issues and have access to the original files, so another year and maybe we'll know for sure!
AND it was fun to post the earliest (100% sure) DeCarlo Atlas cover of the tough to find Georgie #30!
(from Geogie #30 - December 1950, artwork by Dan DeCarlo)



Maybe one of the more frightening panels ever posted in one of Archie's comics, as the Andrews and Lodge's dress down for relaxation and Mommy Andrews is showing a little more than we need to see. Is this revenge for Betty on the cover???
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Samm Schwartz?)




Some things never change though, and Reggie continues to have some of the snarlier comebacks!
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Dan DeCarlo?)



Not only are the stories disguised as psa announcements, but the psa ad's are disguised as stories!
One day I might do a post featuring JUST psa spots in Archie Comics!
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by ?



Though we have here two real ads, one a Bazooka Joe Dubble Bubble Gum Ad (memories!) and a clever ad for Jughead Comics!
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Samm Schwartz?)



And though it certainly didn't seem like it at the time, we can still find some interesting colorful descriptions that probably wouldn't make it in today's Archie Comics....
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by ?)



The subtle sexuality of some of the interior stories has started to go away, but using my Dr. Frederic Wertham decoder device to read the issue, I can still find some provocative things they try and sneak in...
(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by ?)



The highlight of the issue, is a Samm Scwartz Jughead story, where Juggy FALLS IN LOVE! Granted, it's a girl with Six Pounds of Hamburger, but it's still funny to watch him go through the type of body contortions that Archie usually does over females. Samm is one of the most UNDER rated of all the Archie greats!

(from Archie Comics #50 - March 1951, artwork by Samm Schwartz)


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ARCHIE COMICS #49
(On Newsstands in January 1951)



Another great Bob Montana cover... his classic cover run was coming to an end here (topped off with one of his most iconic next issue), but what a run it was!
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by Bob Montana)


Hey! We get a Bob Montana story to kick things off, and this time, it's Jughead buying a jalopy! Archie and his gang are starting to seep into the American culture of the times, and Archie Comics embraced it, and took the responsibility of having a voice within the culture seriously.
Yes, we'd still see the typical hi-jinks, but this issue would feature an extension of the story as Archie and Jughead (after a reckless through the town 'free-wheelin' debacle are called upon by the city leaders to give 'safety tips' to young drivers in the community.
Archie Comics was growing up!
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by Bob Montana)



It didn't exactly stop there... in 'Love Thy Neighbor', Archie meets his new next door family, featuring a daughter who is blind (a redhead named Milly...Hmmm, shouldn't it have been 'Chili'?), who also turns out to be hot. Archie is of course kind to her, but a misunderstanding with Veronica, and hurt feelings, and a foreign eye surgeon who was a fraternity brother of Mr. Lodge...
Oh did I mention how she lost her sight? Car accident! Yikes!
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by Sam Schwartz?)



In 'Video Rodeo' (which in 1951 I'm not even sure what that MEANT), Betty and Veronica compete with each other again for dates to the  dance...
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by Bill Vigoda)



Even Mr. Weatherbee is confounded by the philanthropy of Archie and his friends!  It's been speculated that this story was drawn by Dan DeCarlo, which would pre-date his most commonly associated first Archie work (B&V #4) by almost a year...
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by Dan DeCarlo?)



That's right! Hope for other kids in town to do the same thing... Archie and his pals were helping steer kids in the right direction! Archie Comics has successfully gotten on course and turned away from the ugly under belly of seedy comics on the market that.... wait a second. What's that an ad for?
Jim Steranko once told me he didn't think all that much of it, but I loved the wise crackin', hard fisted, suave, detective Sam Hill!  Crime comics were all the rage in 1951!
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by Dan DeCarlo?)


If you're going to feature all the current Archie artists of the day it one issue, you can't forget George Frese!
Archie the poet? MmmHmmm... Betty knows something's up....
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by George Frese



And just as we're about to finish another great issue...a reminder... be careful!
(from Archie Comics #49 - January 1951, artwork by ?)
















Friday, April 29, 2016

ZIP COMICS #2
(On Newsstands in January 1940)

Zip Comics #2 hit the stands in January 1940, with STEEL STERLING. once again gracing the cover, courtesy of Charles Biro.
(from Zip Comics #2 - January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)



How tough was Steel Sterling? He could even take on a pack of Polar Bears and hurl insults at them at the same time!
(from Zip Comics #2 - January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)



Broken english leads to a broken jaw from Captain Valor in Mort Meskin's 'The Revenge of Hop-Lung!"
(from Zip Comics #2 - January 1940, story and artwork by Mort Meskin)


Zambian the Miracleman lives up to his name! I don't know where writer Joe Blair came up with some of his ideas for this series, but it would have a big influence on Batman throughout the years.... Blair wrote for MLJ and then...? Whatever happened to him?
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork byElmer Wexler)



TOP NOTCH COMICS #3
(On Newsstands in January 1940)


December 1939 and January 1940 were an exciting time for the growing comic book industry, as Planet Comics, Prize Comics, Whiz Comics, Blue Beetle, Shadow Comics and others made their debut on the newsstands…the Wizard was there, on the cover of Top Notch Comics #3, trying to hold his own in a growing market!
(from Top Notch Comics #3 - on newsstands January 1940, artwork by Edd Ashe)


Mort Meskin’s Dick Storm (gotta love that name), would only be around for a couple of issues, but he always had a few tricks up his sleeve that were popular with the ladies!
The name of the villain in this story is Kang the Terrible, not to be confused with Marvel’s Kang the Conquerer some 23 years later!
(from Top Notch Comics #3 - on newsstands January 1940, story and artwork by Mort Meskin)


Stacey Knight MD, made house calls! But not the kind bad guys liked!
(from Top Notch Comics #3 - on newsstands January 1940, artwork by Lin Streeter)


Again, many years before Marvel Comics, Thor and his hammer (actually it’s an axe here) were apart of an even more spectacular team than the Avengers: Scott Rand on Mars!
(from Top Notch Comics #3 - on newsstands January 1940, artwork by Jack Binder)





Buried as the last story, Jack Cole, outside of his funny animal work, was doing some trailblazing crime comic work here….the layout, the design, the storytelling, the art… it would all set the stage for a genre that would take comics by storm in a few years!
(from Top Notch Comics #3 - on newsstands January 1940, story and artwork by Jack Cole)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

ZIP COMICS #1
(On Newsstands in January 1940)


Zip Comics #1 hit the stands in January 1940, introducing another new MLJ Superhero, STEEL STERLING, which was basically ANOTHER Superman, but slightly different. Really, aren't they all? Charles Biro hits another home run with this outstanding cover.
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)



You may have noticed on the cover and on the splash page, that Mr. Sterling is referred to as the ‘Man of Steel’ “Man of Steel’ was first used in Superman 1 1/2 years earlier in Action Comics #6 as part of a newspaper headline (‘Mystery Man of Steel re-appears). (Special thanks to the CGC Golden Age forum for this info!).. They would continue to refer to Sterling as the ‘Man of Steel’ up through issue #27 when it mysteriously stopped. Did DC try to bring legal action against MLJ?
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)



Let me get this straight - John Sterling creates a special formula he pours into molten steel and then, with the odds he’ll either DIE or become a superhero… he jumps right in thinking it'll give him super powers…? Hey, it's no less plausible than arriving from a dying planet in a space ship!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)



Steel Sterling, a man of the people!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)




Also making his first appearance this issue, was the Scarlet Avenger, created by Harry Shorten and Irv Novick, 
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Irv Novick)



Scarlet Avenger came up with video chat long before the iPhone...
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Irv Novick)




Nevada Jones, Cattle Detective - Never one to mince words with a client. Even a pretty one!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Frank Volp)





Uh oh, Nevada Jones isn't going to like this... with some authentic Mexican dialogue!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Frank Volp)




Nevada Jones, Cattle Detective - Never one to mince words with a bad guy!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Frank Volp)





Not a description you'd get of any of today's comic hero's, and to further add to the fun, his opponents in this issue are Arab slave traders!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, story by Harry Shorten and artwork by Lin Streeter)






No those aren't children, they're pygmies! And tossing them around is Mr. Satan, International Detective and Soldier of Fortune, who is, of course, wealthy young Playboy Dudley Bradshaw. These wealthy playboy's sure had some issues to work out...
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Edd Ashe)



Superhero's back in the day didn't mess around - bad guys were bad, and they were gonna get it... even wrong side of the law pygmies! With some authentic pygmy dialogue!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Edd Ashe)




And these were some real wrong side of the law pygmies!
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Edd Ashe)



Now that's quick thinking!
The introduction of the Miracle Man, Zambini the Magician with some quality Golden Age art from Elmer Wexler, creator of Quality's Miss America in 1941 (later DC's) and who would later work on Nedor's Fighting Yank.
(from Zip Comics #1 - January 1940, artwork by Elmer Wexler)


Books published by MLJ Publishing (Archie Comics) and on the stands in January of 1940
PEP COMICS #2
TOP NOTCH COMICS #3
ZIP COMICS #1
ZIP COMICS #2

















Thursday, December 24, 2015

PEP COMICS #2
(On Newsstands in January 1940)


The cover of Pep Comics #2 featured another exciting Irv Novick cover, and the popularity of the character would continue to help the success of the comic. The Shield was essentially Superman, somewhat underplayed as an everyday man superhero. But he could (as he does in this issue, repel bullets, swim fearlessly with sharks, and even take a flame thrower head on!)
He showed up, kicked butt and left!
(from Pep Comics #2 - January 1940, artwork by Irv Novick)


Again, of much more interest to me was Jack Cole’s ‘The Comet’, not only because it seemed like a much more interesting character, but also for Cole’s layout and design.
(from Pep Comics #2 - January 1940, artwork by Jack Cole)



Noted Pulp writer Manly Wade Wellman continued his Rocket and the Queen of Diamonds feature (Buck Rogers takeoff), but with some interesting twists! He also continued his Fu Chang (‘The Tiger-Devil Cult) and Bentley of Scotland Yard (The Terror of Rocky Pool)
(from Pep Comics #2 - January 1940, artwork by Lin Streeter)


2013 Will Eisner Hall of Fame Inductee Mort Meskin says he was influenced by the film ‘Citizen Kane’(1941), but here we can see he had an eye for visual flair even before that movie came out!
(from Pep Comics #2 - January 1940, artwork by Mort Meskin)



BLUE RIBBON COMICS #4
(On Newsstands in January 1940)


Another great Corporal Collins cover by the amazing Charles Biro! Charlie, obviously had a future in gritty realistic comics!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #4 - on newsstands January 1940, artwork by Charles Biro)



Ed Smalle would take over the artwork for Rang-A-Tang with issue #4 and stay on it for over a year… a top notch sequential story teller, he’d later go on to do the long running Congo Bill back up in Action Comics!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #4 - on newsstands January 1940, AND from Action Comics #191 on newsstands April 1954, artwork by Ed Smalle)



Blue Ribbon Comics #4 featured a greater emphasis on action-adventure and the start of a number of new strips, including Hercules (fighting modern day gangsters!), the Doc Savage-like Doc Strong (set 100 years in the future!), and the medieval adventurer Green Falcon drawn by female artist Ramone Patenaude.
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #4 - on newsstands January 1940, Hercules artwork by
 Elmer Weller, Doc Strong artwork by Sam Cooper, Green Falcon artwork by Edd Ashe, Green Falcon art by Ramone Patenaude)



Also introduced in this issue was… the Fox! Who had his own interesting bad guys to deal with!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #4 - on newsstands January 1940, story by Joe Blair, artwork by Irwin Hasen)


And of course, there was Ty-Gor, Son of the Jungle - featuring an Undercover Archie moment!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #4 - on newsstands January 1940, artwork by Mort Meskin)

Books published by MLJ Publishing (Archie Comics) and on the stands in January of 1940
PEP COMICS #2
ZIP COMICS #1
ZIP COMICS #2
TOP NOTCH COMICS #3
Part 2 coming up!