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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!

Monday, November 16, 2015

BLUE RIBBON COMICS #3
(On Newsstands in December 1939)


I guess they decided to take some time off for the holiday’s and only produce one book for December, Blue Ribbon Comics #3! Featuring a Corporal Collins cover (who made his first appearance last issue) by Charles Biro! Pretty nifty drawing for the cover here and, hey, what’s that thing in his hand? Read on!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
 Charles Biro)



Man, did they sell a lot of cool stuff in comics back in the day…I remember ordering some of it, and usually being disappointed in what they sent.. how in the world did we trust sending money in the mail back then?
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
 Charles Biro)


Rang-A-Tang the Wonder Dog, his stories always full of excitement, gets a full page, beautifully rendered splash, that had to produce some awe back in the day…. and yes, he gets rid of the dynamite in time!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
 Charles Biro?)



There’s a neat device Corporal Collins has - a flexible magnetic ‘repeller’? Sounds plausible!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
 Charles Biro?)



What? First and last appearance? How’d this NOT succeed? “Red Dugan, Vicious Captain of a PIRATE SHIP, forces Dr. Cardo to CREATE a MONSTER to help him become MASTER of the HIGH SEAS.”
I’m all in on this one!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
 Edd Ashe)


Maybe one of the coolest pages of the Golden Age. Tell me this didn’t inspire young underground cartoonists of the 60’s!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
Edd Ashe)


So crime comics began in 1942 with Crime Does Not Pay #1, right?
Wrong. Heck, Dick Tracy was around since 1931, and here in Blue Ribbon Comics #3, Jack Cole gives us an early glimpse of the sensational new genre that would fit quite nicely in one of those Lev Gleason publications, THREE YEARS LATER!
(from Blue Ribbon Comics #3 - on newsstands December 1939, artwork by
 Jack Cole)


Also of note this month: Captain Marvel would make his debut in Whiz Comics this month!