Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Number 1662: Thankful for Basil Wolverton

In past years at this time I did a special Thanksgiving Turkey Award posting of the weirdest or most oddball comic book story I had seen all year. For 2014 I’m dropping that. Instead I have decided to have a Thanksgiving Thankfulness post to show you some examples from a cartoonist I am thankful for. Basil Wolverton’s unique artwork and bizarre sense of humor have brought me much joy over the past five decades or more.

First, four of his funny 3-page Bingbang Buster cowboy strips, which appeared in Lev Gleason’s Black Diamond Western comic book. I think these short strips, done as filler material, are much better than the lead feature, which is the Lev Gleason version of the Lone Ranger. The Wolverton feature, which began in #16, continued through #28. These are the first four strips in the series.

Basil drew funny cowboys, and he drew funny spacemen. Supersonic Sammy was another of his characters who came along about the time the flying saucer flaps started happening in the late forties. They were done for Martin Goodman’s comics, and ended up as black line printings in Goodman’s 25¢ line of cartoon books. This way Goodman got a lot for his money, since I don’t think anyone paid for reprints in those days. They were reprinted, as was Basil’s Powerhouse Pepper, many times over the years.

The first strip is from Popular Jokes #33 (1969), the second from Comedy #13 (1953):

Mike Britt, who introduced me to comic book fandom in 1959 with his fanzine, Squatront #2 — and thereby set me on the path I still tread today — has provided some scans of Wolverton originals, probably heretofore unseen. They are from very early, when Basil was trying to sell a comic strip, “Woozie Woofer.” It didn’t make the comic strip pages (not to my knowledge, anyway), but still lives because Wolverton kept his originals. Mike tells me that Greg Sadowski is using these and more examples in his book about Wolverton, upcoming from Fantagraphics. I know when that book is published it will be on my must-have list.

I want to mention the two 1971 issues of Bill Spicer’s Graphic Story Magazine that showed me some rare work by Wolverton. Numbers 12 and 14 are the two Basil Wolverton issues. I will be forever grateful to Bill for publishing these. Until some fine day when they are (hopefully) reprinted you will have to dig out copies on your own. They are not easy to find and I plan to keep mine 'til death do us part.

I’ll be seeing you on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with a Herbie adventure.


If you want to taste my traditional Thanksgiving fare, click on this link to the 2013 Turkey Award winner. The links will take you back to the beginning.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Number 1661: Dagar, the Euro-Arab Desert Hawk

Dagar, Desert Hawk, the character of the 1940s, is not the same as Dagar the Invincible, the Gold Key barbarian hero of the '70s. We try not to confuse.

In Don Markstein’s Toonopedia this is what is said of the Dagar we are showing today:
“. . . Dagar, subtitled ‘Desert Hawk’, was a hero in an exotic land, who flourished for a couple of years at Fox Comics, starting in 1947. He was sort of a white sheik, a man of European extraction living as a wealthy and powerful (but, of course, adventurous) arab [sic]. He had his share of stereotyped characteristics, of course; but unlike stereotyped arabs in more recent fiction, was a good guy.”
That being said, there are a couple of Americans thrown in. Chuck Day and his sister, Wendi, are friends with an “Arab” girl, Ayesha,* whose scant costume would surely be banned by the Taliban. Ayesha gets mixed up with a phony pharaoh, Dagar is called in to rescue Ayesha from said pharaoh.

The story appeared in Dagar, Desert Hawk #15 (1948), the second issue. The artist is Edmond Good, whose work I have shown before. Later adventures of Dagar were taken over by none other than Jack Kamen, but Dagar had a short run, and by the end of the 1940s the Desert Hawk was covered over by the shifting sands of time.

*Friend and commenter, Daniel, would be the first to point out that Ayesha shares her name with the immortal character of H. Rider Haggard’s novel, She.

More Edmond Good goodies. Just click on the thumbnails.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Number 1660: Moody blues...reds...greens...yellows...

In the excellent blog, Ace Horror, Jim McLaughlin is given credit as the artist who had the most stories in the Ace horror comics. These two stories by McLaughlin, who had a fairly straightforward illustrative style, are from The Beyond #15 (1952) and Baffling Mysteries #10 (1952) respectively.

In scanning both stories something that struck me is the moody coloring. The story, “Diogenes’ Deadly Lamp” does not have any panels colored in traditional style, although “Don’t Wake the Dead” is a bit more traditional. In both stories the coloring adds an aura of eerie mystery and dread.