Monday, May 25, 2015

Number 1739: Warning! Werewolves!

Mandrake the Magician, who seemingly never appeared anywhere without his stage get-up, slicked-back hair, fancy mustache, cape, tuxedo with tails, and top hat, was a popular syndicated newspaper strip. He was also reprinted in comic books from the dawn of comics until a certain point in the fifties, when his appearances became more sporadic. This issue of Harvey Comic Hits (#53, 1951), reprints two Mandrake continuities, and after it Mandrake wasn’t much seen in comic books for a long time. Maybe his top hat was just old hat. I didn’t think of the character that way in the fifties, when I read his adventures daily (along with the Phantom and Flash Gordon, among others) in the Seattle newspaper my parents subscribed to. I always liked the guy, even though I thought his gimmick of wiggling his fingers to cause hallucinations was stretching things.

And this tale of werewolfery pulls out the stops when stretching credulity. Where are the cops when all the loping lycanthropes are menacing innocent folk? And you may also notice the plot is as old as Mandrake’s tux. It appeared in dozens of Western know, when the bad guy was trying to get all the townspeople to sell out because there was something on their land he wanted...? You remember, don’t you? It makes this story all the more familiar. Written by Lee Falk, and drawn by Phil Davis.

I showed the other story from this Harvey issue back in 2012: Click on the thumbnail:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Number 1738: Lulu’s Witch Hazel: “If you go down in the woods today...”

The 100-page squareback giant comics Dell published in the fifties are some of my favorites. Little Lulu and Her Special Friends (1955) is all inspired John Stanley humor, and except for the covers, all Irving Tripp artwork. I love that it has four of Lulu’s “Little Girl” stories, with Witch Hazel.

“Old Witch Hazel and the Witless Whirlwind” is a variation on the three wishes fantasy. Hazel whips up a whirlwind to take the Little Girl  far away to die under horrible conditions. But Hazel’s commands to the whirlwind go comically awry. Also in the story, as a disguise Witch Hazel changes into a beautiful woman. “I hate to disfigure myself like this,” says the witch as her magic wand turns her into a glamorous blonde. That is Stanley’s sense of humor at work.

More Lulu “Little Girl” stories. Just click on the thumbnails.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Number 1737: “Where there’s cheese you will usually find rats!”

I hope I’m not spoiling this Captain Marvel Jr story for you by telling you the mysterious detective-with-no-name Freddy Freeman is rescued by is none other than Sherlock Holmes. But then, you already deduced that, didn’t you? Tell me, was it the deerstalker cap that tipped you off?

For some reason Freddy is selling papers in London. This is the last of four stories from Captain Marvel Jr #2 (1942). I looked at the other three and there is no mention of Freddy in London, so I assume he must’ve taken it upon himself to help the British rid themselves of black marketeers. (The final panel was obviously wishful thinking.)

I assume Sherlock is not given a name because in 1942 the Holmes stories were still under copyright. Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930, but his estate retained the rights to the character. To this day, lawsuits concerning the rights to the character, and whether he is in the public domain or not, are still being fought out in the courts.

Art attributed by the Grand Comics Database to Al Carreno.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Number 1736: Boody Rogers’s Tree-Top Timmons

This 12-page backup to a 52-page (!) Sparky Watts story by Boody Rogers is from Sparky Watts #2. Both stories are compilations from Boody’s time as a newspaper comic strip cartoonist.

It is a Li’l Abner-styled strip about hillbillies. The men are lazy, and the women are smarter than the men. Or are they? They end up doing all the chores. Well, I guess someone has to, and if that man won’t get his lazy ass out of bed then I guess it is up to the womenfolk. In this case the lazy men are Tree-Top, Grampappy, Nubbin and Pappy (no relation). Tree-Top, despite being the title character, is basically a supporting player in his own comic strip.

Tree-Top is so tall his head is never shown. That is a funny sight gag, and forty years later, in 1982, it also showed up in the six-episode TV series, Police Squad. In this screen capture of a scene, Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielson) and his partner tell tall guy, Al, he has something on the side of his face. The series, made by Zucker-Abraham-Zucker, led to the Naked Gun movies. I don’t think they got the joke from Boody, I think it is just one of those things that people think of, independent of another’s ideas. Or, maybe they did get it from Boody. Surely, you don’t expect me to know. (“No, I don’t...and don’t call me Shirley.” Ba-da-bam! sound of snare drum rimshot.)

Whoever pasted up the strips made a mistake on page 8. Panels 3 and 4 are reversed.