Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Number 1623: John Severin strongs to the finich

The recent suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams got me searching for a satire on Popeye, his first starring movie role from 1980. Both Mad and Cracked took their shots at the movie. Both used their regular movie artists, John Severin at Cracked, Mort Drucker at Mad. I’ve chosen Severin’s version, “Poopeye,”* from Cracked #179 (1981) to post.

Reviews on Popeye have been mixed. Because of his success on television Williams’ performance was under a microscope, and both Mad and Cracked pointed out his “muttering.” (What? They never saw any Popeye animated cartoons, with Popeye’s muttered asides?) I also have mixed feelings about the movie. There are problems translating a character conceived as comic art to live action. In my opinion it succeeded on some levels,** missed entirely on others. The Cracked opinion of the movie is  negative. However, Severin’s likenesses of the actors are, as always, right on.

*“Poopeye” was also used as a title in Mad #21.

**At the time the general consensus from my circle of friends was that Shelley Duvall was born to play Olive Oyl.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Number 1622: Two vampires and a werewolf

These three tales from pre-Code Atlas horror comics feature three very distinctive artists. Russ Heath drew “The Village Graveyard,” which originally appeared in Adventures Into Unknown Worlds #4 (1952). My scans are from the reprint in Marvel Comics’ Giant-Size Chillers #1 (1974).

Matt Fox drew “I Was a Vampire” for Uncanny Tales #6 (1953), which was reprinted in Giant-Size Dracula #2 (1974). While lacking the professional polish of Atlas artists like Heath or Everett, Fox’s oddball art has an eerie quality. His stiff figures (“stiff” has more than one meaning here) is instantly recognizable. Fox did work for Weird Tales, and had his detractors. Ray Bradbury, for one, referred to “Those terrible Matt Fox horror covers” [for Weird Tales].* But as much as I admire Bradbury, I disagree with his opinion of Fox.**

Finally, the aforementioned Bill Everett did a werewolf story for Menace #9 (1954), in a tale of a dog-hater who has the bite put on him.

*Becoming Ray Bradbury by Jonathan R. Eller, page 91.

**More Matt Fox, this time inking Larry Leiber in some early '60s Marvel Comics. Just click on the thumbnail.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Number 1621: The patriotic hero

Minute Man, the “One Man Army” was yet another hero wrapped in the American flag, jumping in to fight enemy agents and saboteurs. In this episode from Fawcett’s Master Comics #12 (1941), he does just that when he investigates who is causing experimental aircraft to fail.

From a historical point of view, a story like this, published less than a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the global fray, shows an attitude that we would eventually have to go to war. With a hero like Minute Man we couldn’t lose!

According to the Grand Comics Database, the story is drawn by Charles Sultan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Number 1620: “Face of an angel, soul of a devil”

In one of the many crime comics versions of the life and criminal career of Charles Arthur Floyd, aka “Pretty Boy,” much is made of the fact that such a good-looking boy shouldn’t be out committing crimes. Good looking? How good looking was Pretty Boy, and what do looks have to do with being a criminal? Artist Fred Guardineer used this mug shot of Floyd, and prettied him up.
From Public Enemies, America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough. Pretty Boy’s picture is right below Machine Gun Kelly and his wife Katherine. Kelly looks more like a young Rodney Dangerfield to me, but even so, at least in this picture out-pretties Pretty Boy.

According to Burrough’s book, no one but the newspapers called Charley Floyd “Pretty Boy.” If any of his associates called him Pretty Boy they didn’t say it to his face, but it struck the public imagination, and that is how we know him now.

From Crime Does Not Pay #51 (1947).