Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Number 1982: Bat Masterson, a Ghastly fellow

A Google search for Bat Masterson shows photos of him as a dandy wearing a derby hat. The “Bat Masterson” shown in this biographical story from ME’s GUNS of Fact and Fiction (1948) ( #13 in ME’s A-1 series, but actually the only issue) is more the standard Westerner, big cowboy hat and all. Photos of Bat Masterson show him as a natty dresser, and that was the image in the 1950s television series starring Gene Barry.

In The Old West: The Gunfighters from Time-Life Books (1974), I read the following about the flamboyant Bat Masterson: “When he first came to [Dodge City], he sported a Southwestern sombrero with a rattlesnake-skin band, a scarlet silk neckerchief and Mexican sash, gleaming silver-plated six-shooters in silver-studded holsters and a pair of gold-mounted spurs: an observer on Front Street suggested that all this finery might give Bat an edge in a gunfight by blinding his opponent.”

He liked attention. The claim of 40 men killed by Masterson is an exaggeration by dime novel writers of the era. Bat did get involved in some gunfights. He was a sheriff of Dodge City, and his brother Ed was killed in a gunfight. He was one of those lawmen who didn’t always observe the law. He never landed in prison, though, and worked his way through the West, including Texas and Colorado, before settling in New York in 1902. After a time as a boxing promoter and writer, and an appointment by President Theodore Roosevelt, Masterson wrote a column for the New York Telegraph. He died in 1921, not in a gunfight, but of a heart attack at his desk.

Graham “Ghastly” Ingels drew “Flame of the Frontier” which is another of those stories told by an inanimate object, in this case a pair of six-guns. Ghastly later became famous for his gothic horror tales for EC Comics, but before that he spent years in the comic book badlands, doing jobs like this.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Number 1981: Here comes the Sun Girl!

Sun Girl was one of a handful of female superdoers that Timely/Marvel Comics published after World War II. As mentioned in Don Markstein’s Toonopedia, Sun Girl’s powers were ill-defined, even though she had a three-issue run of her own title, and appearances in that publisher’s flagship title, Marvel Mystery Comics.

In this episode, from Marvel Mystery Comics #89 (1948), some odd-looking phantoms appear on the streets of New York, and Sun Girl is drafted to go after them. They have already cost one man his life, but plucky as she is, she goes into their dimension after them.

The Grand Comics Database lists Mike Sekowsky and Carl Burgos as artists. With this issue Marvel Mystery had just a couple of issues left to go before cancellation. The core group, Human Torch, Captain America and Sub-Mariner were still appearing in the title, but the comic book that had launched the publication company that later became Atlas Comics and then Marvel Comics, was gone before the 1950s began.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Number 1980: Curse of the goat legs

Until the recent World Series win by the Chicago Cubs, the curse of the billy goat was used as a reason for the decades since they last played in the Series. You can read about this sports curse here. The World Series has been over for a few weeks now and the “curse” has been overcome. At least for the Chicago Cubs.

Our story today of a goat’s curse is set in a strange south-of-the-border land with swamps and medicinal herbs. It has a wronged drug company employee, Manuel, going to a voodoo man to lay on the curse of the goat. The confusing geography with a Haitian religion mixed in is not found on any map. But I wonder if the writer was familiar with the urban legend of the Chicago Cubs’ goat curse?

No artist or writer identified by the Grand Comics Database. The story is from Mysterious Adventures #10 (1952).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Number 1979: Rodeo romance

John Severin and Will Elder, separate or together, were two superb comic book artists. For several years they were a team, working out of the same studio with Harvey Kurtzman. Their work, Severin penciling, Elder inking, pops up for different publishers during the late forties-early fifties, and then ends as they went their separate ways while both worked for EC Comics.

The two stories they did for Standard’s Western Hearts #5 (1950) are typical of the romance genre, but show the strengths of their collaboration; Severin’s very strong illustrative and storytelling skills, and Elder's solid inking. Looking at the first panel of the historical romance, the 3-page story of the romance of Sam Houston and Eliza Allen, I laughed when I saw the splash panel. With its bucolic Disney elements, little animals joining the lovers during a tender moment in the woods, I thought what Elder could have done with such a scene for Mad a couple of years later. As was usual with Severin, when drawing anything, Western, love, war...he didn’t fake the costuming of the characters.