Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday Worlds of Wonder CARSON OF VENUS "Terror from the Sky!"

...but if there's anything a lifetime of reading/watching science fiction has taught me, it's that things are not as they seem...
Remember, while the "you're not really dead because your alien biology is different from mine" concept is a cliche these days, the novel Pirates of Venus was written in 1932, and was a relatively new idea back then.
(One of the things that drove me nuts about reviews of the movie John Carter was the complaint it was "so derivative" of everything from Flash Gordon to Superman to Star Wars...when the 1911 story Princess of Mars was the inspiration for the aspects of those properties that people were complaining John Carter copied!)
Len Wein and Mike Kaluta keep the story racing along in this chapter from DC's Korak Son of Tarzan #50 (1973).
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

COMIC READER "Invasion"

Here's a single image that conveys an entire story...
...a, sadly, never-completed tale meant for one of the Charlton sci-fi anthologies of the late Silver Age.
Probably abandoned when Jim Aparo joined editor Dick Giordano when he moved over to DC, it's typical of the detailed work Aparo produced for them, despite the awful printing that would obscure a lot of the time-intensive rendering.
The Comic Reader was a late 1960s-early 1970s newszine/fanzine, available at comic conventions and by subscription.
The covers were almost always featured art exclusives, either pieces done to promote current projects (a Manhunter cover by Walt Simonson during the character's revival in Detective Comics) or unpublished work like this one that editor-publisher Paul Levitz felt deserved exposure to an appreciative audience!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Reading Room LEGEND OF "COMIC BOOK" McFIEND "Bella Button Caper"

You thought Golden Age characters SuperSnipe and "Comics" McCormick were fanboys?
They were mere dilettantes compared to this Bronze Age guy!
This origin story actually ran a year after the character's previous published appearance (shown HERE)!
Published in the final issue of DC's Plop! (#24 in 1976), neither story has ever been reprinted, but probably served as one of the inspirations for the 1990s DC character FanBoy!
"Bella Button" was based on NY Congresswoman Bella Abzug, famous for her kick-butt attitude.
Though Abzug never tried to do a "Seduction of the Innocent"-type purge of mass-market comics, she did influence government military comics in the 1970s, when she and fellow Congresscritters William Proxmire and Orrin Hatch urged PS Magazine to"tone down" the mag's female leads Connie and Bonnie to less-sexy imagery.
(PS Magazine was provided to tech/mechanical support personnel with info and updates about equipment in an easy-to-absorb comic format)
The duo had been played as cheesecake from the 1950s through the 1970s, targeting the male GIs.
But with an increase in female recruits for non-combat/support services after the Draft ended, the characters were redesigned more as "buddies" than "babes", since women were now also reading and utilizing the magazine!
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Reading Room SPACE ACTION "Flight from Destruction"

Here's an apocalyptic tale of the future with a twist...
...direct from the Cold War!
(Considering it was published in 1952, that's not suprising!)
While the writer is unknown, the art for this tale from Ace's Space Action #3 (1952) is attributed to "Jim McLaughlin", who had a short-lived comics career doing work primarily for Ace!
After that publisher dropped comics in 1955 to concentrate on paperbacks, he did a couple of stories for Atlas/Marvel, then a run of Dell's adaptation of the TV series Gunsmoke.
Then "Jim McLaughlin" disappeared.
Totally.
Unlike most comic book artists who went on to do commercial art or newspaper strips, there's no trace of "Jim McLaughlin" after his brief foray into four-color publishing...and no background about his pre-comics career!
Here's another interesting point...his art style altered considerably during his career.
In this story, the inking looks a lot like the work of long-time artist Jim Mooney!
In fact, a number of panels resemble Mooney's work on the DC strip Tommy Tomorrow, which Jim Mooney was both penciling and inking during the same period as "Jim McLaughlin's" work for Ace!
In McLaughlin's later work (particularly his Gunsmoke art), while the layouts look similar, the inking style is totally-different!
Was "Jim McLaughlin" a pen-name for a penciler working with at least two (if not more) different inkers?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Reading Room MYSTICAL TALES "Man Who Saw Too Much!"

Here's one of those stories that make you scratch your head and ask...
..."what were they smoking/drinking/ingesting whan they created this?"
What's the "speed of time"?
How would it alter the composition of a piece of metal never designed to be played as a musical instrument by a human to allow it to be played. much less to transport the player through time?
Perhaps it's just as well we don't know who scripted this weird story!
The Grand Comics Database attributes Ed Winiarski as the sole artist for this never-reprinted story from Atlas' Mystical Tales #1 (1956), but there are clear aspects of long-time Atlas-Marvel artist Werner Roth's style in there as well.
Did he re-draw panels or did he pencil the entire story with Winarski just inking it?
So many questions, so few answers...
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