Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Superkatt by Dan Gordon

Have another helping of some good ol' Dan Gordon funnies!

I love how Superkatt and the other animals assume that super-powers come from costumes...and of course those "costumes" are basically just human clothes. I wonder if Gordon was consciously spoofing the fetishistic qualities of superhero costumes, when he decided to have Superkatt dress up as a big baby? In this issue, though, Our Hero takes a break from his infantilism to indulge in a little cross-dressing. Enjoy, kids!

Gordon's expressive characters are always a joy to see. Everyone is so anxious or angry all the time. Junior's expression and pose in the first panel of page four just kills me!

Here is Superkatt from Giggle Comics #27 (March 1946):

Friday, November 27, 2009

Superkatt by Dan Gordon

I'd love to see a collection of Dan Gordon's funnies someday, but I'm really not sure how to package the Superkatt tales. The problem, obviously, is the depiction of Petunia. Unlike the housekeeper in the old Tom & Jerry shorts, you cannot simply overdub her voice and be good to go. Petunia is, bluntly, a demeaning racial caricature. Now, the argument has been made in similar cases for old theatrical cartoons, citing the "humor of the times", and the "absence of malice"; but that will never fly in the present day. It's just unacceptable, and rightly so. So how do you present a collection of "classic kids' comics" that is available only to "the adult collector"? I suppose it can be done...after all, the classic horror comics with their bloody dismemberment and gruesome rotting corpses were once available to any kid with a dime, and now come packaged for adults. So I guess expensive hardcover collections could be the answer.

It's just a little bit sad to think that these lively, wonderfully drawn comics may only be discovered by first-time readers who are well beyond their childhoods.

Here is Superkatt from Giggle Comics #23 (November 1945):

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Swamp Spirit" by Dick Briefer

Swamp monsters have been very popular in comic books since the first decade of the Golden Age. In 1940, Theodore Sturgeon's short story "It!" was published in Unknown magazine. It was about a plant monster that had grown from a human skeleton, and was the inspiration for a generation of swamp men. But these plant and mud monsters have primarily been popular in comic books; humanoid reptiles and fish-like gill-men such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon have fared better at the movies.
The folklore of North America has included swamp men...but usually these creatures have resembled sasquatch, zombies, wild men, ghosts, and even werewolves. These boogey-men tales could have been concocted by locals to keep outsiders away, or prevent children from wandering into dangerous areas.

One alleged encounter in Fouke, Arkansas, in 1971 set off a rash of sightings. The "Fouke Monster" inspired the 1972 film The Legend of Boggy Creek, and probably both Marvel's Man-Thing and DC's Swamp Thing.

Briefer may or may not have seen Sturgeon's short story, but he was probably familiar with Hillman Periodical's swamp creature, the Heap, who had first appeared in 1942 in Air Fighters #3. The Heap would later star as a backup feature in Airboy from 1946 until 1953.

Here is "Swamp Spirit" from Frankenstein #16 (Nov-Dec 1948):



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"The Return of the Mummy" by Dick Briefer

I have a couple of Frankenstein stories to post, then I am going to post a whole bunch of Dan Gordon next week; so I hope everybody loves Superkatt!

This story, The Return of the Mummy, really highlights some great cartooning. The composition in each panel is nice and clean: the characters are nicely posed, there is no clutter and very few tangents. The information in each shot is processed quickly on first sight. Backgrounds appear where background detail is necessary, and are abandoned where it is not (especially page 4, where aside from one lone column, there are no backgrounds at all). The other side of the coin is demonstrated by the last two panels of page 2 and the first two panels of page 3: the backgrounds quickly establish location and a sense of the distance traveled from the boat to the tomb.

There is an excellent use of spotted blacks in the design throughout, especially on pages 3, 7, and 8 (the use of shadows in the third and fourth panels of page 7 are especially nice).

The fight scenes, as usual, are very fluid; they almost look like gesture drawings at times. My favorite panel may be the last one on page 6, which is a wonderful still image of pure cartoon action.

Briefer's babes always look like silent film vamps, don't they? Although Cleopatra's resemblance to actress Theda Bara could easily have been intentional, as she did portray the Queen of Egypt in 1917.

Here is "The Return of the Mummy" from Frankenstein #16 (Nov-Dec 1948):

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