Friday, March 30, 2012

Reading Room: SPITFIRE SAUNDERS "Whip"'s the original (and longer) version of the tale, starring a totally-different heroine from Spitfire Comics #132 (1944)!
Spitfire Saunders made only two appearances, in successive issues of Elliot Comics' Spitfire Comics, which despite the high numbering of this issue (#132), only had two issues!
The art on this story about an extremely competent female spy is by journeyman artist Paul Cooper, working for the Iger Studios, who also supplied art to Ajax/Farrell (where the re-worked version appeared) and Fox Comics.
It's unknown who did the art modifications on the Phantom Lady version of the tale, but odds are Ruth Roche did the extensive editing and re-scripting.

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featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Satan's Seal"

This is one of the most unusual Phantom Lady tales you'll ever read...
...because it wasn't meant to be a Phantom Lady story!
In fact, this story in Ajax/Farrell's Phantom Lady #1 (1954) originally appeared a decade earlier, featuring a different character battling Nazis (not Commies), in another publisher's magazine!
The first version was published in Elliot Comics' Spitfire Comics #132 (1944), starring female spy Spitfire Saunders in the first of only two appearances...
...but we're out of room (and time), so you'll see the complete Spitfire Saunders story tomorrow!
Besides, you'll probably want to open both entries in side-by-side tabs or windows so you can compare the stories!

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featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reading Room: BLUE BEETLE "UnMasked"

We start our original Blue Beetle run with his final tale...
...where he does a credible Superman imitation, complete with nosy girl reporter!
Gee, Clark...I mean think that crook thought you were Super...I mean the Blue Beetle...
Yeah, it's pretty lame.
You'll note the Blue Beetle has pretty much the standard range of super-powers at this point, including strength, flight, and limited invulnerability, all apparently due to the Vitamin 2-X he had been taking since Mystery Men Comics #1 (1939).
Though the art is credited to Charles Nichols (pencils) and Sal Trapani (inks), I seriously doubt Trapani did the inking.
This story in Charlton's Nature Boy #3 (1956) was the last appearance of Dan Garret, the Golden Age Blue Beetle.

The next appearance (with totally-new origin) of any Blue Beetle, would be eight years later in Blue Beetle V2 N1 (1964) with the debut of archeologist Dan Garrett (note the extra "t"), who would discover a mystic scarab that transformed him into The Blue Beetle!
Garrett passed his Blue Beetle identity (though not the scarab-based powers) on to student Ted Kord only two years later.

But when you next see the Blue Beetle here, it'll be his first appearance, from Mystery Men Comics #1, with a radically-different costume and modus operandi!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Mystery of the Spitfire who Became a Phantom!

Phantom Lady will be back next week, when we show you how this story...
...was altered/transformed/morphed into this story... a tale of publishing, print production, and paste-ups!
It's a two-day, two-for-one deal you won't want to miss!

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featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Before Katniss was...Diana the Huntress!

Long before Katniss Everdeen strung a bow, there was another archer-heroine... ancient Greek/Roman deity who received her own comic series in 1944...Diana the Huntress!
While the unknown writer/artist confuses Greek and Roman mythology (The Roman goddess "Diana" should be the Greek goddess "Artemis". "Mercury" should be "Hermes", etc.), his heart was in the right place, and, admittedly, "Artemis" was a less-familiar name to kids of the 1940s than "Diana".
The series debuted in Yellowjacket Comics #1 (1944), ran in all ten issues of the title, then disappeared!
It's never been reprinted, but we'll be running all ten segments over the next few months!
Watch for them.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Ringside Racket"

It's a new decade and a new publisher for Phantom Lady!
But, the stories are still being edited (and probably written) by Ruth Roche with art from the Iger studios!
Though the Comics Code had not yet been instituted when Phantom Lady #5 came out in 1954, it's effects were being felt throughout the comics business.
(BTW, though it's #5, this is the first issue of Phantom Lady by Ajax/Farrell.
It carried over the numbering of the short-lived teen-humor book Linda since the publishers didn't want to pay for a new second-class postage license, which was required for each periodical!
It gets even weirder when the next issue of Phantom Lady is numbered as #2!)
Horror and crime comics, which had become the best-selling genres after World War II, were being cancelled en masse due to public pressure provoked by Dr Fredric Wertham and his crusade against comic books, which he claimed were the primary cause for a wave of juvenile delinquency sweeping the nation!
With over half their lines canceled, publishers looked for safe, even innocuous, material to publish.
Ajax/Farrell went with material from Iger Studios, who had an assortment of Fox Comics character stories that were in various stages of production when Fox went out of business in 1950.
While they wanted to use the name value of Phantom Lady, the publishers were aware that she had been one of the primary targets of Dr Wertham's scandalous screed Seduction of the Innocent.
So, the existing art was modified to cover up her exposed cleavage and replace her short skirt and oft-exposed panties with gym-type shorts.
All-new art also followed the modified costume design.
The artist is unknown, but the style is clearly the same as the later Fox stories, so it's probably at least Jack Kamen pencils.

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featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.