I first saw Tom Baker as Doctor Who in the early 1980s on my local PBS station. The character and concept struck such a chord that I’ve been a fan ever since that very moment. Although the current series, under the guidance of Stephen Moffat, has frustratingly transformed the character from an eccentric scientist into a cosmic Peter Pan, I do appreciate the great performance of Matt Smith as No. 11 and couldn’t be happier that The Doctor is still going strong in the 21st Century. Geronimo!
By the mid-1950s, the comic-book industry was in a serious slump and the Comics Code had effectively eliminated whatever edge had previously attracted a wide-ranging audience to the medium.
Combined with competition from the burgeoning television industry and genre paperback novels that contained more than enough adult thrills for audiences, it was a difficult time to find quality work in U.S. comics on par with the best Pre-Code horror, crime, romance and super-hero tales.
That doesn’t mean the industry was completely barren, however. Although the remaining comic-book publishers were clearly running scared, the field still contained enough major talent to avoid complete irrelevance.
Bill Everett was one such talent, and his artwork in today’s talent definitely elevates the cliched – if still entertaining – horse opera of the uncredited script. From Western Outlaws #9 (Atlas, June 1955), here’s “The Quiet Man.”
Like many of his generation, Jerry Grandenetti fought in the Second World War. In fact, his pursuit of higher education at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute was funded by the G.I. Bill.
Such experiences lent war comics drawn by Grandenetti and his peers an edge that perhaps could not be matched today. Many of these men, after all, faced the triumphs and horrors of armed combat first-hand.
(It will be interesting, however, to see how veterans of Afghanistan and the Middle East conflicts convey their experiences as they hopefully re-assimilate back into society.)
Although scripts for early war comics were often jingoistic and heavy-handed – outside of Harvey Kurtzman’s books for EC, few comic-book publishers were willing to delve into the realities of armed conflicts until the mid-1960s – the visuals often told tales that went beyond the words written on a page.
The following story, posted in honor of Veteran’s Day, was published when anti-war stories were beginning to gain greater prominence in comic-books. Although “The Well In The Desert” has a nice O.Henry-esque twist at the end, the real star of this story are Grandenetti’s pencils and inks, which truly convey the desperation felt by soldiers thrown into life and death situations.
The tale originally appeared in Fight The Enemy #1 (Tower, August 1966). The art is by Jerry Grandenetti; the writer is uncredited.
Like many comic-book fans and professionals, I was saddened by the news of Nick Cardy’s death on Sunday. His beautifully designed covers for DC – particularly during the late 1960s – taught me to appreciate how strong imagery can make or break a comic-book story.
Here are just a few of my favorites ….
Cardy’s career encompassed more than DC comics covers. He broke into the industry in 1940 as part of the Eisner and Iger Studio and penciled numerous features for Fiction House. He also worked on Eisner’s Lady Luck feature for the syndicated Spirit section.
Cardy served overseas during World War II and even earned two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in combat. A compilation of his wartime sketches were recently published by Titan Books.
He settled in at DC after the war and enjoyed a long career at the company illustrating such titles as Aquaman, Bat Lash and the Teen Titans. Cardy left comics in 1970 to become a commercial artist.
In remembrance of Cardy, here’s one of his earlier efforts for Fiction House. Although the art is cruder than his DC work, his staging and choreography clearly show the potential that Cardy ultimately fulfilled in his justly hallowed career.
From Fight Comics #26 (Fiction House, June 1943), here’s the beautiful and deadly Senorita Rio. The script is not credited, but the art is by Cardy under his birth name, Nick Viscardi.
- Nick Cardy Cover Gallery: A Tribute to One of the Greatest Ever (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com)
It’s become a tradition around these parts to post a ghost story on All Soul’s Day, so this year I thought it appropriate to introduce a tale starring the Spectral Sheriff of the range known only as Ghost Rider.
“Spectral Sheriff.” Yeah … that was a bit of a reach.
From Ghost Rider #8 (Magazine Enterprises, August 1952), here’s “The Inn On Skull Mountain.” The art is by the Rider’s co-creator, the criminally underrated Dick Ayers.
Golden Age justice!!!
Comic-book entrepreneur Harry A. Chesler used to joke that his middle initial stood for “Anything.” Given that his studio produced a character like Mother Hubbard, it’s safe to say there was more than an ounce of truth to his jest.
Mother Hubbard was a crime-fighting witch who used her magic against Nazi torturers, soul-stealing elves and – in today’s story - ogres and gnomes who rob the eyeballs of sleeping children.
Yep, pure 100 percent nightmare fuel. It’s no wonder the good Mother only appeared in less than a handful of tales.
The 13 Days Of Halloween conclude with Mother Hubbard’s third, and final, adventure from Scoop Comics #3 (Chesler, March 1942). The story and art are uncredited, although I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that the creators were somehow related to the Brothers Grimm.
That’s it for another Halloween, Time Bulleteers! Don’t worry, we’ll be back Nov. 2 for a special All Soul’s Day tale starring the Golden Age Ghost Rider!
Everyone loves Disney’s adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” but when you put some thought into the concept half-human/half-fish she-creatures aren’t quite as cute and spunky as Ariel appeared on the big screen back in ’89.
Today’s Pre-Code chiller illustrates that point
beautifully horrifically with a love tale turned bitter between a more malevolent – if somewhat gullible – mermaid and a seafaring adventurer who may well be an ancestor of Star Trek’s James T. Kirk based upon his rather manipulative approach to love and romance.
The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “Monsters Of The Deep” from The Unseen # 14 (Standard, April 1954). The art is by Ralph Mayo.
Coming tomorrow: We’ve saved the strangest for last! Introducing Mother Hubbard!! But will she save the world or destroy it!?!
Fox Publications’ Phantom Lady may have been the poster girl for “headlight comics,” but her toughness could never be questioned. Not only did she turn back threats from serial killers and Communist zombies, but as today’s tale proves Sandra Knight had more than enough skill to take down one of the may werewolves that populated Golden Age comics.
The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “The Monster In The Pool” from Phantom Lady #16 (Fox, February 1948). The story is uncredited, by the Grand Comics Database guesses the story was scripted by Ruth Roche and drawn by either B. Tirado or Gus Schrotter.
Coming tomorrow: A tormented artist tries to win over his true love! It’s a Pre-Code horror comic, what could possibly go wrong?!?