Outside of Harvey Kurtzman’s still trenchant Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales, many Golden Age publishers thought the proper formula for a successful war comic was little more than faux grit laced with jingoistic pride.
Toby Publishing’s Tell It To The Marines added a few twists, however. Good girl art and raucous buddy humor played just as big a role in the title as the prerequisite shoot-outs and crudely racist caricaturing of enemy forces.
“Spike” and “Bat,” a pair of two-fisted marines whose love for violence was only exceeded by their love of curvaceous women, headlined the first six issues of the comic. As stated by an anonymous annotator at the Grand Comics Database, “With their emphasis on male camaraderie, inflated battlefield derring-do, muscular physiques, and sex-suffused womanizing, the Spike and Bat stories gave young men an idealized vision of the Corps.”
Of course, the same could be said about many of the “B” war movies produced by Hollywood over the years. It also helps that the Spike And Bat story posted below depicts Asians in a manner that could almost be considered progressive compared to – let’s say – an average Airboy or Blackhawk story circa World War II.
To be completely honest, however, I was drawn to this particular tale because of Jack Sparling’s typically expert art. I practically grew up with the guy’s work for DC and Dell in the 1960s and ‘70s, and his Caniff-inspired style well suits the “Dragon Lady” rip-off who opposes our hapless heroes.
From Tell It To The Marines #2 (Toby, May 1952), here’s “Madame Cobra.”