Zoot Allures!

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Rulah was created by Matt Baker, the greatest “good-girl” artist of the Golden Age. Perhaps because the character was under the aegis of the sensationalistic Fox Publications, however, Rulah was a bit seedier than such Baker characters as Sky Girl.

Today’s story, for example, breaks just about every notion of propriety a modern audience could conceive. There are startling instances of racism mixed in with a surfeit of good girl shots, bondage and – if one were inclined to think along the lines of noted Rulah hater Frederic Wertham – hints of bestiality.

That said, there’s still something undeniably entertaining about “The Frenzy Of The Dishonored Idol.” Forbidden fruit, perhaps? However, I can’t help but wonder how Baker, an African-American pioneer in the comics field, felt about portraying Africans in such an unflattering matter.

“The Frenzy Of The Dishonored Idol” originally ran in Zoot Comics #10 (Fox, November 1947). Grand Comics Database identifies Baker as the the story’s artist, although the cover image shown at the beginning of the post is credited to Jack Kamen.

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“Punish the woman as you see fit.” Golden Age justice!

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The Headlight Heroine

Phantom Lady
Long before Hawkeye became an Internet sensation, the Victor Fox incarnation of The Phantom Lady set the standard for striking seductive poses and kicking serious @ss.

(Yes … I know Hawkeye Initiative devotees would probably dislike Phantom Lady comics but it was the snappiest intro I could think up on short notice. Besides, the character does kick serious @ss.)

“The Subway Slayer” originally appeared in All Top Comics #12 (Fox Feature Syndicate, July 1948). According to the Grand Comics Database, the story was pieced together by the nameless denizens of the Iger Studio. Others suspect it was written by Iger editor Ruth Roche and drawn by Matt Baker.

Phantom Lady Archives    FOX Years pt2 V2 - Page 87

Phantom Lady Archives    FOX Years pt2 V2 - Page 88

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Golden Age justice!

The Marching Dead

Day 6 of Super-Heroes vs. Super-Horrors Week stacks the deck against everyone’s favorite “Good Girl,” Matt Baker’s Phantom Lady, as the sexy sleuth takes on “An Army Of Walking Dead.”

The story originally appeared in Phantom Lady # 15 (Fox Feature Syndicate, December 1947) and was drawn, naturally enough, by Matt Baker. The Grand Comics Database believes the plot is courtesy of the Iger Studio’s prolific staff writer, Ruth Roche.

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Don’t underestimate the Phantom Lady just because she’s drawn like Jessica Rabbit! Coming tomorrow: Spy Smasher gets in a fist-fight with Death! (Spoiler: It doesn’t go too well for the hero…)

Love Stinks

The “happily ever after” moment in today’s story doesn’t feel particularly earned, especially when you consider the degree of deceit and narcissism the protagonist displays up until the final panel. Perhaps she’s supposed to be seen as an anti-hero, like Walter White in Breaking Bad or Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries.

At any rate, the excellently titled “Wild Desires Made Me Love Blind” owes most of it’s success to some typically gorgeous art by Matt Baker.

The story was written by Dana Dutch and originally appeared in Teen-Age Romances #12 (St. John Publications, October 1950).

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Don is either very kind or very stupid.

“Wild Desire” also inspired Matt Baker’s cover image for the issue …

I have to admit that Kevin guy certainly surrounded himself with a group of attractive research scientists!

Lady Or The Tiger?

As comics’ first true jungle queen, Sheena became the first female character to headline her own title and inspired a wealth of imitators.

Fiction House, the company that published the original jungle girl’s adventures, decided it could rip-off its own character just as well as anyone and ended up with one of the Golden Age’s most memorable Sheena clones: Tiger Girl.

Debuting in Fight Comics #32 (Fiction House, June 1944) Tiger Girl differed from Sheena by palling around with tigers (natch), brandishing a whip and relying upon the advice of a faithful Sikh named Abdola. She also possessed a ring of strength that was apparently forgotten in later issues.

Featuring the art of such Iger standouts as Matt Baker and Jack Kamen, Tiger Girl proved popular enough to share front-cover status with Señorita Rio and eventually bump our favorite undercover spy off the top spot altogether.

Tiger Girl remained Fight Comics’ lead character until 1952, after which the jungle girl spent two more years as a back-up feature in Jungle Comics.

The following story originally appeared in Fight Comics #54 (Fiction House, February 1948). Readers should take note of the high body count Tiger Girl amasses in this particular adventure. As befits her name, she was one of the more violent jungle girls in a genre already full of kick-ass heroines.

“Flee The Cobra Fury” is credited to “Allan O’Hara,” but GCD and other sources identify the story’s true artist as the legendary Matt Baker, who either inked himself or was aided by the equally talented Kamen and Jay Disbrow.

Law Of The Jungle

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Although Camilla Jungle Queen never achieved the fame of such Fiction House compatriots as Sheena or even Tiger Girl, she could definitely dispense Golden Age justice with the best of them.

Here’s a particularly graphic example from Jungle Comics #103 (Fiction House, July 1948). The art is provided by the king of Jungle Girl comics, Matt Baker.

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The Unfriendly Skies

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Ginger Maguire may not have been the brightest bulb among Golden Age heroines, but in the true Fiction House tradition she was more than capable at getting the job done. Too bad chauvanist attitudes at the time defined her job as “waitress” rather than acknowledging her true skill: flying – and more often than not, crashing – airplanes.

Oh well. At least Sky Girl had the fortune of being drawn by the greatest “Good Girl” artist of all time, Matt Baker!

The following story originally appeared in Jumbo Comics #129 (Fiction House, Nov. 1949). As you may have guessed, Time Bulleteer, the art was provided by the aforementioned Matt Baker.

(P.S. An evil twin has been sighted in today’s tale. Stay alert!!)

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Sex & The Single Super Girl

The comics that offended “right-thinking” people in the 1940s and 1950s are tame by today’s standards, especially when compared to what major publishers offer on the stands these days.

Fox’s Phantom Lady may have been Public Enemy No. 1 to Frederic Wertham, but to be quite honest I’ll take the relatively respectful (and realistic) “headlight” art of Matt Baker and Phantom Lady’s wit, intelligence and competence over the one-dimensional, anatomically exaggerated bad girls currently offered by the “House That Siegel & Shuster Built.”

From Phantom Lady #19 (Fox Features Syndicate, August 1948), here’s “Wine, Women and Sudden Death” by Iger Studio writer and editor Ruth Roche (one of the most successful and prolific – if anonymous – female creators of the Golden Age) and Matt Baker.

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So what could be better than a tawdry, “bad-girl-gone-worse” comic from a two-bit Golden Age comics publisher?

A tawdry, “bad-girl-gone-worse” comic from an obscure Golden Age comics publisher drawn by MATT BAKER!

Baker (1921-1959) is easily one of the best, and most notorious, “good girl” artists in comics history.

The artist’s sexy redesign of the Phantom Lady may be best remembered by fans and scholars alike for raising Frederic Wertham’s hackles, but Baker’s distinct style graced an staggering array of comic-book genres ranging from jungle girls, war and Westerns to romance, super-heroes and crime.

One of America’s first major African-American cartoonists, he also illustrated the noir graphic novel It Rhymes With Lust, written by Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller.

Although Baker passed away at the age of 37, his crisp storytelling and ability to depict beautiful women without sacrificing the subjects’ strength and dignity (No Jim Balent exaggerations here … which is quite a trick, when you note the lurid scripts he often illustrated) influences artists to this day.

From P.L. Publishing’s  Weird Adventures #1, it’s “The She-Wolf Killer!”

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