Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bring Me The Head Of Bob Hope!

It is no lie that Lois Lane is a freaking Gold, Silver, Platinum and Diamond mine of blog entry material. Possibly the only book that can surpass the Silver Age craziness of her title is that of Jimmy Olsen, but his book is a whole other type of crazy (and actually got pretty serious when Kirby did his run). But where the Lois Lane book is like the charming, crazy Aunt who needs her meds and should lay off the scotch kind of madness, Jimmy's title is the equivalent of the deranged homeless guy on the bus who can't stop touching himself.

This panel from Lois Lane #50 (July 1964) has Superman's Girfriend visiting the lab of Professor Potter, the wacky scientist who's amazing inventions always go wrong when the plot demands it.

While Lois is focused primarily in the back pack time machine so she can go into the past and annoy Superboy and Lana Lang (and learn a much needed lesson that will not take) I was much more interested in the comedy robots displayed in the workshop. Mounted like grisly trophies are the heads of television personalities Jimmy Durante, Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis and Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs of the Dobie Gillis show. In Potter's sweaty hands are the likenesses of Bob Hope and another I initially thought was DC Editor Julius Schwartz* but is probably Phil Silvers. Of this group Hope, Lewis and Krebs were all either represented in or were just wrapping up a publication run at the time in the pages of various DC comic books. Phil Silvers appeared in both the Sgt. Bilko and Doberman comic books published by DC a few years earlier.

This panel is pretty clearly a bit of a stealth-advertising for the various comic books and television series. It didn't hurt to have the artist add in the plug and, after all, Potter had to be doing something with his hands. I imagine it was thought that the scene could generate interest and sales in the other books. And it probably did. In those long ago days before a cover-shot of Wolverine could cause a leap in sales and with print runs of nearly half a million or more copies it made sense to cross-advertise. The small cost of a sight gag could pay off big.

The partially disassembled Bob Hope robot is a funny image, looking as if he was cut off in mid-joke when his head was ripped from his torso, finger raised in protest.

"I was surprised at the crowd Jayne Mansfield drew when she got off the plane. I didn't think a couple of extra hills would be a novelty in Korea."
"Where is that damn 'off' switch? Screw it! I've been dreaming of this since 1943..."
"Now, hold on there...URK!"
Humorous, small robots in comic books are almost as good as monkeys. If the homicidal (yet hilarious) Brynocki got his own book I'd buy it. That would be an awesome cross-over event even better than Avengers/JLA. I'd love to see Brynocki take an axe and ball-peen hammer to a Bob Hope robot.

* Creator and staff cameos were not just the sole gimmick of the mid-1970's Marvel. For years the image of Mr. Schwartz regularly appeared in DC comic books as sometimes a main or background character.

4 comments:

  1. There's a great story in the House of Mystery Showcase collection by Gil Kane that rips on comics editors, inkers, letterers, and everyone the artist has to deal with, called "His Name is Kane", from HoM #180.

    It's total blogfodder because it is full of in-jokes. I don't recognise all the DC people who appear in it, so someone else is going to have to do it.

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  2. The GCD credits character appearances by Gil Kane and Joe Orlando. I'd have to see the issue to ID the others.

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  3. Brynocki turns up in the first story arc of the new Thing series. He remains small, homicidal, and wicked cool. He almost gutted Tony Stark with a shiv. Excellent.

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  4. I'd say Arcade is dead or missing and Brynocki is really pulling the strings.

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