Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't worry your rugged little head about it

Now that's sexual harassment! But as everyone knows, it's okay if a hot, successful or wealthy woman does it because that's what guys really, secretly want at the workplace; a chance to get married and stop working.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Never trust a beautiful woman

Man (February 1950).

Grocery Store Artifact: Bear Vomit Flame

I'm not going to identify this product by name because I don't endorse it and don't give free advertising unless I am a fan, but I do get a kick out of this fire-breathing zombie bear logo every time I see it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cool Golden Age Page of the Day: Fly-Man

Irreversibly shrunken to doll-size as an experiment in crime-fighting, disfigured by being burned in acid by a bad guy, Fly-Man dons a mask and stabs evil in the back!
Spitfire Comics (August 1941).

Monday, February 18, 2008

That Strange Girl

To assert that the story that appeared in Young Romance #197, That Strange Girl, was rife with subtext would be an understatement. On the surface it is another comic book romance tale of an ugly-pretty tomboy too busy to fall in love. The story is infamous, if not notorious, for featuring early in Bronze Age of Comics a lesbian or bi-sexual character who begins a relationship with a persistent and popular male classmate once she buckles under to peer pressure and conforms to the local societal standards of expected behavior.

Currently, comic books and other media rely upon more than just the typical shallow male and female demographics and try to appeal to other niches of the consumer market by specifically courting all of them and their disposable income through various plots, characters and gimmicks. But in 1974 the Comics Code Authority could not allow an openly gay character to appear in a comic book and creators wanting to tell a certain type of tale or use a ready-made semi-controversial plot device had to find a way to tell the story in a manner that would both allow readers to get the gist of it and still be published. No one other than the author could say if most of these stories were intentionally written to have a hidden meaning and they may be what they are on the surface...cautionary morality tales and lessons on acceptable behavior from the status quo. What That Strange Girl and many of these stories have in common is the final panel or panels that use an awkward inclusion of exposition to abruptly and against all plot direction reinforce the traditional male and female gender roles. This device of exposition at the finale of the story was also common in the crime and horror comics, where the final panel would reveal the criminals paid for their crimes and that a character wasn't really Satan but was a man in a mask teaching someone a lesson. In the romance comic books the final panel of exposition usually depicts some woman declaring her eternal love and devotion to a man in spite of everything else the story may have been hinting at .

Depictions of sexuality in comic books that did not meet the criteria of the CCA (whether intended or not, there are thousands of questionable examples in comics) meant the creators had to be for the most part very subtle in their presentations. As any reader of the Golden, Silver and Bronze Age of Comics knows this was accomplished with varying degrees of success and subtlety. If there existed any hints or behavior associated with a character that violated the CCA standards then that usually meant the character had to be a villain or depicted as mentally disturbed and their sexuality was portrayed as deviant and extreme, i.e. the "Terrible Trio" hippies featured in Wonder Woman #185.

The subtext in That Strange Girl is not at all subtle ("Agnes isn't shy once you get to know her") and is only one of several stories of the type that appeared in romance titles of DC, Marvel and other companies of the era that dealt with similar issues. Most of the entries however did not present so ridiculous or heartbreaking of a climax to the story.

You can read That Strange Girl by clicking the cover to Young Romance #197 (Jan-Feb 1974) below.

That Strange Girl - 00

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's a John Byrne Valentine's Day!


Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew.

Cripes. What was Johnny thinking? The response should have been, "Yes, Lana...It would. You are a little girl and I am a grown man. It would be inappropriate and wrong on very many levels. Now, please excuse me. I'm going to go fly through the sun to clean off."

From Degenerations Generations #11, v III (January 2004).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Queen-Size Man-Thing

Two contrasting covers from Marvel in the 70s. Women get a joke about their weight while the guys get to brag about the size of their equipment.

From Queen-Size Millie the Model #11 (September 1974) and Giant-Size Man-Thing #4 (April 1974).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rugged Donna

When will "Rugged Donna" learn that men prefer their gals meek and non-threatening? Will she ever come to realize that it is dinner that guys wants fixed and not their Hot Rods?

Hi-School Romance #5 - The Taming of a Tomboy

Click the picture to find out!

From Hi-School Romance (June 1950).

Spider-Man vs. The Fan Base

Nertz. Spider-Man post-One More Day doesn't suck.

Wise-cracking, loner, part-time loser Peter Parker IS better.

Looks like Joe Quesada was r-r-r-r-r...

He was r-r-r-r-r...

Joe Quesada was r-r-r-r-r-r...

He was right, okay?

Monday, February 11, 2008


Mark Evanier reports that Steve Gerber has died after a long illness. Read more here.

Then go read the original Gerber runs on Howard the Duck, Defenders, Guardians of the Galaxy, Man-Thing and DC Comics Presents #97 for a journey through comics greatness.

Thanks, Chelsea!

"I'm here of my own free will to endorse Sleestak for President. I trust Sleestak more than I do my own Mother. After all, Sleestak would never repeatedly sell me to the highest bidder or strand me on a street corner. Sleestak is for America, by America for all true, honest, decent, hard-working Americans that love America. That is why I fully support Sleestak for President. You should too, because if my Mom is elected again, she'll cut you unless you get her [Expletive Deleted] money right now, [Expletive Deleted]! "

Why you blankety-blank!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It takes a real girl to cry!

Can a tomboy find true love?


Will anyone ever want a girl for a wife who can knock out a grown man with one punch?

Click the picture to find out!

From Girls' Romances #148 (April 1970).

Sleestak reviews: Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front

Oh, hey there! Just kicking back today reading the biography of illustrator, reporter, screenwriter and actor Bill Mauldin my pal Bully sent me.

Bill Mauldin is probably best known for his World War 2 editorial cartoons in which he commented on the conflict via a couple of weary, bemused average soldiers named Willie and Joe. One of his creations would become to be known as "G.I. Joe" and inspired a name and image that carried over into the public consciousness and even into products that exists in vastly different form to this day.

As a cartoonist, soldier and later as a civilian Bill Mauldin routinely attacked the Brass, fellow soldiers, the political system and was known to hold held grudges that lasted for years. Gen. Patton disliked him for what he perceived was a negative effect on morale via his cartoons. War Hero Audie Murphy disliked him. He was both respected and disliked immensely, threatened with jail and probably worse for his views and commentaries. He was a trickster and a troublemaker. He made friends and enemies with equal fervor. One story he wrote was considered controversial enough that publication was delayed until he after he was returned to civilian life.

As a fan of illustration who enjoys glimpses into the minds and lives of creators, Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front by Todd DePastino is a good read. Drop a line to Bully and he can tell you where to get your own copy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's your move

This scene appears nowhere in the book and I have no idea what is going on here.

If I would hazard a guess the fetishy, dadaesque scene and incestuous overtones of the cover art is representative of some power fantasy dream on the part of the Sub-Mariner or the unseen villain.

Or maybe the artist.

- Sub-Mariner #29 (December 1948).