Monday, August 30, 2010

Dying is easy, it's math that's hard

This just might be my first tattoo. Unless I do that thing with my fingers like Robert Mitchum.

DEATH x 2 = 0!

Story title from Nightmare #13 (August 1954). Art by George Tuska.

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 2

Planet Comics #36 (May 1945) marks the second appearance of Mysta. As a character she is still not fully fleshed out though she is comfortably housed in an interplanetary fortress by this issue all the better to watch the universe and scan for evil. Being a super science hero was pretty common for tales of this age and it would take some time for her to settle into a role similar to contemporary comic book characters.

Mars, the troublesome God of War makes only a cameo appearance and is likely present only because his name is on the cover and to ease the transition from his adventures to Mysta. New stories featuring Mars would be discarded entirely and the character would appear only as reprinted tales in a few future issues and fanzines.

For more about Mars, go to Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine. He posted a great Mars story back in 2009 from Planet Comics #69. There is a reason that serial is much sought after by collectors.

In this issue Mysta goes up against slime-fungus, mind-controlled zombies and the evil, twisted despot Superbrain. It ends pretty much as grisly as expected.

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 01

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 02

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 03

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 04

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 05

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 06

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 07

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 08

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 09

Planet Comics 36 - Mysta (May 1945) 10

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Space Conquerors: Kurt and Primo

Here is a fondly remembered chapter from the nearly forgotten and criminally-uncollected Space Conquerors from Boy's Life (March 1971). This was a long-running strip that changed in sophistication from Space Race Atom-Age exploration of Manifest Destiny to Space Opera over the decades as reader tastes and expectations changed. Space Conquerors was usually credited to Al Stenzel with art duties being typically uncredited. The artists varied over the years and it would take someone with greater familiarity with the illustrators of the era than I to identify them.

I read with fascination this strip in the 1970s and I had a subscription to Boy's Life just for this version of the Space Conquerors. For some reason this chapter really stuck in my memory. It doesn't have much action but I think the willingness of Primo to eat the local fare first to test it for safety and Kurt's refusal to have his friend take the risk alone stuck with me.

Then there is this chapter from June 1971. Yikes.

All this in a magazine aimed at young boys? Then again the market was for Boy Scouts, who were presumably more mature and able-bodied than the precious little snowflakes of today.

Don't Shop Blindfolded

Ladie's Home Journal (Oct 1957).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cowboy Sahib - Chapter 1

Cowboy Sahib

Here's an updated link to the first appearance of Leonard Starr's almost-forgotten gem, Cowboy Sahib!

For those not familiar with Cowboy Sahib it is the tale of a garsh-shucks modern American cowboy transplanted via war to India. Once there he fights despots and Cossacks and all manners of vile sorts and along the way manages to win the hand of a beautiful princess.

There are quite a few awesome images from comic books that are eternal, usually featuring Batman, but the drawing of a cowboy firing off his six-shooters while riding a tiger into battle is one for the ages.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What to the Up

Okay, had enough sleep! Coming soon...

Mondays are going to be Mysta Mondays for a while.

Updating Cowboy Sahib. Had to clean up the scans. Probably Fridays.


Satan lives! In your old toys.

Books, books, books. And magazines.

My First Big Book of Noir. Featuring the Namesake Killer!

Let Me Tell You About My Flair. Mmm-hmm, yeah.

Realms Apart. A story about the dark side of sunny San Diego.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

5 Fingers

Been watching a lot of noir lately and came across this poster for the movie 5 Fingers (1952).

Poster art seems to be a lost skill these days as research shows that big giant, recognizable heads heads on a display is what sells tickets and DVDs. Compare the original 5 Fingers poster with the DVD packaging for the 2006 remake Five Fingers, loosely-based upon the original.

But it isn't the evolution of movie art that moves me today. Fashion is. The original 5 Fingers poster inspired me to make a proof-of-concept glove inspired by the poster.

I could totally see some hot, dangerous, billiards-playing woman wearing a glove with LUST, GREED, PASSION, DESIRE and SIN embroidered on the fingers in heavy, silver metallic thread. Any wolf that got fresh with her would end up having those words bruise-embossed into his forehead.

Hmm. This idea will probably be ripped off and for sale in a Hot Topic or an Etsy store within the month.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 1

Mysta of the Moon is a science fiction adventure serial that ran in Planet Comics from 1945 to 1952. Mysta is one of the most consistent serials in regards to art and story quality to have been published by Fiction House. Mysta originally appeared as a young woman in issue #35 of Planet Comics (March 1945) as a victim of the machinations of Mars, the God of War. Mysta, as the repository of the sum of all knowledge, takes it upon herself to fight Mars and assist humanity out of the ruins of civilization.

Mars was the featured character of an earlier and respected Planet Comics serial. In those stories, the evil Mars would travel the galaxy and possess different people, forcing them to commit horrific acts and spread terror and strife all in the name of conflict. What made this serial different is that often Mars would emerge victorious being defeated only after spreading widespread chaos.

In Planet Comics #35 Mars is waging a war against science and intellectualism when he crosses paths with Mysta and her brother. While this story details Mars' greatest success, effectively destroying human civilization, it also
marks the marginalization of the Mars character as the far more visually appealing Mysta is brought to the forefront as the protector and savior of humanity. By the following issue Mysta headlined her own series and Mars was delegated to only a final cameo.

Out of all the female characters featured in Planet Comics it is Mysta of the Moon that was the strongest in terms of characterization. Unlike many other contemporary characters Mysta largely stood on her own in her adventures. Typically in almost any comic book tale of the era, where a female would often act as the lead in a story it was not unusual to have a man show up near the end of the tale and take charge, wrapping things up as the female character shed angst-filled thought balloons expressing gratitude and unrequited love. Among the Planet Comics entries this was most common among the Gale Allen serial. Mysta, being the most intelligent person in the Universe, would have none of that even though the creative team in the beginning used the "Diana Prince" trope and there is a greater than average amount of gratuitous cheesecake in the stories. Anyone interested in researching a good example of early female empowerment in comic books could do worse than reading the Mysta of the Moon series.

Like many superheroes Mysta, who was the repository of all knowledge, maintained a secret identity so the public at large would not know she was acting as their savior and defender. In her guise as an older and unappealing librarian or technician, Mysta fought criminals, mutant zombies and solved mysteries with the aid of a lab assistant and an unstoppable robot with which she shared a telepathic link.

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 01

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 02

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 03

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 04

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 05

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 06

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 07

Planet Comics 35 - Mysta (March 1945) 08

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Handyman's Book

Binder and loose-leaf pages found complete at a dollar book sale. Loaded with useful repair tips, diagrams and detailed how-to instructions. Still basically useful except for the parts about vacuum tubes and cloth-insulated wiring.

BH & G Handyman's book cover (1957-1966)

Nice retro cover illustration featuring the swooning, enamored housewife proud of, and presumably wanting to copulate with, her man George.

BH & G Handyman's book interior (1957-1966)

I don't know about this living room. An aquamarine color scheme with the chair camouflaged to disappear into the carpeting. I never knew the Camelot era was so tacky.

Better Homes and Gardens Handyman's Book (1957 cover binder, updated to 1966 interior loose-leaf pages).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One for the Wish List

With my birthday coming up in the next couple of weeks the wife asked me what I wanted as a gift. Without hesitation I told her I want bed covers embroidered on the side with the phrase CONTINUED AFTER NEXT PAGE.

When the wife asked for what purpose I could possibly want anything like that I informed her that it was so I could throw myself sobbing on the bed in order to perfectly emulate this comic book panel from Personal Love #2 (Nov-Dec 1958).

I don't think a day would pass where I wouldn't act out the scene at least twice.

I'll probably just get a new Leatherman or Gerber multi-tool, though. My wife doesn't get my humor.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mister, I love the way you wear that hat

Been looking for this cover for a while, finally found it via.

Red Seal Comics #16 (April 1946).

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's canon, fanboy

Canon City

From now on, I'm doing EVERYTHING with the NAKED FURY OF FACT!

"How was lunch?"
"Good, good. Had a salad."
"You always have salad."
"Yeah, but today I ate it with the NAKED FURY OF FACT!"

Canon City (1948).

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Torments of the Damned

Burning skies, toxic, sulfurous clouds, the tortured souls of innocent forest creatures forced to consume the scalding contents of hellbound pic-a-nik baskets as Satan gleefully enjoys the spectacle...Yes, they are dead and in hell, amirite?

Devil Kids #105 - Torments of the Damned (June 1981)

Devil Kids #105 (June 1981).

Devil Kids #105 - Tormented (June 1981)


Friday, August 06, 2010

Wine Pong

Wine Pong

Here are some ping pong balls hanging up in the liquor section spotted at a local grocery store in San Diego, August 2010. The most common usage for ping pong balls other than for a table game back in 1957 is for playing Beer Pong, a fun, stupid and sometimes ill-advised game that promotes over-imbibing of beer. Now, the store itself isn't directly promoting drinking games as it is an outside vendor who hangs up the racks of various impulse buy items. It is more than likely that the store is unaware the balls are in the liquor department.

These packs are not hanging up over the beer (yet) but they are in the general alcohol section. I have no doubt the store would not hesitate to move the balls to the toy section if brought to their attention.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Play Mysta For Me

A few people have stated they would like to see the Mysta of the Moon series run here like I did for Futura.

As much as I would like to also display that serial the recent giant seven-league step-backwards in photo hosting site Flickr has made that prospect one huge pain in the ass. I'll give it a try for publishing the first story Monday, but I'm pretty frustrated over all with the stupid, stupid changes to the Flickr service. Some of the WYSIWYG functionality has been removed. Flickr no longer offers uploading via the URL of the photo so formatting and placement of pictures has become a serious aesthetic issue for me. There are other issues but having to cut and past html and hope everything looks okay when posted and then go back and make tweaks and changes and write formatting is ridiculous.

I prefer the posts to have a layout similar to a newspaper or magazine (the classic look that most websites emulate), not a poor man's version of MySpace. Sadly, the trend for all applications seems to be leaning toward social networking. That's where the money is I guess.

The main problem with ditching Flickr is in finding a host that is not apt to fold and vanish, taking my photos with them.

Blonde Bait

Blonde Bait  - Poster (1956)

Blonde Bait  - Lobby Card 1 (1956)

Blonde Bait  - Lobby Card 2 (1956)

Blonde Bait (1956).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Comfortable phone

Ladie's Home Journal - Ericofon (Oct 1957) copy

Ladies Home Journal (Oct 1957).

Cowboy "Magic"

Optical illusion and a lesson in physics from Western Round-Up #10 (June-July 1955).

I generally like magic but I trend more to the performance art style of magic that Penn & Teller use in their acts, the kind of stunts that mess with people's heads. I really enjoy the slight of hand that Teller performs in the old acts.

Want to do some performance-magic, Sleestak-style? Okay, for the first time anywhere let me reveal the secret of the famous He's About To Go Postal Trick:

  1. Get an old doll with hair that closely resembles yours.
  2. Clip off a few locks of the doll hair.
  3. Go to work, concealing some of the hair in one hand before you enter your workplace.
  4. Wait for the first co-worker to greet you, preferably one with a small group.
  5. When they greet you, tremble, clutch both hands to your head and say, "Dammit! The sound of your voice just makes me want to...AAAAGH!"
  6. Pretend to rip some of your hair out and slowly open the hand containing the lock of doll hair, letting it slowly fall to the floor.
  7. Then reveal to your audience that it was a sleight of hand gag, enjoy the accolades and back-slapping. Some high-fiving may occur. Hot, lonely women may want to party with you.
Note: I don't recommend anyone actually do this. I'm merely revealing my secret. Leave performance art magic to the professionals. I am not responsible for firings, punishment, censure, trauma or SWAT teams being deployed if anyone actually performs this trick. IT'S NOT MY FAULT!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Christian Woman Stops Robbery With Guilt

This video of a woman in a store talking a guy out of robbing her is hitting the media outlets faster than a psychic on a rich widow. Nearly every news organization and uncountable blogs are leading with the story of Jesus stepping in to save the woman from harm and/or the money from being stolen. Watch this video and note were the would-be robber actually changes his mind. It has little to do with Jesus.

I doubt that stores make the teller or employee reimburse the company in the event of being robbed. I have worked for many companies retail or otherwise and have never heard personally of any place that did. Repayment may be sought after theft by the employee in some cases, from negligence sometimes, but not when forced to give up items of value. I would really like to know the official policy from the company about compensation from employees in the event of robbery.

i asked, but since it is unlikely I will hear back from that company and news organizations will certainly never question her statement of having to pay back the company it appears that what an article in the Miami-Herald calls a "fib" (others call it a lie) and guilt is what stopped the robber and not the invisible hand of the Lord. It appears more the worry that someone reluctant (or unstable and easily coerced) to commit a crime in the first place would cause the victim inconvenience than divine intervention. It is clear that the woman showed no fear, and if her belief enabled to her to calmly dialog and confront a man with a gun, then great. Often not acting like prey is almost all that is needed to avoid being a victim. But that can backfire and is a personal choice, not one that an employee should make for the company and any other persons in the store or the vicinity.

It is quite possible the company will terminate her employment for not cooperating with a robber. Interfering with criminal activity can have serious consequences as some Sprint employees, among others recently discovered. Most companies have strict rules about how to deal with criminal activity and not cooperating can create extreme risk for others. Her unwillingness to follow the orders of the armed man actually extended the length of the robbery and the time he was in the store. Every moment he remained in the store increased the risk for everyone involved. That is why it is better, if not policy, to comply, give the person the goods or funds and let them depart as fast as possible. Fortunately she was not harmed. What is unfortunate is how the news is playing up this event.

Try critical thinking, please, before attributing things to magic.

Unholy Wife

The Unholy Wife (1957).

Marcos Mist

Everyone familiar with comic books knows of the "Kirby Krackle", that pulsating, burning aura popularized by artist Jack Kirby that epitomizes the idea of unleashed and unlimited power. But who is familiar with the equally ubiquitous and unsung "Marcos Mist"?

Where the Kirby Krackle displays energetic violence there is another artistic device that conveys a more earthbound element and that is the Marcos Mist.

Celebrated comic book veteran artist Pablo Marcos renders fog and mists as more than mere moody scenery. In his horror and fantasy work mists are something animate, baleful and more often than not depicted as an extension of a character. Marcos Mist exists on a personal and cruel level. Where the Kirby Krackle lays waste to planets the Marcos Mist is a cold, thick and miasmic swirl of fog and shadow that envelopes and snares a victim.

Marcos Mists are organic and have more in common visually with blood-spatters than airborne droplets of water. That the Marcos Mist resembles crime scene evidence more than an atmospheric condition is a sign of careful wit and talent by Pablo Marcos and is more than a stylistic artifact of a particular artist.

So when reading your old Marvel horror books keep an eye out for the Marcos Mist. It just may have crept in and surrounded you without you even noticing.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sign of the Beetle

First up in this entry of the Cool Golden Age Page of the Day is this great full-page fight scene featuring the Blue Beetle from Mystery Men Comics #12 (July 1940).

I'd be hard-pressed to find a scene as cool as this one in another comic book. Not bad for what was considered disposable entertainment. A nice testament to the talent and professionalism of the artist, who is credited as Charles Nicholas.

The second cool page is from the same story. After beating down the crime gang the Blue Beetle painstakingly arranges the bodies in the shape of his totem as his signature. Not really necessary since back in the Golden Age before cross-overs each hero existed alone in their universe. Villains there were plenty of but heroes were often alone except for the occasional un-powered kid sidekick. There was probably only one person on earth who could possibly have beaten senseless 50 armed hoodlums but Dan Garret signed his work of art anyways.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Do right

Sung by Peggy Lee, mid to late 1940s. While this song made her famous she looks a little too pleased and happy with herself though I am positive that is the fault of the director of this sequence. This song absolutely needs a little less pep and a lot more cruelty to go over just right. The uncredited Amy Irving and the Who Framed Roger Rabbit crew nailed it with their cover sung by animated bad girl Jessica Rabbit.