In 1939 as the success of Superman led to the superhero craze and dozes of other companies started spiting out hundreds of other men in tights fighting crime and/evil, there were more than a few misfires.
One of the lamest had to be The Rainbow.
Jim Travis having read an issue of Acme Comics (funny you would think that would star Bugs Bunny) he decides that being a superhero would be swell, and that he would “get a costume and be the best He Man the comics ever saw.”
Of course what he should have seen was a psychiatrist, but you didn’t do that sort of thing in 1939, and you certainly didn’t do it in Arrow Comics # 3 where, after outfitting himself in one of the silliest superhero suits ever seen.
Noting the blue cape, red bare midriff bolero jacket, yellow gloves, and green tights (what no orange belt and indigo boots?) he had burdened himself with he set out to strike terror into the hearts of evil-doers as The Rainbow.
This was The Rainbow’s one and only appearance.
Hmmm… I wonder, if Arrow Comics and The Rainbow had gone past issue # 3 would his girlfriend have become the Golden-Age Hit Girl?
In any case, this character is so in the `public domain' it hurts, so if anyone wants to bring this stalwart defender of color coordination, go right ahead.
Crown Comics was an also ran comic published in the 1940s by a company called Golfing / McCombs. (no relation)
This was the only comic they published, which ran for 17 issues and had nothing else to do with the media other than publishing Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham in the 50s, the book that almost took the comic industry down!
Crown Comics didn’t have much to distinguish it among the other comics on the stands at the time, other than art by Matt Baker, and Voodah, one of the first black heroes in comics.
Well… more or less black.
While on the cover Voodah was always show as yet another `white jungle lord’ cut from the Tarzan mold, on the inside, at least for the first three issues, he and his female companion Jano, where themselves African.
By issue # 5 however, while still draw mostly the same, the colorist of the comic had started to use a distinctly lighter shade for the pair, and by the end of Crown Comics Voodah and Jano were clearly just another pair of Anglos in the forest like our old pals Tarzan and Jane.
If the comic had lasted another dozen or so issues Voodah might have ended up looking like Conan O’Brian.
I guess the creators figured it would work sort of like that hair product for men they use to sell, where “no one notices as the gray disappears.” Only in Crown Comics no one was meant to notice as the whites appeared.
I’m not sure, but I think these two are in the public domain now. Perhaps there are ready for a deconstructionist reimaging that explains the whole shifting about thing.
Should these little used Bat-Villains return, and if so could they be buffed up to work today?
From Batman # 55, Ed Peale, a man who has hated bells his whole life, and so
What’s not to love about this baddie from Batman # 129, part time fake Swami Ygar, at other times the Spinner, whose metal uniform is overlaid with spinning discs, and who utilizes a spinning buzz-saw gun, tops, and giant fans, and a glue gun (??!??) in his nefarious quest for wealth. And is he working that propeller on his helmet or what?
From Detective Comics 350 and Batman 336, The Monarch of Menace Batman’s only failure from the earliest days of Batman’s career, and while he’s forgotten now, for a while (two issues) he was the first criminal to defeat Batman and leave Gotham with a fortune in stolen goods.
Myself I always liked 80s villain The Wraith, (no picture) who was sort of an anti-Batman, his dedication to crime, with a specialty in killing policemen, coming about when, on the same night that young Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed, he saw his parents, both violent criminals, die in a gun battle with patrolman James Gordon.
Sheldon Moldoff got into the habit of placing an astonished Robin, the Boy Wonder in the corner of Detective Comics looking on at the events taking place center cover.
Okay, if he wasn’t taking part I guess he had to be somewhere, these however have a remarkable sameness to them and after a bit start to look as if Moldoff had saved himself some drawing time by having a Robin rubber stamp made and after doing the cover just took it out, inked it up and `thump’ there’s Robin looking like he’s stoned again.
Then after awhile he changes things up, keeping the same look and pose, but changing him from the lower right hand corner to the left corner.
It started in issue 274, and went on in issues 277, 285, 298,312, 313, 316, and ending in issue 322. But not before Curt Swan got in on the act and popped three in on the covers of World’s Finest in issues 89, 95, and 99, no doubt however there are some I missed.
And that’s your pointless bit of comic book history for today.
And just for the record one of these gems appeared 50 years ago this August along with these others.
So who wants to bring the Whirlybirds back?
I don't know, perhaps the chopper could talk or something.
It’s a well known part of Marvel lore that one of their first comic characters, Ka-Zar, appeared first in text stories in a pulp magazine titled Ka-Zar.
A lesser known item is that at one point during the mid 40’s then Timely publisher Goodman tried taking things in the other direction as well and gave one of the characters that first appeared in Marvel Mystery Comics his own pulp.
Nope, not the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner or even Captain America, the character picked for that honor was The Angel.
The pulp version of The Angel however had as little to do with the four color Angel as the pulp Ka-Zar has to do with the modern incarnation of that character. He still wears a mask, but he also wears his underwear on the inside, also he doesn’t wear a cape, but he does have a long tan coat that stands in for one, also the author of the pulp version changed his name to Gabriel Wilde, (Gabriel get it, that’s why he calls himself the Angel).
Basically the pulp version of The Angel is a blatant rip off of Simon Templar, the Saint.
Unfortunately the guy they got to do the writing was a no talent hack and The Angel Detective saw only one issue.
Should have gone with the Human Torch, that at least would have been different.
Allegedly the U.S. Army did a study to find out the quickest method for imparting knowledge swiftly.
Their finding, it seems was that the best form to take is something resembling an American comic book.
And yet in the public sector, other than some pretty week efforts over the years such as “Fluoridation Your Friend,” and comics featuring Smoky the Bear, Woodsy Owl & Reddy Kilowatt, few others have made much use of this information and produced very many “educational” comic books.
However there have been some notable efforts.
Look and Learn was a publication from Amalgamation / Fleetwood England’s oldest publisher of comic books, it was published throughout the 60’s.
Unlike their other comics at the time, which were digest sized, L & L had the dimensions of an American comic book, it was half color, and was made up mostly of highly illustrated text articles, with from 8 to 12 pages made up of color comics, it also had some striking covers.
I have read one place and another that today it is fondly remembered by parents and grandparents, but not a word about the now adult children it was fostered on giving a flip, a demographic that has to tell you something about the real popularity of Look & Learn.
1. Hey pal shut up, I’m trying to watch a depressing movie here. On second thought, just shut up altogether. First of a long line of public service comics put out in 1951 by of all groups the NFPA or National Fire Protection Association, after this they first went with two issues of Smokey Stover and then from then until this very day switched their own character Sparky the Fire-Dog. Sparky however has left us on our own in regard to atomic doom.
2. This is the fifth and last comic produced for the American Dental Association in 1954 by the company started by Will Eisner when he left commercial comics. Back during that era they were saying that comics caused everything from juvenile delinquency to a plethora perversions that most proper people in the 50’s were not even suppose to even know about.
And here’s proof that its true, with this one handed out for free in dentist’s offices trying to impurify all of our precious bodily fluids!
3. Further proof of the corrupting influence of comics, I’m no expert on these things, but I’m pretty sure this is some sort of fetish to SOME people, you know the ones I’m talking about THOSE people. Probably have a dozen different groups dedicated to it on Yahoogroups and any number of web pages about which I will not speak.
Not that I would visit any one them!
4. At least some comics were on the right track back then, showing how things should be.
1. Sue & Sally, The Flying Smith Sisters. Appearing in just 7 comics in 1962, not long, but it should be noted as impressive for 1962 when female comic book heroines were thin on the ground . Use to be a romance comic called My Secret Love, but the Silver-Age was heating up, and romance comics were lagging and so Sue and Sally, nurses of the Emergency Corps Rescue Team, were born. Probably about due for a retooling and reappearance.
2. From 1948 a very unusual creation from Gordon “Boody” Rogers, but then all of Boody’s creations were pretty unusual to downright weird. This comic, which survived for 11 issues told the adventures of Babe Boone, who due to her life long imbedding of lighting juice (distilled from the bark of oak trees struck by lightning) is stronger, faster, and more agile than almost anyone else in the world, turning to sports she become the first women to play major league baseball, winning two World Series almost single handed while also giving football and boxing a try (rejected because she bad about the damage she has to inflict “on all those defenseless men” to play those games. Mostly however the comic tells about her live at home in Possum Holler in the Ozarks home of Babe as well as a merman who lives on land and gets around on crutches, a three legged caveman hatched from an egg that rolled out of a volcano, patches of land that if you blunder into them reverse your gender, and a community of centaurs. think Al Capp on acid and you have Babe’s adventures.
3. From 1952 we have G. I. Jane, a comic series more 50’s normal,
In other words, condescension and sexism is so thick you could spread it on toast like butter. Nice artwork though.
4. And then we have Untamed Love.
The theme of the story based on the cover?
Guys can’t resist chicks who dress like Ming the Merciless.
1. The Silver-Age gets one of it’s major players with the appearance of the Justice League of America, which as it became more popular would lead to Martin Goodman suggesting to Stan Lee that they aught to do something like that Marvel, leading to the Fantastic Four.
2. That darn Grottu! Where are the Avengers when you need them? (see above)
3. This series use to come out once a year every December, they published 13 of them from 1950 to 1962, then again from 1972 to 1977.
4. The reason Batman was unable to help fight Starro over in Brave & the Bold that month.
Yeah… the Batster back then needed to have his priorities adjusted.
From 1959 to 1969 American comic books saw the coming of the silver-age of comics with the reworking of the Flash, the Justice League of America, Fantastic Four, Spider-man, Hulk and all that other Lee &Kirby creations along a lot of other wacky colorful stuff.
This was what was going on in England and the Philippines at the same time.
Look like the covers of paperback books aimed at adults.
Makes our stuff look kind silly by comparison doesn’t it?
Johnny Nero did not age that well, and when’s the next John Steel movie coming out wise guy?
Here’s another sign that the age of the comic book is over.
Back in the day there were dozens of companies that used comics as a way to promote their wears, or business, or point of view, or zinc and I don’t know what. and I don’t just mean those umpty - bumpty gazillion issues of the “Adventures of Big Boy,” with it’s third rate art and no sub-text to the story what-so-ever!
I’m talking people like `Big Bread,’ who hired Walt Kelly of Pogo fame to do their comic, or Fram Motors who got THE man himself Will Eisner to do their comic, and note the price for that thing 15 cents!
I mean it's 1953, on the stands you will find Tales from the Crypt, the golden age Superman and Batman, the short lived commie fighting new version of Captain America, heck even Rex the Wonder Dog and all for only 10 cents! and yet Fram is pretty sure kids will be willing spend that and a another nickel besides for Hoods Up? Yowser!
And then were was Camera Comics, (don’t try this at home kids! What was this the Mtv Jackass gang of Earth 2?) produced by the "U. S. Camera Publishing Corporation” itself to promote photography among youngsters, and not just with articles about how to make your own darkroom or a time delay gadget for a camera, dull whitewashed self-serving illustrated stories about the pioneers of photography, and photo spreads (though it did have that) in it’s 36 pages your found action heroes like Army Air Corp photog The Grey Comet, Linda Lens girl-reporter who used her camera as a blunt instrument to take out Nazi and thugs as often as she used it to take pictures, & Kid Click (the idiot on the cover) and others.
Oh yeah… and there was Buster Brown comics which you could only get at the places that sold those shoes… they had nice art.
Where are the corporate comics of today?
Why no special additions of Y: The Last Man from Victoria’s Secrets?
Too Much Coffee Man Comics from Starbucks? (okay I get the reason for that, but you know what I mean.)
Where is Mac and/or P.C. Comics?
It’s the end I tell ya’ the end of comics!
I wonder if Wendy's would be interested in an idea I have for a graphic novel about a sexy redheaded mercenary woman who kills vampires with great chili and super thick milkshakes?