Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 14

« Listen, Angel! If they’re out of bananas… I’ll meet you at the corner fruit stand! »

Today, let’s combine our general theme with a celebration of the birthday of one of comics’ great, yet perpetually underappreciated talents: Bob Oksner (October 14, 1916 – February 18, 2007), DC’s go-to humour and good girl art guy. Can you beat that? Didn’t think so.

Bob had a winning penchant for mixing monsters and babes, and for this, he’s earned our lifelong gratitude.

This is Angel and the Ape no. 6 (Sept.-Oct. 1969, DC), featuring The Robbing Robot and The Ape of 1,000 Disguises! (Would You Believe Four?), wittily written by John Albano, lusciously pencilled by Oksner, and creamily inked by Wallace “Wally” Wood. Truly swoon-inducing stuff. Edited by Joe Orlando (that explains all the monsters!), with a cover by Oksner.

You might say Angel and the Ape exist in an awkward sort of limbo: popular enough for the back issues to be kind of pricey, but not popular enough to have been reprinted (eight issues, including their Showcase appearance, ideal for a trade paperback, hint, hint).

So what else has Mr. Oksner cooked up over the years? Keeping to our theme, here are a few highlights, but first, a handy bio:

This piece appeared in The Adventures of Jerry Lewis no. 73 (Nov.-Dec. 1962, DC).
The is The Adventures of Jerry Lewis no. 83 (July.-Aug. 1964, DC). Formerly The Adventures of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis… of course. The book (under both titles) featured some lovely artwork from Owen Fitzgerald, Mort Drucker and of course Oksner… but it was no Sugar and Spike. Still, it had its audience, long-lasting as it was (124 issues… Jerry wasn’t just big in France!)
This is The Adventures of Bob Hope no. 104 (Apr.-May 1967, DC). DC’s celebrity-licensed humour titles followed a parallel course: fading sales led to their nominal stars being more or less sidelined in their own book in favour of increasingly outlandish supporting casts.
An inside page from that issue. Good-looking comics… but they weren’t particularly witty, which can be a bit of a drawback. Arnold Drake was the writer, and while he could be pretty damn funny, it just didn’t work here. Still, you can bet that it was still more amusing than Milton Berle’s comic book.
1940s teenager Binky was pulled out of mothballs in the late 60s (ten years elapsed between issues 60 and 61). A moderate success (especially given it mostly consisted of slightly updated reprints), it returned to oblivion after another twenty-two issues, though the first seven bore some rather fine Oskner cheesecake covers. This is Leave It to Binky no. 67 (June-July 1969, DC).
Finally, for a touch of the more ‘realistic’ Oksner style, here’s his cover introducing Sheldon Mayer‘s marvellously-mysterious Black Orchid. This is Adventure Comics no. 428 (July-Aug. 1973, DC). She deserved far more than a mere three-issue run!

-RG

3 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 14

  1. Matt Brunson October 17, 2020 / 19:40

    Great entry! The only time I’ve ever seen Angel and the Ape is in this mammoth issue (which I still own, semi-preserved in a plastic comic sleeve) linked below. If memory serves, it was Angel and (I think?) Lois Lane who turned out to be the stars over all the marquee superheroes.

    https://readcomiconline.to/Comic/Showcase/Issue-100?id=43346

    And I know practically every celebrity back in the day was immortalized in comic book form, but … Uncle Milty? That’s hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gasp65 October 20, 2020 / 10:36

      Hi Matt! While I bought it back in the day and still own that copy, I hadn’t looked at Showcase 100… well, pretty much since then. Not entirely surprising, given my general lack of affection for Joe Staton’s sloppy work. Still, it’s a fun issue, and having Lois and Angel save the day is indeed a lovely touch.

      I’ve been meaning to do an Angel and the Ape spotlight, and I will soon. The writing’s not always up to scratch, but the art is sooo beautiful. Oksner/Wood, like Ditko inking Kirby, is too much of a good thing, but who can resist such a combo’s charms?

      And yeah, Uncle Milty. He’ll be making the oddest, tiniest little cameo in the countdown.

      Liked by 1 person

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