« You’re going out wearing THAT? »

« It’s wisest always to be so clad that our friends need not ask us for our names. » — James Fenimore Cooper

(Being a compendium of fashion faux-pas and various sartorial eccentricities.)

Now here’s a figure shrouded in mystery (and little else): Captain Wizard, whose sole appearance was on the cover (and not enough of it) of Atomic Bomb no. 1 (Gerona/Jay Curtis, 1946), a scarce one-shot. Artist unknown, regrettably.

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What are this intriguing man of (relative) mystery’s abilities, aside from autonomous flight, quasi-nudity, bountiful love handles and a snazzy roué moustache? Did he “scare straight” hapless criminals with his sweaty, virile bear hugs? Sigh… I fear we shall never truly know. He’s in the public domain, the gent’s overdue for a revival!

Inside this issue: the exploits of Mandrake lookalike Beau Brummel, Special Agent No.1, Airmale and Stampy, Teeny McSweeny and Captain Milksop. Bracing stuff!

Read it here: http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=25457

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I suppose there are many ways to compete for the prized title of « Most outré criminal Batman and Robin have ever encountered » (awarded every other year in October at Gotham City Hall; call 608-555-1313 for reservations): powers, weapons, motivations, henchmen, moniker, targets, modus operandi

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The Killer Moth made his play for the brass ring by donning the most garish and unsightly garb imaginable. Here he is making his début in Batman no. 63 (Feb. 1951), The Origin of Killer Moth! This sorry buffoon’s inception is credited to Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Lew Schwartz, presumably to dilute the blame.

Of course, it’s unfair of me to pick on Killer Moth’s costume. I’m sure he took full opportunity to hone and refine his look over the next couple of decades. Plenty of down time to mull things over at his leisure in the clink, right?

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To precious little avail, apparently. Here he is a quarter century on, in Batman Family no. 10 (April, 1977); his wings have arguably been upgraded to a cape, but he’s still evidently daltonic. Cover by Bob Brown and John Calnan. Sadly, this was some of veteran Brown’s last published work; he passed away from leukaemia in January, 1977.

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Another entry from the closet of shame. His Very Name Invokes Terror… among the dandies of the Serengeti, who blanch and quake at the notion of being seen in public with him. However, that headgear of his reportedly drove Sir Elton mad with envy.

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Showcase no. 66 (Jan.-Feb. 1967), The Birth of B’wana Beast, pencilled (and possibly scripted, but who’d admit it?) by Mike Sekowsky and inked by George Roussos. Edited by George Kashdan… who was unceremoniously relieved of his editorial duties after a mere two Showcase issues, both featuring B’wana Beast.

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With Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko having decamped (not to mention Stan futilely slouching towards Hollywood), Marvel in the early 70s had not only lost its visionary plotters, but also its ace character designers.

Also, after 30 years or so of men in suits and hats, it was deigned that the younger and hipper generation should have characters whose wardrobe bore at least a tangential relationship to its own.

Created for the 100th issue of Daredevil by scripter Steve Gerber and penciller Gene Colan (who ended his initial long run on the title with that issue; was Angar the final straw, or was it the even more wince-inducing toadying to Jann Wenner?), Angar the Screamer was, to quote the amaranthine words of Wikipedia, « … born in San Francisco, California. He became a hippie and a radical social activist. He volunteered for an experiment that endowed him with sonic powers that caused people to hallucinate. » Groovy. Perfect for… 1973?

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If anything, we can be grateful that Angar’s colour scheme is relatively restrained. I suppose it makes sense for a flower child to opt for earth tones. This is the concluding, cliff-hanging panel from Mind Storm! (Daredevil no. 100, June, 1973). Pencils by Gene Colan, inks… nay, “embellishments” by John Tartaglione. Read that, er… masterwork right here.
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Poor DD’s saddled with calves thicker than his thighs. Cover art by Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia, with the usual fussing and turd polishing by John Romita Sr..

This is Angar’s first cover appearance, Daredevil no. 101 (July 1973), in a tale that could only be called… Vengeance in the Sky With Diamonds!

There *are* indeed tentacles within, so you’ll likely encounter these, some enchanted Tentacle Tuesday…

– RG

The Case of the Cackling Conjurer!

« Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. » — Denis Charles Pratt (1908-1999)

Longtime companions Bruce and Alex, who spend their days tracking down and investigating “queer events”, presumably for a guide they’re putting together, happen to drive near Oakville, where a gleeful oldster is on a tear.

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I’m thinking Quentin Crisp, because his fellow raconteur and bon vivant Sir Noël Coward wasn’t especially into large, floppy hats.

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« The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us. » — Quentin Crisp ( Denis Charles Pratt)
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You don’t say, Bruce! Let’s face it, screwball ideas hardly ever fail to bear fruit in these zany yarns.
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More action-packed merriment with Bruce & Alex, roving queerness inquirers!

Alex has a plan, and Bruce grasps instantly what Bruce has in mind. It’s like they’ve done this before. Somehow, Alex’s brainstorms always involve Bruce disrobing, and, judging from his expression, he’s unfailingly eager to comply.

This saga is that of The Cackling Conjurer (Strange Adventures no. 201, June 1967, DC), writer regrettably unknown, art by that magnificent oddball Bernard Baily. Edited, of course, by Jack Schiff; he may have screwed DC out of Jack Kirby’s talent throughout the 1960s, and nearly drove the Batman titles over the cancellation cliff, but he certainly produced some perversely entertaining crap. Incidentally, Schiff retired from comics two issues after this one, but surely that’s mere coincidence.

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As you can see, the rest of the issue was quite mundane and utterly devoid of eccentricity. Cover by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos. That’s a rather… intimate hold the Mod Gorilla Boss has on Animal-Man, don’t you think?

– RG

Case of the Animated Counterparts

« In the big wrinkled world,
it would be like looking for
a straw in a needle stack… »

Based upon, but with savvy improvements, Peter Sellers‘ Inspecteur Jacques Clouseau from the popular series of films launched with 1963’s “The Pink Panther“, the animated Inspector and the titular feline (who first appeared in the opening credits of the film) were spun off into a pair of successful series of animated shorts. Produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, these series have earned their place as highlights of 1960s animation, though the competition was pretty toothless, compared to prior decades.

As for funnybooks, Gold Key’s “The Pink Panther and the Inspector” title was a solid success, lasting 84 issues (73 under the GK imprint, then 11 more under Whitman, 1971-1984), leading to a solo spinoff for The Inspector (19 issues, 1974-78). This is surprisingly witty stuff, written and drawn with assurance and verve. Comic strip great Warren Tufts (creator of Casey Ruggles) was reportedly involved, though when it comes to Gold Key and Dell, credits are at best sketchy.

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This is issue 2 of The Inspector (Oct. 1974, Gold Key.)
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Speaking of the « Case of the Stolen Kiss », here’s a rather… daring public display of affection! This being Gold Key, the material was not submitted for approval to the industry’s censorship body, the Comics Code Authority.

Oh, and here’s the Panthère rose‘s entry into the celluloid world:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0YI9c3jc90

– RG

The Great American Comic Strip Catastrophe of ’78

« At last I will feast upon fried blob! »

If you’ll just bear with me, we’ll take a peek at a bit of an obscurity, one that’s struck a resonant chord in me. It’s called Bob Blob, and I first encountered it in the June, 1978 issue of Marvel’s Dynamite Magazine knockoff, Pizzazz (1977-79). “The Great American Comic Strip Catastrophe” had been part of the magazine’s lineup since its inaugural issue, but had pretty thoroughly failed to live up to the promise of its title. With issue 9, the magazine’s “First National Edition“, Jon Buller‘s Bob Blob oozed into view and relieved readers from the pedestrian ‘funny animal’ antics just taking up space and failing to bring about the announced, and hoped-for, comic strip catastrophe.

For its final four issues, Pizzazz adopted as its motto “Humor in the Marvel Manner“. If you ask me, that’s what dragged the magazine down: Dr. Doom knock-knock jokes? Er, no thanks. It’s when the humour veered away from said ‘Marvel Manner’ that Pizzazz acquired some actual pizzazz. Bob Blob was at once hi-concept and lowbrow, and one gets the sense that Jon Buller could have spun endless, increasingly surreal variations on his theme, but the magazine lasted but a scant sixteen issues, and ran only eight Bob strips.

Here they are, in order of publication and everything!

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This particular strip anticipates Larry Cohen‘s cautionary horror satire The Stuff (1985).

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According to Jon Buller, Bob was born… well, let him tell the story:

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Read in full Jon Buller’s story in cartoon form, of which this is panel 8 of 13 (go ahead, it’s concise, splendidly told, and well worth your time)

Buller went on to illustrate countless books (sixty at last count!) written by his equally talented wife, Susan Schade. To name but a few: Riff Raff Sails the High Cheese, Anne of Green Bagels, Dracula Marries Frankenstein, No Tooth, No Quarter!, Baseball Camp on the Planet of the Eyeballs, Ron Rooney and the Million Dollar Comic

Check out their website: http://www.bullersooz.com/index.html

– RG

Can You Hear Us?

« Galloping ladybugs! What *are* those things, professor? »

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It’s hard to imagine an explanation for this premise that wouldn’t raise more questions than it answered. By the 1960s, DC just didn’t know *what* to do with the Blackhawks. The title had been among DC’s top-sellers since the early 1940s, but it was becoming harder and harder to keep up with the times.

This is issue 199, from August 1964. Cover by Dick Dillin and Sheldon Moldoff. No one rushes forward to claim credit for writing The Attack of the Mummy Insects, but it’s probably Dave Wood.

The title would run until issue 243, in 1968. Ironically, its very finest issues would be its final two (until it was briefly revived in the 70s), an amazing two-parter drawn by Pat Boyette and returning these venerable characters to their roots and original uniforms.

 

– RG