Roy Thomas’ Hero-Happy Comics Fanzine
ALL THE WAY WITH
In the USA
No. 82 December 2008
Heroes TM & ©2008 Archie Comics Publications, Inc.
Get PEP And ZIP Into Your TOP-NOTCH Life— And You’ll Hit The BLUE-RIBBON JACKPOT! Featuring IRV NOVICK * JACK COLE * BOB FUJITANI * PAUL REINMAN HARRY SHORTEN * CHARLES BIRO * IRWIN HASEN * MORT MESKIN * GIL KANE HARRY LUCEY * JACK BINDER * BOB MONTANA * JOE EDWARDS & MORE!
Vol. 3, No. 82 / Dec. 2008 Editor Roy Thomas
Associate Editors Bill Schelly Jim Amash
Design & Layout Christopher Day
Consulting Editor John Morrow
FCA Editor P.C. Hamerlinck
Comic Crypt Editor Michael T. Gilbert
Editorial Honor Roll Jerry G. Bails (founder) Ronn Foss, Biljo White Mike Friedrich
Circulation Director Bob Brodsky, Cookiesoup Productions
Cover Artist Bob McLeod
Cover Colorist Tom Ziuko
With Special Thanks to: Heidi Amash Jean Bails Bonnie Biro Frank Brunner Buzz Joe Carroll Mike Catron Bob Cherry John Coates Teresa R. Davidson Betty Dobson Michael Dunne Eda Lisa Edwards Don Ensign Shane Foley Ron Frantz Bob Fujitani Janet Gilbert Penny Gold Victor Gorelick Ron Goulart George Hagenauer Jennifer Hamerlinck Daniel Herman Arvell Jones
Jay Kinney Mark Lewis Ed Love Mike Machlan Glenn MacKay Peter Meskin Matt Moring Brian K. Morris Michelle Nolan Denise Ortell Ken Quattro Ethan Roberts David Siegel Marc Svensson Marc Swayze Dan Tandarich Dann Thomas Mike Tiefenbacher Gregg Whitmore Dylan Williams Ron Wilson
Contents Writer/Editorial: We’ve Got The MLJ Blues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 All The Way With MLJ!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Ron Goulart relates the saga of the super-heroes who paved the way for Archie Andrews. Bonus! A photo-spread on the early-1940s MLJ offices, courtesy of Mike Catron.
The MLJ Comics Super-Hero Index (1939-1948) . . . . . . . . 23 A Skeleton Key to the Golden Age of Pre-Archie, introduced by Michelle Nolan.
“The Shield Was The First Patriotic Hero”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 In comics, anyway. John Coates’ 1990s interview with Golden Age MLJ artist Irv Novick.
“Working At MLJ Was A Good Experience!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Part One of an interview with the late “Archie” artist Joe Edwards, conducted by Jim Amash.
Comic Crypt: That’s Just Sick! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Michael T. Gilbert on some of the weirdest art and text that’s ever been sneaked into comics.
FCA [Fawcett Collectors Of America] #141 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 P.C. Hamerlinck presents Ron Frantz on Jerry DeFuccio… & Marc Swayze on “this action business.” On Our Cover: Not so very long ago, collector Michael Dunne commissioned pro comics artist Bob McLeod—who also edits our TwoMorrows sister mag Rough Stuff—to draw this exciting panorama of some of MLJ’s greatest Golden Age super-heroes… and both guys were kind enough to let us use it as our cover on this issue. Actually, Bob had drawn one more hero than we had room for—as you’ll notice when you glom the whole illo in black-&-white on p. 23. [Characters TM & ©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.] Above: Scattered throughout this issue you’ll find a few modern-day drawings of MLJ stalwarts done as commissions—all created, as it turns out, for that selfsame Michael Dunne! Let’s start out with the above pencil sketch of Mr. Justice by Arvell Jones, artist in the 1970s and ’80s of such comics as The Return of the New Gods, All-Star Squadron, et al. A great, moody way to start the issue! [Mr. Justice TM & ©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.] Alter EgoTM is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Roy Thomas, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Alter Ego Editorial Offices: 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews, SC 29135, USA. Fax: (803) 826-6501; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Single issues: $9 US ($11.00 Canada, $16 elsewhere). Twelve-issue subscriptions: $78 US, $132 Canada, $180 elsewhere. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © Roy Thomas. Alter Ego is a TM of Roy & Dann Thomas. FCA is a TM of P.C. Hamerlinck. Printed in Canada. ISSN: 1932-6890 FIRST PRINTING.
All The Way With MLJ! The Saga Of The Super-Heroes Who Paved The Way For Archie by Ron Goulart NOTE: This material was originally printed, in slightly different form, in the magazine Comics Collector, in the issues for Summer and Winter 1984. Thanks to Brian K. Morris for a retyping assist.
“Give Me An ‘M,’ Give Me An…”
arlier this year , the Archie Comics folks again resurrected some of their old-time super-heroes and costumed crime fighters. By way of their Red Circle line of comic books, you can once again follow the adventures of Steel Sterling, The Shield, The Black Hood, Mr. Justice, and several other heroic chaps who first set up shop forty and more years ago. I got a kick out of seeing some of my boyhood idols cavorting again and I wish Red Circle well. [A/E EDITOR’S NOTE: Since these pieces were written, of course, DC Comics licensed those heroes in the early 1990s for its brief-lived Impact line, and another DC revival is currently planned.]
The only trouble is, for someone like me who grew up following these fellows in their original Golden Age incarnations, these latter-day Mighty Crusaders are too slick and sensible. I miss those old illogical, sometimes outright wacky heroes of my youth. I miss, too, the second-banana good guys—such as Mr. Satan, Ty-Gor, The Firefly, Captain Valor, etc.—who probably won’t even get revived this time around. And I miss the eclectic look of the magazines of that long ago and more innocent age. Let me, in the following pages, show you what I mean. When these particular heroes first came forth, Archie hadn’t even been born and the publishers called themselves MLJ Magazines, Inc. Less formal than MGM, the company took its title from the firstname initials of its proprietors. They were Morris Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John Goldwater, and they entered the fast-growing funny-book field late in 1939. The artwork and scripts for the earliest issues of the new titles were provided by the sweatshop run by Harry “A” Chesler. While some gifted people worked for the enterprising Chesler, it doesn’t look as though he sent in his first team to produce material for Morris, Louis, and John.
MLJ, MLJ—How Many Comics Did You Sell Today? The three founders of MLJ, in a photo taken circa 1943—plus Bob Montana’s cover for Archie Comics #1 (Winter 1942), easily MLJ’s most important publication ever. For the company’s first comic ever, Blue Ribbon #1, see p. 23. (Left to right in the photo:) co-publishers Morris Coyne, Louis Silverkleit, and John Goldwater. The oil painting in the background is the work of Milt Luros. Photo courtesy of Archie Comics and editor Victor Gorelick; with thanks to Jim Amash & Teresa R. Davidson; Vic is editor of the Archie line. Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher for the cover scan. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
The Story Of The Super-Heroes Who Paved The Way For Archie
Blue Ribbon Comics The MLJ line got off to a rather shaky start with the launching of Blue Ribbon Comics. The first issue had a November cover date, and its star was not a super-hero but a dog. “Rang-A-Tang,” billed as “The Wonder Dog,” was right there on the cover acting courageous, and his six-page adventure started off the issue. Rin Tin Tin, who’d made his movie debut way back in the silent days of 1916, was undoubtedly the inspiration for this less-than-scintillating feature. Most of the other strips, such as “Dan Hastings,” “Buck Stacey,” and “Burk of the Briney,” weren’t much snappier. Science-fiction hero Hastings wasn’t even brand new, having already done his stuff in Star Comics for another company as early as two years before. About the only bright spot in the issue was “Crime on the Run,” a lively Gang Busters sort of feature turned out by a young fellow named Jack Cole, later famed for creating Plastic Man. Although he favored bigfoot gag cartooning, Cole was already developing an effective adventure style. He also, unlike most of the Chesler colleagues with whom he shared the magazine, understood that comic books were different from newspaper strips and pulp magazines. Cole’s page layouts and his staging of scenes take advantage of the format. Blue Ribbon’s first super-hero arrived in the second issue. He wore a green costume, green cowl with wings over the ears, and a scarlet cape. His name was “Bob Phantom.” That doesn’t seem to be too striking a
name for a chap who fancies himself “the Scourge of the Underworld.” A crime-buster with a first name is just too folksy to be formidable. You probably wouldn’t be frightened by Bill Batman or Fred Superman, either. Actually, Bob seems to have come by his name because the Chesler shop had it left over from an earlier character. Another Bob Phantom, a mustached magician in this case, had appeared way back in the first issue of the aforementioned Star Comics (Feb. 1937), then vanished. This new Bob P., drawn by Irving Novick, stuck around for two issues and then defected to Top-Notch Comics. Charles Biro, like Cole an artist/writer who’d leave his mark on comics (he later created Crimebuster and Airboy, and drew the original Daredevil, as well editing and often writing and drawing for the ultrapopular Crime Does Not Pay), also showed up in that second issue. His “Scoop Cody,” dealing with an ace reporter, expired after two go-rounds, but “Corporal Collins,” about a “two-fisted American in the French infantry,” fared somewhat better. In fact, for a short time the redheaded Jimmy Cagney-type soldier was the star of the faltering magazine. The third issue was much the same as the two preceding it. But the fourth, which didn’t hit the stands until five long months later (coverdated June 1940), was a great leap forward. Coming to their senses just in time, MLJ had dumped Chesler and hired some of his better people away from him. “Thrill to these smashing new features,” proclaimed ads in the other MLJ titles. There were three more by now: Top-Notch, Pep, and Zip. Gone were Scoop Cody, Buck Stacey, Dan Hastings, and their ilk, replaced by Hercules, The Fox, The Green Falcon, Ty-Gor, and Doc Strong. Showcased on the cover of issue #4 was the feisty Corporal Collins, blazing away with a machine-gun pistol in one hand and tossing a grenade with the other. In the midst of all this excitement, you could almost overlook the fact that Blue Ribbon still didn’t have a first-rate super-hero on the staff. The closest thing was Hercules, written by Joe Blair and drawn by Elmer Wexler. For this one, Blair went all the way back to Greek mythology. “Hercules, strongest man in all history, earned a place on Mt. Olympus by wiping out the evils of ancient Greece. Now Zeus has ordered him back to Earth to rid the modern world of wars, gangsters and racketeers!!” The gimmick here, somewhat highbrow for a lowly comic book, was that Herc would tackle modern equivalents of the original 12 Labors of Hercules. Unfortunately, he only got as far as the fifth before he was dropped from the line-up. “The Fox” was a costumed crime fighter, but he didn’t have a super power to his name. In everyday life, he was Paul Patton, “former allaround athlete at Penn State,” who was now working as a newspaper photographer. Written by the ubiquitous Blair, the strip was initially drawn by Irwin Hasen. Younger readers, who are familiar only with Hasen’s newspaper strip Dondi, may find it hard to believe he once turned out effective comic-book adventure stuff. He did, though, and The Fox benefited from his loose, quirky style. Like Cole, Hasen thought in terms of the comic book page, and his layouts explored possibilities overlooked by some of his stodgier contemporaries. His only problem was with The Fox’s jet-black costume. It took Hasen a couple of issues to realize a hero’s costume is a fantasy thing that doesn’t have wrinkles or baggy knees. Despite his name, “The Green Falcon” was not a super guy but a green-clad knight who hung out in the days of Richard the Lion-Hearted and behaved in the Robin Hood manner.
Tie A Big Blue Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree Jack Cole’s “Crime on the Run” in Blue Ribbon Comics #1 gave readers an early look at the work of the artist/writer who would soon create one of the greatest super-heroes ever—Plastic Man. Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
“Doc Strong” was a science-fiction feature, and Doc himself was a famous scientist who went around stripped to the waist and wearing the trousers from one of his old business suits. It was set one hundred years in the future when “more than half the world has been wiped out, and cities lie in crumbling ruins and then a new menace arises, a vast barbaric
All The Way With MLJ!
legend has it his spirit arose from his body and strangled the men who murdered him.” Cooper’s notions of what life in 18th century England was like are quite interesting. and he draws the prince and his murderers wearing armor and chain mail. At any rate, the historic castle where the deed was done is, in 1941, “torn down and carted away, stone by stone… loaded aboard a ship and sent on its journey to America.” We can assume Blair got his inspiration for this part of the plot from the movie The Ghost Goes West. En route to America, Haven’t I Met Your Brother, The? the castle-laden ship is torpedoed by a Nazi “Bob Phantom” splash panel from Blue Ribbon Comics #2 (Dec. 1939). The unsigned artist was a guy sub, and this somehow liberates the spirit of named Irv Novick. The comics world would soon hear more from him! Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher. Prince James. “Free! I’m free!” he exclaims as [©2008 the respective copyright holders.] his soul soars upward from the sinking horde from some forgotten corner of Asia descends on a trembling wreckage, decked out in cape and tights. world.” Like The Spectre, Mr. Justice has pupil-less Little-Orphan-Annie eyes The comic books of the Golden Age provided work for unemployed when he’s in his evil-combating mode. Off-duty, he assumes “the form of artists from other areas, including newspaper strips. “Ty-Gor,” about an a mortal man” and goes around as a handsome blond fellow in a business orphaned lad raised by tigers in the Malay jungles, was drawn by one suit. such. George Storm had done a successful strip, Bobby Thatcher, until During his relatively brief career, Mr. Justice, sometimes referred to as 1937 and then retired to try his hand at being a gentleman farmer in the Royal Wraith, combated such villains as Rialb (“Blair” spelled Oklahoma. By 1939, he was ready to get back into cartooning. and he backwards), a mystic who summoned up “demoniacal monsters” to do his returned to New York. We’ll have more to say about him when we get to bidding; Zarro the Zombie Master, a green-skinned voodoo man; a crazed his better-known MLJ creation, “The Hangman.” doctor who brought executed criminals back to life; a green fellow named Finally, in issue #9 (Feb. 1941), Blue Ribbon Comics signed on Ribo who possessed “the most hideous organ of sight ever seen on somebody who could pass as a super-hero. His only flaw was that, like Earth—the evil eye!!” The Spectre over at DC, he was dead. “Mr. Justice,” created by the busy Joe Some of Mr. Justice’s antagonists were so awesome that the Royal Blair and artist Sam Cooper, was actually the spirit of Prince James, heir Wraith couldn’t quell them in a single episode and had to battle them over to the throne of England and murdered “exactly 200 years ago … but the several issues. One such was called The Dictator. He’s quite obviously
Two Strong Men And A Bushy-Tailed Canine Blue Ribbon #4 (June 1940, after a five-month hiatus for the comic) saw the debuts of “Hercules” (art by Elmer Wexler), “The Fox” (by scripter Joe Blair & artist Irwin Hasen), and “Doc Strong” (drawn by Sam Cooper). See the “Hercules” splash on p. 30. The late Elmer Wexler was interviewed in Alter Ego #36; our interview with Hasen from A/E V3#1 is still on view in the trade paperback The Collected Alter Ego, Vol. 1; see TwoMorrows ad bloc that begins on p. 92. Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
o Alter Eg Bonus!
All The Way With MLJ! The following four pages of photos and captions appeared in MLJâ€™s Close-Up magazine dated April 1941, and are ÂŠ2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Special thanks to Mike Catron.
The Story Of The Super-Heroes Who Paved The Way For Archie
The MLJ Comics Super-Hero Index (1939-1948) A Skeleton Key To The Golden Age Of What Became Archie Comic Publications, Inc. by Mike Nolan
A Hero Sandwich Nary a super-hero in sight! Above are Norman Danberg’s cover for Blue Ribbon Comics #1 (Nov. 1939), the first comic book ever published by MLJ—and Al Fagaly’s cover for the firm’s last Golden Age issue which contained a super-hero story: the then-quarterly Pep Comics #65 (Jan. 1948). Of course, by that time, MLJ had been rechristened Archie Comics after its major moneymaker, and its last super-hero standing, The Shield, hadn’t appeared on a cover since Pep #50, more than three years earlier. Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher for the Blue Ribbon scan. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.] In between those two covers, however, the company had definitely provided the makings of a very ample hero sandwich, as per veteran pro artist Bob McLeod’s commission drawing of an even dozen super-doers, done for collector Michael Dunne and generously shared with us by both gents. (Left to right, back row:) The Firefly, The Web, The Fox, The Hangman, Steel Sterling, Captain Flag. (L. to r., front row:) The Comet, Inferno, The Shield, Dusty the Boy Detective, Black Hood, Mr. Justice. Alas, The Firefly had to be left off on Alter Ego’s own color-splashed cover, so the remaining figures could be a bit bigger. [Characters TM & ©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
The Golden Age Of What Became Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Back in issue #57, we were proud to reprint Mike Nolan’s Timely Comic Index, which had been published in 1969 as a compendium of certain key information about the Timely/Atlas/Marvel super-heroes from 1939 through 1957. This presentation not only gave us a chance to share a mass of informative and potentially entertaining data (including the names, lengths, and comic book sources of the stories), but to feature a myriad of old and even new artwork along with it. The piece was so well received that we asked permission to reprint an only-slightly-edited version of the same author’s similar treatment of the costumed stalwarts of MLJ, the company which evolved, over the period of a few years’ time, into the Archie Comic Publications, Inc., that we know today.
As explained below, no attempt was made in the Index to account for writers, artists, editors, and other creative personnel… although, this time around, we’ve preceded this Index with text by Ron Goulart which provides a bit of supplementary history and context, and we feel the two pieces complement each other admirably. In addition, of course, the captions accompanying the artwork hereafter, prepared by Ye Editor often from information (as well as with art) supplied by our evergenerous benefactors, will feature additional tidbits of knowledge.
a 14,000-mile odyssey around the United States and Canada in my beloved 1964 Chevy. As I recall, I acquired the final smidgeons of data on that trip. I’ll never forget its highlights: serving as Phil and Carole Seuling’s assistant on the 1969 New York Comic Convention—the first really large convention with a plethora of big names—and camping out along the Indian River in Florida to see the first manned takeoff for the moon at Cape Kennedy. Collectors today might ask why I chose a relatively minor company like MLJ along with a major firm like Timely, instead of another big company like Quality or Fawcett. The answer is simple: I thought collectors would appreciate the connection with the then-recent 1960s revivals of MLJ heroes by the Archie Comic Publications folks, even though those characters had been discontinued by 1969. In addition, MLJ produced only 220 comics with super-heroes between 1939 and 1948, and so many people had liked my Nedor Index that I wanted to produce two more indexes as soon as possible. The late Rick Durell, who built the finest Golden Age collection I have ever seen, had a wonderful MLJ selection as well as his near-complete Timely and DC runs, so he gave me a huge kick-start. Phil Seuling also provided great help from those magic boxes in the workroom at his apartment adjacent to Coney Island in Brooklyn. I remember being
But now, we’ll let Michelle Nolan tell the story in her own inimitable way:
MLJ Redux (And Re-Redux)
by Michelle Nolan (2008)
hen I published The MLJ Comic Index nearly four decades ago, I never could have imagined that people would seriously ask me four decades later about this piece of archaic comic book memorabilia. The MLJ Index is now older than the original Golden Age comic books it covered were when it first appeared!
Considering that Rascally Roy Thomas printed in Alter Ego #57 (March 2006) a far superior version of my original Timely Comic Index, I wasn’t shocked when he called me a couple of years later to inquire about the rights to my MLJ Index. But of course I replied: reprint to your heart’s content. Considering that I had no illustrations in the original Index other than Rudi Franke’s cover, not to mention that I typed it on my parents’ 1950s Royal portable typewriter, what you now hold in your hands in far, far superior to the primitive product I produced when I was 21 years old. I am proud, however, that I was the first collector to print issue-by-issue indexes of 1940s comic books, which made historical artifacts out of the Timely and MLJ Indexes (1969) and my Nedor Index (1968). They are still historic, if only because they seem incredibly old today. The indexes, which originally sold for 75¢ or $1, paid for a lot of meals when I was hitting the road as a young journalist in search of adventure as well as old books, comics, and pulps in all 48 contiguous states. I finished gathering information on the MLJ and Timely books at the end of the summer in 1969, after spending eight weeks on
Cover Story With our re-presentation of the Timely Comic Index back in A/E #57, we ran this same fine caricature of indexer Michelle Nolan, rendered by the late great Golden Age artist Creig Flessel. This time, though, she’s holding 1960s fan-artist Rudy Franke’s striking cover for the original 1969 edition of MLJ Comic Index, which depicts The Web, Hangman, and The Shield. It was the only artwork in the publication. The Flessel drawing long headed Michelle’s column on vintage comics in the magazine Comic Book Marketplace. [Heroes TM & ©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.; caricature © the respective copyright holders]
The MLJ Comics Super-Hero Index (1939-1948)
enchanted by the previously unseen heroics of The Shield, Steel Sterling, The Black Hood, Captain Flag, and all the rest. MLJ comics must not have sold very well, because I can’t ever remember seeing a single one when I was first digging out old comics in second-hand book stores from age 8 in 1956 to age 17 in 1965. I found quite a few 1940s comics, especially those from DC, Dell, and Fiction House, but I spotted nary a single MLJ. Of course, since the vast majority of MLJ’s issues were produced during or before World War II, most of them must have been dispatched to paper drives. By the same token, early issues of Archie Comics have always been much tougher to find, too, than contemporary comics from DC and others. So, when I received my first exposure to MLJ in the mid-1960s, those seemingly ancient characters seemed exotic indeed. In 1959, when the Archie group produced two issues of The Double Life of Private Strong, I had no idea that there had been, as the company was to put it so many years later, an “Original Shield.” Nor did the Archie folks provide any hint that Lancelot Strong (a.k.a. The Shield) was something of a knockoff, in contrast to the informative way DC Comics taught those of us who bought Showcase #4 in 1956 that there had been an earlier Flash. I loved that short-lived Private Strong series, although even at age 11 I thought The Double Life of Private Strong was just an awful title for a comic book. That’s why, as a budding comic book historian, I was so captivated by Fly-Man #31 (May 1965), the issue that resumed that series after a hiatus of eight months. The Archie company came late to the revival party, and brought with it a high-camp approach compared to those of DC and Timely, but it was still fun, especially at only 12¢ per copy. Without those 1965-67 Archie revival issues, I probably never would have done an MLJ Index. I suppose there is some collector out there with a complete set of all 220 MLJs, but I have no idea who it is. Even in the pre-Overstreet Price Guide days of 1969, I could not imagine anyone collecting all of them when I wrote my “Poor Man’s Guide to Collecting Expensive MLJs” at the end of the Index. Now, of course, I can only sigh when I look at sentences like: “Even this [collecting a representative sampling of 20 to 25 of the best MLJs) is likely to cost a couple hundred dollars in this day of high prices for old comics books, but it will be worth it.” I’ve also been charmed by Roy’s story of being heartbroken when his 10-year-old self opened the mail in 1951, only to find that his subscription to All-Star Comics had been replaced by one for its new replacement, AllStar Western. I had a similar epiphany, albeit as a young adult, when I learned The Shield and his partner Dusty had been discontinued in Pep Comics when I first discovered Pep #66 (March 1948). Pep Comics #66, ironically the issue on the stands the day I was born, did not have a “Shield and Dusty” story, but the issue did contain a message from The Shield on the inside front cover. It was headlined “Farewell!!!” (with three exclamation points), explaining how “a very
Monthly! The Original First-Person History!
heavy schedule by the FBI” would prevent further appearances by the costumed pair. Archie continued the message with news about how the Shield G-Man Club would become the new Archie Club. I have never seen any other publisher make such an announcement, passing the baton from one iconic character to another. DC, for example, let the Justice Society depart with All-Star #57 without so much as a hint to the little Rascally One or any other reader. That announcement in Pep #66 told me where to end my Index, since I already knew The Shield and Dusty were the last of the company’s superheroes. So, in the space of four years, I had gone from never having seen an MLJ hero to having seen all of them in every issue in which they had ever appeared. That might be why The MLJ Index is particularly nostalgic for me, symbolizing as it does the growth of a young comics historian. Pep Comics #66 also vividly shows the transition from Golden Age to beyond. Whereas #65 had contained only one story about Archie Andrews, #66 also had stories devoted to Betty and Veronica and Jughead. For those who missed my new introduction to The Timely Index in A/E #57 (still available from TwoMorrows), I should explain why I included no art credits—not to mention no art!—in The MLJ Index. There were two good reasons: (1) I didn’t know nearly enough to list the art; and (2) I didn’t care. I just wanted to know what characters were in the comic books and to pass that information along for the first time. To include art, as well, would have cost me way more than I could have afforded to print the Index—and would have delayed production indefinitely. Rascally Roy, however, has more than made up for my admittedly short-sighted approach. By the way, in recent years a few people have duplicated my Indexes and sold them on eBay. I am even told that some of these scoundrels continue to try to sell them as originals. Beware! I have never authorized such duplication and I consider it a copyright infringement. I hope none of you Alter Ego readers have been victimized by this scam. So what more can I say than “Thanks, Roy!!!” with three more exclamation points. (If it was good enough for The Shield, it’s still good enough for me.) I hope all of you enjoy having this ancient piece of comic book fandom history available again.
Introduction and Acknowledgements (1969) This is the fourth in a series of comic book indexes which, I hope, are proving of value to comics fandom. I believe they will be useful reference tools and collector guides, and so far the reaction from the nation’s fans has been favorable. But, as in my other index projects, no one person alone could ever compile such a work. I’ve been very fortunate to have the help of many top collectors and dealers in my research, and I’m afraid I’ll never be able to give them as much as they have given me, both in information and personal hospitality when I came knocking. While space does not permit listing everyone who has helped in my projects, I would like to pass along special thanks to the following: Rudy Franke, Raymond Miller, Phil Seuling, Rick Durell, Len Brown & Collector’s Books, Bill Thailing, John Barrett, Howard Keltner, Richard Burgess, Gene Krey, Dick Hoffman, M. C. Goodwin, Burt Blum & Cherokee Books, and Steve Edrington & Bond St. Books. My apologies to anyone overlooked—and thanks to all others who helped.
Write to: Robin Snyder, 3745 Canterbury Lane #81, Bellingham, WA 98225-1186
Since this index was compiled with the help of so many, not to mention typed by me (terrific risk there), any corrections and/or additions are welcome. An errata will be published later, if necessary, and letters of comment are also welcome. I want to make future indexes as good as possible at a reasonable cost.
The Golden Age Of What Became Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
I. The Features Of MLJ – Title By Title Blue Ribbon Comics #1-22 Rang-A-Tang the Wonder Dog with Richy the Amazing Boy #1-22 Dan Hastings #1-2 Buck Stacey #1-2 Crime on the Run #1, 3 Burk of the Briny #1 Little Nemo #1 Village of the Missing Men #1 Humor Features #1 Corporal Collins, Infantryman #2-22 Bob Phantom #2-3 Scoop Cody #2-3 Devils of the Deep #2-3 Secret Assignments #2-3 The Silver Fox #2-3 Loop Logan, Air Ace #3-20 The Fox #4-22 Ty-Gor #4-20 The Green Falcon #4-15 Doc Strong #4-12 Hercules #4-8 Gypsy Johnson, #4-8 Mr. Justice #9-22 Steve Stacey, Sky Detective #9-12
Inferno #13-19 Penny Parker #13-15 Captain Flag #16-22 Tales from the Witch’s Cauldron #20-22 True Life Stories #21-22
Cover Features Rang-A-Tang #1-2, 6, 8 Corporal Collins #3-5, 16, 20 The Fox #7, 16 Richy #7, 16 Mr. Justice #9-18 Captain Flag #16-22 Inferno #16 Ty-Gor #16
Top-Notch Comics #1-45 The Wizard #1-27 Kardak, the Mystic #1-2, 4-29 Wings Johnson #1-6, 8-27 West Pointer (Keith Kornell) #1-7, 9-20, 22-27 Scott Rand #1-3 Swift of the Secret Service #1-3 Manhunters #1-3 Lucky Coyne, Undercover Man #1
Dick Storm #2-8 Stacey Knight, M.D. #2-4 Bob Phantom #3-25 Moore of the Mounted #4 Streak Chandler on Mars #4-8 Galahad #5-11 Shanghai Sheridan #5-8 The Firefly #8-27 Fran Frazer #9-25 Black Hood #9-44 St. Louis Kid #12-27 True Life Stories #26-27 Snoop McGook #26-45 The Lost Legion #28 Pokey Oakey #28-45 Senor Siesta #28-44 Suzie #28-45 3 Monkeyteers #28-43 Percy #28-36 Canvasback Corkle #28 Hall of Fame #29-32 Gloomy Gus #29-45 Dotty and Ditto #33-45 Stupidman #44, 45 Wilbur #45 Twiddles #45
Mr. Wizard This full-page ad for Top-Notch Comics #1 took up the inside front cover of Blue Ribbon Comics #2, which went on sale with a cover date of Dec. 1939—only one month after Blue Ribbon #1. The Wizard drawing, probably by original artist Edd Ashe, depicts the hero as the Mandrake the Magician lookalike he originally was, before he picked up a redand-blue super-hero costume—quite possibly off Clark Kent’s washline (see p. 7). Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
The Wizard #1-8, 11-13, 15-22, 25 Black Hood #9-34, 41, 43 Roy #9, 14, 23-26 Pokey Oakey #28-44 Most other comical characters #28-45
Pep Comics #1-65 The Shield #1-65 Bentley of Scotland Yard #1-41 Sgt. Boyle #1-39 Kayo Ward #1-28 The Midshipman (a.k.a., Lee Sampson, Midshipman) #1-16 The Comet #1-16 The Rocket and the Queen of Diamonds #1-12 Fu Chang, International Detective #1-11 The Press Guardian #1-11 Danny In Wonderland #12-39 The Fireball #12-20 Lucky Larson #13-15 Madame Satan #16-21 The Hangman #17-47 Jolly Roger and His Sky Pirates #21-27
The Golden Age Of What Became Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
II. The MLJ Heroes And Their Stories [A/E EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a listing of all super-heroes published by MLJ between 1939 and 1948. The characters are listed in descending order based on the number of stories about him (there were no “hers”) published during that period. That number, in parentheses, follows the hero’s name. Of course, some stories were longer than others. Following each name is a list of, so far as was ascertained, each and every vintage comic book in which that character was featured. The comics beneath each hero’s name are listed in the order in which the comic book titles were launched, not necessarily the order in which the named character debuted in them. If he appeared in more than one comics title, the magazine series in which he first appeared (as judged by cover date) is preceded by an asterisk (*). The issue in which the hero’s origin, if any, was first related is indicated by a parenthetical note. Some origin information may be taken from Dr. Jerry G. Bails’ equally monumental work Collector’s Guide to the First Heroic Age, which, by coincidence, was also published in 1969. Hero appearances in those two-page text stories the Post Office required aren’t counted. Like we said back in A/E #57, you have to draw the line someplace.]
The Shield (99)
Shield-Wizard/Black Hood/Special/Hangman # 1-9
*Pep #1-65 Shield-Wizard #1-13
The Wizard (54)
Black Hood (82)
*Top Notch #1-27 Shield-Wizard #1-13
*Top Notch #9-44 Black Hood #9-19
Pep #49-51, 59-60
Steel Sterling (57) *Zip #1-47 Jackpot #1-9
The Hangman (56) *Pep #17-47
The Hangman Cometh
Kardak (28) Top-Notch #1-2, 4-29
Harry Lucey’s cover for Special Comics #1 (Winter 1942), the mag that became The Hangman Comics with its second issue. Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
Bob Phantom (25)
Captain Commando (25)
*Blue Ribbon #2-3
Pep #30-52, 54, 56
Mr. Justice (23) Blue Ribbon #9-22 Jackpot #1-9
The Firefly (20) Top-Notch #8-27
Boy Buddies (19) Shield/Black Hood/Hangman #1-9, 11
The Fox (19) Blue Ribbon #4-22
Steel Yourself! Charles Biro’s splash panel for Zip Comics #2 (March 1940); Biro was apparently the writer as well as the artist of the early stories. The splash retold Steel Sterling’s unique origin—he’d leaped headfirst into a vat of molten steel! Somehow, we kinda suspect that wouldn’t work for most people. Thanks to Mike Tiefenbacher. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
The MLJ Comics Super-Hero Index (1939-1948)
The Scarlet Avenger (17)
The Fireball (9)
Black Jack (16)
The Red Rube (9)
The Comet (16)
Mr. Satan (9)
The Web (12)
Captain Flag (7)
Blue Ribbon #16-22
The Press Guardian (11)
Blue Ribbon #1-19
Madame Satan (6)
Black Hood #10
Roy the Super Boy (5) Shield-Wizard #8, 10-13
III. The MLJ Comics [NOTE: Total number of stories is in parenthesis. Also, a few titles didn’t make it into the original Index, so the Grand Comics Data Base (www.comics.org) was consulted in order to fill in some of the gaps, and we thank them for their help.]
Was His Other Nickname “Rascally,” Too?
Blue Ribbon Comics
At the bottom of the super-hero heap, at least in terms of solo stories, is Roy the Super Boy (no relation to Ye Editor). However, he also costarred with The Wizard is many other stories, as well as with Dusty the Boy Detective in the long-lived “Boy Buddies” series. This splash for Shield-Wizard Comics #10 was drawn by Ed Robbins. Script credited to Harry Shorten. Thanks to an unknown benefactor for the scan. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
#1 — Nov. 1939 Rang-A-Tang [origin] Dan Hastings Buck Stacey “A Bad Bargain” Burk of the Briny Village of the Missing Men Little Nemo Crime on the Run “The Murderous Red Keenan Gang” Several 2-page humor featurettes
6 10 5 5 6 4 7
#2 — Dec. 1939 Rang-A-Tang Dan Hastings Buck Stacey Bob Phantom “The Scourge of the Underworld” [origin] Scoop Cody Devils of the Deep Secret Assignments Silver Fox [origin] Corporal Collin
10 5 5 6 6 5 5 5 5
#3 — Jan. 1940 Rang-A-Tang
Stuart (“Loop”) Logan “Mystery Thriller of the Month” Silver Fox Scoop Cody “The Story of the Famous Pope Diamond Mystery” Corporal Collins Devils of the Deep Secret Assignments “The Lost Ship” Bob Phantom Crime on the Run “The Los Angeles Killers
#5 — July 1940 6 5 6 6 6 6 6 6
#4 — June 1940 Rang-A-Tang Hercules “Slays the Lion of Nemea” [origin] Gypsy Johnson The Fox [origin] Corporal Collins Ty-Gor [origin] Doc Strong “The Isle of Right” [origin] Loop Logan Green Falcon
11 8 5 6 6 6 7 6 6
Rang-A-Tang Hercules “Slaying the Hydra of Lema” Gypsy Johnson The Fox Corporal Collins Ty-Gor Doc Strong Loop Logan Green Falcon
11 8 5 6 7 6 6 6 6
#6 — Sept. 1940 Rang-A-Tang 11 Hercules “Cleans the Stables of King Augeais” 8 Gypsy Johnson 5 The Fox 6 Corporal Collins 7 Ty-Gor 6 Doc Strong 6 Loop Logan 6 Green Falcon 6
The MLJ Comics Super-Hero Index (1939-1948)
Archie Kayo Ward Bentley
6 6 6
#27 — May 1942 Shield Hangman Danny in Wonderland Sgt. Boyle Jolly Roger Archie Kayo Ward Bentley
14 11 8 6 6 8 5 6
#28 — June 1942 Hangman “Civil War” 13 Shield 13 Danny in Wonderland 7 Sgt. Boyle 8 Wings Johnson 6 Archie 6 Kayo Ward 5 Bentley “The Case of the Haunting Bagpipes” 6
#29 — July 1942 Shield Hangman
Call Me “Der” Three hero splashes from Pep #31: Novick drawing a colorful Nazi villain to face The Shield—The Hangman goes native (artist uncertain)—and Captain Commando and The Boy Soldiers do their thing, with an Iger shop script and Alex Blum art. Thanks to Mike Catron. The issue’s “Inspector Bentley” splash can be seen on p. 11. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
“The Shield Was The First Patriotic Hero” A 1990s Interview With The Late Great IRV NOVICK Conducted by John Coates
EDITOR’S NOTE: In our next-issue ad in A/E #81, we announced that this interview was “previously unpublished.” Due to our error, not that of John Coates, this was an incorrect statement; in truth, it originally saw print in Comic Book Marketplace #77 (April 2000). However, it’s a good one—and we’ve long wanted to do our part in giving Golden/Silver/Bronze Age artist Irv Novick just a tiny part of his due. Thus, because this issue was already so chock-full, we have utilized here (in edited form) the portions of that piece that deal with Novick’s work for MLJ. Those who want to read the entire interview, also covering his longer career at DC Comics, are encouraged to seek out a copy of CBM #77. —Roy.
“[MLJ] Was Paying More Money Than Chesler Was” JC: How did you become interested in comic books? NOVICK: Well, I graduated from the [National Academy of Design] in 1938 and had seen an ad in the New York Times newspaper for artists to draw comic books. Being that the industry was still in its infancy, I had never heard of a comic book, never seen one, didn’t know what it was other than it meant work. I showed them my showcard art and they hired me right away. This was with Harry Chesler’s outfit. At first, I worked in his shop but eventually moved to working freelance from my home. Working in the office was pleasant, but I preferred working at my own pace, on my own time. I’ve always been a night person. I like to work at night when everyone else has gone to bed. I never went to bed before two o’clock. JC: How long did you work for Harry Chesler? NOVICK: A few years, I believe. At the time, MLJ was buying most of the work being produced from Chesler’s studio. MLJ was a publishing house founded by Morris Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John Goldwater. Anyway, after a while, Louis came to me and asked if I could work directly for them. They wanted me to work on a character called The Shield. They were paying more money than Chesler, so I did. I think this was around 1940.
Irv Novick Had Pep!
JC: Let’s talk about The Shield. You said MLJ wanted you to work on the character. Did they have a ready-made character when you arrived?
Irv Novick (on left in photo) at a 1999 comics convention, with fellow artists George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo (the latter on right)—and Novick’s splash page for Pep Comics #1 (Jan. 1940), probably the first page he drew of the first patriotically garbed super-hero. Photo courtesy of David Siegel; thanks to Marc Svensson for the art scan. [Page ©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
NOVICK: Well, they had an idea for a hero that was based on the patriot theme. From their initial idea, I designed the costume and created his character of being a G-man. Once I had defined and created the character, Harry Shorten was brought in to write and edit the stories. I believe The
“The Shield Was The First Patriotic Hero”
Heads Up! Six MLJ creative talents mentioned by Novick in this piece, with Bob Montana deferred till the Joe Edwards interview that follows. You’ll find work by these stalwarts scattered throughout this issue. (Clockwise from above left:)
Shield was the first patriotic hero. He appeared in Pep Comics.
Charles Biro, as per Sept. 1946 issue of Lev Gleason’s Boy Comics (see the whole photo, Crimebuster and all, in the Biro coverage in A/E #73), with thanks to the artist’s daughters Bonnie Biro, Penny Gold, and Denise Ortell— Mort Meskin, as seen in A/E #24; photo courtesy of Peter Meskin, provided by Dylan Williams from the website www.meskin.net— Bob Wood, in a caricature from Boy Comics #9 (April 1943)—
JC: You’re correct; he was the first patriotic hero. Were you at all excited or surprised when it became a hit?
Jack Binder circa 1950, in a photo sent to Roy Thomas in 1963 or ‘64 by brother Otto Binder— Paul Reinman, seen in a later self-portrait; source uncertain. Robert Kanigher, in a photo taken at Fort Dix, New Jersey, during his time in uniform in World War II; originally provided by RK himself. [art ©2008 the respective copyright holders.]
NOVICK: Jack was a nice guy, but some people didn’t like him. I don’t know why, because I liked him. Since Jack was paying for the work, he
demanded quality. I had no problem with that.
NOVICK: I tell you, John, to me it was just a character and a job and that was it. I tried to do it to the best of my abilities. That’s it! JC: What was the creative process at MLJ? NOVICK: Well, MLJ provided me with a script, and I penciled and inked it. If I wanted to change things in the story, they were always open to it.
“You Just Lose Track” JC: While at MLJ, there were other artists of note. Let me toss out a few names: Charles Biro? NOVICK: Yes, Charlie Biro was a pretty big guy, overweight, a real heavyset type. At the time, the MLJ office was located on the 8th floor of the New York Telegraph Building on Hudson Street. I remember Charlie would always challenge me to all kinds of things when I came into the office. I never knew why. [laughs] For instance, he would bet me that if I took the elevator up and he raced the stairs, he could beat me. Well, I thought it was worth it to see him drop dead when we reached the top so I accepted! He almost did drop dead. [laughs] But you know, he did beat me! JC: Mort Meskin? NOVICK: Mort was a very fine person. An excellent artist, too. During my time at MLJ, Mort and I were very close. We had planned to get a studio together down in the village, but we never found the right place. We kept in touch for quite a while, but then he up and disappeared on me. It was quite some time before I saw him again. I believe it was the 1960s when we met again while at an advertising agency. You just lose track. Unfortunately, he died in 1995. JC: Bob Wood? NOVICK: Yes, Bob was an okay guy, but I think he was sent away to prison for a while for shooting someone. I can’t remember for what exactly, but I do know he was sent to prison for awhile. JC: I had read he shot his wife. How about Jack Binder? [NOTE: Actually, Bob Wood’s killing of a woman was quite different, as detailed in A/E #73. —Roy.]
JC: Bob Montana? NOVICK: Bob created the character “Archie,” which is what MLJ is called today: Archie Comics. I thought Bob was a very fine person, but somehow MLJ took the rights to Archie. Bob later took them to court and won. Now I understand that there is another suit going on where John Goldwater is claiming that he created the character. That’s not true. I was in the office when Bob walked in with that character and presented it to MLJ. Goldwater did not create the character; Bob did. [NOTE: For another view on the creation of “Archie,” see the Joe Edwards interview that follows this piece. —Roy.] JC: How long did you work with MLJ? NOVICK: I continued to work with MLJ throughout the war. After being drafted in 1943, I was stationed in Mississippi for a year and half. From there, I was stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky, for two more years until 1946. I never saw combat because when the army sent me to Officer’s Candidate School, they re-examined me and found I had a heart murmur. The examining doctors said, “How did you even get in the Army in the first place?” I said, “They needed warm bodies and they said I qualified!” [laughs] I told them I had a heart murmur, but the doctor at the entrance exam ignored it. I got it as a child when I had Rheumatic fever. Anyway, during this time, MLJ would send me work at the Army base. Instead of playing cards like all the other guys did, I sat on my bunk and drew comic books. Sometimes the guys would stop playing cards for a minute or so, come by and look over my shoulder, ask questions, and then go back to playing cards. If any of the guys read my books, I never knew. At the end of each month, I would get this check from MLJ. Somebody from HQ always opened my mail because you could see that it contained a check. Army pay being what it was, everybody on base was trying to borrow money from me. I was very popular, if you know what I mean. Some did borrow money, though I never got paid back. That was the end of that! [laughs] JC: How did you come to work at DC Comics? NOVICK: After being discharged from the Army in 1946, I met Bob Kanigher. At the time, he was a writer and editor for DC Comics. I met him at Irwin Hasen’s apartment. I had known Irwin since our days as artists at Chesler and MLJ. Anyway, years earlier, when working for MLJ,
“Working At MLJ Was A Good Experiencee!” JOE EDWARDS On MLJ’s Super-Heroes —And Archie Andrews Interview Conducted by Jim Amash
Transcribed by Brian K. Morris
“The Lower East Side, Where The Immigrants Were” JIM AMASH: The hardest question will be, when and where were you born? JOE EDWARDS: I was there! December 6th, 1921, in New York. That’s a long time ago. JA: You’re older than the Empire State Building. EDWARDS: Well, I’m shorter. I lived on the Lower East Side, where the immigrants were, and there was a candy store across the street. I used to glance at the Sunday comics that came in—Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and all the top strips like Popeye. I was fascinated by the color and the stories and art. When I was about eight or nine, the owner of the candy store said that if I would collate the Sunday papers for him, I would make two or three cents a Sunday, which was very good money because Mother’s Day was coming up and I didn’t have any money, this being the
oe Edwards (1921-2007) was a good comic book cartoonist who brought joy to millions of readers for the better part of six decades At the time of his passing, he was the last link to Archie Comics’ pre-Archie days, and of the little-known Demby Shop which preceded that. Joe worked with artist Bob Montana on the plotting of the very first “Archie” story, and though he did all kinds of features for the company [see Checklist at end of interview— next issue], it is his creation of “Li’l Jinx” that most of us know best. My interviewing Joe between bouts of illness was hard on him, but he wanted to tell his story. His memory for details was not always accurate, and I have endeavored to correct as much as I could while staying true to Joe’s point of view. His description of the creation of the Archie characters is at variance with other sources, and I’ll leave that for others to sort out. To me, Joe was a hard-working, humble man who was proud of his achievements. He was a good friend and devoted family man, and is missed by all who knew him. And, since “Li’l Jinx” is reprinted every month in various Archie digests, Joe ended up with the last laugh—only it’s a last laugh that all of us can enjoy. Oh, and many thanks to Stan Goldberg for first putting me in touch with Joe! —Jim.
A Double Dose Of Morning Joe (Above left:) A photo of which cartoonist Joe Edwards wrote: “This was me working on a strip, Pinky, that has been swallowed up in the India ink of time. I was going to the Tex Hastings [a Walt Disney director] Animation School in Manhattan at the time. We didn’t realize it was the beginning of the comic book industry. I was working for Famous Funnies and other start-up companies in this golden era.” Courtesy of Eda Lisa Edwards. (Above right:) A sketch by Joe of himself with Archie Andrews and his own creation Li’l Jinx, sent to Jim Amash in May 2005. Thanks to Jim. [Archie & Li’l Jinx TM & ©2008 Archie Publications, Inc.; self-caricature ©2008 Estate of Joe Edwards.]
Joe Edwards On MLJ’s Super-Heroes—And Archie Andrews
draw. They were fascinated that I could put the lines down. I found out about editors from experience. When I drew on the sidewalk, if I didn’t do a good drawing, and there were many times when I didn’t, Somebody upstairs rained on it and washed it out. [Jim laughs] So I realized then and there that I’d better be nice to the editor. When you get a sunny day, the editor is just smiling, and he leaves the drawing alone. So any time you saw a chalk drawing in my area, it meant God was with me. But when it rained, it washed all of them down the sewer. So that was a form of learning about editorship, and it was a tough guide, let me tell you. In school, I got good marks because I would do drawings relating to the subject matter. The more you got an “A,” the more you wanted another one. So as an adult, the cartooning started to give me confidence and build my ego. I had a feeling for it, and being poor, you just don’t have the art school or anything else that’s there. JA: Could the Bob Dunn comic have been Detective Dan, Secret Operative No. 48? He was a precursor to Dan Dunn. It was a Dick Tracy knockoff in 1933: a black-and-white one-shot, with cardboard three-color covers. If this is the book that you read, it’s one of the first comic books.
A Loaf Of Bread, A Jug Of Head… Fellow artist Sam Schwartz, an early acquaintance of Joe’s, would go on to draw the antics of Archie’s buddy Jughead in later years. Thanks to Jim Amash & Teresa R. Davidson for the scan. [©2008 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.]
poor neighborhood. I managed to get a few pennies and buy a gift for her. It wasn’t much, but it was a gift, and I remembered Mother’s Day. So I realized that, instead of swiping candy, it was easier to earn it the legitimate way. I was fascinated with color and the content of the comics. I used to take my hand and cover the last panel. Then I would think, “Let me see where that story goes. How can I end it?” At the beginning, of course, I fouled up. But after a while, I started to pick up. Sometimes, my answer was better than the one that was professionally done: Popeye or Mutt and Jeff, Dick Tracy, etc. Another thing that stirred me up was that I had been given a gift of comic books. At that time, I called it a “comic book,” but it was Bob Dunn, the F.B.I. Man. I must have read it a thousand times. I was fascinated with the fact that the panels brought out the story. I happened to prefer the funny ones, so as time when by, I was getting better and better at writing the last panel, which helped me through many a situation later on. But I didn’t realize I was learning the art of how to tell a story. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the punch line had to be something of a surprise. So that was the way I wrote after a while. But when I was in school, I used to get a piece of chalk, and draw Popeye, Mutt and Jeff, and Dick Tracy on sidewalks, which made me a celebrity. There were gang fights there, but they treated me different. [mutual chuckling] I’m not kidding you. There were some bad fights there. JA: Well, you were from the Lower East Side, like Jack Kirby. Jack always said it was a very rough neighborhood. EDWARDS: It was. I never understood it, but 9th Street was fought for by 8th Street and 10th Street. [Jim chuckles] I’m not laughing. JA: What were you fighting over? EDWARDS: Nobody knew! [Jim laughs] All I knew is that, one day, I was walking past one of the receding storewells, and all of a sudden, one of the kids came out with a big club. He hit me and broke my arm. Fortunately, it was not my drawing arm. It was pretty rough, but most of the kids respected me because I could
EDWARDS: It might have been. I remember being in bed and reading it panel for panel until I knew the dialogue, the drawings, and everything. When I read it, I used to think, “Maybe it will change when I read it again.” My other influences were reading the Sunday papers, as I told you. I gyrated towards comedy. I felt that there was something more charming to me than just somebody taking a sock at somebody. JA: But you took Art in high school, didn’t you? EDWARDS: Yes, in a way. We’re touching upon another area later. I came from a dysfunctional family. That means my mother and father didn’t get along. Or if they did, poverty sort-of corroded their relationship. As a result, my brother and I wound up being wards of the state and later placed in an orphanage. Later, they placed me with some wonderful people who encouraged me to make something of myself. They were very supportive.
“You’re Old Enough To Go Out And Make A Living” JA: I have listed as your education, Rome Academy, and Hastings Animation Studio. Which was first? EDWARDS: Hastings was an animation school on Times Square, which is a very interesting story. It was where all the theatres were and everything. I got a job in a factory. JA: You were out of high school when you went to this place, right? How old were you? EDWARDS: I was a ward of the state. They only keep you until 18, then you have to make your own way in the world, and that’s about when this started to break. I wanted to go to art school, but there was no money so I took a factory job. And at night, I would travel on the subway up to Times Square for a nickel. I would meet Sam Schwartz, who later drew Jughead, at the animation school. Tex Hastings was the Art Director for Disney. [The office] was upstairs, all the way upstairs. Did you ever hear of the Gaiety Building? Well, we were upstairs, and the bathroom—if you went to the men’s bathroom upstairs, you would look out the window, you could look into the Gaiety Building where the girls were getting undressed. [chuckles] Well, I was paying I think it was $20 a week or something, and Tex would teach us animation. JA: What kind of factory did you work in? EDWARDS: Oh, it was just an ordinary factory, making record albums. I
Donald DUck & Crew ©2008 Walt Disney Productions
Donald Duck—If This Is Donald Duc k—TM & ©2008 Walt Disney Pro ductions
Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt!
That’s Just Sick! by Michael T. Gilbert
A Twisted Collection Of Comics Compiled by Dr. Strongfort S. Stearn and Prof. Michael T. Gilbert!
Good Golly, Miss Mommy! Darling... Kiss Me Again! Could anything be more pure than a boy’s love for his mother? Take, for instance, this heartwarming scene from Boy Comics— please! Art by Charles Biro from Boy #3 (April 1942). [©2008 the respective copyright holders.] True, some have suggested that this chaste kiss between Crimebuster and his mom in what was really the mag’s first issue might be a tad too… enthusiastic. They claim this kind of soul kiss would be more appropriate to Young Lust Comics. They say, “Get a room!” And I say to those weirdos, that’s not funny…
THAT’S JUST SICK! That’s One Big Log, Dad! And what about the love between a father and his son? Why, just look at the satisfied grin on the Rifleman’s face as his boy holds that huge log! Pure joy! And if you think there’s anything else going on there, pal…
THAT’S JUST SICK! [Art from The Rifleman #10 (Jan. 1962) ©2008 the respective copyright holders.]
Here’s another mother/son scene to warm your heart, this time featuring boxer Joe Louis as a young lad with his, er… mother? Some may think Joe’s mom looks disturbingly like singer Little Richard. Well, …
THAT’S JUST SICK! [Louis Ravielli art from “The Brown Bomber,” from Avon’s Last of the Comanches (1953) ©2008 the respective copyright holders.]
That’s Just Sick!
Back When We Were Young And, Er… Happy?
Is That A Baguette In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?
I Bet You Can’t Blow Hard Enough To…
Dan Tayler, Avon’s Boy Detective, always gets his man! Or is that visa versa? Ooh-la-la!
…blow out my birthday cake! But hey—what’s Jughead doing on the cover of Timely’s Gay Comics #22 (Winter 1944)?
THAT’S JUST SICK! [Everett Raymond Kinstler art from Boy Detective #3 (Feb. 1952) ©2008 the respective copyright holders.]
How To Be Very, Very Popular And in Star’s Popular Teenagers #6 (Jan. 1951, with art by Norman Nodel), the teacher enjoys some innocent fun with Tony Gay (a spoof of Premium’s Toni Gayle!) and her pal, Butch Dykeman. And if you think there’s anything wrong with that, sir, all I can say is…
THAT’S JUST SICK! [Authentic “Tony Gayle” page at right from Premium’s Guns against Gangsters #1 (Sept. 1942) is ©2008 the respective copyright holders; “Toni Gay” art ©2008 the respective copyright holders.]
THAT’S JUST SICK! [But it’s also ©2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
[Art ©2008 Don Ensign. Heroes TM & © 2008 the respective copyright holders.]
madly around to get nowhere!” The excessive action in the comic books could hardly be termed wasted, however … not by editors and publishers of the Golden Age. A book placed on sale at the newsstand as featuring heroic adventure … without that emphasis on action … would be very likely to remain right there … at the newsstand. I saw it as important enough to merit special attention.
By [Art & logo ©2008 Marc Swayze; Captain Marvel © & TM 2008 DC Comics]
[FCA EDITORS NOTE: From 1941-53, Marcus D. Swayze was a top artist for Fawcett Publications. The very first Mary Marvel character sketches came from Marc’s drawing table, and he illustrated her earliest adventures, including the classic origin story, “Captain Marvel Introduces Mary Marvel (Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Dec. ‘42); but he was primarily hired by Fawcett Publications to illustrate Captain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote many Captain Marvel scripts, and continued to do so while in the military. After leaving the service in 1944, he made an arrangement with Fawcett to produce art and stories for them on a freelance basis out of his Louisiana home. There he created both art and stories for The Phantom Eagle in Wow Comics, in addition to drawing the Flyin’ Jenny newspaper strip for Bell Syndicate (created by his friend and mentor Russell Keaton). After the cancellation of Wow, Swayze produced artwork for Fawcett’s top-selling line of romance comics, including Sweethearts and Life Story. After the company ceased publishing comics, Marc moved over to Charlton Publications, where he ended his comics career in the mid-’50s. Marc’s ongoing professional memoirs have been a vital part of FCA since his first column appeared in FCA #54, 1996. Last issue, Marc spoke of the virtues that are true to the “real” Captain Marvel; in this installment, comic book action in “Captain Marvel terms” is discussed … and we learn the meaning behind Cap having “concrete in his boots”. —P.C. Hamerlinck.]
fter meeting so many new associates on that first day at Fawcett in 1941, I was introduced to … comic books. The year and a half of experience behind me had been quite similar … newspaper comics … but not the same. The major difference: the comic book action … so much of it … and so intense! There comes to mind a comment once made by Rick Yager (Buck Rogers, 1940-58): “When there’s so much of it (action), it loses its excitement … its purpose in the story.” He went on, referring to the subject as wasted action, “like characters rushing
Concrete Boots “I like to think of him as having concrete in his boots” was a remark made by C.C. Beck circa 1941. So, apparently, did Marc Swayze, in creating the battlefield scene above, first for Spot, a 1942 Fawcett distribution publication—then, with alterations, for a title/splash panel and cover for Captain Marvel Adventures #12 (June 1942). [©2008 DC Comics.]
The school years hadn’t provided much preparation for this hectic comic book activity. There were classes in figure drawing, but the figures were usually sprawled out on the floor, or in posed positions … dead still. The most helpful material was found to be the sports page, where the stop-action camera had caught athletes in various stages of action moves … including facial expressions. I was there to draw Captain Marvel … reporting dually, to the art director as a member of his department … and to the comics editor in regard to the work I would be doing. At the drawing table next to mine sat the super-hero’s co-creator, C.C. Beck. Assisting Beck was Pete Costanza. I was made aware of the company’s dissatisfaction with a previous attempt to get outside art help, and the resulting decision that thereafter all Captain Marvel art be prepared “in the house.” This action business, when related to that character, had a special meaning. Chats with Beck and dedicated editor France E. Herron had me convinced that Captain Marvel was not the customary super-hero … he was different. It was not his way to rush headlong into every brawl. “I like to think of him as having concrete in his boots!” Beck chuckled one day, and in that brief comment I saw an ease of performance, a calm selfassurance and deliberate manner about the character that I was determined would remain an attribute as long as I was to draw and write about him.
The De Fuccio Papers —Part 1
JERRY DE FUCCIO May Have Known “More About Comic Books Than Any Man Alive” by Ron Frantz Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck [EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: In Jules Feiffer’s landmark 1965 book The Great Comic Book Heroes, Jerry De Fuccio’s name led the list in the author’s acknowledgements. Mad editor William Gaines had originally gone to editor E.L. Doctorow to pitch the idea for the book, and advised him that Jerry De Fuccio (Mad assistant editor since 1956) should write it because “he knows more about comic books than any man alive.” Doctorow agreed to do the book, but instead chose Feiffer as its author because he had the bigger name. De Fuccio assisted Feiffer along the way, with the understanding that he would write the follow-up book—which, alas, was destined never to happen. Thus, over the years, Jerry’s vast comic book knowledge remained stored up in his head, with nuggets of information occasionally veering their way into various comic-related projects, publications … and correspondences with people such as myself and Ron Frantz. While my gab-fest with Jerry the final six years of his life centralized upon our love of artist C.C. Eye Candy Beck’s work, Frantz’s letters In this 1980 specialty piece for the 10th edition of Bob Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide, artist C.C. Beck depicts a young exchanged with him, as revealed Jerry De Fuccio absorbed in what became his favorite lifelong activity. [Shazam characters TM & ©2008 DC Comics.] in this three-part article, packed more drama, and encompassed a the late 1980s, the news of his untimely demise hit me very hard. Feeling wide variety of comic book lore and facts—from a man who, even as a the urge to trod down memory lane, I spent a quiet evening reading boy, always knew which artist worked on which comic book. —P.C. through a large file containing the bulk of our correspondence. Finding Hamerlinck.] myself overcome with mixed emotions, his letters rekindled memories both sweet and sour. However, somewhere in the process it occurred to me that some of Jerry’s letters contained information, not readily s time marches forward in carefully measured footsteps, some available, that might be historically significant. For this reason, it seemed events stand out in our respective memories. The reasons are appropriate that I should document portions of these letters for the essentially personal. As for myself: August 11, 2001, is the day benefit of those who might find them of interest. that marked the passing of Jerry De Fuccio. No doubt many of you will remember Jerry as a former associate editor of Mad magazine. In later Unlike many people who engage in lengthy correspondence, I seldom years he became a well-known comic book historian and a frequent bothered to keep copies of my own letters. For some inexplicable reason it contributor to Cartoonist PROfiles. It might be said that what Jerry didn’t did not seem important at the time. So, much of what you are about to know about comics or cartooning was probably not worth knowing. read is essentially a one-sided version of my correspondence with Jerry. For the sake of clarity, I have taken the liberty to disclose general inforSince I had worked extensively with Jerry on my ACE Comics line in mation as it relates to the letters, along with some personal commentary.
The DeFuccio Papers—Part I
tration Strathmore. It looked like three Skymen were on the same line. I paid Whitney and hid my disappointment because Anne seemed troubled by her husband’s state. She supported the family with her private secretary job in the area of the Empire State Building. Richard E. Hughes, editor at American Comics Group, was especially helpful to “old-timers,” as he was one himself. ACG was virtually a last port of call for fading comic book artists. Hughes gave Whitney work, though Ogden seemed absorbed in trying storyboard continuity samples to crack the advertising field. I saw him working on the special pads imprinted with rows of blank TV screens. He couldn’t qualify. A coolness developed between us as he no longer reflected my idol of prep school days. Incidentally, Fred Guardineer, who worked with Ogden at DC and Columbia Comics Group and somehow wound up with Whitney in the same outfit in the Philippines during Word War Two, is a very fine person and a true friend. I passed Whitney’s apartment house about seven years ago and asked the doorman: “Does Ogden Whitney still live here?” The doorman spoke in a hush, “No! His wife died and his condition became extremely irrational. He was finally evicted ... carried bodily ... from his apartment. The place was full of empty [liquor] bottles and dirty as a cage!” I hate to perpetrate this horrible and disillusioning story, Ron, but I can’t believe that you’ll find a lucid, cogent, or articulate Ogden Whitney … anywhere.
America’s National Hero When Ron Frantz was searching for Golden Age artist Ogden Whitney, Jerry De Fuccio had the unpleasurable task of informing him of the artist’s fall from grace. This Whitney page was originally published in Columbia’s Skyman #1, 1942, and was written by Gardner Fox. [©2008 the respective copyright holders.]
The reflected point of view is, of course, my own. The story begins on a summer day in 1979. At the time I had been diligently searching for artist Ogden Whitney, who had seemingly vanished without a trace. While spending the afternoon driving around Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Jim Steranko, visiting old book stores, I asked if he knew what had become of Whitney. Steranko, who seemed to know quite a bit about such things, thought he might have Whitney’s address on file and offered to check upon returning home. Later, after a search failed to turn up the information, Steranko suggested that I write to Jerry De Fuccio at Mad magazine. I did. Much to my delight, Jerry responded with the following letter, beginning a friendship that spanned almost a decade: 2/13/80: I had contacted Ogden Whitney about fifteen years ago. He lived at 40 Park Avenue South at the time. I engaged him to do a Skyman original for fifty dollars: a single figure descending on the familiar “sky-hook,” with the “Wing” plane aloft. Naturally, I gushed about Whitney’s Golden Age work when I visited his apartment. His wife, Anne, was quite lovely and refined, but Whitney wasn’t anything like the svelte characters he used to draw: fat and obviously addicted to liquor. The drawing I ordered was poorly done, with two false starts cut into the illus-
Having witnessed many unpleasant alcohol-related incidents during my childhood, I understood Jerry’s meaning all too well. Thus, my quest to locate Whitney came to an abrupt end. During the latter part of his career, Whitney produced a considerable volume of work for the long defunct American Comics Group. After the company disappeared like a whiff of smoke in 1967, l often wondered what had become of ACG and its prolific writer and editor, Richard E. Hughes. The information was not then a matter of common knowledge. Taking a gamble, I asked Jerry and he responded
as follows: 2/29/80: The American Comics Group was owned or in the control of Irwin Donenfeld, son of Harry Donenfeld. Donenfeld [&] Liebowitz were the renowned long-term bosses of DC. Irwin took over at DC after his father’s death. He was eventually bought out and succeeded (for a time) by Carmine Infantino. Bill Gaines had been friendly with both Irwin and Carmine, but hears from neither of them now. I spoke with Richard Hughes many times by phone, always asking him about some “old-timer’s” whereabouts. I regret we never kept the luncheon invitation I half-heartedly extended. Just his address book, if it exists today, would be a key to many “lost people.” I recognized Paul Gustavson’s disintegrating style in one of the ACG comics and Hughes put me on to Gustavson. It got to be a great friendship and I honored Paul’s memory in Cartoonist PROfiles, some issues ago. I remember a story or two by Charles M. Quinlan, former editor of Catman Comics and Captain Aero, in Hughes’ books. I’m looking for any survivors of Quinlan at this