Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reading Room: SPACEHAWK "Moon Justice"

Basil Wolverton really enjoyed doing SpaceHawk...
...and even took a crack at writing a short text story starring the character, as seen in this tale from Target Comics #15 (1941)
The same issue this prose piece appeared, the SpaceHawk strip's format was changed in a direction Wolverton was not happy about; moving the hero from outer space to Earth to use his advanced technology to battle threats from thinly-disguised surrogates of the Axis powers.
(This was pre-Pearl Harbor, and we weren't at war at the time, so the stories were still set in the future!)
Once America entered the war, SpaceHawk was actually transported thru time to the "present day" (1942) to fight the real Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini, and their minions.
So you might consider this text story to be Wolverton's last try to convince the editor to keep the strip in deep space.
It didn't work.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reading Room: KENTON OF THE STAR PATROL "Vampires of the Void"

Strap on your blasters and activate your ato-jets, kids...
...as we join our space-faring hero against gorgeous aliens who suck the life from humans!
Now that's a sci-fi horror tale...and illustrated by Wally Wood and Joe Orlando!
Gardner Fox scripted the story published in Avon's Strange Worlds #4 (1951) and actually makes sense, given the scientific knowledge of the era.
But using the "Kenton betrays the Star Patrol" ruse twice in only four issues makes you wonder just how dumb evildoers of the future are.
Add an incredible cover (also by Orlando and Wood)...
Art by Joe Orlando and Wally Wood
...and you've got a cult classic!
Hard to believe it's only been reprinted twice!

The same premise was utilized (even more graphically) almost 35 years later in the 1985 film LifeForce, based on the 1976 novel Space Vampires by Colin Wilson.
Want to bet Wilson read "Vampires of the Void" as a kid?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reading Room TIME TRAVELERS "Amazons of Venus"

"We must beat the Communists to Venus..."
"...in order to prevent the atomic war predicted by Nostradamus!"
The first Time Travelers tale was a fairly-straightforward 1950s sci-fi story.
But this one goes wayyyy out there with numerous cliches of the era including...
Cavemen and dinosaurs co-existing in prehistoric times!
Venus as a vegetation-covered world ruled by beautiful, half-clad women who keep their males subservient!
Commie spies in business suits...even when they're on another world!
Travel between planets taking about the same amount of time as the average morning commute!
Written by Richard Hughes and illustrated by Ken Bald, this story from Operation: Peril #2 (1950) expands the strip's concept to include space and time travel by integrating the time technology into a spacecraft provided by the US government.
As a result, the emphasis will switch from Communist threats to alien attacks.
Despite this, the series' title will remain "Time Travelers" for the entire run.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reading Room: SPEED CARTER: SPACEMAN "Thing in Outer Space"

It's October, and we're doing Halloween-themed posts on all our blogs...
...but, every day is Halloween in outer space!
Oh, Speed, you're such a kidder!
This story from Speed Carter: SpaceMan #6 (1954) was scripted (as were all Speed Carter tales) by Hank Chapman, and illustrated by Bob Forgione.
You'll note that Forgione uses original artist Joe Maneely's designs for the Speed Carter universe, which previous artists Mike Sekowsky (issue #4) and George Tuska (issue #5) ignored in their issues.
In fact, Forgione tries to match Maneely's rendering style...and does a fair job of it.
It's a shame this was Speed's final issue.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Problems with Blogger

We're experiencing more problems with Blogger today.
Hopefully, we'll be back tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reading Room: STRANGE WORLDS "Octopus Kings of the Lost Planet"

Sometimes the cover of a comic doesn't match the contents...
...until you look closer!
While there is no comic tale called "Octopus Kings of the Lost Planet" in Strange Worlds #2 (1951), there is a text story...
Written by "W Malcolm White", a name that only appears in three text stories in Avon Comics, so its safe to state that it's a pen-name.
The illustrators for the cover and interior spot illustrations are unknown.
Regrettably, the files and records of Avon Comics are long gone, so we'll probably never know.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

STRANGE WORLDS Inside Cover Gallery

Avon Comics often put their "contents page" on the inside front cover...
Issue #3 art by Wally Wood
...with an all-new illustration by the best artist available, instead of clip-art from the stories, as this gallery of the ifcs of the Strange Planets anthology comic shows!
Issue #4 art by Wally Wood
Issue #5 art by Wally Wood
Issue #6 art by Everett Raymond Kinstler
#7 art by Everett Raymond Kinstler
#8 art by Everett Raymond Kinstler
#9 art by Everett Raymond Kinstler
Marvel, and several other publishers, now use the inside front cover to do a contents or synopsis page, but they usually use existing art from previous stories or from the current issue.
FYI, when stories from Avon Comics were reprinted by IW/Super Comics in the late 1950s-early '60s, the reprints usually left out the ifcs, since the film negatives and photostats for covers weren't stored with "repro" (as it's called by printers) for the interior pages.
You'll be seeing Kenton of the Star Patrol and some of the other stories here.
The rest will appear on our "brother" blog, Seduction of the Innocent™ over the next few months.

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