Friday, May 9, 2014

Move's done! Systems Up and Running!

Everything's now on-site.
Internet's reconnected, computers up and running!
New material will begin on Monday.
Thanks for bearing with us during this (better than expected) experience!

Ironically, some of the reposts got more hits than recent new material!
Go figure...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Big Move is Underway!

Today's the final day of our multi-day move from old quarters to a new space twice the size!
Tomorrow, internet access should be intitiated, and, after the weekend, all-new posts will return!
Thanks for bearing with us during this period...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dick Ayers' THE ORIGINAL GHOST RIDER "Origin" 2.0

WARNING: Stereotypes of Native Americans and Asians common to the 1950s. May be NSFW.
With the passing of Dick Ayers, let's look back at his most famous co-creation...
From Ghost Rider #1 (1950). Writen by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Dick Ayers.
He began life in the late 1940s as Rex Fury, aka The Calico Kid, a masked hero whose secret identity was a lawman who felt justice was constrained by legal limitations. (There were a lot of those heroes in comics and pulps of the 40s including our own DareDevil and Blue Beetle!)
But, with masked heroes in every genre doing a slow fade-out after World War II, and both the western and horror genres on the rise, the character was re-imagined in 1949 as comics' first horror / western character!

The Ghost Rider himself was not a supernatural being.
He wore a phosphorescent suit and cape, making him glow in the dark, appearing as a spectral presence to the (mostly) superstitious cowboys and Indians he faced.
Since the inside of the cape was black, he'd reverse it, and appear in the dark as just a floating head, usually scaring a confession or needed information out of owlhoots.

Despite the initial aid from deceased Western heroes (and a heroine) in this origin tale, the series' early days were populated with villains who were standard owlhoots or, like The Ghost Rider, people pretending to be supernatural beings.
That changed around 1952, when he started facing real mystic menaces including Indian spirits, vampires, and even the Frankenstein Monster (though not the one from Prize Comics.)
Unfortunately, it was about this point in time that Dr. Wertham began his crusade against comics in general and horror comics in particular...
By 1954, the Ghost Rider had lost his series. The next year he disappeared entirely.

But, in 1967, Marvel Comics revived his name and costume on a new character, also drawn by Dick Ayers (who had become an artistic mainstay at the publisher.).
Art by Dick Ayers
Unfortunately, he never quite caught on and the name was usurped by several motorcycle-riding contemporary heroes who fared better in the fickle comics market.

Note: the Western Ghost Rider appeared (as "Phantom Rider"), played by Sam Elliot, in the first Ghost Rider movie!
I don't know if Ayers received a credit for the character's co-creation or not...

Note: If you want to see the Ghost Rider's origin/first appearance (which didn't have any actual supernatural elements), go HERE!
You really didn't think Marvel or DC invented retcons, did you?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Best of Reading Room: STRANGE WORLDS "A Nation is Born"

As we mentioned yesterday, here's the Golden Age version...
..of a Bronze Age b/w magazine story we already ran HERE!
(Click to open in new window)
Illustrated by Golden Age journeyman Rafael Astarita, this tale appeared in Avon's Strange Worlds #4 (1951) and was reprinted in IW's Strange Planets #9 (1959).
It was then re-illustrated, with only minor changes to the script (including a re-titling), in Eerie Publications' Strange Galaxy V1N8 (1971) as shown HERE.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Best of Reading Room: STRANGE GALAXY "The Moon is Red"

In the late 1960s-early 1970s, numerous b/w comic magazines popped up...
...to publish the risque material the Comics Code Authority banned from color comic books!
Despite being drawn in 1970, this tale from Eerie Publications' Strange Galaxy #V1N8 (1971) has the feel of a 1950s tale, which wouldn't be surprising since the publisher both reprinted stories from defunct publishers when they could find photostats/printing film or re-illustrated stories using old scripts nearly verbatim.
In fact, this story's script is adapted from a tale in Avon's Strange Planets #4 (1951) called "A Nation is Born", which we'll re-present tomorrow so you can compare them.

BTW, this issue, despite being #8, was actually the first issue under that title.
What it was before then is unknown, since the publisher did numerous titles in various categories including astrology, romance, crime, etc.

"Oswal" was the pen-name of Osvaldo Walter Viola, an Argentinean writer/artist who began his career in the early 1960s creating Argentine's first super-hero, Sónoman.
His only American comics work was for Eerie Publications' titles.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Best of Reading Room: "Space Speedsters"

Combine When Worlds Collide, Damon Runyon's Broadway tales, Flash Gordon, and Front Page...
...and you get this really-weird one-shot tale!
So, we got...Armageddon, gangsters, intrepid spacemen (and women) and spaceships, newspaper reporters, and some comedy relief.
Did I miss anything?
This never-reprinted tale from Black Terror #23 (1948) seems like part of an ongoing series, but I can't find any other stories featuring the lead characters!
Illustrator (and possible writer) Stan Asch was one of the steadily-working artists who were the backbone of the comics industry in the Golden Age.
With over 300 stories and covers to his credit, he co-created Johnny Thunder and Dr Mid-Nite for DC Comics, and assisted both Milton Caniff (on Terry and the Pirates) and Al Capp (on Lil' Abner) during his long career.
Was this a try-out for an onoging series that didn't sell?
We'll never know...
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