Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wouldn't a Purple Claw look Kool under YOUR Christmas Tree?

The name that strikes terror into the hearts of least to the minds of an impressionable 9-14 year old audience!
Technically, it's the name of the metal glove that imparts mystic powers to it's wearer, but some refer to the user himself (or herself) by the name...sort of like Green Lanterns and their rings.
The user in this 1950s series, which mixed horror with heroics, was Dr. Johnathan Weir, a former US Army doctor who acquired it when he crashed his plane in Africa.
After the locals rescued him from the wreckage, he used his medical knowledge to save them from a plague.
Judging him as Honorable and Worthy, they gave him The Purple Claw, which had been left in their care by it's now-deceased previous owner.

The Claw's origin and history, which Dr. Weir tried to trace, is somewhat cloudy, since it was all word-of-mouth.
What is known is that it's an ancient mystic artifact of Great Power when used for Good. (Those who attempt to use it for Evil usually come to a Bad End!)
The bearer becomes a Defender of Humanity against Occult Evil, whether they want the job or not!
The Claw's exact abilities and limitations are unknown, and Weir had to experiment to see what would and wouldn't work, always stumbling upon the right way to use it before being killed/dismembered/disintegrated by a foe. (Talk about "on the job training"!)

The series ran for only three issues, but Weir continued to fight evil as a backup feature in Tales of Horror, until the Great Comics WitchHunt of the 1950s killed almost all horror/occult-themed comics titles.

As you might have guessed, we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ found it to be a perfect fit for our Horror Comics of the 1950s™ collection, even giving The Claw it's own section!

We think any of the collectibles we offer with The Purple Claw on them would make a kool Xmas stocking stuffer for the horror/occult pop culture kitch aficionado in your life!
But, remember...use them for Good...not Evil! ;-)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holiday Reading Room SANTA CLAUS FUNNIES "Toy Trouble"

We'll wind up the week with a never-reprinted, silent one-pager... Walt (Pogo) Kelly from Dell's Four Color Comics: Santa Claus Funnies #91 (1945).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cowboys + Dinosaurs = CHRISTMAS FUN!

Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito
They just don't make comics like this anymore!
Masked cowboy hero vs gunslinger riding a pterodactyl...and a bright magenta pterodactyl at that!
It's the sort of concept a nine-year old would come up with while playing with his (or her) newly-unwrapped action figures under the Christmas tree, mixing the dinosaurs with superheroes and cowboys!

Why not?
That's what makes it so KOOL!
It's so darn silly, yet fun, you just have to look at it and think "what the--?"

That's exactly the sense of wonder we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ still feel!
We want to live in a world where anything can, and does, happen!
In pop culture, we call this sort of tale "cross-genre", where a story draws elements from disparate categories of fiction.

Sometimes there's a certain logic to it.
One of my favorite books involves fiction's greatest detective dealing with the first alien invasion!
Since he lived in London at the time the invasion took place, it seems only (dare I say it) elementary, that Sherlock Holmes would witness and analyze the Martian invasion of 1898!
That's the basis of the superb pastiche, Sherlock Holmes' War of the Worlds by Manly Wade Wellman & Wade Wellman!
That novel, to me, defines KOOL!
(The fact the story also includes another of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters; Professor Challenger from The Lost World and other sci-fi novels, is a cross-genre bonus!)
Track down a copy.
If you're a Holmes, Challenger, and/or War of the Worlds fan (I'm all three), it's well worth the effort!

Sometimes there's no real logic to it except--"why not?"
That's the category where something like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians goes!
And that's where the cover shown above goes.
This particular design was so cross-genre we put it in two wildly-different sections--Dinosaurs!, and Masked Western Heroes, because, hey, it fits both categories, so--"why not?"

Keep the Sense of Wonder alive!
Give a Christmas gift that keeps inspiring the imaginations of both the young and the young-at-heart!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Reading Room OUT OF THIS WORLD "Man Who Stepped Out of a Cloud"

Let's have a look at a Steve Ditko story...
...that shows both his storytelling and rendering talents at their best.
Written by Joe Gill and illustrated by Steve Ditko, this tale from Charlton's Out of This World #5 (1957) is a great example of how to tell a complete story in just five pages.
While the script isn't the greatest, Ditko tells the story effectively with both "talking heads" (and very distinctive, individualistic talking heads, at that), and kool graphics showing things impossible to portray convincingly with the sfx technology of the 1950s.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Make it a FURY-ous Christmas!

She wasn't the first superheroine, but she was the first to be created by a woman!
Conceived, written, and illustrated by cartoonist Tarpe Mills (who dropped her first name "June" from her published credit), Miss Fury started life in 1941 as a newspaper comic strip called "Black Fury".

Wealthy socialite Marla Drake was preparing for a costume ball when she discovered a friend was going to wear the same costume as her!
Horrors! Social ruin!
Francine, her maid, hastily suggested an alternative--she instead wear a black panther skin sent to her by her uncle, which had previously been used as a ceremonial robe by an African witch doctor.
Strangely enough, it fit Marla perfectly!
En route to the party, Marla encountered an escaped criminal and kicked his, well, you know...
Police and reporters initially referred to her as "Black Fury", but she called herself "Miss Fury" in notes attached to crooks she caught. (The name "CatWoman" was already in use! ;-) )

Two items of note:
1) The panther hide didn't give her any super-powers, as such items tend to do in comics*!
Marla was a gifted athlete, and, that combined with the visual shock value of the costume, enabled her to defeat foes. (ask another wealthy socialite, Bruce Wayne, about his similar, equally effective, strategy!)
2) Unlike most Golden Age heroines (Wonder Woman, Black Cat, Phantom Lady, et al), who seemed to wear skimpy swimsuits to battle evil, Miss Fury's costume totally covered her (but extremely tightly)!

The series spun off into comic books in 1942 published by Timely (Marvel's Golden-Age predecessor), but only as reprints of the newspaper strips (albeit with new covers by Mills).
Sadly, unlike most other newspaper adventure strips, there were no other spin-offs like movie serials, radio shows, or even a Big Little Book or two!
The book ended after 8 issues.
The newspaper strip ended in 1952, but Tarpe Mills continued to work as a comic illustrator for various publishers, including Marvel Comics! Her last published work was a new cover for a graphic novel reprint of Miss Fury in 1979. She passed away in 1988.
Miss Fury is one of numerous Golden Age characters revived by Dynamite Entertainment, both as a solo book, and as part of the ensemble of Noir (featuring her with Black Sparrow) and both Masks and Masks 2, (which features a host of well-known characters including The Shadow, Green Hornet & KatoThe Spider, and Zorro).

We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ felt such a unique character would make a great, empowered role model for today's girls, so we gave her a section of her own in Heroines!™, where the so-called "weaker" sex RULES!
She'd make a cool pop-culture Christmas gift under the tree or in a stocking for your sister, daughter, or girlfriend!
Perhaps it'll inspire them to create a character of their own...

*Another Golden Age character, Cat-Man, whom Tarpe occasionally illustrated, did receive powers including agility, night vision and the gift of nine lives from his first cat-costume!
Villains would kill him, but he'd return to life by the story's end to avenge himself.
Someone figured out the "nine lives" idea would only work for nine issues, and it was dropped, but the other super-human abilities remained.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Reading Room ADVENTURE COMICS "Adventurers' Club: 'Scortch' Jordan's Tommy Gun"

The first ongoing feature during Adventure Comics' short-lived 1970s return to an anthology format...
...was this strip with a Boris Karloff-lookalike host.
It's unclear whether writer John Albano (who had been scripting Supergirl until it left Adventure) or Adventure Comics editor Joe Orlando conceived the series.
This never-reprinted tale clearly shows the "ghost" to be of non-supernatural origin, but later stories lean towards supernatural elements.
When The Spectre was reintroduced in Adventure, for a memorable run by Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo, the cover title (though not indicia) became Weird Adventure Comics.
I mentioned the visual of the host, Nelson Strong, was "Karloff-esque".
Here's Karloff in his short lived-1950s tv series Colonel March of Scotland Yard.
Does he look like the inspiration for Nelson Strong?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What's better than a SuperHero under the Christmas tree? A WHOLE GROUP OF SUPERHEROES!

"If ONE hero on a cover sells books, stick a BUNCH of 'em on the cover, and we'll sell even more copies!"
That was the philosophy behind anthology comics like America's Best Comics, Big 3 Comics, and 4 Favorites.

Originally, comic anthology covers would feature one hero in action, with other characters' heads in little inserts along the side or bottom of the cover. Each hero would rotate as the main cover character every few issues.
At some point, an editor, trying to keep track of which character went on which issue, probably said "Hell, this month put them ALL on it!" and the first multi-hero cover burst onto the newsstands of America!
Sales skyrocketed, and covers featuring hordes of heroes became the standard!

Even though these multi-hero covers featured the characters interacting, inside the comic, the heroes only worked together in text stories, if at all!
In fact, sometimes the covers were just symbolic designs (like the patriotic one above) to showcase which characters' strips were inside!
The comic stories inside the book were individual strips of those cover-featured heroes.
( It wasn't until All-Star Comics #3, featuring a framing sequence about a meeting of heroes linking the various characters' strips together, that the first true super-hero group, The Justice Society of America, was born.)

We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ have always been suckers for covers showing heroes (and heroines) working together to defeat a common foe, rescuing innocents, or just hanging out!
So, we've assembled some of the best multi-hero covers in our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ section!
America's Best Comics, Big 3 Comics, and 4 Favorites featured the top characters of their respective lines, much as World's Finest featured Superman and Batman & Robin, and All-Winners displayed Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and The Human Torch for DC and Marvel, respectively. (BTW, most of America's Best Comics, Big 3 Comics, and 4 Favorites have NEVER been reprinted! Talk about your buried treasures!)
We've digitally-restored and remastered them directly from the original books onto a plethora of potential pop culture presents including mousepads, blank sketchbooks, t-shirts, and other collectibles.

Think what your graphic-novel-reading loved one will say when he (or she) finds these kool retro-style tchochkies under the Christmas Tree or in their stocking!

Plus: think of the value! A half-dozen heroes for the price of one!
It was a bargain 70 years ago; and still is, today!