Post by Prince Hal on Dec 21, 2018 16:42:17 GMT -5
The Phantom (Charlton Comics) #70 and #74 (April 1976; January 1977)
I read the Phantom strip every day in the funnies, and particularly enjoyed the episodes about in which one of his ancestors would take center stage. IIRC, quite often it was one of the “Pirate-Era” Phantoms, maybe the first of them all, who’d be spotlighted in those stories. Thus, it’s fitting that two of my favorite Phantoms are also set in the past.
I rarely saw any of the Phantom’s comic book incarnations on the stands, but when I did, I snatched them up. I’ll always be grateful that of the very few I found, these two issues were among them. Two superb adaptations.
The first was a labor of love for writer Bill Pearson and artist Don Newton in which they incorporated elements of several movies, primarily The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca into a story of the Phantom of the 1930s (with a cameo by the Phantom of the 1880s). This wasn’t just a nod to those films, but a full appreciation of them and of their times, historical and cinematic. (Hey, when you include a dead-on version of S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, one of the greatest of character actors, you’re doing more than nodding to Casablanca, you’re immersing yourself and your readers in it.)
A kudos to Pearson – what ever became of him? – for letting his love for and knowledge of the movies shine through.
And Don Newton was never better, despite the notoriously lousy Charlton printing, which left every page looking as if it had been slathered by a roller covered with black ink.
Phantom 74 was a complete Newton production. Somehow the printing improved or perhaps Newton figured out how to make his work survive the vagaries of that plant in Derby, CT. It’s a great story featuring the Phantom of 1776 (It was the Bicentennial, doncha know?) meeting Ben Franklin as the Declaration is about to be signed. The Phantom is on a mission to rescue a chief’s son captured by slavers. I don’t think you’ll ever read a better illustrated story, whether you care for Newton’s art or not. He really outdoes himself here on what could have been a throwaway looking for a little Bicentennial attention, as so many other comics published that year did. No gimmickry here, though, and a serious story, to boot.
You have to love it when Franklin advises the Phantom that he cannot hope to free all the slaves in the new nation, as his instincts demand him to do. The Phantom pierces Franklin with his gaze and says, “You ask much of me. Do you expect me to desert the others because I might face danger? It is not my way.”(p. 20)
Both stories were unexpected moments when the planets aligned and a couple of craftsmen – artists – threw themselves into what might have been just work for pay for others and instead illuminated their character and two unique times in history as well as could be done.
And for Charlton, more’s the pity.
Last Edit: Dec 21, 2018 21:05:42 GMT -5 by Prince Hal
"The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance." -- The Tempest, 5.1
As I've related before in this forum, I came to comics as a monster fan, making my first purchase because Famous Monsters magazine wasn't available often enough to satisfy me. Fortunately, in the early 70's, comics were serving up creatures a-plenty. As I discovered from my local library's copy of The Comic-Book Book, in an essay by Frankenstein fanatic Don Glut, the 40's and 50's had been, courtesy of Dick Briefer, delivering a long-running serving of chills and thrills based on the Frankenstein monster. I despaired of ever having the opportunity to read these, but in today's magical world of public domain online publishing, I can--and so can you! (See links in the first line of this post.) Briefer's horrific Frankenstein monster had two eras: the 40's run in Prize Comics, and the 50's run in his own series, separated by a comedic take in between. Although the comedy Frankenstein has its charms (and its defenders), it was Briefer's intense and powerful horror takes on the character that I love. In the 40's, the monster begins as a literal giant, a fun but surprisingly rare thing in an ongoing comics character, slowly shrinking down to human proportions before being ultimately "reformed" into a clean cut and boring character, but up to then, Briefer's monster was a brutal engine of destruction, even going so far as to work directly with Satan:
I love 'em all, but the 50's run is my favorite, as Briefer jumps on the EC era bandwagon, dishing out tales of vengeance, betrayal, crime, and weird horror, standing out from the crowd with its continuing focal character. Unlike the similarly-styled Heap series running in Airboy, Frankenstein remains a monster by nature:
Violent, bizarre, and engaging, despite not having the most impressive of artists at the pencil, Briefer's Frankenstein is a real favorite, and the stories maintain a readability far greater than many of its contemporaries.
Speaking of public domain comics posted online, you might also want to visit the Digital Comics Museum - there's a lot of overlap with Comic Book+ (including those Frankenstein books), but also some stuff the latter doesn't have. Worth checking out in any case.
Post by Slam_Bradley on Dec 24, 2018 12:22:06 GMT -5
Random thoughts on Day Six by some random person.
Alf - Having looked at Google (it's not hard) I find that Alf premiered the fall I started college. Which would explain why I never watched it...or read this funnybook.
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons - I am vaguely aware of this as a TV thing...not as a funnybook thing.
KING KONG. Gold Key - This was a bit before my time and I've never seen one in the wild.
Superman #62 - I think this story was in the hardcover "Superman From the 30s to the 70s." I bought that remaindered at a Waldenbooks when I was probably 10. It's pretty okay for a story with that damn Superman.
Fables #1-75 - I didn't think of Fables, but it can be worked in. The first 75 issues is a great story. After that it kind of coasted to a pretty ignominious end.
The Fu Manchu mythos - I love me some Fu Manchu. One of my never-realized projects is a re-write of the first Fu Manchu book with Fu as a Chinese freedom fighter.
Image of the Beast - MDG brings the obscure. I love P.J. Farmer. I should find this.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali - It's always good to see Superman get punched out.
"Repent Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman - Unknown World of SF was a great magazine. I should re-read them.
Oz (Caliber) - I'm kind of an Oz fan. I've often thought about reading this. But I never have.
KillRaven - I forget that this was tied to the War of the Worlds. I haven't read this in eons.
Scarlet Traces - I'm completely unfamiliar with this. One more thing to read.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie - I've never read anything with Deaf-Mute Idiot Turtles in it.
"Frankenstein 1974", Monsters Unleashed #2 - 10 - I quite liked the Marvel Frankenstein that was set in the past. I quite did not like his present-day adventures.
MGM's Lassie - We could not watch Lassie when I was a kid because it made my sister cry. She was afraid they were going to hurt Lassie. I've never actually seen any of these comics.
The Phantom (Charlton Comics) #70 and #74 - Prince Hal shows good taste.
Frankenstein in Prize Comics #1-33 - I've read Briefer's funny Frankenstein and it's delightful. I have not read his scary Frankenstein.
I'm not talking about Star Trek or Star Wars any more. And probably not REH or ERB. You can't make me.
A few publishers have tried to do something with the Elvira character over the years. (I'd sure like to do something with her. . .) But for my money, nobody captured the cheesy humor, the bawdy suggestiveness, the attitude of the character better than Claypool. This series gave the character a setting, a cast of supporting characters, and used them as the framework for 166 issues of ridiculous, satirical, self-mocking fun.
Post by Mister Spaceman on Dec 29, 2018 9:27:27 GMT -5
Various adaptations of Ray Bradbury stories (EC, 1951-54)
These stories have already gotten much deserved attention for this year's Classic Comics Christmas and I don't have much to add to what's already been stated. Suffice to say, these adaptations are the happiest of marriages between creative talents flourishing in different mediums. And one of the best aspects of them is that many capture Bradbury the horror writer, a side of him that's been obscured over the years in the eyes of the general public.