Monday, March 25, 2013

Atlas/Seaboard Comics: The Brute

Some think that Atlas Comics monster book, The Brute, was just a crude imitation of the original savage origins of Marvel's green Goliath, The Incredible Hulk, here recast as a blue savage Neanderthal caveman.  This curious choice of a cannibal “hero” was a savage ape man, suddenly frozen during the Ice Age, who slept in a moving glacier until an atomic power plant awoke him in modern times. This beast retreats to a cave surviving on scrawny rats until three young cave explorers stumble upon him by accident...and two become his next dinner. One of these lucky kids escapes and alerts the authorities, as the Brute is captured by an entire police force, brought to trial, and put in a sympathetic woman anthropologist’s care. But as we suspect, the Brute escapes, runs amok and murders more townsfolk in its three issue short-lived series. Michael Fleisher's creepy first two issues were illustrated by the talented Mike Sekowsky highlighted by the moody inks of Pablo Marcos. Gary Friedrich was chosen to script the final issue with Alan Lee Weiss doing the art chores on this unusual book. I never saw the Hulk connection but do see the similarities to a 1970 B movie and the last film for star Joan Crawford. Here is the motion picture's synopsis. Anthropologist Dr. Brockton unearths in a local cave a troglodyte (an Ice Age 'missing link" half-caveman, half-ape) and manages to domesticate him...until he's let loose by an irate land developer to go on a rampage and kidnap a little girl. Sound familiar, just a few slight changes and you have Seaboard's ,The Brute, but it was fun all the same.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Foreign Favorites: El Capitan Trueno

One of the most famous features in Spanish comics, El Capitan Trueno, "Captain Thunder" hit the stands in June of 1956 written by Victor Mora and illustrated by Miguel Ambrosio Zaragoza. A warrior of honor who defended the traditional ideas of chivalry, Capitan Trueno was a contemporary of Richard the Lion-Hearted and Saladin. His vast knowledge and fortune did not stop this fearless fighter from protecting the weak and ending tyrannical reign over the common man, with the help of his two constant companions. At his side in these many adventures that covered 618 comic appearances, and 232 Pulgarcito magazine features was his trusted squire Crispin, and the big hearted giant, Goliath. The trio wandered the world, righting wrongs and fighting terrible monsters of every description. Mora's quick scripts combined humor with action, romance and fighting, as idyllic scenes alternated with brutal battles. This proved to be  the perfect formula for Zaragoza's (under his pseudonym, Ambros) dynamic graphics, coupled with those beautiful Antonio Bernal covers. After ending in March of 1968, the series was reprinted, later in full color. Adapted into novels, advertising campaigns, and numerous toys and premiums, El Capitan Trueno lives on in the memory  of dedicated comic fans around the world.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Direct Currents: The Adventures of Jerry Lewis

Before the film star hosted his first Labor Day telethons for charity, and became a national treasure to the French, all around comedian Jerry Lewis was already a comics veteran. Bursting with all the energy and zany madcap humor of his movies, you can almost hear Jerry screaming "HEY LAY-DEE" on every page of his long lasting DC comic, The Adventures of Jerry Lewis. Starting out for National Comics in 1952 under the title The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the series ran forty fun-filled issues before the teams eventual break up and Jerry receiving the comic in their  settlement. Starting with issue #41 Lewis set off on his own new adventures targeted for a younger audience with its goofy gags, wild stories, and beautiful side-kicks. Later Jerry hit all the bases with his supporting cast of his weird nephew Renfrew and zany housekeeper, Witch Kraft, as they tackled the various crazes of the day. The later issues were scripted by writer Arnold Drake with some over the top artwork by National Cartoonist Society winner for "Best Comic Book" for 1960 and 1961, Bob Oksner. The series is also know for some very early DC cover and interior work of their most popular artist, Neal Adams in his unique but versatile style. For a wisecracking, bumbling funnyman, Lewis really got around the DC Universe meeting many of it super heroes including Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Lex Luthor, The Flash, many a monster, and even the Beatles. Jerry though finally ran out of steam as the series ended in May of 1971 with issue #124 as shown on the cover below by Bob Oksner and Dick Giordano.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rafael Aura Leon's "Death of Doctor Morbious" and "Odd Worm!"

Spanish artist Rafael Aura Leon, better known as Auraleon, joined Warren Publishing in 1971 and was one of their most prolific artists, doing sixty nine stories in total. Working primarily in Vampirella, his moody chilling work also appeared in their sister magazines Creepy and Eerie. Auraleon was the recurring artist for the popular series Pantha, in the mid-seventies, and also drew the series Cassandra St. Knight and Sweetwater Nessie in the 1980s. Award winning Warren magazines was always ahead of its time as shown in these couple of two page stories from 1973 that were used as the inside front and back covers. The artist's use of grey tone effects, scoring of the pages, and  rubylith overlay add to the horror of these sinsiter cold-blooded yarns. Offered here is "Death of Doctor Morbious" from Vampirella #26 and "Old Worm!" from Creepy #50.



Friday, March 1, 2013

Unpublished Gems: Aquaman

Whether the "King of the Seven Seas" was trapped  in a swarm of undersea vines about to be crushed by a giant foot or either lashed to the sole of a giant sandal about to be smashed, Nick Cardy did a wonderful job on this Aquaman #43 cover for January/February of 1969. Nick Cardy is probably best known for his thirty nine issues on DC's Aquaman where he helped create the King of the Seven Seas lovely wife, Mera, and the evil villain, Ocean Master. His equally successful forty three issue run on National's Teen Titans was also an instant fan favorite, coupled with the artist's uncanny ability to draw very attractive female characters. Cardy's great skill with pen and ink soon made him DC's primary cover artist for the mid-1970s where he illustrated many titles including Superman, Action Comics, The Brave and the Bold, Batman, Flash, Ghosts, The Witching Hour, Bat Lash, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, World's Finest and numerous 100 Page Giant comics, just to name a few. Perhaps editor Dick Giordano thought the final printed version was more dramatic for the Steve Skeates story "Take a Giant step!", thought I think they are equally effective in the minor changes shown here between the unpublished and published versions of DC's first aquatic character.