Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marvel Spotlight: Ghost Rider

With a successful Marvel Entertainment big budget feature starring Nickolas Cage in the title role, Ghost Rider debuted in Marvel Spotlight #5 with stories by Archie Goodwin and artist Mike Ploog in 1973. Having had a popular Western hero of the same name steadily losing interest with readers over time, Marvel Comics gambled that bikers would be more popular in 1973 that cowboys with their new version of this rider with a tortured soul. Jonny Blaze was a clean-cut cyclist who became the unwilling host of an evil spirit named Zarathos who changed him into a "demon biker" with a wicked super-charged chopper motorcycle and flaming skull head. Often taking on Satan and his horde of demons, this self-titled series lasting eighty one issues in its first incarnation, after its five issue try-out introduction.

The Ghost Rider even was once rescued by his Western counterpart when he was unable to overcome an evil coven assembled against him, until they combined their otherworldly powers to save the day in the historic Ghost Rider #56. In 1990 a new series was launched with more gruesome hard hitting tales showcasing the violence and gore when compared with their earlier hot rod inspired incarnations. Produced by foreign born artists Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira, it new look suited the character well enough to keep the sales going strong for Ghost Rider to still be published to the present day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pat Boyette's "The Rain Stopper!"

It is easy to see when Pat Boyette enjoyed the subject matter of a story he was illustrating, especially since he was fascinated with Lee Falk's world famous jungle hero, The Phantom, the original "Ghost who Walks". Never wanting to draw muscle bound costumed superheros, Pat liked to do tales of a ordinary man without super human abilities up against incredible odds, men like Blackhawk, Jungle Jim, and other various war, Western, or adventure characters. Boyette had already worked in television, radio, and film, before turning his sights on comics, and as shown here, has really pulls out all the stops with his excessive detail and backgrounds including his "scratch effect" for the rainstorms in this delightful jungle yarn from Charlton Comics, The Phantom #43 from 1971 as shown in this story entitled...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Direct Currents: Jonah Hex

With his first appearance in All-Star Western Tales #10, DC Comic's weird anti-hero was born under a very bad sign. Jonah Hex was abandoned as a child by his mother and sold to an Apache tribe by his brutal father for a pile of animal pelts. After the chief's jealous son, Noh-Tante, betrayed Hex over the love of woman in their tribe, the Apaches rejected the youth. Joining the U.S. Calvary, Hex later fought for the Confederates in the Civil War and made many enemies for his views in not supporting slavery. After the war, Jonah discovered Noh-Tante had married his true love White Fawn, and killed the chief's son in personal combat. When rejected from the tribe, the gunfighter face was scarred forever with the horrible "Mark of the Demon" by a burning Tomahawk. By 1875 though, Jonah Hex was known as the greatest bounty hunter of his time, a superb marksman, who rarely missed his target, he struck fear in outlaws and citizens alike in his bloody trek across the wild wild West.

Friday, August 6, 2010

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Al Jaffee

I was born a long time ago in what is now known as Savannah, Georgia and it's been down hill ever since. I've tried many fields of cartooning and one of these days "I"ll get it right." I've done comic books, satire magazines, and a minor syndicated feature titled "Tall Tales". One day, in a fit of madness, Alfred E. Neuman invited me to join the "usual gang of idiots". In 1964 I created the "Mad Fold-In" which still appears (yeech!) as of this writing. I've been a member of the National Cartoonist Society since 1950 sponsored by Frank Fogarty, (one of the sweetest people I ever met) and Gill Fox (not as sweet but a great artist). The National Cartoonist Society has been a marvelous joyride.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Irving Phillips' The Strange World of Mr. Mum

Based on a stage play created by Phillips for Broadway, The Strange World of Mr. Mum debuted on May 5, 1958, with its whimsical iconic style that helped pave the way for other one panel cartoonist with off-beat humor like Gary Larson's, The Far Side, or Dan Pirraro's, Bizarro. Our man on the street, Mr. Mum, was a good-humored, befuddled gentleman who somehow always came across one zany situation after another with his tragic deadpan expression. If ever shaken to his core from these outer limits type weird happenings, the most we ever saw out of this silent bystander was an occasional raised eyebrow. At the peak of its run, starting with the Hall Syndicate and later ending with the Field Newspaper Syndicate, it graced 180 newspapers, spawned a Sunday page in 1961, and was printed in 22 countries...no translation required.

Whether it was a single mother with a brood of children shooting a stork at the local zoo, or a caveman returning several overdue stone tablets to a amused librarian, Mr. Mum somehow remained stable at what he observed. This signature strip won Irving Philips the International First Prize and Cup of the Salone dell' Umorismo of Bordighera, Italy, in 1969. Two books, ten years apart were published about Mr. Mum's exploits, but often appealing to only a narrow section of newspaper readers, until the series eventually ended in 1974 despite protests of his many loyal fans.