Monday, April 29, 2013

Coming This Week: Porky Pig in “Phantom of the Plains”!

Surf on over to TIAH Blog this Wednesday…
 …for some “hair-raising” adventure…
…that you “do-nut” want to miss…
…when we finally review DELL FOUR COLOR # 271 PORKY PIG in “Phantom of the Plains”! 

They’ll be excitement-a-plenty…

…though, maybe not like this! 

See you then! 


Chris Barat said...


That "do-nut want to miss" pun was fully worthy of appearing on a RICHIE RICH cover back in the day! Right up (down?) there with "dough-veloping fluid"!


Joe Torcivia said...

The difference is, Chris, that Gold Key (even in its severe decline of the seventies) would NEVER have done such a thing… leaving it to future Bloggers to make their own readers cringe!

I hope you’ll be there for the review!

Dan said...

Chris & Joe:

Oohhhhh, those "Richie" puns... the Harvey books took a cringe-worthy turn upon introducing captions on the covers (not to mention the slashing of all other titles in favor of 3,576 Richie Rich titles per month.)

Looking forward to finding out more about the long-form stories in the Dell WB titles—I've yet to look into much of that content, but some of the WB Dell Giants capture the spirit of the characters surprisingly well, to the point they would make perfect adaptions into animation plots. Others leave you with a bad taste: lookin' right at ya, Road Runner (sorry, Joe!)

If anyone can recommend a couple of good examples of book-length tales, I'd like to know. I'm so far removed from them, I'm not even certain if 1950s characters like Witch Hazel made it into the books before DC re-launched the series in the 1990s. Oddly, there seems to be a lot more "Ollie Owls" and "Sniffles" material that hung in during the Dell/Gold Key days as opposed to Miss Prissy or Hubie & Bertie.

Thanks to an earlier TIAH post, I now know they did a Bunny & Claude issue on Bugs's dime.

"Ehh, *crunch, crunch* dat was tucked into me contract, Doc! McKimson or not: whatta ugly pair o' rabbits dey were!"

scarecrow33 said...

Porky Pig had some pretty amazing adventures in comics. It gave him a depth he seldom had in the cartoons. I think my favorite adventure is "The Kingdom of Nowhere" which I have in a Gold Key reprint. His mild personality seems to lend itself well to exotic, outlandish adventure--especially when he finds himself in the middle of a situation that rapidly escalates out of his control. He's similar to Mickey, though not as brainy. I, too, enjoyed the Porky Pig comics as having some special quality of intrigue and adventure. The stories all seemed tailor-made to Porky's personality--wouldn't have worked as well with Bugs or Daffy in the lead. Looking forward to this upcoming review...and a story I have not read.

Joe Torcivia said...


Pretty accurate description of Harvey on your part! I liked the Harvey comics of the ‘50s and into the sixties but, like Gold Key, there was a serious decline there too! It was just a different sort of decline that oversold Richie Rich to absurd lengths, while ignoring or downplaying other worthwhile characters.

Oh, there were many great long-form WB comics, one of which you’ll read about in our next post! Here’s a list of a few others that I’d recommend.

A particular favorite of mine is “The Rocketing Radish” (Dell Bugs Bunny # 31 – Rep GK Bugs Bunny # 101) Trip to (and intrigue in) the future!

There’s no doubt about who wrote this one, because the author, Don R. Christensen, told me so himself. In the ‘90s I wrote this one up in an APA – not as a review, but to contrast how the “Comics Bugs” played-out vs. the “Cartoon Bugs”. It takes the story all the way through the ending, which I do spoil. But, if you’d like me to post that, feel free to let me know.

“The Mysterious Buckaroo” (Dell Bugs Bunny Four-Color # 420 – Rep GK Bugs Bunny # 98) Western Town with Sam as the bad guy.

“Court Jester” (Dell Bugs Bunny Four-Color # 217 – Rep GK Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig – “Paper-Cover-Giant") Before “Knighty-Knight Bugs”, court jester Bugs vs. a dragon AND a giant!

“Porky Pig and the Mouse of Monte Cristo” (Dell Porky Pig # 25 – Rep GK Porky Pig # 1) I’d swear you‘re looking at a 1950 WB cartoon as a Dell adventure. Strobl does a magnificent job with the WB style in this one.

“Porky Pig and The Phantom” […NOT “of the Plains”!] (Dell Porky Pig Four Color # 156 – Rep GK Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig – “Paper-Cover-Giant") Out west, but a different Phantom – this one a rustler.

Don’t forget “Porky of the Mounties” (Dell Porky Pig Four Color # 48 by Carl Barks! – never reprinted by Gold Key, alas!)

And, I’ll certainly second Scarecrow33’s endorsement of “Kingdom of Nowhere” (Dell Porky Pig Four Color # 284 – Rep GK Porky Pig # 4). I read it first in the GK reprint, too!

And, there’s still a few of them I haven’t read yet – so who knows what wonders yet await me! Looking forward to your comments on “Phantom of the Plains”.

Joe Torcivia said...


We’re two-for-two in the “Accurate Descriptions Department” tonight, with your assessment of Porky. There ARE differences between him and Mickey – and I think some of Porky’s traits are successfully ported over from the cartoons.

This is essentially the “McKimson Porky” (or maybe, to a lesser extent, the ‘50s “Jones Porky”, when he’s not playing a “character or costume role”) who is adapted to adventure tales and, more often than not, I think it works very well – as you’ll see in “Phantom of the Plains”.

Since you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this one before, I’m especially interested in your reaction!

Joe Torcivia said...


To further elaborate on your question above, the Dell Warner Bros. comics seemed to follow something resembling a basic mid-‘40s – early-‘50s template. Eventually adding their own unique version of the Road Runner – and with very limited appearances by Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzalez.

As you note, “Sniffles and Ollie Owl” – and (to my knowledge) no Witch Hazel or Hubie and Bertie. Sylvester (at least in the earlier days of the comics) was often independent of Tweety, as he was in some ‘40s cartoons, and the “daffy (small ‘d’), annoying – and not the greedy coward version” of Daffy Duck prevailed until the end of Whitman.

There was one issue of BUGS BUNNY (# 40, 1954) that used both the Chuck Jones version of the Three Bears – and Nasty Canasta in separate stories, though Canasta was drawn as neither the “Drip-Along Daffy” version, nor the “Barbary Coast Bunny” version. He must have been a REAL “Man of a Thousand Faces”!

Oddly, in the late sixties – with some presumed nudging from Warner Bros., some of the newer characters began to appear, with semi-regular Gold Key guest spots for Cool Cat and Merlin the Magic Mouse, and the one-shot appearance of Bunny and Claude that I cited earlier.

And, yes… I have a soft spot for the Dell Comics Road Runner (called “Beep-Beep”), as I actually saw that version before the Chuck Jones version. In 2000, I did another APA write-up of that series vs. the far better known cartoons. I’ll put that up too, if anyone asks for it.

Dan said...

What a response! Thanks, Joe... looks like there's some reading to do. I believe I've only read "Porky Pig and the Mouse of Monte Cristo" and, (of course) like any Barks enthusiast, "Porky of the Mounties" courtesy of the original Barks Bear Book.

Didn't recall Strobl as the artist on "Monte Cristo," but I remember it was an impressively drawn affair. The other stories you mentioned sound promising—those characters have solid personalities, but most of them *did* change over the years, especially the little black duck.

Constantly miring them in suburbia isn't the best way to place them, but that was par for the course back then: as the artists & writers reflected settling down in their own suburban lives (true for animation, too)... but that's a blog post in itself.

I'm not the biggest fan of Witch Hazel, but with all the Magica DeSpell/Wendy/Madam Mim/Little Itch/Munsters and so on during that time, you'd think that was a natural fit for Western's WB comics.

Sometimes it's odd what takes off and what doesn't: I've recently discovered the ONLY U.S. comic book appearance of Jack Hannah's creation of Humphrey Bear w/ Ranger Woodlore was in a late "Silly Symphonies" Dell Giant, drawn by Paul Murry. Only one, yet there's MILES of Bucky Bug tales!!!

I'd like to read your APA Road Runner appreciation, the comic always kind of threw me off. Will read/comment on "Plains" when I get out of the office and can concentrate on IMPORTANT things like comic books! - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...


As my resident WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST expert, didn’t I see that Paul Murry Humphrey story in an issue of WDCD?

I’d say the comics followed the lead of the animated Porky in suburbia – as probably most of the animators and comic artists themselves very likely did in the post-war suburban migration.

And, I’ll take that as a request for my Road Runner piece. I’ll have to format it for the Blog someday soon.

Joe Torcivia said...


One more thing I neglected to point out in my response about Warner characters appearing in the comics is that, in 1963-64, the Tasmanian Devil (…we didn’t call him “Taz”, back then) began appearing regularly in – not in the BUGS BUNNY title, where you might have expected him, but in the DAFFY DUCK title where I guess it was in response to the one cartoon where Duck and Devil crossed over: “Ducking the Devil” (Robert McKimson, 1957). Though, for the brief time BUGS BUNNY was a Gold Key Giant, he was a part of the mix, as was nearly every other WB character.

Just about every issue of DAFFY DUCK of the period contained a story were Daffy was the unfortunate quarry of the Tasmanian Devil. And, it was something that I looked forward to, every time I got a new issue. They were written by Michael Maltese and drawn by Phil DeLara – uncredited, of course. After 1964, DAFFY DUCK became primarily a reprint title until the early-mid seventies – and (pardon) the Devil was no longer a part of the details!

The Tasmanian Devil also got a one-shot Gold Key comic – which was WAY ahead of the popularity curve the character would follow in later years.

…Ask a question ‘round here, and you certainly get your money’s worth!

Dan said...

Indeed, Joe: I've read the cover and contents for that one-shot, it had the unforgettably cheeky title of "The Tasmanian Devil and His Tasty Friends"! Taz certainly counts as a later entry in the WB stable, along with Speedy Gonzales (hey, how about a comic featuring his Friz-created cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez?)

Mike Maltese doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for his contributions, most would agree many of the finest WB outings were helmed by the trio of Chuck Jones, Mike Maltese and Maurice Noble supported by the steady hands of Ben Washam, Ken Harris and Abe Levitow.

I know Chuck didn't always see eye-to-eye with everyone he worked with, but disagreements aside, Jones and Maltese were a force to be reckoned with (then OR now!) Even his "Flintstones" & "Quick-Draw" scripts/dialogue stand out prominently.

Thinking more about it, there's so many duck and pig pairings they could have expanded back then: Duck Dodgers, Drip-Along Daffy, Rocket Squad, Doorlock Holmes...

And yep, you got it: that Paul Murry-drawn Humphrey/Ranger Woodlore tale was reprinted only once in Walt Disney's Comics Digest #10 (April/June 1969)—even shared a small spot on the cover. It was an nicely assembled adaption of a few of the Jack Hannah Humphrey cartoons, and Murry's art is bright and energetic with great poses. Amazing that Gladstone I-II/Disney Comics/Gemstone never picked up on that one to reprint in a "Vacation Parade" or Summer-themed special.

Boy, all this talk makes me want to settle under a tree and read a big ol' pile of comics this weekend!
- Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

Why wait for the weekend to read comics, Dan? The days are sunny and longer, now!

I’ve said it before – and elsewhere—but I can never say it too often… My heroes are Carl Barks and Michael Maltese. And, all the more so for the reams of great dialogue that each produced!

No need to elaborate on Barks – and Maltese was the first name I noticed, way back when I realized that people actually wrote cartoons and /or comic books. And, his name was most often on the very best of them, regardless of studio. Indeed, Mike Maltese and Warren Foster are simply the two greatest animation writers who ever lived! PERIOD!

When I later learned that Maltese also wrote for Dell and Gold Key Comics, his legend was only enhanced in my eyes. When I’m privileged to write comic book dialogue scripts, (which I’d love to be able to do again – AHEM, Disney!), I always approach the job with the thought of living up to “Carl and Mike”! …Maybe, one day, I’ll succeed at that!