Sunday, May 18, 2014

Comics on TV: Unidentified Issue of ADVENTURE COMICS.

At the beginning of “Captain Jack, the second ever episode of the ultra-classic sit-com LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (aired October 11, 1957), we see Wally and The Beaver cracking open a brand spanking new copy of a comic book titled “Robot Men of Mars” – with no publisher’s logo, and some really cheesy art.   

But, hark… Once opened, “Robot Men of Mars” reveals itself to be, in actuality, a doctored-up, unidentified issue of DC Comics’ (then known as National Periodical Publications) ADVENTURE COMICS – the title that featured SUPERBOY! 

 Just look over to the LEFT SIDE of the image.  As always, you may click to enlarge. 

The episode centers on Beaver and Wally ordering a baby alligator from an ad in the comic.  And, somehow for the more innocent (…or, less “animal-rights-enlightened” – take your pick) 1950s, this comes across as more or less a normal thing. 

Hey, at least it’s nowhere near as bizarre as THIS AD from the seventies! 

But, never mind the gator… what of the COMIC? 
A 1957 issue of ADVENTURE COMICS.  Could this be THE ONE? 

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER has a (in my view undeserved) reputation for being square and cornball.  Indeed, my VERY USE of the words “square and cornball” is probably indicative of MY OWN… um, “square and cornball-ness”.  But Beaver and Wally?  Not so, given what follows! 

Check out the UNSPEAKABLE ATROCITIES that Wally commits on that very “unidentified issue of ADVENTURE COMICS”, as Beaver LOOKS ON, doing nothing to halt his brother’s episode of violent depravity! 


He’s even cutting a page with Superboy comics on it!    NOOOOOOOO! 

 Click to enlarge, if you've got the stomach for it! 

Ward”, asks June Cleaver, the boys’ mom, Have you seen my pair of Kryptonite shears?” 
 Anyone able to identify which issue of ADVENTURE COMICS it is?   
UPDATE: The ever-reliable Friend-of-This-Blog, JoeCab, informs us that the issue in question is ADVENTURE COMICS # 240, cover-dated September, 1957 -- and just "one issue up" from the issue I chose to illustrate in this post, ADVENTURE COMICS # 239. 
Go to the Comments Section to read JoeCab's observations, for which he is heartily thanked! 
Adventure Comics # 240.  Don't cut your copy up, readers!  No alligator is worth that!


joecab said...

Yup! It's "The Super Teacher From Krypton!" from Adventure Comics #240 (Sept 57). Dial B for Blog had a funny writeup on it:

Joe Torcivia said...

Wow! Ask and you shall receive!

Thanks, JoeC! Everyone, go check out that link! It’s great!

Maybe the Super (A-h) Teacher from Krypton could teach Wally and The Beav’ a thing or two about not cutting up your comics!

joecab said...

It's got me wondering how quick a turnaround they had on TV shows in those days. The episode aired in October but the comic's cover date is September. Now back when we were kids, the cover date on a comic book was always months ahead to keep a comic sitting in the spinner rack too long from looking obviously stale.

Someone must have bought the comic right off the newsstand at the time it was filmed, so when was that?

Joe Torcivia said...

A September cover-dated comic would very likely have gone on sale in July. Possibly, as early as June, but July seems the safer bet. July filming, at least for a non-fantasy oriented, half-hour sit-com that would ostensibly require relatively little in the way of post-production efforts, would not seem unreasonable for an October air date.

I suspect someone in the prop department at Universal was tasked with picking-up a comic book, from whatever was on sale at the most convenient outlet, and doctoring it up to fit the requirements of the episode. ADVENTURE COMICS # 240 was apparently “in the right place at the right time”.

Universal seems to have a tendency to do this sort of thing… in series both BEFORE and AFTER this episode of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

…And, if you delve (admittedly very) deeply into THIS POST, you’ll even find a passing reference to a DC comic book appearing in another Universal produced show.

Finally, as long as we’re going “link happy”, here’s a convenient link , to the Blog post JoeCab directs us to, on ADVENTURE COMICS # 240.

If that Super (A-h) Teacher from Krypton was really doing his job, he would have (in the show’s particular terminology) “hollered at” Wally and Beaver for cutting up that comic!

scarecrow33 said...

Alas, back in those days, I fear that comic book "collecting" was simply not the norm. I knew lots of kids who were occasional readers of comic books--but keeping them, much less keeping them intact, was something else entirely. A lot of my earliest comics were "hand-me-downs" from kids who were ready to get rid of them. That's why I have multiple issues of several old comics--the ones that predate my adult collecting habits, of course.

Comics apparently were quite disposable then--read the story, then cut it up, throw it away, whatever.

Notice how many ads in those days required such cutting up of comics for special coupons, etc. Also, sometimes a puzzle page or activity page would instruct a young reader to cut up the book to make a special craft. A lot of those Disney Christmas Parade issues and other Dell Giants contain such (nerve-wrenching) instructions.

I'm actually grateful that so many people did NOT follow-through with all of those "cut out here" directions. Given the attitude of the times, it's amazing that so many issues have survived intact from that era.

Think how many issues of Fantastic Four #1 or Spider-Man #1 probably ended up in some rubbish heap, to say nothing of classic issues of WDC & S, and countless others. Oh, to be able to time-travel back and collect those throw-away comics!

Joe Torcivia said...

Very true, Scarecrow! In fact, I always say we were READERS in those days, not COLLECTORS.

I’ll confess to even clipping an offer-order coupon once myself – but ONLY ONCE, and for a very worthwhile item! Maybe I’ll do a post on it.

But, I must have had a progressive soul, future-sight, or something because, one episode with a red crayon at the age of four aside, I never wrote in any of ‘em either.

And, aren’t we all glad today that more kids didn’t tear-off those back cover “early Gold Key Comics pin-ups” and put ‘em on their bedroom walls! I could sure see Beaver doing that!

Bruce Kanin said...

Hi Joe,

What's particularly troubling is that Ward would bring up his lads (as Fred (Richard Deacon) Rutherford would call them) to decimate a Superman (or in this case Superboy) comic book!

After all, Ward - or Hugh Beaumont - as Dan Grayson in the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN episode "The Big Squeeze" - had great respect for The Man of Steel...!

That episode was filmed in 1953, four years before LEAVE IT TO BEAVER! Since it's very possible - or even LIKELY - in my twisted mind, at least - that Dan Grayson divorced his wife from "The Big Squeeze" and changed his name to Ward Cleaver (or, perhaps inspired by Superman's dual identity, had his own pair of, er, identities) - say, is this a run-on sentence, or what? What?

Anyway, ignoring all that I just said, all I can say is, if I were Superman - or Superboy - I'd fly back through time and stop Wally from -- oh, I just can't say it!! It's too horrible to consider...



Joe Torcivia said...

Now, THAT'S a theory - and a half, Bruce! Bravo!

Comicbookrehab said...

The team behind "Beaver" also worked on "The Ministers", which even had Herman Munster say "This never happens on 'Leave It To Beaver'!" once.

"Beaver"'s okay. I remember my mom saying she used to think the Cleavers and the family on "Father Knows Best" and "Hazel", "Make Room For Daddy" were rich because they owned large houses and could afford housekeepers and cars, but upon watching those shows again, she found that they owned a lot of junk - the "houses" were furnished with stuff you'd find at a dollar store - lots of statues of chickens on "Father Knows Best" for some reason - or walls with ugly paintings of generic landscapes...they lived VERY frugally! :)

Joe Torcivia said...

Yes, I should have noted that BEAVER and THE MUNSTERS had the same producers, ‘Rehab. Good catch! Maybe some comics even surfaced on CALVIN AND THE COLONEL!

Can’t speak for the fifties but, in the sixties, my folks seemed to have everything they needed (and maybe even a little more), and on one salary! I’d love to know how they did it. Maybe they just “needed less” back then.

Anonymous said...

Adventure #240 was before my time, but I remember the Robot Teacher story from a reprint in Superman Annual #2 (1962). Actually, that comic was published before I was old enough to read, but I later acquired a copy from a classmate's older brother, who traded it to me for my copy of Daredevil Annual #1. (And it scares me no end that I actually remember that.)

Watching Hazel, I didn't wonder so much about how they could afford a housekeeper, but I wondered why they needed one, since the wife didn't seem to have a job outside the home.

I seldom watched Beaver, but I do remember seeing "Captain Jack" in reruns on TV Land or Me TV. Edgar Buchanan played a zookeeper or something, and he advised the boys to use sherry to moisturize the reptile's skin. The parents wondered why their bottle of cooking sherry was almost empty when they hadn't used any lately. Then their housekeeper came into the kitchen, babbling about seeing an alligator in the laundry room. Ward and June (rather disgustedly) looked at each other and said something like, "Well, that solves the mystery."


Joe Torcivia said...


Come to think of it, *I* must also have (or have at some point *read*) SUPERMAN ANNUAL # 2, and that’s why the image seems familiar, even though I never had ADVENTURE # 240 either!

Ward must have made some pretty decent 1957 bucks to have that nice house, two kids, a stay-at-home-mom, and a housekeeper. No wonder he was always in such a good mood. Then again, as I said, WE had pretty much the same thing in the sixties – minus the housekeeper. (And a DOG took the place of the alligator!) Must have been very different times, and economic structures back then.

And it was great to see Pre-Petticoat Junction Edgar Buchanan in that episode. The great “Old Character” actor Burt Mustin would soon follow, on subsequent early episodes.

Anonymous said...

Whoops. Make that Superman Annual #5.

As far as I can tell, Burt Mustin must have been born old. He didn't look much different on Sanford and Son or The New Andy Griffith Show than he did on Leave It to Beaver or the old Andy Griffith Show.


Joe Torcivia said...

Ah, SUPERMAN ANNUAL # 5 makes more sense, TC! I have that one, and now I know exactly why the imagery of the “Super Teacher” seemed so familiar. “Super Teacher”?! Brrrrr! Old Unca Mort Weisinger sure knew how to tap into a school kid’s worst nightmares!

…And, Burt Mustin was great, wasn’t he?