Monday, October 29, 2018

Happy Halloween 2018!

Yosemite Sam would like to think that he's a tough and scary guy!  

Both in his own "Looney Tunes Universe", and even in his 2017 crossover into the DC Comics universe!  

And below he gets to prove it to himself, on the cover of YOSEMITE SAM # 55 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: September, 1978)!  

Happy Hall-o-weenie, all ya dadburn idjit galoots!  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: In the End There Was No Hope!

I've always loved legendary comedian Bob Hope on television, be it his regularly aired specials or his movies - especially those with Bing Crosby - but, for reasons unknown, I've not gotten into his comic books until relatively recently.

Said lack turned out to be my misfortune, as the BOB HOPE title, published by DC Comics (1950-1968), has turned out to be an utter joy!

Written by Cal Howard and drawn by Owen Fitzgerald for the majority of its run, the comic centered on Hope as a down-on-his-luck former actor, now living in a tiny New York apartment wondering where his next meal will come from, and avoiding his strong-willed old landlady, Mrs. Peabody, whenever the rent is due!

Each issue, fast-talking Bob would would outsmart himself, by getting into various situations way over his head, most often in pursuit of some beautiful gal.

...Sounds a lot like the "Movie Bob Hope" to me!  

Some of the comics even reference a former partnership with Bing Crosby - in which, characteristically, Crosby fared far more successfully!

As the 1950s rolled-on into the 1960s, Bob Hope's comic book adventures began to reflect more of that special type of 1960s intrigue that helped define the decade in pop culture - though still motivated by the (...all together now) beautiful gal!

THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 76 (1962) - Art by Mort Drucker.  

Finally, as the 1960s actually BECAME "The 1960s We Know And Love", DC Comics ushered-in its memorably-infamous "GO-GO-CHECKS" era!

And, with it, Bob Hope found his title given over to a wonderfully odd melange of teenagers (...One super powered, courtesy of a "magic guitar"!) and monsters!

These issues were written by the great and wildly imaginative Arnold Drake - who also wrote the STANLEY AND HIS MONSTER feature that (at more or less this same time) took over THE FOX AND THE CROW!

Watch them slowly take over, folks! Let this be a lesson to you! Never invite a MONSTER into your own eponymous comic book!  They'll take it over every time!

The art for this unusual run - that could ONLY have occurred in (...all together now) "The 1960s We Know And Love",  was by Bob Oksner...

...With the legendary Neal Adams (to my mind, one of the greatest of all time) sneaking in there toward the very end!

Imagine the co-creator of Batman's arch-foe Ra's Al Ghul also drawing a "Monster Baby Contest"!  But, that's why we love the sixties, right?

History lesson over!  We're here to discuss THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 7 (DC Comics, Cover Date: February/March, 1951)

The issue trumpets its "52 BIG PAGES"...

...But, let's look at that a little more closely - both literally and figuratively (below)! 

There are 48 interior pages to this comic!  Some would say that, including the heavier-stock sheet that forms the cover-wrap, the book would be 52 PAGES!  

I DO NOT!  Sorry... It is 48 PAGES, plus a cover wrap!  

When one examines a HARDCOVER BOOK, does one regard the FRONT COVER as "PAGE ONE"?  The inside front cover as Page Two?  The BACK COVER as the final page?  

No, one does not!  So, why should we imply this page-count-increasing fallacy to the lowly comic book?  Most likely so a publisher can give you the impression you're getting more for your "one-thin-dime" than is actually the case.  

If THIS isn't PAGE ONE...

...Why should THIS be? 

This sort of labeling was a common practice back in the 1950s, and has its vestiges today, when 32-page modern comic books are touted as being 36 pages!  

Now, that's not to say that THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 7 doesn't give you a lot of great entertainment for that thin-dime - because it certainly does!  

We lead with a 30 PAGE Bob Hope story, spread over three chapters, where Bob gets thrown out of his apartment yet again (...and this is only ISSUE SEVEN!)...

...And takes up with the circus!

Despite dredging-up the old "Character thinks he's going to face a guy in a lion-costume, but is facing the REAL lion instead" bit...

...Which was HOARY even in 1951...

...A good time is still had by the reader!

In a slight twist, the actual lion is not merely substituted for the costumed phony, but the LION ITSELF is INSIDE the LION COSTUME!  Look closely and you can see that the lion costume is DRAPED-OVER the actual lion!  

So, let's give props to artist Owen Fitzgerald for the unenviable task of having to draw a REAL lion BENEATH the COSTUME of a lion!  Check out the snout, inside the blank-eyed costume's snout! 

That's pretty impressive cartooning, if you think about it - and not something I feel just anyone could easily pull-off!

But, as much fun as this story might be, it's only 30 PAGES, while the issue touts (...all together now) "52 BIG PAGES"!  

Now, even if you decide that it's only "48 REGULAR-SIZED PAGES", rather then the stated "52 BIG PAGES", that's still only 30 PAGES of Bob Hope content... unless you count the FRONT COVER and call it 31! 

Let's stick with 48 PAGES, as that comprises the issue's interior, and figure that there are 18, um, "Hopeless Pages"!  

I suppose that's no SO bad, given the normal advertising considerations that sometimes glutted DC Comics of the period and beyond... but consider that the issue's LAST "Bob Hope Content Page", is interior page 36!

That means that, even regarding the issue as 48 PAGES, rather than 52, there are still TWELVE (count 'em - 12) consecutive pages at the end of the issue... with er, um... "No Hope!" 

So, what filled those remaining 12 interior pages, you might ask?  

There was ADVERTISING - with, or without, DC's standard "little filler strips" to balance out the page.  [Click to Enlarge All Illustrations!] 

"A Bit of DISC and DATA" - a two-page text feature discussing music recordings of the day.  Look for the names of Nat "King" Cole and his wife Maria, Duke Ellington, Gordon MacRae, Kay Starr, David Rose (who I knew while growing up as the composer for BONANZA and the orchestra leader for THE RED SKELTON HOUR), Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Louis Armstrong (incorrectly nicknamed as "Satcho"), Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Jordan, Richard Hayes, Tex Beneke, Eydie Gorme, Dennis Day (who I knew as a mainstay of THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM), Eddie Fisher, and many others!

You'll also find words like "Spin", Flip-Side", and "Platter" sprinkled throughout the jargon - and talk of that new-fangled invention... the 45 RPM Record!  ...Yes, really!  

Gosh!  The Fifties REALLY WERE a LONG TIME AGO, weren't they? 

Finally, in a spot of humorous irony for a BOB HOPE comic, there's also a blurb touting a famous BING CROSBY recording...

...Not to mention a certain DC COMIC BOOK!  How's that for cross-promotion!  

This issue would have been on sale at the same time as THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 7!

Getting back to those "last twelve pages", we have a DC House Ad for TOMAHAWK and a mandatory magazine circulation statement.  Oh, and file TOMAHAWK away for a little later in the post!  

...Somehow, I don't think we'd see TOMAHAWK in comics today!  At least not with that particular ad copy.  ...Just a hunch.  

A five-page story, "Miss Beverly Hills of Hollywood", drawn by Bob Oksner in a style just a tad too reminiscent of those straight-laced "romance comics" to effectively carry the tale's humorous conclusion and punchline.  

Hey, at least Bob Hope's NAME is at the top of the page, so we don't forget it's his book! 

More advertising is interspersed throughout these twelve pages, until we get to the last page... and a very interesting and unusual DC Comics "Public Service Announcement"!  

DC Comics regularly lent their properties to front "PSA"s - from Superman to Peter Porkchops - but this triumvirate of Tomahawk, Green Arrow, and The Shining Knight, is unprecedented to say the least!   

See?  I TOLD YA to "file Tomahawk away" for later! Literacy in the 1950s could depend on him! 

Attaboy, TOMMY!  Keep those kids out of fifties street gangs - you and Harlan Ellison!

"Greenie" and "Shiny" pitch in too! 

I already have a Library Card, but this makes me wanna get THREE MORE!  One for each Champion of Literacy!  

Seriously, that IS quite clever on the part of DC - appealing to kids drawn to certain types of heroic characters (Frontiersman, Archer, Knight) and spreading the idea that such concepts exist - and do so grandly - outside of comic books and movies!  ...And certainly a "good message" to send during the fanatically unfair anti-comic-book-political-crusades of the period!
 GOOD FOR YOU, DC!  Sincerely!  

But, what of Bob?  

Well, he simply did not appear in any way, shape, or form over the last twelve pages of  THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 7!

For more, we'd have to wait two months until the next issue!  And, since the me of "Alternate-1950s-Type-Earth" does not own a copy of  THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 8 (nor does *This 2018 Me*, for that matter)…

...I guess I'd have to wait longer still!  And that's the story of THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE # 7 - and why "...In the End There Was No Hope!" 

...And I ain't LION!