CHANCE FIVEASH

For those of you out there whom Cupid’s arrow seems to have missed

For those of you out there whom Cupid’s arrow seems to have missed, I give you these moldy old comic stories to keep you warm on this Valentines Day! Ain’t love grand?

First up are two Frankenstein stories by DICK BRIEFER from Frankenstein #32, published by Crestwood/Prize in August of 1954. Two Pre-Code horror gems from the maestro of the genre (he was a maestro of the humor genre as well, using the same character! But that’s another story for another day). The title only lasted one more issue before it was cancelled due to the looming shadow of The Comics Code. Ol’ Franky was a simple peaceful monster, that is, as long as you didn’t try to hurt him, then he would kill you. Sweet pre-code death. Dick Briefer is one of the many forgotten artists of the golden age. A great writer as well as artist, he stuck with the Frankenstein character for 15 years (starting in PRIZE COMICS #7 June 1941), starting off as a horror character, then changing it to a humor feature and back to a horror feature. Here’s a great panel from the first story:
frankensteinSINGLEpanelNext up is yet another great Midnight story by Jack Cole. This time it’s from his later period (my favorite period). It’s amazing flipping through these old issues of SMASH toward the end of the run. You have these great Cole Midnight stories and the fantastic Lady Luck stories by Klaus Nordling, and then there’s everything else. It’s such a drastic contrast to the other artists, whose artwork had become stiff and lifeless. Cole and Nordling had continued to grow throughout the forties, but most of the other Quality artist became stale and predictable, even Lou Fine. It’s not that it’s bad art, it’s just not interesting.

The last story is the LADY LUCK reprint from The Spirit Section that appeared in SMASH #70 by Klaus Nordling. Nordling is another one of those forgotten artists, he also happens to be one of my favorites. He usual wrote the stories he drew as well as for other artists. He wrote and helped draw some of the post-war Spirit stories by Will Eisner. You’ll definitely see more Nordling stories in the future.

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T H E F A C T O R I E S

I have been working on art for a number of years, and am glad to share it with the public. I’m also glad to share this internet blackjack site with you as well.

The Factories is an ongoing graphic narrative and new pages will be added whenever I find extra time during the day to work on it. Any new page will appear below and all previous pages will be archived in a separate section.

The sky has been obscured for years. The sunken shoulders of the town’s resident’s drag down any hope one may have for freedom or independence from the choking hands of the The Factories that hold total sovereign over their lives. Let us now look into the private existence of one such life.Thefactories1

love is in the air

Ahh, love is in the air here at the Spinner Rack. We have a humdinger of a story for you called “Teen-age Widow!” penciled by none other than Jack “King” Kirby! This was the lead story from the March 1953 issue (#43) of YOUNG LOVE published by Crestwood. Notice I said “penciled” by Kirby. Jack hardly ever inked his own work, and I’m fairly certain that his partner Joe Simon didn’t ink it either. It could have been George Roussos or any number of artists they had on staff at the time (or freelancers they used regularly). Either way, it’s still a great pre-code story before romance comics became lame. And dig that great photo cover, smoke ‘em up Joe!

I finally got my hands on a copy of The Comics Journal #275 and the Boody Rogers scans turned out great, the best I’ve seen in the Journal yet. My 3 page bio of Rogers turned out nice as well, they illustrated the article with the three Rogers covers I provided for them. I do want to make a mention that issue 277 of the Journal is going to contain comics by Billy DeBeck of Barney Google fame. DeBeck is a brilliant cartoonist that I hope to spotlight soon on this site. I have an old Cupples and Leon reprint from 1924 that I want to scan and post.

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I also want to point out a couple of cool websites. The first is a blog called Arf Lovers Blog! by the author of the book Modern Arf, Craig Yoe. Lot’s of cool images and info about classic cartoonists. The other site is called ReFrederator: The Free Daily Cartoon Podcast. It posts cartoons from the golden age of animation that have fallen into the public domain. All of these can be found on cheap public domain DVD’s at Wal-Mart and other places, but you can watch them for free!

Well well well, would you look at that

Well well well, would you look at that. Only a day after I gift you with a wonderful Sheldon Mayer story, I’m back again with a 9 page Sparky Watts story by none other than Mister BOODY ROGERS! You lucky devils. Consider it my Christmas gift to all of you! I have a couple of HENRY ALDRICH stories by John Stanley and Bill Williams that I’ve scanned, but I still have to clean them up and post them. You may see them within the next couple of days.
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Okay, after almost a year, I’ve finally posted new material

Okay, after almost a year, I’ve finally posted new material. A lot of you who may be familiar with Lady Luck by Klaus Nordling probably know it as a 4 page feature that appeared in the Spirit section in the 40’s. But there was more. When SMASH COMICS ended it’s decade long run with issue 85 in 1949 (which starred the Jack Cole feature Midnight), LADY LUCK picked up it’s numbering with issue 86. It had a run of five issues before finally being laid to rest. All 5 issues were drawn by Nordling and featured 2 longer stories (usually 9 to 11 pages long) featuring Lady Luck and a short story featuring the supporting character, The Count. The story I’ve posted on this site is the first Lady Luck story from the first issue (#86). As far as I’m aware, none of these stories have ever been reprinted, so I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to give me ideas for my next work of art. I’m always looking for new things to try. You can contact me here or find me on partypokies.net.

Next up is an 8 page Scribbly story by cartooning genius Sheldon Mayer. You know, his fluid line and slapstick storytelling just oooozzeesss cartooning. He is, to me, the ultimate cartoonist. It seems to pour out of him with such ease, as if his brush were an extra appendage attached to his body. It just happens. I love his work and only hope one day that DC comics decides to take a chance on a Scribbly or Sugar and Spike collection.

Finally, there is a 14 page Jack Kirby story that may or may not have been inked by Simon. It sure is a beauty though! It’s from YOUNG ROMANCE #18, the early days when the title was really kicking things right. Lot’s of jazz scenes with nary a black person in sight..sigh…let’s not and say we did, ok?

I hope you’ve enjoyed the two LADY LUCK stories

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I hope you’ve enjoyed the two LADY LUCK stories written and drawn by Klaus Nordling that I’ve posted in the past. If you have then you’re in for a treat. I just posted the first story from THE BARKER issue #11 published in the Spring of 1949. This story, as was the entire issue, was drawn (and most likely written) by Nordling. After Lady Luck, this was Nordling’s most popular character. The Barker appeared in 15 issues of his own title as well as being the lead feature in NATIONAL COMICS from #42 through the final issue, #75. His first appearance was drawn by the one and only Jack Cole. After that it was Nordling’s character for pretty much the entire run with Gil Fox helping out here and there. The strip revolved around the cast of Colonel Lane’s Mammoth Circus. The Barker of the title was Carnie Calahan, and you would suspect, he was the main character. Other feature players were Colonel Lane the circus owner, Lena the fat lady, Spudo the man with four arms (and usually had a solo story in every issue of The Barker), Midge the midget, and Tiny the strong man. The stories are forgotten gems of the golden age and certainly deserve a wider audience and long deserved recognition.

Next up are two stories from CREEPY #95 published in February 1978. Both are fun little stories with fantastic art by John Severin and Bernie Wrightson. The Severin story reads like the first chapter of a longer story. I wonder if it was pitched to the publisher as such? The Wrightson story may have been his last full story for the publisher. Anyway, I hope you get a kick out them!

THE SPINNER RACK’S TOP 10 COMIC RELATED BOOKS OF 2005

Here it is, the first ever Top 10 Year End Best Of List from the Spinner Rack! When I was younger I bought and read a lot more comics than I do now, so I was more in tune with the latest releases and what was hip and what wasn’t (Plus I had a lot more extra cash to spend). These days I don’t keep up with things as much as I would like to. I try to keep my eye out for the latest classic comic strip and comic book reprints when they are released. There are times when those are released in limited quantities and I don’t want to miss out on them. But I don’t keep up with the new kids like I used to. Most of the artists whose books I still pick up are the guys I loved reading back in the 90’s (lo’ those many years ago!) such as the Hernandez bros., Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, Joe Matt, Charles Burns, ect. I’m telling you this because my list may be a little bias and predictable. Sure, I love reading super-hero comics as much as the next guy, but I wouldn’t place them on my best-of list. I thought Dude Where’s my Car was a funny movie (I’m not kidding) but it wouldn’t be placed side by side with, say, any Preston Sturges or Woody Allen film on any list of mine. So without further ado, I’m gonna do a little boogaloo and a little soft shoe and begin!

In no particular order (click on a title to order):

1) WALT & SKEEZIX written and drawn by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)- A collection of daily Gasoline Alley strips by Frank King from the years 1921 and 1922. This is THE book of 2005. Hands down, no contest. You can read my thoughts on the book here.

This particular drawing was done with digital media, using an application that allows me to draw more easily. I use it as much as I use my casino application for iphone.

2) BUZ SAWYER: THE WAR IN THE PACIFIC written and drawn by Roy Crane (Manuscript Press/JAL)- It has been too long since a Roy Crane compilation has graced the shelves. This book collects the start of the strip in 1943 and entirety of 1944. By the time Crane started Buz Sawyer he was a master of the adventure medium and these are rollickin’ good stories combined with beautiful craft-tinted art. His stories move at a fast pace but never at the expense of the story. His facial expressions and figure work always convey the actions and emotions of each character. If I had one bad thing to say about this collection, it would be the reproduction. At times the lines seem thicker than they should be as if they were taken from microfilm or bad copies of the strips themselves. It’s not horrible but it could be better. Forget I said that though and pick up this book asap.

3) LITTLE LULU vol.’s 1-6 written and drawn by John Stanley and Irving Tripp (Dark Horse Comics)- So I listed all 6 books as one. So the first one came out in November 2004. Shut up. It’s my list, go make your own. Anyone who has seen my site (and if you’re reading this you have) knows what a Stanley fan I am. I was delighted when Dark Horse announced their intentions of reprinting LITTLE LULU last year. Each little digest reprints a hardback from the old Another Rainbow Little Lulu slipcase sets for the meager sum of 9.95. How’s that for value? Go. Buy now. Buy ALL.

4) THE COMPLETE CALVIN AND HOBBES written and drawn by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)- Well, there you go.

5) BLACK HOLE written and drawn by Charles Burns (Pantheon)- Ahh, a nice fat book collecting Burn’s magnum opus. I actually haven’t read the collected edition yet, I’ve had it for a while, but other things have taken precedence over it. I DID read all of the issues as they were coming out and loved it. His Al Feldstein influenced brushwork gives this teen plague story a creepy aura that’s both haunting as well as touching at times.

6) THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY/THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #16 written and drawn by Chris Ware (Pantheon/self-published)- It was a banner year for Chris Ware fans, not one but TWO hardback books were released. As usual, both are beautifully designed with the attention to detail that would drive any sane man crazy. The first book is an oversized collection of Ware’s two Joke Book issues of his regular ACME comic as well as a few other surprises thrown in. My favorite being the newly colored version of “I Guess” reprinted from RAW vol.2 #3. The second book is actually issue 16 of his irregularly published comic. It contains pages from the RUSTY BROWN serialized novel as well as a few pages of BUILDING STORIES. From what I understand this is a one time printing only so act fast.

7) PEANUTS vol.’s 3 & 4 written and drawn by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)- I guarantee that as long as Fantagraphics releases these books, they will be on this list every year (Same goes for Walt & Skeezix for that matter).

8) THE CONTRACT WITH GOD TRILOGY written and drawn by Will Eisner (Norton)- I just received this in the mail yesterday so I haven’t had a chance to re-read these stories yet, but there’s no need to in order to include it on this list. This fat hardback collects Eisner’s first book from 1978 A CONTRACT WITH GOD as well as A LIFE FORCE from 1988 (though written and drawn from 1983-1985) and DROPSIE AVENUE: THE NEIGHBORHOOD from 1995. Although his SPIRIT stories will always be my favorite work of his, I love the work he created later in his life. These stories that give us a glimpse into a different world, a different time from someone who saw it as it transpired moves me in a different way than his SPIRIT work. With the SPIRIT he was creating little movies on the page, whereas, starting with A Contract With God, he began staging plays.

9) WINSOR MCCAY: HIS LIFE AND ART by John Canemaker (Abrams)- This is a re-issue and revamped version of Canemakers McCay biography from 1987. It’s an excellent look into the man who created many beautiful comic pages in the early part of the century as well as one of the first to see animation as art. The book contains a lot of RAREBIT FIEND and LITTLE NEMO art printed from the original art pages. Gorgeous.

10) ABSOLUTE WATCHMEN written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons (DC)- I had to include this. I just had to. Except for Calvin and Hobbes, nothing else on this list is from my childhood. I must have been 16 or 17 when I first read this when it came out back in the late eighties. I’m still amazed at Moores storytelling and Dave Gibbons drawings. I can imagine this must have been an exercise in discipline in writing and drawing. The oversized Absolute format is perfect for the art. Gibbons understated art adds that perfect touch of realism/comic book feel to the story Moore was telling. Okay, so I put a super-hero book on the list. At least it was a good one.

As you can see I took a couple of liberties on the list such as lumping the Little Lulu’s together as well as the two Chris Ware books. While Stanley’s Lulu stories are charming and brilliantly written, I can’t say one story is better than the other. It is the series in and of itself that demands to be read and studied not any particular story to be singled out and exclaim, “Yes, that it. That’s the one!” Unlike a story by someone such as Bernie Krigstein whereas his Master Race story for E.C. is one of the pivotal moments in sequential art history, Stanley’s entire Lulu cannon is looked upon as a leap forward in comics. As for the Ware books, I have no excuse. I could say they came from the same mind and the same source (his weekly comic strip), but that’s a cop-out. I just wanted to. There were other books published this past year that almost made it on the list, such as THE FANTASTIC FOUR OMNIBUS which collects the first 30 issues and Annual #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby or PLASTIC MAN vol.7 by Jack Cole but were passed over in the end by a narrow margin. Anyway, that’s it for the 1st Annual Spinner Rack Year End Best of List. Now start Shopping!

Fantagraphics has announced that they will be reprinting the complete E.C. Segar Popeye comic strips

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Now for the “Let’s You and Him Fight” Dept.: Fantagraphics has announced that they will be reprinting the complete E.C. Segar Popeye comic strips, the first volume is scheduled to appear in September. Some of you may remember that they’ve already reprinted them once in the late 80’s, but they’ve long since fallen out of print and demand a hefty dollar on the secondary market. I should know, I sold my set a couple of years ago to help finance a trip to New York. I always hated that I got rid of them, but now they’re back and better than ever. Each volume will reprint dailies and Sundays in an oversized hardcover, and unlike last time, the Sunday’s will now be printed in color! A thread on the TCJ board can be found here. Kim Thompson posts:

“Six volumes, hardcover. Same size, more or less, as the original Fanta books from long ago (the big Sunday ones). Each book contains half dailies (six to a page) and half Sundays (in color), except for the first which is 3/4 dailies (because Popeye was a co-star in the dailies for more than a year before he showed up in the Thimble Theatre Sundays). Dailies in the front of the book, Sundays in the back (since there is no cross-continuity.) One every six months. We’ve got all the Sundays for the first volume scanned and are working our way through the dailies even as I speak. Introduction and annotations by Bill Blackbeard. A later book will contain a non-strip Segar POPEYE sequence that so far as I know has never been reprinted.”

Newest issue of BIG FUN (#5)

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No new updates, but I just received the newest issue of BIG FUN (#5) in the mail and I wanted to give it a plug here because I have a feeling it passed a lot of people by. The first 4 issues were magazine sized and distributed through the direct market (well, 1-3 were anyway). All 4 issues were top notch productions that reprinted Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy as well as Scorchy Smith. The newest issue is quite a departure from the first four. As good as the previous issues were, they don’t hold a candle to this new oversized full color beauty. It reprints in full color the full size LANCE Sunday strip by Warren (Casey Ruggles) Tufts from 1955-1957, as well as the few Lance dailies that were produced. This is a THICK book printed on off white paper so the colors aren’t too garish. And what magnificent colors there are too! I can’t really explain how wonderful this book is, the pics on the American Comic Archive website really doesn’t do the book justice. The one drawback is the price, which is $45 + shipping. Once you hold the book in your hands though, you’ll be glad you parted with that hard earned cash! Instructions on how to order the book as well as example can be found here.

I’ve been in a noir frame of mind lately

I’ve been in a noir frame of mind lately, re-watching some of my favorite crime/noir films from the 1930’s-1950’s and lovin’ every minute of it. Fox’s video division have released a ton of noir films on DVD recently and Warner Bros. have released 2 box sets called FILM NOIR with a third on the way. Warner Bros. have also released a great GANGSTERS boxed set with another called TOUGH GUYS due soon (lot’s of Cagney!). Anyway, I thought I’d continue the theme by posting a couple of private dick comics from the early 50’s that reflected the movie and paperback trends of the time.

The first one is DYNAMITE #8 published by a small company called Comic Media in 1954. Issues 3-9 were all pre-code and featured the tough as nails private eye, Johnny Dynamite. The character was created by William Waugh and Pete Morisi and was heavily influenced by Mike Hammer, created by Mickey Spillane (himself a comic book writer early in his career). The early stories were written by Waugh and drawn by Morisi with Morisi handling both chores later on. Morisi’s art bears a strong resemblance to George Tuska with a tip o’ the hat to Alex Toth. His art can be a bit stiff at times, but it’s very effective in these moody and boiled hard as an egg stories. I love this panel:

dynamitepanel

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Beautifully drawn. Doesn’t Johnny remind you of a certain sometimes-film-noir star John Garfield? Hmmm. By the way, you may be more familiar with Pete Morisi’s later comic book work in the 60’s and 70’s with Charlton comics as P.A.M. By this time he was a police officer in New York and didn’t want them to know he was also moonlighting as a comic book artist! His two major creations at Charlton were Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt and The Vengeance Squad.

The other comic is SAM HILL #6 from 1952. This comic was published by a company called Close-up, which was actually Archie Comics. It’s beautifully drawn by Archie Comics artist Harry Lucey (playing it straight here). Sam Hill is a private eye as well, but not nearly as hard boiled as Johnny D. He wears a bowtie for cryin’ out loud! Harry Lucey was as great a straight artist as he was a humor artist, and his girls always rock! Check out this great action panel:

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