Friday, July 23, 2010

Yankee Doodle Covers

There are plenty of covers paying tribute to Archibald MacNeal Willard's Spirit of '76 (aka Yankee Doodle) painting. Here's a look at a few of my favourite funnybook fife and drum trios:

One of my favourite covers from this subgenre is Irv Novick's wonderfully realized cover to Shield-Wizard Comics #1 (Summer, 1940). I like how Novick makes a connection between the superheroes and the Spirit of 1776. The fife and drum trio is placed in the foreground with great subtlety, that you almost don't notice them at first. Of course, the US was still a year and a half from entering the war but at least one of these stories involves Nazi spies. This is certainly one of the most iconic MLJ covers.

The cover to Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #58 (July, 1945) was drawn by the great Walt Kelly of Pogo fame. This one is a nice historical artifact, as it features a letter asking for support via war bonds signed by the likes of Eisenhower and MacArthur. I like the fact that Dopey was included in this particular trio as he looks delighted to be marching along with Donald and Mickey. I wonder who else was a candidate for inclusion. It is also the rare tribute cover that features the flutist (or is it a piccolo?) in the middle.

At first glance, the cover to The Funnies #64 from 1942 seems to feature good clean fun with characters such as Oswald the Rabbit and Peter Panda. Upon closer inspection, you will notice the black face character Lil' Eight Ball. Not exactly the most politically correct character in comic book history. There also something a bit odd about bombers flying over a bunch of funny animal characters. This was actually the final issue of this series. I find that rather odd as I assume it was selling as well as any other Dell book. I noticed that a G/VG copy had sold for more than $400, and I was shocked until I discovered that it features the first appearance of Wood Woodpecker.

I'm not exactly a Three Stooges expert, but I imagine that the Curly Joe years are not seen as a highlight in Stooge history. One this photo cover from Gold Key's Three Stooges #36 (September, 1967), Moe, Larry and Curly Joe try their best to parody the Spirit of 1776 as the Yankee Doodle Dummies. While Moe and Curly Joe seem up to the challenge, Larry Fine seems terribly dazed and out of breath from trying to play his flute. He was just too old to be doing this stuff. All of those smacks to the head might have taken their toll. Instead of giggling at this cover, I'm filled with pathos. Weird.

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