Friday, June 13, 2014

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: Mad #199

I do not know how I got my hands on a copy of this issue. I would have still been only 5 years old during the summer of 1978 and Mad was not part of my regular reading rotation at that point in my life and I can't see my parents buying it for me. That said, I remember reading that first Star Wars parody as well, so I must have had an older neighbour or relative letting me read them. There's some good stuff in this one, including parodies of both The Spy Who Loved Me and What's Happening. I liked those at the time because I was familiar with the source material. Too often, I didn't understand the parodies in Mad or Cracked as I hadn't seen the film or TV show in question. The main reason this particular issue has stuck in my brain 36 years later is the story about punk music. This would have been my first 'exposure' to punk and I was shocked. That panel of the band urinating on their fans at a concert remains etched in my brain. Or should I say 'blecched' in my brain.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hidden Gems: Ms Tree Rock & Roll Summer Special #1

Let's be honest, every single issue of Ms. Tree is a hidden gem, but here's one that may not have hit your radar. Published as a standalone special, this book has a musical focus from start to finish. The main mystery is a decent tale but, as far as Ms. Tree stories go, it is probably no better than average. The issue's final segment is an interest piece as Max Allan Collins reminisces about his time in a garage band that never quite 'made it'. The middle chapter is why I wanted to bring this book to your attention.It is a terrific biography of Bobby Darin and Collins' relationship to his music. It is an incredibly effective piece and showcases how comic books are a wonderful way of telling a wide variety of stories.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Native American Headdress Covers Pt. 2

I'm back with some more examples.

The cover to Captain Marvel Adventures #83 (April, 1948) is a pretty typical cover featuring the Big Red Cheese, as many were designed to build him up as an icon. His 'proud warrior' pose is a bit ridiculous and the cape and headdress seem to be competing for attention. Many covers from the 'Marvel' group of titles feature some sort of Native American motif, but this is the only headdress one I spotted. 

Here's one I actually own. The cover to Dennis the Menace #91 (July, 1967). I can't recall ever reading it, and it's buried somewhere in one of my short boxes labelled 'MISC' (not very wise on my part), but the synopsis on the GCD states "Cowboy Dennis is flustered by a real Indian". Considering that Dennis is not easily flustered, this must be as dramatic as a Dennis the Menace story can get.

What would I ever do without Rex the Wonder Dog. It seems that no matter what topic I choose to discuss, there's often a Rex cover that fits the bill. If you were to read comics in the late 40s and 50s, you would likely think that Native American tribes handed out honorary chiefdoms with abandon. The cover to The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #24 (Nov-Dec, 1955) is actually a handsome Gil Kane cover with bright colours typical of that era of DC/National. Kane's snout-like noses were always a good fit for Rex.

Let's end off with the oldest one I am featuring, the cover to Four Color #112  (July, 1946). In this story, Porky Pig learns that he is a relative of Chief Pigronomo (yes, you read that correctly). There's also a plot to swindle the Native American out of their land. I find it a bit surprising that the story would tackle that theme, but applaud the effort. I may have to track down a copy of this one, but that's a story for another column.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Native American Headdress Covers Pt. 1

Recently, Pharrell Williams was on the receiving end of criticism for posing on the cover of Elle magazine wearing a headdress. The thing is, he isn't the first person to misappropriate a headdress. It has been going on in the funnybook world for decades.

Let's start with Green Arrow from the cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #79 (September, 1970). Oliver Queen has always been one to stand up for civil rights and has never shied away from controversy, and yet here he is throwing political correctness to the wind and donning a headdress. Let's not even get into Hal's crucifixion here as we can only deal with one issue at a time.

The Three Stooges were never know for being culturally sensitive, so I knew I'd find a cover like the one to The Three Stooges #20 (1962) before I even began my search. The synopsis on the GCD states that "Disguised as Indians, blundering along, they scare off cattle thieves with "magic" and get a peace treaty signed". Not exactly Dances With Wolves.

Holy inappropriateness Batman! With all of the silly covers DC/National was putting out in the 50s, you just had to know that Batman would be sporting a headdress in at least one of them, and here he is on the cover to Batman #86 (September, 1954). What makes this one worse is that the dynamic duo step into the shows of two native heroes known as  'Man-of-the-Bats' and Robin is known as 'Little Raven'. If you look very closely in one panel of Crisis On Infinite Earths, you'll see that they don't survive. I kid. For the record, Superman also had a very similar cover.

Lucy, you have some explaining to do (sorry, if I typed in phonetically a la Ricky, I'd be just as bad). In particular, what the story behind the pink feathers in your headdress on the cover to The Lucy Show #3 (December, 1963). Like the Stooges, I don't expect much in the way of politically correct humour from Ms. Ball. I do wonder, though, why they chose that rather sultry black and white photo for the top right corner?

More to come later in the week, including headdresses on a pig and a dog!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Add It To My Want List: Four Color #1085

Here are some things I love. I love George Pal's The Time Machine. I love Rod Taylor. I love Alex Toth. With all of that in mind, how on Earth do I not own this book? I would imagine that there is some crossover appeal with this book, so that would drive prices up a little bit but there are generally a ton of early 60s Dells on the market, so scarcity is rarely an issue. I think that I have simply focused my searches in all the wrong directions and never got around to acquiring a copy. I aim to remedy that pronto.