Hundreds of comic books writers and artists of the Golden Age toiled in obscurity (sometimes well-deserved), as it was not the common practice of the time to credit what today we call “the creative team”. But we’re occasionally fortunate enough to know exactly who produced a particular story or series even if he or she worked under a nom de plume. One of the best-remembered comic book talents of the 1940’s was the great Dick Briefer (who we’ve met before in this blog) who was himself responsible for the creation (or, perhaps, “adaptation” would be more appropriate) of a character based on a literary classic, and in the process was responsible for one of the most fondly remembered comic book characters of the period. But before we take a closer look at that character’s debut in a 1940 issue of Prize Comics, a little bit of backstory would seem to be in order. More
September 1, 2014
July 20, 2014
Not all of the adventures of “patriotic” comic book characters during the Golden Age were as heavy-handed as those of The Flag and Usa (previously considered in The Big Blog o’Fun); in fact, several showcased the virtues of the democratic ideal and tried by their example to encourage young readers to follow suit. One such feature was “Rusty Ryan and the Boyville Brigadiers” which, ironically, appeared in the same title as Usa; the first official “Boyville Brigadiers” story ran in the same Feature Comics issue (#46) as the fifth of Usa’s seven appearances.
July 4, 2014
Happy Independence Day, fellow Yanks! In keeping with the spirit of the day, The Big Blog o’Fun is presenting an overview of another Golden Age heroine with a patriotic theme: Usa, the Spirit of Old Glory. Don’t feel badly if you’ve never heard of her. Usa was obscure even while her adventures were still being published; these days she’s totally forgotten. More
June 21, 2014
Comics, Games, Golden Age Comics, Hideouts & Hoodlums, Retro-clone RPG, RPG, Superhero RPG comic book RPG, Hideouts & Hoodlums, Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG, Hideouts and Hoodlums, Holyoke Publishing, retro-clone rpg, RPG, superhero RPG, The Deacon, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 2 Comments
Obscure? Here at The Big Blog o’Fun we love obscurity! (And by “we” I mean “me” because this is essentially a one man show. Get yer own soapbox on a different corner, kid.). In the previous two blog posts we’ve all been enjoying the adventures of an obscure, somewhat goofy, 1940’s character named The Deacon who made his four color home in the pages of Cat-Man Comics. It was only natural that I’d want to stat out The Deacon for use as a character in the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game, itself something of an obscurity (and very undeservedly so, as it puts a whole new twist on old school RPGs. Instead of yet another elf/dwarf/magic fantasy retro-clone, H&H explores a whole different, completely unique concept: what if The World’s First Roleplaying Game Which I’m Not Allowed To Legally Mention By Name had been based on Golden Age comic books instead of the Tolkeinesque fantasy genre?). More
June 14, 2014
Comics, Golden Age Comics Cat-Man Comics, comic books, comics, Golden Age comics, Hideouts & Hoodlums, Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG, Holyoke Publishing, The Deacon, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book Leave a comment
In the previous post to The Big Blog o’Fun we met a Holyoke “mystery man” character known as The Deacon. In that post I mentioned that I’d seen The Deacon described on another web page as being similar to Batman but “with religious overtones”, and I went on to question that assertion. In the week subsequent to my post that web page has been edited and the phrase has been deleted. Interesting… More
June 7, 2014
As I was doing some online research the other day I came across an entry for a Golden Age comic character called The Deacon. The page’s writer described the series as being similar to Batman but with “religious overtones”. I instantly perked up. Would The Deacon be a crimefighter in priestly vestments flinging crosses like batarangs? Would he be a mysterious hooded cassocked figure climbing the sides of buildings using a rosary for his grapnel and rope? The possibilities were staggering! I just had to check it out! More
May 25, 2014
While you’re enjoying your holiday weekend, please pause a moment and say a silent “Thank You” to the many thousands who aren’t here to swim, play, and barbecue, because they sacrificed it all — for you.
May 4, 2014
Comics, Golden Age Comics Air Fighters, Air Fighters Comics, Airboy, Airmaidens, Bettie Page, comic book, comic books, comics, Fred Kida, Golden Age comics, Hillman Periodicals, Valkyrie, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book Leave a comment
When comic book aviator Airboy celebrated his first birthday, artist Fred Kida gave him a wonderful gift: a gorgeous red-hot cleavage-baring Nazi dominatrix named Valkyrie, a character who totally put the lie to the notion of the “innocence” of Golden Age comics.
By the way, you may want to get the kids out of the room. More
April 19, 2014
Sometimes I have to dig around a bit to discover subject matter for this blog, but other times the material just presents itself seemingly out of nowhere. Today’s post fits the latter category perfectly, as it came about through a series of synchronous events (which is how big people like to say “random coincidences”). More
April 13, 2014
Comics, Golden Age Comics Air Fighters Comics, Airboy, Al Camy, Charles Biro, comic books, comics, Dick Wood, Golden Age comics, Hillman Periodicals, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 4 Comments
Comic books were very quick to villainize the European fascist powers prior to America’s entry into World War II. This is hardly surprising given that a great many comic writers, artists, editors, and publishers were first or second generation Jewish immigrants who retained close ties with “the old country”. But despite Japan’s furious aggression in the Pacific which cost thousands of lives (including well-publicized atrocities in China, such as the infamous “Rape of Nanking”), pre-1942 comics generally left the Japanese alone. More
March 24, 2014
Comics, Golden Age Comics CDisplay Ex, Comic book reader software, comic books, comics, digital comic, digital comic book, digital comics, Golden Age comics, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book Leave a comment
In today’s blog post I’m fulfilling a special request made by my friends (and fellow troublemakers) Susie and Angie. They’ve asked me to post instructions for reading downloadable digital comics. It’s difficult to refuse requests from friends such as these, not just because they keep me laughing but also because they know where some of the proverbial bodies are buried (and they’ve sometimes helped to dig the holes). Ladies, just for you…
February 23, 2014
Comics, Golden Age Comics Avon Comics, comic books, comics, Gardner Fox, Golden Age comics, Joe Orlando, Rod Hathway, Sci-fi comics, Space Detective Comics, space heroes, Wally Wood, Walter Gibson Leave a comment
February 16, 2014
Comics, Golden Age Comics Avon Comics, comic book, comic books, comics, Golden Age comics, Joe Orlando, Rod Hathway, Sci-fi comics, Space Detective Comics, space heroes, Wally Wood, Walter Gibson 2 Comments
Part of the fun of reading Golden Age comics is that you never know what you’ll encounter next. For every crazily inept (yet oddly entertaining) series like The Duke of Darkness, there seems to be a corresponding feature of surprising quality in which either the writing or the art (or sometimes both) delights you as a reader. Often these stories aren’t anyone’s idea of all-time classics, but reading them is just plain fun.
Science-fiction comics of the Golden Age often fall into this category. More
February 11, 2014
Comics, DC Comics, Golden Age Comics comic books, comics, Duke of Darkness, Gerona Publishing, Ghost Rider, Golden Age comics, K.O. Comics, More Fun Comics, The Spectre, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 3 Comments
Comics have never been more popular than they were during the Golden Age. Some books (such as titles featuring Captain Marvel) sold more than a million copies a month. During the war years comics were hugely popular with the troops; this drove sales even higher since tens of thousands of comics were shipped overseas to members of the armed forces.
Conversely, though, as comic sales rose the overall quality of the product diminished. Many of the more talented writers and artists were drafted into the service, More
January 6, 2014
The other day I read a quote which said that “the hardest job to do is the one you never start”. That’s exactly the wrestling match I’ve been contesting for a couple of months. I have some friends who think it would be cool if I resumed writing about roleplaying games in this blog (as I used to do back when I first started it). I’ve been involved in RPGs since the start of the hobby (the original Dungeons and Dragons had been out just over a year when I got my first copy in early 1976), and comic book/superhero games were a special interest of mine back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, so a couple of people seem to think it would be a good idea if I wrote about the early titles in that genre. I’ve been wrestling with the notion for weeks now. The problem is, of course, the nature of the Interrant; anytime somebody mentions RPGs online the whole discourse seems to degenerate into some protracted polemical girl fight over systems and mechanics, and I don’t have the time or energy for that sort of pointless crapping around. More
November 11, 2013
You say you love your GPS device? I hate the damned thing.
When I was twelve years old I was sent to nature camp for a week. This isn’t a horror story, because it wasn’t a bad experience. I didn’t get beat up, I didn’t get homesick, I didn’t find a snake in my sleeping bag, I didn’t get poison ivy, I didn’t suffer the indignity of seeing my underpants flying from the camp’s flagpole. I did almost step on a copperhead (my pal Billy threw an arm across my chest to stop me just in the nick of time) and I did discover how much I hate wolf spiders. But nature camp was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Best of all, I fell in love. Not with one of my schoolmates (although I did go to camp with some really cute girls), but with orienteering. More
November 9, 2013
Comics, Golden Age Comics Blackhawk, Blackhawk Comics, Blackhawk series, Blackhawks, Chuck Cuidera, comic books, comics, Golden Age comics, Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG, Military Comics, Quality Comics, Will Eisner, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book Leave a comment
The last two posts to this blog were occasioned by the oft-repeated myth that, after his apparent death, the French airman André was reintroduced to Quality Comics’ Blackhawk series without any explanation for his reappearance. In those post, we’ve seen the stories which contained his apparent death and his (wholly explained) reappearance; now we’ll finish the trilogy with the tale that completes André’s reintroduction to the team. More
October 30, 2013
Comics, Golden Age Comics Blackhawk, Blackhawk Comics, Blackhawks, Chuck Cuidera, comic books, comics, Golden Age comics, Hideouts & Hoodlums, Military Comics, Quality Comics, The Man in the Iron Mask, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 1 Comment
Three months ago I offered a post about the influence of Alexandre Dumas’ work on Golden Age comic writers and their tales. Today I introduce Exhibit B to the argument. More
October 27, 2013
Comics, Golden Age Comics Blackhawk, Blackhawk Comics, Blackhawk Island, comic books, comics, Golden Age comics, Grumman Skyrocket, Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG, Military Comics, Quality Comics, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 2 Comments
A few months ago I noticed that this blog was getting an occasional visitor from a reader (or readers) in China. I was cracking wise on my Facebook page about how my blog hadn’t yet been blocked by the Chinese government and I wondered what I was doing wrong.
This post’ll be the one that does it. More
September 29, 2013
Comics, DC Comics, Games, Golden Age Comics, Hideouts & Hoodlums All-Star Comics, Carter Hall, comic book RPG, comic books, comics, Detective Comics, Flash Comics, Golden Age comics, Great Scott Games, Hawkman, Hideouts & Hoodlums, Hideouts and Hoodlums, RPG, RPGs, superhero RPG, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 3 Comments
I’m pretty excited to announce the release of a new supplement for the Hideouts & Hoodlums tabletop roleplaying game, especially because I had a moderately influential hand in writing it. The new book, Captains, Magicians, and Incredible Men, Part 2: Harvey-Timely completes the two-volume set of Hideouts & Hoodlums character stats and write-ups for various Golden Age comic superheroes. Equipped with both booklets, an Editor (H&H’s term for “Gamemaster”) can add literally scores of actual 1940’s comic characters to his or her H&H campaign, including more than a few characters who are still active in comics today. More
September 9, 2013
Comics, Golden Age Comics comic books, comics, Fox Features Syndicate, Golden Age comics, H. Rider Haggard, Lee Falk, queen of the jungle, Rulah Jungle Goddess, She, The Phantom, Zoot Comics 3 Comments
The character Tarzan (who was created in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs) was immensely popular during the 1930’s and 1940’s (and is still a cultural icon today); a dozen movies starring Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller as the jungle lord earned metric boatloads of money for MGM between 1932 and 1948. It’s therefore not the least bit surprising that comics featuring jungle tales were also big moneymakers during comics’ Golden Age, as comic publishers were never adverse to following a trend. Most of the major comic publishers of the era featured at least one jungle-themed book among their offerings. More
August 18, 2013
Comics, Golden Age Comics Captain Fearless Comics, Charles Quinlan, comic books, Golden Age comics, Holyoke Publishing, Sergeant Dick Carter, U.S. Border Patrol, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 2 Comments
The U.S. Border Patrol enjoys an interesting history. While today it’s frequently associated with deterring illegal immigration along the southern U.S. border with Mexico, the Border Patrol was more concerned with the country’s northern border during the organization’s early years in the 1920’s. Bootleggers trucked their wares into the U.S. through Canada; it was the Border Patrol’s job to inhibit that smuggling of illegal alcohol. You might recall the depiction of this duty in a scene from the 1987 film The Untouchables. More
August 5, 2013
Golden Age comics could keep a reader very busy for their cost of a dime. In their early years comics typically topped sixty pages and, although the size of comics gradually decreased as the Forties wore on, by the middle of the decade a dime comic still contained more than fifty pages of story. That amount of content takes a fair little bit of time to read; even today it often requires the best part of an hour for me to read a Golden Age comic (unless I’m speed reading/skimming it) and that’s if I skip the obligatory text two-pager.
When I was a kid in the 1960’s, a DC “80 Page Giant” would keep me occupied for a couple of hours. More
August 1, 2013
During the past few years, pop culture genre mashups (the mixing of two seemingly unrelated genres in one work) have been increasing in number. We’ve recently seen the release of movies in which gunslingers battle aliens, historical characters fight supernatural menaces, and there have even been films containing mixtures of horror and comedy (said mixture having been around almost as long as movies themselves, only these days it’s designed to be funny on purpose).
But genre mashups aren’t anything new; they’ve been around for a very long time. More
July 21, 2013
Comics, Golden Age Comics Alexandre Dumas, comic book writers, comic books, Golden Age comics, Harvey Comics, Hideouts & Hoodlums, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Zebra, World War 2 comics, World War II comic book 2 Comments
While the number of stories which can be told is infinite, the number of basic plots is surprisingly small. The exact count depends on which list you consult (or which instructor you had for your college literature course), but it’s generally agreed that the number of basic plots lies somewhere between seven and forty. That’s not a high number but a writer can derive a lot of mileage from just a handful of basic ideas; after all, there are millions of songs but they use varying combinations of just twelve basic notes.
Writers do tend to crib a bit from each other (sometimes unconsciously); early comic book writers swiped a lot from the books they’d read, both pulp novels and classics. More