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The Racketeer – Cyclone Comics #2, July 1940

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We mention “rackets” and “racketeers” frequently here in The Big Blog o’Fun for the simple reason that racketeers were frequent antagonists in 1940’s superhero and adventure comics. But just what is a “racket”, really? More

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An American Tall Tale – Cyclone Comics #1, June 1940

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The month of June 1940 marked the second anniversary of the first superhero comic: Action Comics #1 which, of course, contained within its pages the debut of Superman. Comics featuring colorfully garbed “mystery men” were in their infancy, and publishers were still figuring out the techniques and tropes which would become staples of the comics genre for decades to come. It was an exciting time for the nascent industry; writers and artists were simply making it all up as they went, seeing what worked and what didn’t. More

A few questions regarding intent – Sparkling Stars #6, November 1944

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Any (and every) work by a writer or artist is open to interpretation. Novels, paintings, movies, short stories, even comic books, are subjected to scrutiny and (if the work is of merit or is at least sufficiently oblique) debate as to what the creator meant by producing it. Countless legions of educators and critics have made a living doing little more than asking the question “Why?” (Because, as we all know, those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, critique.) More

The Deacon character sheet for the Hideouts & Hoodlums roleplaying game

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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

Blitzkrieg crime wave! – Cat-Man Comics #5, December 1941

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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

Twin fists of parochial fighting fury! – Cat-Man Comics #1, May 1941

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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

Action on the border – Captain Fearless Comics #1, August 1941

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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

Memorial Day – Contact Comics #3, Nov. 1944

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Happy Memorial Day! And, as the currently circulating Internet meme says, it’s not “National Barbeque Day”. It a day of remembrance here in the U.S. for those who have gone before in times of war. It’s a time of parades, observances and speeches at military cemeteries, the laying of wreathes – heck, even Turner Classic Movies is running war films all day. Now I could tell you about my dad, who was a combat aviator (flight engineer on B-17 bombers) in World War II, and who won a ton of medals and decorations (the list is as long as my arm), but he didn’t like to talk much about the war – he hated making a big deal about it. So instead I’d like to remember and share a little-known fact: for every person in a military combat role there were ten more people behind the lines working their butts off and doing their damnedest to keep the wheels rolling, the ships sailing, and the planes flying: mechanics, doctors, nurses, transportation specialists, logistical engineers – the list is endless. More

Giant Nazi robots! – Captain Aero Comics #1, December 1941

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American devotees of “geek culture” have this strange, intense fascination with Nazi “super science”. I don’t mention this at all critically – I’m right there with you. The very first comic book I owned had a now-legendary example right on the splash page: More