COVER STORIES for 09/18/2005
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #19
Welcome to this 19th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
This week's theme is called "Drawing a Crowd," and as you may be able to guess, it involves covers in which someone is being drawn or painted (more or less, anyway!).
Here's a great example of this theme, courtesy of the great Jack Kirby, with the Sandman and Sandy posing for a mystery artist (perhaps Kirby himself? Difficult to guess, especially since there's no cigar to be seen).
Remember the truism I've often mentioned from the DC History list? In case you don't, the truism is that for nearly any comics cover theme you can think of, there is probably a Wonder Woman cover that will fit it. Well, there are a few corollaries to that truism... one of which is that odds are, Kirby has done at least one cover fitting that theme, if not the first cover, chronologically, to fit the theme. There are other corollaries, too, and I'll get to one of those a little further down.
This cover has nothing to do, apparently, with the Sandman story inside, "The Sleepy Time Crimes," which was written and drawn by Kirby. Also in this issue were Genius Jones in "Fish are Such Liars" by Alfred Bester and Stan Kaye, the Shining Knight by Joe Samachson and Louis Cazeneuve in "The Candid Criminal," Starman in "Land Beneath the Fog" by Mort Meskin, Manhunter in "Little Clerk-What Now?" by Pierce Rice, and Mike Gibbs, Guerilla in "The Prisoner of the Castle" by Ed Good.
Golden Age Green Lantern covers are usually a kick to check out... like many other DC comics of the day, the covers have little to do with the stories within, but that's okay as long as they're as fun as this one, eh? Who knew that Doiby Dickles had such art talent?
This cover was penciled and inked by Paul Reinman. The GL story "The Slap-Happy Shoes" within was written by SF great Alfred Bester, with pencils by Mart Nodell and inks by Paul Reinman. This was followed by a Mutt & Jeff filler by Al Smith (signed Bud Fisher), Dr. Mid-Nite in "The House Where Things Go Wrong" by Stan Aschmeier, more Mutt and Jeff by Al Smith, followed by Winky, Blinky and Noddy (the Three Dimwits, who are better known for their appearances with the Golden Age Flash) in "Beware of Accidents" by E.E. Hibbard, yet another Mutt and Jeff filler, the Jim Robinson text story "Voodoo Terror," more Mutt & Jeff, and Hop Harrigan (America's Ace of the Air) in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" by Jon L. Blummer.
All the Mutt & Jeff stories in this issue were reprints from the newspaper strips.
OK, let me confess it right here... including this cover is a bit of a cheat, because nobody's actually being drawn or painted... but it does feature Batman and Robin standing on a giant-sized page of artwork (presumably of one of the interior pages), and it was just too cool not to share!
As with so many great Golden Age Batman covers, this one is thanks to Jerry Robinson. This issue has a text article, "Good Books Worth Reading," by Josette Frank, the Batman story "The Isle That Time Forgot" by Joseph Greene, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos, Jerry the Jitterbug in a two-page gag feature by Henry Boltinoff, Batman in "Report Card Blues" by Joseph Greene, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos, a half-page filler called "Laffs" by Boltinoff, Batman in "The Princess of Plunder" by Jack Schiff, Fred Ray, Robinson and Roussos, the text feature "The Way Home" by Normal Goss, a Rollin' Stone filler by Ray McGill, another filler called "Gee-Man" by Ray McGill, and finally, another Batman story, "The Sheriff of Ghost Town," by Bill Finger, Kane, Robinson and Roussos. All the Batman stories have been reprinted in The Dark Knight Archives #3.
Jumping ahead 96 issues, to the funky era of Batman, on this Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris cover, Batman feels compelled to paint his secret identity in a self-portrait. Bizarre, isn't it? Not only is Batman painting self-portraits in public (weird enough for the Caped Crusader), but he's compelled to give away his secret ID, too?
The tales in this issue are "Batman's Secret Helper" by Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye, a Fireman Pete filler, "Storm Over Gotham City" by Sprang and Charles Paris, a Casey the Cop filler by Henry Boltinoff, a text piece called "The Toughest Police on the Force," and then finally, "The Puppet Batman" by Sheldon Moldoff and Paris.
So, what mysterious force is making Batman reveal his secret identity? It could be any of a number of things... a post-hypnotic command, aliens... or it could be an elaborate hoax to foil a villainous plot (hey, if the Man of Steel can do 'em, so can the Dark Knight Detective, right?).
Jumping tracks and genres entirely... one of the most fun things about collecting themed covers for this column is discovering covers that fit a theme that one wouldn't typically look at... case in point, Disney's Beagle Boys, who were spun out of the Scrooge McDuck stories into their own series! On this cover, which is by Tony Strobl, we see three Beagles working on a self-portrait of sorts!
Within this comic, you'll find the Beagles in "the Bewitched Buck Baggers" by Pete Alvardo (reprinted in Beagle Boys Vs. Uncle Scrooge 9), "The Grope Diamond" by Tony Strobl, and "The Roaring Twenties" by Alvardo. I should note that the first story featured Mad Madam Mim, who made her first appearance in Disney's "The Sword in the Stone," their retelling of the King Arthur legend!
That's one of the wacky things about the Disneyverse in comics... no matter what era a character belonged to originally, they could all meet, and nobody would even blink an eye! After all, what's a few centuries between friends? Then again, nobody seems to find it weird within the Disneyverse that Pluto and Goofy are both dogs, yet Goofy speaks English and walks upright (as well as wears clothing)!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !