COVER STORIES for 06/24/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #111
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 111th installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme!
This week's theme is "Real People," and focuses on comics based on real people! Through the Golden Age and even into the Silver Age, there were a number of comics based on real-life people... although some of them (like those books featuring Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis, as well as several western stars) were completely fictitious tales based on their screen personas, there were others that were more or less biographical... and I'm looking at both kinds this week!
Falling into the made-up-stories camp is Blackstone the Magician, featured here in issue one of his own comic book! Blackstone was featured in comics published by EC, Marvel and Street & Smith, some under his own name, and others (like Super-Magician Comics) not!
From Wikipedia, here's his bio: "Harry Blackstone (September 27, 1885 - November 16, 1965) was a famed magician. Blackstone was born Harry Bouton, and was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a magician in his teens and was popular through World War II as a USO entertainer. He was often billed as The Great Blackstone. His son Harry Blackstone, Jr. also became a magician.
"Blackstone spent the last years of his life performing at The Magic Castle, a magical attraction in Hollywood, California. He died in November 1965 at the age of 80. He was interred close to his former home in Colon, Michigan where the main street was renamed Blackstone Avenue in his honor.
"Books carrying Harry Blackstone's byline were ghostwritten for him by his friend, Walter B. Gibson, who also created, in 1941, the comic book Blackstone the Magician Detective and the 1948-49 radio series, Blackstone, the Magic Detective."
So you see, there's even a connection between the real Blackstone and the fictional Shadow, who was created by Walter B. Gibson!
This cover is from the Street and Smith series, which lasted three issues. He had previously appeared in Super-Magician Comics. Sadly, even the Grand Comics Database has no info on who did what on this book!
Next up is Dorothy Lamour, here cover-featured on issue 3 of her own book! You probably are most familiar with Ms. Lamour from her appearances in the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "Road" movies.
Again, from Wikipedia, her bio (although in edited form, as it's a lengthy entry):
"Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans. Her stage surname came from a variation of the name of her step-father, Carlo Lambour. After winning the title of Miss New Orleans in a beauty pageant she moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1931, hoping to become a professional singer. She first attracted some attention singing with the band of Herbie Kay, who became her first husband. In 1935, she had her own fifteen-minute weekly musical program on NBC Radio. She also sang on the popular Rudy Vallee radio show.
"In 1936, she moved to Hollywood and began appearing regularly in films for Paramount Pictures. The role that made her a star was Ulah (a sort of female Tarzan) in The Jungle Princess (1936). She wore a sarong, which would become associated with her, and captivated many viewers with her sensuous exotic attractive appearance. While she first achieved stardom as a sex symbol, Lamour also showed talent as both a comic and dramatic actress. She was among the most popular actresses in motion pictures from 1936 to 1952.
"She appeared in the classic series of "Road to..." movies, such as Road to Morocco, also starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the 1940s and 1950s. The movies were enormously popular during the 1940s, and they regularly placed among the very top moneymaking films each year as a new one came out. While the films centered more on the talents of Hope and Crosby, Lamour held her own as their straight man, looked beautiful, and sang some of her most popular songs. Her appearance in the films was considered by the public and theater owners of equal importance during the series' golden era, 1940-1952. It was only after the series was essentially over with the release of Road to Bali in 1952 and her career declining while co-stars Hope and Crosby remained major show business figures that her contributions to the series began being downplayed by journalists. During the World War II years, Lamour was among the most popular pinup girls among American servicemen, along with Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner. Lamour was also largely responsible for starting up the war bond tours in which movie stars would travel the country selling war bonds for the US Government to the public. Lamour alone promoted the sale of over $21 million dollars worth of war bonds, and other stars promoted the sale of a billion more.
"Some of Dorothy Lamour's other notable films include John Ford's The Hurricane (1937), Spawn of the North (1938), Disputed Passage (1939), Johnny Apollo (1940), Aloma of the South Seas (1941), Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942), Dixie (1943), A Medal for Benny (1945), My Favorite Brunette (1947), On Our Merry Way (1948) and the best picture Oscar-winner The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). Her leading men included the likes of William Holden, Tyrone Power, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jack Benny, George Raft, and Fred MacMurray.
"Lamour's lack of pretentiousness and good humor allowed to have a remarkably long career in show business for someone best known as a glamour girl. She was a popular draw on the dinner theatre circuit of the 1970s. After the 1978 death of her longtime husband William Howard (whom she married in 1943), following a year of grieving, Lamour kicked her career into high gear, publishing her autobiography My Side of the Road in 1980, reviving her nightclub act, and performing in plays and acting on such television shows as Hart to Hart, Crazy Like a Fox, and Murder She Wrote.
"Lamour died at her home in North Hollywood, California at the age of 81 from a heart attack. She was interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, after a Catholic funeral service."
This comic book series actually started with issue 2... the first issue was entitled "Jungle Lil." Issue 3 was the last issue of this Fox Comics series.
Here's one that's a bit more biographical... "Forward with Eisenhower-Nixon"! I trust I don't have to tell you who "Ike" and "Tricky Dick" were, do I? This one-shot was published by Republican National, Congressional & Senatorial Committees and Graphic Information Service for the 1956 Presidential and Congressional Elections as a giveaway... and no other info seems to be available on it!
Here's an interesting one-shot book... "General Douglas MacArthur," the famed WWII general's biography in comics form! This book, like the Dorothy Lamour book, was published by Fox Comics, but no artist or writer credits are to be found! Although I did find a few sites selling copies of this book.
And before I wrap things up, let me remind you again about my Reader Challenge! Can you think of other covers that fit a theme I've presented here, or do you have a theme of your own that you can come up with four or five covers for? If so, send me an email at with your list, the theme, and whatever comments you want to include with your choices, and I'll run 'em in a future installment of Cover Stories, duly crediting you, naturally!
What will you get for your troubles, other than the glory of seeing your name credited in here? It'll be a surprise... in fact, as I write this, it'll be a surprise to me! One of these weeks, I just may have to figure out what it'll be!
This is an open-ended challenge to you readers... at least, it's open until I get tired of reminding you guys about it!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," when the theme will be "Power Failure," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for photos of classic toys, other comics covers, comic book advertisements, monster movie stills, and other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !