Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 1936: New Adventure Comics #12

Cover by Whitney Ellsworth
'17-20 on the Black' (by Tom Cooper) comes to a conclusion of sorts, and an odd one at that.  Our hero Jim Gale leaves his enemy Frog Morton for dead, and he even proposes to the lady in black who started the whole pearl-hunting adventure (never mind that they can't have spent more than five minutes together, but that's Golden Age character development for you).  After being told she won't marry a gambler, Gale makes one last bet to try and win a fortune, and loses everything.  And that's where things end, although we're told that the story will continue next month in 'Jim Gale and Co.'  I wouldn't have minded seeing this one get cut, as it's yet another non-descript adventure strip.  The most memorable thing about it is the horribly racist speech patterns of Jim's Chinese sidekick Kim.

This appears to be the last we'll see of 'Maginnis of the Mounties' (by Richard Matheson).  The last strip sees him saving the lives of the outlaws who tried to set him on fire a few months ago.  As uninspired as most of the strips are at the moment, this was one of the dullest. At least it bows out with a conclusion of sorts.

'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster) takes an interesting detour this month, as scientist Professor Grant recounts a tale of the Federal Men of 3000 AD.  It's probably most notable for featuring a character named Jor-L, a name which Siegel and Shuster would later recycle for Superman's Kryptonian father.  If you're looking for an in-universe rationale (and I always am) I guess it's not too much of a stretch to believe that the legend of Superman would still be inspiring people to name their kids after his relatives that far into the future.

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 1936: More Fun Comics #17

Cover by Vin Sullivan
'Doctor Occult' (by Siegel and Shuster) is great.  This installment sees Occult and The Seven (his wizard allies) going up against the army of evil sorcerer Koth.  Occult uses a magic belt to summon a phantom army, while Koth gets owned by The Seven, and it's all very exciting and epic.  I'm just disappointed to see Occult back in a plain white shirt in the final panel; I hope he keeps rocking the cape, bare-chest and magic belt ensemble.

'Calling All Cars' (also by Siegel and Shuster) is interesting this month, as Sandy Kean goes on a rampage as he tries to bust up a gambling den.  It's not as exciting as their work on 'Federal Men' or 'Doctor Occult', but it does point towards what they will eventually do with Superman.  Superman is something of a crusader against social injustices in his early appearances, and he has some very simple and direct solutions (which I very much doubt would work most of the time).  Sandy Kean just walking into a gambling establishment, busting heads and wrecking furniture is very much a precursor.

According to http://www.comics.org/, this is the final installment of 'Don Drake', which was a sub-standard Flash Gordon/John Carter type of story by Clem Gretter.  The strip ends with Don and Betty still trapped in the Room of Blinding Light, and I can only assume they die there.

'Jack Woods' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and W.C. Brigham) also reaches a conclusion of sorts, as its first storyline ends.  Jack's a cowboy who has been up against the Mexican bandit Pancho Villa, and in this installment he fights him with a knife and then punches him out of a window.  Of course, neither of them had much personality to speak of, so I couldn't care less which of them won.  But I'm always up for someone going through a window.

This is the month in which New Comics changes its title to New Adventure Comics, and there are two very large ads for the series in this issue.  Unlike Detective Comics, this one is out when the ad says it's out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 1936: New Comics #11

Cover by Whitney Ellsworth
This might be the most boring issue of New Comics yet.  With 'Ray and Gail' given the boot there's some space to fill, and to that end 'Dale Daring' gets brought over from More Fun Comics.  And 'Federal Men' has its most uninspiring installment yet, as Steve Carson tracks down criminals who are hiding on a movie set.  I suppose the guy can't pilot robots and shoot torpedoes every day, but I like to imagine that he does.

This is the last issue before the title changes to New Adventure Comics.  I'm not expecting a huge change of direction, but I wouldn't mind one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

October-November 1936: New Comics #10; More Fun Comics #16

Cover by Whitney Ellsworth

It's now issue #10, and New Comics has really settled into a holding pattern.  The only new strip is 'Red', a gag strip about a kid who plays football instead of getting his mum's groceries, and from what I gather it's a one-off bit of filler.  And apparently we've seen the last of 'Ray and Gail' by Clem Gretter, which was a fairly nondescript adventure strip about two people going off on a cruise ship and getting involved in shenanigans regarding a treasure map.  Can't say I'll miss it.

'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster) is back in fine form with this installment, in which a giant robot just totally wrecks a major American city, only for Steve Carson to take control of it, pilot it to the island of the baddies, then get involved in a massive fight with two other giant robots.  Siegel and Shuster are awesome.  Every other strip at this time is dealing with material that's not at all removed from the films and film serials of the day.  Siegel and Shuster are doing the sort of gonzo stuff that movies just weren't capable of, and they're doing it with energy and enthusiasm.

And as a last note, there's an eyebrow-raising bit of dialogue in this month's 'Captain Spiniker'.  It's a strip by Tom Cooper, about two rival sea captains constantly finding ways to annoy each other.  Spiniker has this thing where he intentionally mangles Captain Sternpipe's name.  In this issue, he calls him Sperm-Face.  It's either a case of words not meaning what they now mean, or Tom Cooper sneaking a fast one through.  Either way, it certainly got my attention.

Cover by Vin Sullivan

Holy shit, what happened to 'Doctor Occult'?  I miss one month, and the strip has completely changed.  In the last one I read he was a suit-wearing investigator, getting involved with werewolves and other sorts of low-level supernatural stuff.  Now he's off in Egypt, wearing a cape and using a magic belt, and he's preparing to face an alien stranded on Earth who has repeatedly brought down human civilisation.  Siegel and Shuster are bringing a little of their 'Federal Men' magic over here, and it's very welcome.

'Mark Marson', by Tom Hickey, debuted in the last issue but this is my first exposure to it.  He's a future policeman, investigating the kidnapping of a scientist by the alien Red People.  It's as boring as a strip about a future policeman can get, but the main bad guy does use a "space-a-phone" to communicate with his henchmen, so it has that.

There's also an ad for Detective Comics in this issue, but my sources tell me it didn't go on sale for another three months.  Early advertising, or a problem behind the scenes?  I don't know, but I'm impatiently waiting for it to get here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

August-September 1936: New Comics #8-9; More Fun Comics #13-15

Covers by Whitney Ellsworth

Covers by Vin Sullivan

I'm honestly running out of things to say about these comics.  With just New Comics and More Fun Comics every month, and the same strips continuing all the time, there's very little going on that's worthy of comment.  I'm definitely ready for Detective Comics to begin so that I'll have some more variety.

There were a couple of new strips in this batch of comics, though.  'The Blood Pearls' started in New Comics #8, featuring an unscrupulous man kidnapping a high-class Chinese girl to exchange for some blood-red pearls.  It's written by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, who was the Editor and Publisher of National at the time, and I figure it's no coincidence that it's twice as long as any of the other strips.  It's good to be the boss.

'The Bradley Boys' is another new strip appearing in More Fun Comics #13.  It's about two kids who get lost in the woods.  They build a shelter, and then the whole thing gets instructional, with diagrams and directions and the like.  All well and good if you want to learn how to build something, but it doesn't do the story any favours.

'Clout O'Casey' is a new baseball strip in New Comics #9.  The new humour strip 'Unc' appears in both New Comics #9 and More Fun Comics #13.  One strip has him playing baseball with his dog, and the other has him duck-shooting, so I'm not really seeing a focus here.

'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster) has backed off a bit from the insanity of the last couple of installments, and Steve Carson is particularly subdued.  I was really cooling on this series until the awesome giant robot showed up to wreck some shit in New Comics #9, so I'm hoping it will pick up again next month.

Alas, I don't have copies of More Fun #14 and #15.  It appears that I've missed the conclusion to 'Super-Police', and the start of something called 'Mark Marson'.  I'm also missing two installments of 'Doctor Occult', and just when I'd been promised 'the weirdest adventures a human ever faced'.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

July 1936: New Comics #7

Cover by Vin Sullivan

It seems like both More Fun Comics and New Comics have settled in by this point, because there's not much movement this month so far as new strips go.  But I was pleased to see one of the long-running strips, 'Cal 'n' Alec' (formerly 'Sagebrush 'n' Cactus') reach the end of its first plot line.  In their first strip they saw the villain Knife Ambush kill their buddy Pickax Pete, and in this final strip they enact their plan and shoot him dead.  It's not what you'd exactly call a satisfying conclusion, but I was happy to get some closure, because a lot of these strips are meandering around and accomplishing nothing at the moment.  I know the strip continues after this, and I'm guessing that it gets into shenanigans surrounding the gold they found a few issues back.

Remember in the last 'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster), when bad guys conquered Washington with a humongous tank?  Steve Carson and his buddies wrap that shit up in four pages.  And I have to say, I'm stoked that 'Federal Men' has been expanded to twice the length of the other strips.  It's a sign that my tastes and those of the kids of the day are meshing pretty well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

July 1936: More Fun Comics #12

Cover by Vin Sullivan

Both More Fun Comics and New Comics have been touting how 'easy on the eyes' they are lately, with their large size and big print and such.  I ought to inform them that this is not the case when their comics are read with a blurry scan on a monitor screen.

There's not much to talk about this month.  There's a new strip called 'Pep Morgan' by Creig Flessel, which is about a guy who has never played baseball being inexplicably great at baseball.  I see that there was another one called 'Pirate Gold' by Sven Elven, but that was about the point that I was falling asleep, so I don't remember it much.

The text pieces have really been pared down by this point.  We're left with a section on movies (or 'talkies') and another on magic tricks.  No more stamps, no more planes, not even the section on books.  And most surprisingly, the short stories have been scrapped.  To be honest, I'd take them over the movies and magic.

'Doctor Occult' (by Siegel and Shuster) is still investigating werewolves, and this month he finds a whole boarding house full of the suckers.  I don't know how he's going to get out of it, but this being the Golden Age I suspect that he's going to punch something.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Schedule: July-December 1936

I'm halfway through 1936 now, and things are progressing nicely.  The books are becoming much quicker to read, and I'm able to follow the huge amount of strips much better now that I'm getting immersed in them.  Not that I'm all that invested in what happens; most of my interest here is purely historical.  Siegel and Shuster's 'Federal Men' is the strip I'm enjoying the most, probably because it has the most in common with what will become the super-hero genre.

As for the second half of 1936, it's more of the same, with New Comics and More Fun Comics in rotation.  December sees New Comics change title to New Adventure Comics, and I'll be interested to see if that comes with a change in style or presentation.

July 1936
            More Fun Comics #12
            New Comics #7

August 1936
            More Fun Comics #13
            New Comics #8

September 1936
            More Fun Comics #14
            New Comics #9

October 1936
            More Fun Comics #15
            New Comics #10

November 1936
            More Fun Comics #16

December 1936
            New Comics #11
            More Fun Comics #17
            New Adventure Comics #12

June 1936: New Comics #6

Cover by Vin Sullivan
There are about four pages of text in this comic, which is just the biggest relief.  Please, please let it stay that way.

'Sir Loin of Beef' has been renamed to 'Don Coyote', for reasons I cannot fathom.  The strip remains almost exactly the same, except for the main character getting a name change, and his sidekick Cowhide being renamed Hamburger.

On a similar note, 'Sagebrush 'n' Cactus' (a cowboy humour strip) is now called 'Cal 'n' Alec', which is a vastly inferior name.  Again the strip is pretty much unchanged.  Both renamed strips are by Bill Patrick, which can't be a coincidence.

An adaptation of the novel 'She' by H. Rider Haggard begins in this issue.  It's illustrated by Sven Elven, who seems to be the go-to guy for novel adaptations.  This one has a lot of the tropes of adventure fiction of the time - jungles, hidden tribes - but I gather that Haggard's work was massively influential in this genre.

'The Golden Dragon' is a new strip by Tom Hickey.  It's set around Mongolia, and as such it's loaded with the casual racism of the time.

There's very little of Steve Carson in 'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster), but the one panel he's in shows him belting someone across the mouth with a gun.  Even without Steve this is the most insane strip yet, as a bunch of criminals in jumpsuits and gas masks drive a gigantic tank through Washington, blow up the Capitol Building and hold the president at gunpoint.  All of these events happen in just two pages; suck on that Bendis!  This is by far my favourite serial at the moment, and proof that Siegel and Shuster had more to offer than Superman.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

April-June 1936: More Fun Comics #10-11; New Comics #5

Cover by Vin Sullivan
Alger (aka Russell Cole) is doing work over here as well, on 'Woozy Watts'.  I'm cooling on him now.  His distinctive style caught my attention to begin with, but he's just doing the same tired gags as everyone else.

As much as I hate having to read the short stories, they're pretty much always more involving than the strips.  More rounded characters, deeper plots, they just seem a bit more grown-up.  And perhaps that's to do with the relative maturity of that medium as compared to comics.  Comics are here in their infancy, while prose stories are hundreds of years old by this point.  I feel the need to point out that these stories range from alright to reprehensible; we're not talking genuine quality here.  But the strips feel lacking in comparison.  I couldn't tell you thing one about Wing Walker or Brad Hardy or Barry O'Neill or any of those generic goofballs, but the characters in the prose stories are a bit more alive.

'Doctor Occult' (by Siegel and Shuster) has a pretty standard mystery story as he tries to solve the "Methuselah" Murders, featuring a guy who is killing people to steal their life essence and become immortal.

'Mr. Divot' is a filler strip that makes its only appearance here. He's a crap golfer who digs all the way to China..  It looks like 'Chubby' has moved from New Comics to More Fun Comics.  Same with 'G. Wiz' and 'Ramblin' Jim'.

'Henri Duval' used to be by Siegel and Shuster, but now it's credited to Hugh Langley.  A bit of research reveals to me that it's Shuster using a pseudonym.  They're doing the same thing with 'Doctor Occult', which is pretty mystifying to me.  Are they trying to disguise how much work they're doing?  I don't know, it seems like a crappy way to build a career.

Cover by Whitney Ellsworth
There are a couple of new strips this month.  The first is 'Sandor', by Homer Fleming.  It's about a white kid raised by wild dogs in the Indian jungle, who is the enemy of local ruler Rajah Maharajah.  Sure, he kills a tiger bare-handed, but there's nothing to distinguish this from every other adventure strip out there.

There's a humour strip featuring cowboy 'Rattlesnake Pete', but I'm not sure if it's just a one-off or a series.  Even so, there's nothing to see here.

'Steve Conrad', by Creig Flessel, is also new. He's an adventuring scientist exploring the mysterious Dolorosa Isle, with the usual natives and mutinous crew members and such.  And much like the other new strips this month, it's pretty uninspiring stuff.

Steve Carson Watch: This month in 'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster), Carson blows up a submarine by shooting a torpedo with his pistol.  Everyone in the submarine dies except for him.

Cover by Vin Sullivan
'Doctor Occult' is tackling the old standbys this month, as he confronts a werewolf.  I still can't figure out why he's had such longevity.

There's not much movement with the strips this issue.  An adaptation of 'The Three Musketeers' (the Alexander Dumas novel) begins, illustrated by Sven Elven.  Siegel and Shuster are at it again, with yet another new strip: 'Calling All Cars!' It's about a cop who gets mixed up in a mystery involving the boss's daughter, and it would be pretty unremarkable if it wasn't for the gratuitous spanking scene right in the middle.

Friday, December 10, 2010

February 1936: New Comics #4

Cover by Vin Sullivan
Things are looking up here, because it only took me one hour to knock this sucker over.  Too bad this featured one of the worst things I've seen in these books yet, the short story 'Great Guns'.  It's about an American airplane mechanic in World War I who is forced to become a fighter pilot despite being a conscientious objector and complete pacifist.  He starts out by using his skills to down enemy planes without killing their pilots, but then the question is raised: what if his comrades are killed while he's doing these stunts?  I was getting interested in the moral dilemma at this point, but I should have known better, because it all ends "happily ever after" when the guy embraces violence and starts shooting the enemy down by the dozen, in particularly graphic detail.  Hooray for war, and killing Germans!  Yep, it's a different time, all right.

Russell Cole does a few strips here under the pseudonym Alger.  I'd noticed him over in More Fun Comics #9, but here his style is much more distinctive and enjoyable.  I'll keep an eye on him, because he looks like one of the better cartoonists of the current DC crop.

There are lots of comings and goings with the strips at this time.  'Inch' (a standard kid shenanigans humour strip) makes its first and last appearance, as does the similar 'Chubby' (as you may have guessed, one of the kids is fat).  An adaptation of 'A Tale of Two Cities' begins.  'Ol' Oz Bopp' and 'Goofo the Great' are new strips by the aforementioned Alger, and among the funnier ones.  'Jungle Boy' is a new strip in the vein of The Jungle Book.  'Slim and Tex' is a strip with cowboys vying over a girl.  'Maginnis of the Mounties' is new; he's a Mountie having adventures and stuff.  'Dale Daring' is also new, with a woman as the main character. Naturally she gets kidnapped, because that's what women do.

Among the casualties to get these new strips in are: 'Dare-Devil Dunk', 'Wing Walker', and a bunch of the text articles.  Now I'll never know if Wing Walker rescued that girl from the Nipper!

Steve Carson isn't quite so badass in 'Federal Men' this month, but he does stab a dude with his own knife.  That's what Steve Carson calls a slow day.

And just to put things into historical perspective, Errol Flynn is described in the movie section as a newcomer, having just starred in Captain Blood.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

February 1936: More Fun Comics #9

Cover by Vin Sullivan
I had a moment of dread when I saw that the page count had increased, but it's actually a big improvement.  Rather than adding a bunch of new strips to fill the pages, the existing strips have been expanded and are all the better for it.  This seems to have resulted in lowering the number of text pages, and for that I am thankful.  Not that I read them for this issue - I had a blurry scan, so I skipped them rather than explode my eyeballs trying to decipher them.

Remember how I said the 'Super-Police' strip was crazy and full of pseudo-science?  Now it's settled down into yet another banal adventure strip.  This one had two of the characters going through a cave with a flashlight, which is hardly the stuff of legend.

'Doctor Occult' (by Siegel and Shuster) is back this month, but wouldn't you know it, the one strip I really want to follow carefully and it was too blurry to read.  From what I could gather, the Vampire Master was using a machine to create monsters from his imagination.  Then one of them killed him for reasons I can't figure out, and Occult and his buddies ran out of the base before it exploded.  Crazy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

January 1936: New Comics #3

Cover by Vin Sullivan
There's not a lot to say about this one, as it continues in much the same vein as the previous two issues.  But you know what, Steve Carson of 'Federal Men' is a fucking badass.  The guy jumps from one plane to another during an aerial dogfight, leaps onto the bad guy as he's trying to escape in a parachute, then beats the hell out of him as they float to the ground.  I don't know if it's just that I'm paying extra attention to Siegel and Shuster because they created Superman, but I feel like their work has an energetic vibe and a willingness to go balls-out crazy that the other adventure strips are missing.

Plus, the regular 'Stamps & Coins' segment of the text pieces has gone.  Two pages of purgatory down, eighteen to go!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Schedule: January-June 1936

The last post concluded my run through 1935 (and damned if I don't wish I could get through every year so quickly).  As I get to the beginning of each new month's batch of comics I'll be posting the list of what I have to read.  But since the list for 1936 is so small, I'm giving you my schedule for the next six months of stuff.

January 1936

            New Comics #3

February 1936

            More Fun #9
            New Comics #4

April 1936

            More Fun Comics #10

May 1936

            New Comics #5

June 1936

            More Fun Comics #11
            New Comics #6

Yep, it's just New Comics and More Fun Comics in the near future.  It's not until early 1937 when Detective Comics comes along, and not until May 1938 when the blessed arrival of super-heroes comes with Action Comics #1.

It should also be noted that, although I have listed the comics above as being published by DC, there was no such publisher at the time.  The comics above were actually published by National, and many other comics thought of as DC titles were at first published by a number of different companies.  DC itself was formed by the union of those companies  But for my own ease of reference, I'm listing them as DC already.

December 1935: New Comics #2

Cover by Robert Leffingwell
I'm still enjoying this series more than I am More Fun Comics.  I think a big part of that is that the strips here run for at least two pages, instead of the one page they get in the other mag.  The installments get a little more time to breathe and sink into my memory.

I'm also starting to figure out why I like the humour strips better than the adventure strips.  The characters in the adventure strips are very bland, most being the classic type of square-jawed hero/detective/cowboy.  The serial nature of them means that the plot has to barrel forward at a good clip, so there's little room to flesh out the characters.  Whereas the humour strip characters are much more distinctive, both in appearance and manner.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster have a new serial starting in this issue called 'Federal Men'.  It's about federal agent Steve Carson investigating a baby's kidnapping.  As usual it's very bland fare, but at least the story wraps up here in one strip.

I think my favourite creator at the moment is Sheldon Mayer.  'J. Worthington Blimp' (in which a boastful fat dude rides across America on a bike) and 'The Strange Adventures of Mr. Weed' (time travel!) are two of the most enjoyable strips in the book.  Vin Sullivan is still a stand out, and I'm starting to notice a lot of Matt Curzon's work.  And Robert Leffingwell's 'Sir Loin of Beef' is climbing the list of my favourites as well.

Not to say that I'm really enjoying anything a hell of a lot.  There's some mildly amusing stuff, and a lot of culturally bizarre things that fascinate me, but nothing that I'm outright entertained by yet.  And dear god, please ditch the text articles!  It's taking me a good hour-and-a-half to read each issue at the moment.  I'd really love to pick up the pace, but those text pieces are killing me.  (And no, I'm not going to skip them.  Not even the ones about stamps.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 1935: More Fun #8

Cover by Vin Sullivan
More Fun keeps plugging along, with very little change despite the new title (it's continued from New Fun).  I'm still not connecting with the adventure strips, probably because I've only been able to read three issues out of eight.  But the humour strips are still quite enjoyable.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster have arrived in the issues that I missed.  This issue sees them on part 3 of their 'Henri Duval' strip, a musketeer adventure serial.  It doesn't stand out from anything else in the issue, but the creators will certainly make their mark in time.

Still on the subject of Siegel and Shuster, they have another strip in this issue, under the pseudonyms of 'Leger' and 'Reuths'.  This is 'Doctor Occult', a name I recognise from a few comics he's appeared in recently.  Doing some looking around, I discovered that he's apparently the oldest DC character who is still appearing in comics.  "Still appearing" is probably being a bit charitable given the sporadic nature of Doctor Occult's usage, but he does have some minor historic significance.  As for the strip itself, Doctor Occult seems to be a stereotypical trench-coated 1930s detective who deals with supernatural stuff.  In this one he is confronted by a woman under the sway of the Vampire Master, which sounds rad in theory.  In practice it's pretty generic, but I'm keeping my attention fixed on this strip to see what it was about Occult that has kept him around.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

January-November 1935: New Fun #1-6; New Comics #1

Covers by W.C. Brigham

I'm off to a bad start with this project, because I couldn't find copies of New Fun #1, #3-4 or #6.  But I did read issues #2 and #5, so I can start there and barrel on gamely ahead.  No time to stop and look back, I'm afraid, those comics are lost to the winds of history.

New Fun is almost more of a magazine than a comic book.  Yes, it has a lot of comic strips, but it also has a bunch of articles and text pieces.  The strips are mostly of the action-adventure type, with some humour comics mixed in.  I like the variety.  The articles cover short stories, sport, magic tricks, stamps and coins, aviation, and everything else that I suppose was all the rage with young folks at the time.  It's a surreal experience to even think about it.  The first two issues of New Fun were totally black and white, but from issue #3 on they're in colour.

Most of the action-adventure strips are serialised, being one-page affairs that continue from one issue to the next.  I gather that this is much in the same vein as the strips that appeared in the newspapers at the time.  The range is broad, with westerns, sci-fi, spy thrillers, and pulp-style adventure.  But I think this is a format that probably worked better in the papers, in presumably weekly installments, than it would here in monthly installments.  I'm already having trouble remembering what happened in most of them, and it's only been a couple of days.  There were a few stand-outs, though.  Don Drake is a fun sort of Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers inter-planetary romp.  Super-Police is pretty gonzo, almost Grant Morrison-esque in its pseudo-science.  And props to the opening strip in issue #2, Sandra of the Secret Service, for mentioning a death ray early on.  I knew I was in familiar territory.  And credit to Wing Brady for the best line in the issue: "Let them come!! We have the machine gun!!!"

The humour strips I find very enjoyable.  Sure, the jokes are often obvious or inscrutable from my modern perspective, but they're short and they don't rely on me having read the previous issue to know what's going on.  They're a really good change of pace.

As for creators I recognised, they were absent in New Fun #2.  Vin Sullivan does some work in issue #5, and he's an ubiquitous presence at early DC - he's also the guy who bought Superman from Siegel and Shuster, which makes him a noteworthy figure on its own.  His cartooning is very enjoyable.

I read the text pieces for issue #2, but they were far too blurry in issue #5 - no way am I going to strain my eyes reading this nonsense.  I anxiously await the disappearance of this stuff, because it really does stretch out my reading time immensely, for little entertainment value.  Although there was a laughable article in issue #2 in which the author expresses his opinion that America and Japan will never go to war, because they both love baseball.  Bet he was eating his words in seven years time.

At this point I should mention racism.  It's not as prevalent as it will become once World War II gets started, but it is here.  One of the text stories is a Western murder mystery, and one of the clues the hero uses to solve the mystery is that the culprit is Mexican.  Another comedy strip has a black girl falling for a white boy after his face gets covered in soot.  That sort of thing.  I'm not offended at all, I think it's an interesting window into the culture at the time, but it has to be said.  It's pretty awful stuff.

Cover by Vin Sullivan
New Comics #1 is more of the same, although the emphasis seems to be on humour strips as opposed to the adventures (though they are still there).  It still has the text pieces, and I was mystified at the one that feels the need to explain what a hobby is, in depth.  It's kind of depressing to think that people didn't have hobbies back then, and need the concept explained.  Vin Sullivan is all over this series as well.  Whitney Ellsworth, a DC editor, also does some work.  Sheldon Mayer is there.  Even Walt Kelly of Pogo fame does an adaptation of Gulliver's Travels.  I actually found this one more enjoyable than New Fun, probably because there are more humour strips.  Perhaps once I get a head of steam on the adventure strips I'll start getting into them, but so far it's the lighter stuff I'm getting more out of.

I also wasn't able to read More Fun Comics #7 or Big Book of Fun Comics #1.  The former is the continuation of New Fun, and the latter is reprint book featuring New Fun #1-4.

So I'm enjoying it thus far, I'm just hoping this format doesn't last too long.  I'd like the text pieces to disappear pronto, and the adventure strips to get longer and meatier.  But at the moment the novelty is keeping me entertained.


Hello.  My name is Nathan, and what you are reading is the beginning of a project that may well destroy my mind and render me incapable of functioning in polite society.  They say comics will rot your brain, and I'm about to put that to the test.

I've been reading Unabridged Marvel lately, a great blog where the author is making his way through every Marvel comic ever, day by day.  Since I always like to go one better, I'm stealing that idea and expanding it.  I'm going to try and read every Marvel comic ever.  I'm going to try and read every DC comic ever, as well as all the properties they have integrated into their line over the years.  I also plan to read every other thing of significance when I get to the relevant point in time.  Social life?  Feh.  I got comics to read.

I'm starting at January 1935, with New Fun #1, and moving on from there.  As a guide to what I should read when, I'm using this most excellent site, Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics, as well as its sister site for Marvel.  I want to capture the evolution of comics from the beginning, to simulate what it might have been like to live through all those years, because I really do love comics.  Super-hero comics especially, so you will notice a bias towards that material as I write my thoughts down.  I'll try and cover some other stuff as I get to it (like maybe the early Archies, the Carl Barks duck comics, EC), depending on availability.

I'm also doing this because I love history, I adore Marvel and DC continuity, and I have a need to explore the origins and development of all of my hobbies.  I'm undertaking a similar project for Dungeons & Dragons over at my other blog, Save or Die.  It's a Herculean Labour, yes, but it's a Herculean Labour of Love.

So I hope you keep reading and enjoy what I'm doing.  I'll keep doing it regardless, because I want my thoughts recorded for posterity as I make this epic journey.  But I really hope there's an audience out there to follow along.  Please leave comments and all the usual jazz, because healthy discussion is the lifeblood of a good blog.  And with that out of the way, I will begin reading.  I sure do have a lot of it ahead of me.