Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 1939: Movie Comics #4

Cover probably by Jack Adler

'Blue Montana Skies': This is an adaptation of a movie in which Gene Autry plays a cowboy who goes up against a gang of Canadian fur smugglers. It's often said that if a comic has good art, then you should be able to follow the story through the art alone, without reading any of the captions or dialogue. This story is the exact opposite: you can follow the entire story just by reading the captions and ignoring the art. As I've said before, the adaptations in Movie Comics are all like a badly illustrated synopsis.

'Big Town Czar': This adaptation, on the other hand, is a bit better. It still has the same problem in that the whole thing is told through narration, but this story is told by none other than Ed McMahon, who has a much more engaging voice than the usual omniscient narrator. The story is about Phil Daly, a crime boss whose kid brother is trying to follow in his footsteps. Everything goes pear-shaped when the kid crosses the town's most dangerous gambler. (Hint: never cross a dude with the surname of Luger.) It's one of those grim "crime doesn't pay" stories where everyone comes to a bad end. If it was done today it would be written by Ed Brubaker.

'Terrors of the Tomb' (by Ed Wheelan): Actual comic! This is a one-page epilogue to the story, in which the archaeologists pack up and go home, and convince everyone else in the world that digging up the pharaoh's tomb is a really bad idea. It's as satisfying a conclusion as this terrible series was ever going to get.

'Sun and Sand' (by Ed Wheelan): Another actual comic! This story is about Gerald Crawford, a millionaire's son who is constantly drinking and getting into trouble. After a particularly bad incident he is disowned by his father and divorced by his fiancee, and so he leaves to become a sailor. After 'Terrors of the Tomb' I had written Ed Wheelan off, but this is rather good, with well realised characters and an actual character arc for Gerald.

'Movietown'(by Harry Lampert): Horace is still posing as Vom Hunger in Hollywood, directing his hot dog filled Christopher Columbus movie and scoring with the ladies. The real Vom Hunger escapes from the police and gets beaten up by hobos, but still manages to make it to Hollywood. This is actually quite funny.

'The Oregon Trail': This is an adaptation of a movie serial. It's about a scout named Jeff Scott who is hired to investigate Injun raids on pioneer wagon trains. He joins a wagon train, and it seems like the leader is setting up the raids. To be continued, unfortunately.

'Captain Fury': In this adaptation, Captain Fury is a convict sent to Australia, who escapes and helps some settlers against a crooked businessman trying to force them off their land. It's nice to see a different locale, and Fury himself is a fun (if cliched) character. Not bad.

'Booby Hatch Goes to Hollywood' (by Ken Fitch): In this prose story, continued from last month, Booby and his friends are in Hollywood. They stop a pair of blackmailers, with Booby punching one so hard his jawbone snaps. It's a jarring change of tone for the series, and not really for the better.

'Star Reporter': This adaptation is about a new District Attorney who investigates a murder tied to organised crime. A lot of shenanigans ensue, including the love interest being framed, but it's all fairly unmemorable.

'Streets of New York': In this adaptation, Jimmie Keenan is a newsstand owner whose brother is a hardened crook. He also has to deal with a guy who keeps trying to take over his newsstand, for no apparent reason. Somewhere in the middle of this story it inexplicably becomes about Christmas. And it all ends happily ever after when Jimmie's brother is killed in the electric chair. As you might have gathered, this is a haphazard mess.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, this post provides the seemingly most reliable info I could find so far about Ed Wheelan's "Sun and Sand" series. I recently acquired an original comic strip drawn by Wheelan (it belonged to Ray Bradbury's collection and was recently auctioned off) and I would like to know if it's by any chance a part of the story you mention in your post. Would you be so kind to check it out and let me know if it looks familiar? I can put it up online for you to watch on Flickr or on the database