Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 1939: Movie Comics #5

Cover probably by Jack Adler

'The Man in the Iron Mask' (by George Bruce and probably Jack Adler): This adaptation of the movie, itself an adaptation of Alexander Dumas's novel, is surprisingly quite fun to read . The problem with Movie Comics is the format itself (the comics are made up of airbrushed movie stills) rather than the stories, and this is proof that good source material can overcome the other limitations.

'Sun and Sand' (by Ed Wheelan): In the last issue, Gerald Crawford was a drunk whose fiancee left him, causing him to flee America to find himself. In this installment he becomes a crew member on a ship, meets a stowaway named Phil, and together they leave the ship in Algiers and join the French Foreign Legion. I had really enjoyed the first part of this story, and this was pretty good as well. I'm still surprised that the Ed Wheelan who created 'Terrors of the Tomb' could also make this.

'Movietown' (by Harry Lampert): The great Vom Hunger arrives in Hollywood, but everyone just dismisses him as a hobo. Meanwhile Horace Hope (who has been masquerading as Vom Hunger) is overheard by a reporter admitting that he's not really the great director at all. There are no laughs to be had here, just some plot progression.

'The Girl and the Gambler' (by Joseph Fields and probably Jack Adler): A mexican bandit makes a wager that he can woo a dancer named the Dove, but it turns out that she's in love with an American croupier. The bandit goes to great lengths to win his bet, including blackmail and an attempt to get the American killed. The resolution is clever, and it has a great closing panel.  (Which I really wanted to reproduce here, but I forgot to scan the picture.  Curses!)

'The Family Next Door' (by Mortimer Offner and probably Jack Adler): This is a comedy about a family that invests in some land only to find that it's worthless, only later to discover that it's not worthless after all. There are a couple of great panels in this thing, but it's full of unresolved subplots and has too many indistinguishable characters.

'5 Came Back' (by Jeremy Cady and probably Jack Adler): This one's about a plane full of different people that crash lands near the Amazon River. When headhunters come for them, they discover that the plane can now only take off with five passengers, so a bunch have to stay behind. And then they choose to commit suicide rather than face the headhunters! This is grim stuff, and I get the feeling that it could be a great movie. But it has too many characters in too short a span to work as a comic.

'Scream Test' (by Ken Fitch): It's another Booby Hatch prose story. In this one he films himself in a romantic scene with a dummy, and also films some athletics event to show to his friends. Of course there is a mix-up with the films, and supposed hilarity ensues.

'The House of Fear' (by Peter Milne and probably Jack Adler): This adaptation is about a detective investigating the mysterious murder of an actor in a theatre. It's another story with a huge cast and a small page count, a problem which this comic seems unable to avoid.

'The Oregon Trail' (by George Plympton and probably Jack Adler): This story continues from last issue. Jeff Scott is a cowboy investigating some missing wagon trains. The culprit is a gang led by a businessman named Morgan, and by the end of the story Scott is on a stagecoach that the bad guys have chased over a cliff. No matter where I go, the cowboy stories are terrible.

'Wolf Call' (by George Waggner and probably Jack Adler): A spoilt rich kid is sent north to Canada to oversee a radium mine, and a rival corporation does it's best to discourage him so that they can buy the mine themselves.  Stock standard stuff.

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