Sunday, August 7, 2011

September 1939: Blue Ribbon Comics #1

Cover by Norman Danberg

'Rang-a-Tang the Wonder Dog' (by Norman Danberg): Rang-a-Tang is a carnival dog who runs away from his cruel master, and saves a detective from being killed. With his new friend Detective Speed he rescues the DA's daughter from the crooks who have kidnapped her, and is made an official policeman. It's decent enough, but it sort of misses the point of the whole 'Wonder Dog' genre, which is the amazement the audience gets from seeing an actual dog do clever things. It's not something that can be duplicated in comics.

'Dan Hastings' (by Creators Unknown): Dan Hastings is a sort of space cop who is called in when the evil alien Mexidians unleash their plan to collide the Earth and the Moon. It certainly doesn't waste time on exposition, just barreling along without ever stopping to explain things. The result is a fun adventure yarn, albeit with some very clunky dialogue. This was my favourite:

CAPTION: "Dan overcomes one of the guards and captures his gun."
DAN: "Now I've got a gun!"


'Buck Stacey' (by Creators Unknown): Buck Stacey's a range detective (ironic huzzah), investigating rustlers that have been targeting the ranch of a woman named Sandra. The main suspect seems to be Steve Vance, who is also loaning her money to keep her ranch afloat. This one continues next month, which is COMPLETE BULLSHIT, because there's a whole bit at the front of the issue promising that there'll be no continuing stories. Archie, you liars!

'Foxy Grandpa' (by Jack Cole): This is a humour strip about an old grandpa who is smarter than everyone else around him. I'm more amused by the strip's name than anything else about it.

'Sugar, Honey and Huggin' (by Dick Ryan): It's another humour strip, about three bears who trick a sneaky fox into his own trap. I can't work out why any of the characters do anything in this strip.

'Ima Slooth' (by Jack Cole): This a detective humour strip, in which Ima Slooth tries to get a bank robber on tax evasion. Jack Cole is famous for creating Plastic Man, and I can see why he's still well known. He has a style of absurdist comedy that I haven't seen in these comics before this.

'Boodini the Great' (by Will Eisner): Boodini's a magician who proves that he can beat anybody in a fight, only to go home and get put in hospital by his wife. Ah, nothing like a bit of domestic violence humour, as long as it's the man getting destroyed.  Boodini never appears again, so it can only be assumed that his injuries were fatal.

'Burk of the Briny' (by Creators Unknown): Burk and his friend Happy dig up some radioactive quartz in... uh, some really snowy place. There's a guy who tries to kill them and steal it, but they kill him back. It's pretty terrible, and will thankfully be never seen again.

'King Kole's Kourt' (by George Nagle and Jack Cole): I never understood what was so funny about spelling things with a K. Anyway, this is about a king whose country has run out of money being complained to by some peasants. I didn't get the punchline. I can't even figure out a general sense of why it's supposed to be funny.  It's just a total non-sequiter that may or may not have made sense to people who where alive in 1939.

'Village of Missing Men' (by Cliff Thorndyke): This is about a white guy named Barrett who is forcing African tribesmen to mine diamonds for him. Two officers of the diamond patrol infiltrate the operation and arrest him. This is not good, and it's not helped by the fact that every white male in the strip wears a white shirt and a pith helmet. The ending also fizzles out when the villain just gives up for no good reason.

'Death Around the Bend' (by Pat Gleason): Jaime Steele is an American demolitions expert, and in this story he's kidnapped by South American bandits and forced to help them blow up an armoured car full of gold. He stops them in what is a relatively entertaining prose story.

'Little Nemo' (by Creators Unknown): This is bizarre. Nemo is a little kid who is taken to the doctor after being listless all day. The doctor gives him a pill, and suddenly he's in a rocket ship with some old men, flying through the mouth of the Man in the Moon. They fight some aliens, then fly off to explore other worlds. It's weird, but in a way that I find compelling.

'Crime on the Run' (by Jack Cole): This series is based on true crime stories, and purports to be as accurate as possible, using real names and likenesses. This one's about some robbers and murderers who are tracked down and arrested. The details aren't honestly interesting enough to get into. What's there is reasonably well told, but they could have picked something a bit more extraordinary. I did enjoy the mug-shot sequence at the end, though.

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