Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Charlton Crime from Carl Memling

You'd imagine that Charlton's Racket Squad in Action would be the least objectionable of the crime comics, its subject matter being swindles rather than injuries to the eye or Tommy-gun massacres. I'm sure Frederick Wertham considered it a how-to manual, however; and certainly Charlton put out enough other material sitting there smoking and saying, "What are you gonna do? Comics-Code me?"


Walter B. Gibson is listed as assistant editor on issues 1-9. Although so far I've concentrated on finding Carl Memling's stories, it strikes me that Gibson could have written all the stories in #1-7 as well as "The Fake Bond Swindle" in #9.

Carl Memling turns out to be Charlton's main writer from mid-1953 into early 1955 by cover dates. (He’s well-represented in their horror comics too.) There are other writers; in Racket Squad 13, "Malignant Model Agency" and "The Basketball Scandals" are by the same person, whoever that may be. Ken Fitch is known to have written Racket Squad in 1955-56. Joe Gill starts writing for the title in 1956 (it did survive under the Code) and is its sole comics writer by the last issue, #29, in 1958.

Carl Memling Scripts in
Racket Squad in Action


Aug/53 In the Driver's Seat
The Death Notice Racket
Hush Money
The Misery Chiselers
Oct/     Two Fisted Fix
Reverse Twist
Letter Perfect
Jan/54 10  Stamp of Guilt
A Handful of Aces
When Two Thieves Meet
Door to Door Swindle
The Stradivarius Swindle
M-J/    11  Botticelli of the Bangtails
Photo Frame-Up
A-S/     12  Robbery by Appointment
The Ransom Swindle
Refund Artist
Protection Game
O-N/     13  Your Money or Your Face!
Hot Ice
A Case for the Police
Free Pick-Up
Jan/55 14  The Big Freeze
Shakedown
The Double-Talk-Artists
Mar/     15  Limited Edition
Blackmail
Double Trouble

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Ghost in Operation Bikini

"Operation Bikini," a 1963 AIP movie with Frankie Avalon, might sound like a Beach Party movie, but it came out before the first of that series; it was a World War II frogmen story. Until 1946 and the A-bomb tests there inspired a name for the new "atomic" swimsuit style, "Bikini" would have meant only the Pacific atoll. (AIP's publicity department didn't let that bother them for the posters.)

A number of the Movie Classics (and other Dell titles) included among their artists combinations of Vince Colletta, Dick Giordano, Joe Sinnott, John Tartaglione, Frank McLaughlin, Sal Trapani, and various Trapani ghosts. Operation Bikini (Oct/63) most obviously features Colletta's inks on the entire issue.

I can tell myself that I see a few Giordano poses or faces on later pages. That may just be because I expect to see him there, but certainly there were multi-artist jams among this loose group of artists at Dell. His deciding the poses would make those pages his pencils, of course, not inks. On one or two of the later pages I could admit the possibility of pencils by, say, Sinnott.

Most pages' pencils, though, belong to none of that group, it seems to me. Giordano or Sinnott's pencils usually show better through Colletta's inks, overwhelming as the inks are. There's one touch that I don't recall seeing Sinnott or Giordano use that made me consider a particular artist.

Operation Bikini, Daniel Boone 6, AITU 146

I believe the penciller on most of the book, certainly the first part, is Sam Citron. Note the distinctive motion lines around the head of Malone in the second panel of the Dell page. Compare with the same from "Menace of the Renegades" in Quality's Exploits of Daniel Boone 6 (Sept/56).  And see the lines used to indicate not head-swiveling but confusion in "Strange Planet" from ACG's Adventures into the Unknown 146 (Feb/64). On the latter story, Citron's pencils are credited (Pete Costanza is the inker).

At least those various artists' Dells would give indexers something to pore over for half a century—and beyond...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blackhawk Backups 1956


Blackhawk 101 Baron von Richtofen
For their final year publishing comic books, Quality dropped the Chop-Chop reprints in Blackhawk as of #95 and instituted a series of aviation backup stories; "Rescue from the Sky" concerns civilian aviation, but after that they're all military-related.

The art credits are straightforward: Sam Citron on all. He was Quality's artist of choice that year on Robin Hood Tales, and inked others into his look on Exploits of Daniel Boone.

The writers are the Blackhawk writers and, in point of fact, the remaining Quality writers. For what it's worth, the Who's Who lists John Broome, of all people, on 1956 Blackhawk backups, but I can't see him on the any of the three I haven't been able to attribute to Bernstein or Millard.

Blackhawk Backups 1956
Art by Sam Citron


Jan/56 96  Rescue from the Sky w: ?
Feb/    97  War in the Sky w: Joe Millard
Mar/    98  David and Goliath in the Sky w: Millard
Apr/    99  Fear and Flight w: ?
May/    100  The Ghost Plane w: Robert Bernstein
June/    101  The Incredible Exploits of Baron von Richtofen w:  ?
July/    102  Critical Target w: Bernstein
Aug/    103  Fighter for Freedom w: Bernstein
Sept/    104  Caged w: Bernstein
Oct/     105  Winged Menace w: Bernstein
Nov/     106  Sam's Sixth Sense w: Bernstein
Dec/     107  Red Helicopter Ambush w: Bernstein

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Joe Shuster's Charlton Ghost

Bill Molno was a Charlton mainstay for a decade or more on the anthology books; I see his occasional series entries mostly on the Westerns. Unless I've missed earlier stories, his debut at the company in 1954 was ghost pencils for Joe Shuster. Mark Evanier gives Dick Giordano's explanation of the ghosting in a comment on the previous post .

Here's a page from "The Well of Fear" in Strange Suspense Stories 21 compared with one from about three and a half years later—after Joe Shuster's credits are long gone—"The House of Man," Out of This World 7 (Feb/58). Molno is inking himself on this one
Strange Suspense Stories 21 and Out of This World 7
There are a few more stories with Shuster's credit at Charlton that I haven't seen—hot rod ones, for instance. Unsigned 1954 stories penciled by Molno and inked by others include "Food for Thought" (SSS 20, Aug), "Who Will He Be?" and "This Bite Is Sweet" (SSS 21, Sept), "Mental Wizard" and, possibly, "The Crusher" (The Thing 16, Sept), and "Where Do They Lurk?" (This Magazine Is Haunted 19, Aug). I mention them thinking of the uncredited Jerry Grandenetti pieces in the mid-Sixties that have been misattributed to Joe Orlando, for whom he was ghosting elsewhere at the time. There are other "Shuster" stories in the GCD that could be looked at a second time.

Bill Molno Stories Ghost-Penciling for Joe Shuster
(Inked by Ray Osrin except as noted)

Crime and Justice


July/54 19  The Death Watch [RADIO PATROL]
Sep/     20  The Anniversary Gift [MR & MRS CHASE]
A Deadly Circle [RADIO PATROL]
Nov/     21  The $64,000 Question [MR & MRS CHASE]
Road Pirates
Finale for Fingers

Racket Squad in Action


A-S/54 12  Robbery by Appointment
The Ransom Swindle
Protection Game
O-N/     13  Malignant Model Agency
The Basketball Scandals

Space Adventures


M-J/54 11  Interplanetary Safari (inked by Dick Giordano)

Strange Suspense Stories


July/54 19  Give Back My Body (no inker signature)
Sept/     21  The Well of Fear
Nov/     22  The Secret of the Box

The Thing

Sept/54 16  Death of a Gambler (inked by Vince Alascia)

This Magazine Is Haunted

July/54 18  The Last Earl (inked by John Belfi)
Sept/    20  Quest of the Beyond

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Carl Memling at Charlton--Who Knew?

I was looking for Carl Memling scripts at Timely/Atlas in the Fifties, where he's known to have written for the horror anthologies (I haven't found any of his there yet); but with his style fresh in my mind, when I was merely reading some Fifties Charlton comics and not expecting to recognize writers, I happened across him. A Memling trademark that I've mentioned before is sirens or car engines going "Rowrrrrr."

Crime and Justice 19, The 64,000 Dollar Question--'Rowrrrrr'

There are one or two more Crime and Justice scripts that could be Memling's, but I'll err on the side of caution and leave them off for now. I'll get to more titles eventually; he wrote quite a bit in two years or so.

The writers known to have done some work for Charlton in the early-through-mid-Fifties include Walter B. Gibson, Bruce Hamilton, Ken Fitch, Harry Shorten, and Jerry Siegel. Fitch was one writer who, in addition to scripts written directly for Charlton, had work published there out of other companies' bought-out inventories. Joe Gill was writing for Charlton around 1954 but didn't become their house writer, filling almost all the pages, for another few years.

Carl Memling Scripts in
Crime and Justice


July/53 14  Down the Drain
Three O'Clock Shadow
Sep/     15  Vacation from Violence [MR & MRS CHASE]
Behind Locked Doors
Stormy Crossing
Eye Witness
Nov/     16  Peril on the Pacific [MR & MRS CHASE]
The Hatchet Is Buried
Feb/54 17  No Way Out
Apr/     18  Killer on the Loose [RADIO PATROL]
Terror under the Big Top [MR & MRS CHASE]
July/     19  Three's a Mob
Sep/     20  A Deadly Circle [RADIO PATROL]
Nov/     21  The $64,000 Question [MR & MRS CHASE]
Road Pirates

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Carmine Infantino Starts Off in Comics with Cap

I don't think anything earlier has been found: Carmine Infantino hit the ground running in comic books with a handful of stories on a major character, Captain America, in 1943.

From Cap 27, note the face of the French Underground fighter Pierre in panel 1; more to the point, look at him running in panel 6.
Cap 27 Blitzkrieg to Berlin

Infantino-pencilled stories in Captain America

June/43 27  Blitzkrieg to Berlin
July/     28  The Vultures of Violent Death

I dithered over whether the one-month earlier "Invasion of the Killer Beasts" was by Infantino—it seems so much cruder—but then I found that the Marvel Masterworks reprint credited him as one of the pencillers (others unknown), so I'll go along with that.

in U.S.A. Comics


May/43 The Invasion of the Killer Beasts

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blackhawk Writers 1956

Blackhawk 107 One Minute Till Doom--Quality's final Blackhawk story

This will echo the lists for Quality's Exploits of Daniel Boone and Robin Hood Tales in 1956. Joe Millard had been writing for Quality for some time; Robert Bernstein was Quality's final writer before they gave up the ghost in 1956. It's been pointed out that the plot of Blackhawk 101's "The Lost Island" is lifted from Marvel Boy 1's "The Lost World" (Dec/50); but although Bernstein was writing for Timely/Atlas at that point, I can't find his stylistic prints on the Marvel Boy story.

Blackhawk Writers 1956

Jan/56 96  7 Graves for 7 Blackhawks Joe Millard
Case of the Missing Blackhawk  Millard
Doom in the Deep Millard
Feb/    97  The Horde of the Bat Millard
Hitler's Daughter Millard
Revolt of the Slave Workers Millard
Mar/    98  The Phantom Saboteur Millard
The Temple of Doom Millard
The Black Flag Millard
Apr/    99  The Queen of Blackhawk Island Millard
The War That Never Ended Robert Bernstein
The Underground Menace Bernstein
May/    100  The Delphian Menace Bernstein
The Citadel of Hate     ?
The Steel Scorpion Millard
June/    101  General Steel Millard
Satan's Paymaster Millard
The Lost Island Bernstein
July/    102  Master of Mankind Millard
The Doom Cloud Millard
The Red Professor's Secret Bernstein
Aug/    103  The Super Race Bernstein
The Man Who Stole Tomorrow Millard
Menace from the Skies Bernstein
Sept/    104  Rescue under Fire Bernstein
Treachery in the Antarctic Bernstein
The Jet Menace Bernstein
Oct/     105  Nightmare Cruise Bernstein
The Red Kamakaze Terror Bernstein
The Master of Treachery Bernstein
Nov/     106  The Flying Tank Platoon Bernstein
Stars of Disaster Bernstein
The Red Raiders Bernstein
Dec/     107  The Winged Menace Bernstein
Red Timetable of Treachery Bernstein
One Minute Till Doom Bernstein

Bernstein spells "Kamakaze" with an "a" throughout the story in #105, although the cover has it "Kamikaze."