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    I've never seen a Tin-Tan movie, and wouldn't understand it if I did. But I know weirdness when I see it. Wikipedia tells me Tin-Tan was a Mexican actor, singer and comedian whose real name was Germán Valdés, and these are only a few of the wacky films he made in the '50s, '60s and early '70s. La Casa del Terror, I understand, really does feature Lon Chaney, who plays a mummy who turns into a werewolf. By the time you see this, I may have succumbed to curiosity and taken a peek, but more likely I'll wait until it appears here and watch some of it (and maybe some of the others) along with you.

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    A few months back we featured scans from Todd Frye's book AMAZING! ASTONISHING! WEIRD! (that's HERE), featuring oodles of great pulp covers. Well, Todd's at it again, this time bringing us about a zillion action-packed comic book covers from Fiction House. That publisher, as you may know, consistently had some of the finest covers in comics, thanks in no small part to its association with the (Will) Eisner and (Jerry) Iger Studio. 

    All this week, we'll be looking at samples from the new book, Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. It leads off with all 84 covers from Fight Comics, published between 1940 and 1954. It's mighty interesting to see the focus progress from two-fisted adventurers like Shark Brodie to the costumed heroes Power Man and Super-American, and eventually find a steady headliner in the Sheena clone called Tiger Girl.

    Tomorrow: Sheena of the Jungle and Jumbo Comics

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    Jumbo Comics was the first and longest running title in the Fiction House line, and you'll find all 167 good-lookin' covers in Todd Frye's new Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. Though Sheena the Jungle Queen appeared in every single issue (if you squint you'll see her at bottom center on the cover above), it took her thirteen issues to get her first solo cover shot, and within a few issues dominated every cover until no. 161, when Jumbo started trying to look like a horror comic. 

    Those covers are all here, they're all good, and it was mighty tough choosing these samples to scan for you. You really ought to see them all. 

    Yesterday: FIGHT COMICS
    Tomorrow: JUNGLE COMICS

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    Jungle Comics, inspired by Fiction House's first pulp mag Jungle Stories, began in 1940 and ran 163 issues. Every one of them starred a jungle lord named Kaänga, backed by a variety of other strips, including The Red Panther, Simba - King of Beast, Wambi the Jungle Boy, Tabu the Jungle Wizard, Capt. Terry Thunder and Camilla - Queen of the Lost Empire. I'm mighty curious why they didn't use Ki-Gor, their already established pulp star, in the Tarzan role, but that's a mystery for another day.

    All 163 covers are here in Todd Frye's new Jungle Queens and Space Rangers, along with complete runs of four other Fiction House titles. Here are scans of just a few . . . 

    Day before yesterday: FIGHT COMICS
    Yesterday: JUMBO COMICS
    Tomorrow: PLANET COMICS
    Day after tomorrow: WINGS COMICS

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    Planet Comics ran for 73 issues between 1940 and 1954, and sported consistently amazing covers. You can read all 73 for free online at (right HERE) (Thanks to Mike Britt for the tip), and you can peruse all the covers in Todd Frye's new book Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. We present here but a few.

    Day before day before yesterday: FIGHT COMICS
    Day before yesterday: JUMBO COMICS
    Yesterday: JUNGLE COMICS
    Tomorrow: WINGS COMICS

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    Here's our final preview of Todd Frye's Jungle Queens and Space Rangers. Like Fight, Jungle and Planet, Wings Comics was sort of a spin-off from the Fiction House pulps of the same titles. It ran 124 issues, from 1940 to 1954, and all the covers are outstanding. 

    The evolution you'll see in Todd's book begins with straight air war, progresses to GGA, gives a hat tip to the flying saucer craze, and returns to straight out warfare, this time in Korea. Great stuff.

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    I've been reading the Spenser series since the early '80s. I've been through the whole run several times, in both in print and audio, and I'm still enjoying the Ace Atkins efforts of the past few years. Though Red Harvest remains my single favorite book, Parker is my favorite writer, and the Spenser saga is my favorite series. I've heard everyone else's reasons for why they dropped out at one time or another, and they don't faze me at all. All of which goes to say that I identify as a Spenser superfan.

    So how the heck did it get to be 2017 before I found out Parker had written a Spenser short story way back in 1982? Beats me! I just happened to see a short story listed on a Parker bibliography (not identified as a Spenser) and tracked down a copy of its first reprinting, in the 1991 anthology New Crimes 3. To my further embarrassment, I now find it was reprinted yet again in Boston Noir 2: The Classics in 2012.

    "Surrogate," which runs 12 pages in the New Crimes 3, begins with a phone call from Brenda Loring, who reports that a man has broken into her home an raped her for the second time in two weeks. Brenda, you may recall, (related at least spiritually to Linda Loring, the woman Philip Marlowe met in The Long Goodbye and married in "The Poodle Springs Story") was the woman Spenser was dating in his first novel, The Godwulf Manuscript, back in 1973. She made only a couple more appearances before being aced out by Susan Silverman. 

    In "Surrogate," we learn that Brenda has since been unhappily married and divorced. Spenser calls Hawk for help, and, with their usual aplomb, they bring the case to a satisfactory conclusion. No, it's not particularly great stuff, and it's not essential to the canon, but it is a genuine Spenser story, and to a superfan like me, cannot be ignored. This is me not ignoring it. 

    The story was first published in a signed and numbered edition, limited to 300 copies, in 1982. The book, based on pics and descriptions found online, was a rose-colored hardcover with a gun motif on the boards (you be the judge), and a rose-colored dust jacket (at top) bearing a charcoal drawing of Brenda Loring. Is it ugly? I think so, but YBTJ. 50 of those copies were considered "deluxe," with a leather spine and blue cloth slipcase. 

    I'm relying on internet pics and descriptions because the regular edition now commands between $400 and $1000, and two folks offering the deluxe job are asking $2500. Superfan yes, superrich no.

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  • 10/04/17--05:00: STOOGEMANIA!
  • 1939




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    Here are the rest of the Penguin's Michael Gillette 007 covers. They appeared on limited edition hardcovers in 2008. You may admire the first seven HERE

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    Back in the Olden Days I couldn’t get enough of those Disney heroes. My mania started with Davy Crockett, of course, but soon led to Zorro, The Swamp Fox, Texas John Slaughter, Elfego Baca and Andy Burnett. In the years since, I read books about them all, and recently re-read this one, which begins the Saga of Andy Burnett.

    The endpapers show you where the action takes place.

    After the unexpected success of the Davy mini-series (there were only five episodes), Disney found a suitable new subject in this 1932 novel by Stewart Edward White. White was nearly sixty when he wrote it, with a long list of books behind him, but The Long Rifle became the work he is best known for.

    An abridged edition of the book (not a bad thing, I expect).

    The first half of the novel is highly recommended. The first 60 pages introduces Andy’s rifle. I can’t tell you about without uncorking a major spoiler, but rest assured it’s very cool. Then we meet Andy himself, as he leaves the Pennsylvania farm and meets up with a couple of mountain men, who take him under their wings. The first of those men, Joe Crane, is the best character in the book, and dispenses most of the homespun wisdom. When the three are about to be killed by the Blackfeet, Joe consoles his partners with the line, "Where there's ha'r, there's hope." 

    Another abridged edition.

    You may remember the lyrics to the song: He won some friends and made his place / With mighty men of a mighty race / They took him in to teach him more / Of mountain life and mountain lore / The laws of trails and trappin' streams / That danger’s not what danger seems / Lessons to learn and not forget / All part of the saga of Andy Burnett  / Andy's on the move, Andy won't rest / Andy Burnett is a-travelin' west. It’s all here. The guy who wrote those lyrics obviously read the book.

    The Disney theme sung by series star Jerome Courtland.

    The book features several great adventures of Andy and his mentors, most of which were used on the Disney series. Trouble is, White knew his subject too well. He admits to having studied 123 separate historical sources, including journals and memoirs of folks who lived this stuff, and he was determined to get it all in. So as the book goes on, Andy is crowded out by facts, and story takes a back seat to history. We’re smothered with minute details of life with the Blackfeet Indians and the fur trapping trade.

    Illo from an excerpt in the Saturday Evening Post.

    On the plus side, the second half of the book introduces us to a lot of important historical figures, like Jedidiah Smith, Jim Bridger, William Henry Ashley, Peter Ogden, the Sublette brothers, Jim Beckwourth, Bill Williams and Kit Carson, and we witness the founding of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. On the minus side, those guys are not fleshed out. They go through their paces like stick figures in a history book. Andy has very little interaction with them. If he's on the scene (and much of the time he isn't), he's usually just an observer.

    Another Post illo. That's our hero in the coonskin cap.

    Still, this is a long book, and the first half alone is enough to make it a satisfying read. White went on to write three more with Andy playing lead: Ranchero, Folded Hills and Stampede. I’ll try the next and see how it goes. Watch this space.

    The makers of this 1931 gum card apparently 
    thought Andy was a real mountain man.

    Tomorrow:  More on Andy Burnett. I'll play another version of the theme song and show some of the other cool stuff that sprang from the Disney series. 

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    Disney's follow-up to the surprise hit Davy Crockett was the 6-part Saga of mountain man Andy Burnett, first airing between October 1957 and March 1958. The series was based on Stewart Edward White's 1932 novel The Long Rifle, discussed HERE

    Andy was played by Jerome Courtland, who had been kicking around a dozen or more years in minor roles, and recorded a jazz vocal album called "Through a Long and Sleepless Night." Following the Andy series Courtland went on to play Lief Erickson in Tales of the Vikings and made guest appearances in shows like The Virginian and L.A. Law, but spent most of his later career as a director. His directing credits include multiple episodes of The Flying Nun, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Knots Landing. He also produced a few films, including Pete's Dragon and a couple in the Witch Mountain series. 

    Andy's fellow mountain men were played by Jeff York, Slim Pickens and Andrew Duggan, with Iron Eyes Cody on hand as (you guessed it) an Indian. 

    Sadly, you won't find the series on YouTube or DVD. Equally sadly (for me), though I taped all six episodes when they played on the Disney Channel, I can't find all the tapes. I'm making do by reading the books (White wrote four) and listening to the swell theme song. 

    From a TV Guide of the time.

    The sleeve for the YouTube song I posted yesterday.

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    As Todd Mason noted when I posted stuff from Cocoanuts (1929), the Brothers made a silent short made way back in 1921. But Humor Risk (a send-up of a popular film of the time called Humoresque) was never released, and is now lost, so it don't really signify. You'll find a whole lot more talk about that film HERE. Anyway, due to the aforementioned, I ain't too uncomfortable calling Animal Crackers Marx Brothers #2.

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  • 10/10/17--05:00: LONE RANGER Gum Cards (1940)

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    The first screen Tarzan returned in 1921 for this third and final appearance. Original a 15-chapter silent serial, it was later edited and rereleased in ten chapters with added sound effects. The original version is lost, but a reconstructed 10-chapter edition is now available from the film warriors of the Serial Squadron. This one took up where the previous film, The Revenge of Tarzan, left off, covering the final chapters of The Return of Tarzan and moving into Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. 

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    Davy and I are indebted to Mr. Mike Britt for pointing us to this great website, Dedicated fans have uploaded thousands of public domain comics (and a lot of other cool stuff) for our reading amazement. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

    This issue of Avon's one-shot Davy Crockett was provided by "fan777." Thanks fan! "The Creek Rebellion" is the first of three Davy adventures in that ish.

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