Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lost and found : strange german comics

Today I´m just doing a quick post ( hopefully ), kind of an between posts thing. I´m always trying to keep things diverse but sometimes I can´t find an a topic for pictures I find doing the research for other things.

Now I could just put them away and hope that someday the right topic comes around but that rarely happens. And if it does I mostly no longer remember where I put the picture. So here are some german covers.

I know that a lot of my readers like to see them since it´s not something you see a lot of. And I like posting them just to show what really strange things you can find when you´re not really trying. Like this one right here.

KRIMI KLASSIKER 1 from the Bildschriftenverlag brings us Charles Rand, Spezial - Schutz - Agent der Vereinten Nationen ( Special Protection Agent of the United Nations ) a man with a rather particular fighting style.

Talk about jumping in feet first into a situation. I also picked this cover because more than a cover it is actually the splash page, the first page of the story and that´s something you don´t see in comics nowadays very often. Back when I started reading comics as a kid this happened quite often with comics since the page count between original comics from other countries and Germany where very different. So you either had to put in filler or you had to break the story up into two parts with ye old " to be continued " schtick or had to cut pages. And sometimes you had just enough pages from the cover to the last page to put in the comic if you skipped the cover. Which many companies did. I mean, it´s not like a lot of people read the cover. Sure, more than Today a cover was made to lure readers in, to grab their attention and make them buy the comic. But after that they just turn the cover and read what´s inside. And this way you could skip all the switch and bait and get right to reading the comic.

Which would be impossible to pull off with most comics Today since they not only need the space for their cover but also for the dozen of variants they need to put on almost any issue because otherwise it doesn´t sell.

But back to Charles Rand, THE FIRST MAN ON SUNDAY in THE LEAGUE OF BARKEEPERS a title that doesn´t sound too threatening. But beware :

Blackmail, treacherous murder, robberies ..... that´s the real " League of Barkeepers " ! And no country is safe from them. They spread their mischief - until Charles Rand gets the assignment to put them out of business. But their tentacles are wide spread and it seems Charles Rand has to catch them one at a time. Charles Rand often faces death and he has to apply all his tricks to avoid falling victim to them. His mission is not finished until the entire band of barkeepers is caught.

Which sometimes means hitting those dastardly rogues in the face with your feet while shouting : " What do you think about this nice kick ? "

I was a bit surprised by DIE EULE because I immediately had to think of WATCHMEN´s Night Owl. Alan Moore said in many interviews that he came up with the character because he couldn´t use BLUE BEETLE but what if he didn´t come up with the character and just used The Owl ?

Now one may argue that The Owl is a bit of an obscure character having only appeared in two issues of his own title ( when I look at the covers I think I might know why that is ) but aren´t obscure comic characters Alan Moore´s field of expertise ? And don´t forget that he also did not create all the comic characters he used in his TERRA OBSCURA limited series.

Most of them were public domain characters who had previously been published by Nedor Comics and among them was the Captain Future superhero I mentioned in my big Captain Future post I did last year.

Alan Moore knew about them so it is reasonable that he knew The Owl.

And I´m not talking about plagiarism here since those are public domain characters so they fall under fair use. I only want to say that it is possible Alan Moore used The Owl as a basis. I mean there must be something to the characters since not only Erik Larsen used some of them in SAVAGE DRAGON but they also appear in DYNAMITE´s PROJECT SUPERPOWERS.

As for any connections to the genesis of DC´s Owlman character I doubt that. Yes, Owlman was the counterpart to Batman and The Owl had a girlfriend that was a reporter who found out his secret and became his sidekick Owl Girl. And yes, her name was Bella Wayne but since The Owl first appeared in 1940 the question would be who influenced who.

I couldn´t find much on GREAT COMICBOOK DATABASE so I have to rely on wiki and according to them The Owl is one of the few original characters published by Dell. His first appearance was in CRACKAJACK FUNNIES 25 ( July 1940 ) and Owl Girl debuted in issue 32 ( February 1941 ). After the series ended, the duo appeared in Dell’s POPULAR COMICS, from issue 72 ( February 1942 ) to 85 ( March 1943 ). In the 1960s, Gold Key Comics revived The Owl and Owl Girl, inspired by the success of the Batman TV series. The two issues of Gold Key’s THE OWL — in which the duo was shown in campy, self - parodying stories — came out in April 1967 and April 1968. The Owl Girl in the revival was a different one from the 1940s version, and in the partnership she handled most of the physical combat.

In the 1970s, The Owl ( without either Owl Girl ) appeared in issue 22 of Gold Key’s THE OCCULT FILES OF DOCTOR SPEKTOR. In a text article in that issue, Doctor Spektor speculates that the Owl may have been privy to some kind of secret of prolonged youth, a secret that for some reason could not be shared with Owl Girl. In 1999, The Owl also appeared in AC Comics´ MEN OF MYSTERY COMICS 17 and 2013 Dynamite Entertainment published a 4 issue mini series starring The Owl and The Owl Girl ( this version being the granddaughter of the original ) as main characters.

Speaking about DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT and sidekicks who handled most of the physical combat the most famous one is Kato played by Bruce Lee in the cult series THE GREEN HORNET. Ah, the days when you could buy a comic for 75 Pfennig. Or how about the days when we had Pfennigs and Deutschmarks for that matter. That was an incredibly solid currency.

Speaking about going back in time one of my all time favorite movies is THE TIME MACHINE from 1960 starring Rod Taylor. Another thing I really like are the painted GOLD KEY covers for the ILLUSTRIERTE KLASSIKER.

Now this comic is not an adaption of the movie but of the book by H. G. Wells ( By the way, was I the only one who suspected that time travel was involved when I heard that the founder of S.T.A.R. labs in the new FLASH series was introduced as Doctor Wells ? ) although I have to admit I don´t know if and how they both differ since I have never read the classic book.

The same cover was used for the album version Bildschriftenverlag published later with a price increase of almost one hundred percent.

And here is where I want to end the post for Today since I have promised to do a short one and the links list is rather long even if I narrowed it down to the few websites I came across during the research for this post.

As you can probably guess from the topic most of them are about Gold Key comics and this is by no means a selection based on quality. I´m sure there must be hundred of websites out there who tread the subject that have excellent posts like the ones by MR. BLOG`S TEPID RIDE on Gold Key comics or Scott Tipton´s COMICS 101 post that covers Gold Key´s STAR TREK comics. For more on that TREK CORE has a gallery of Gold Key´s STAR TREK comics and the STAR TREK COMICS CHECKLIST has a post on British Mighty TV Comic Gold Key reprints . Also QUAZOO has a really exhaustive post on Gold Key comics that covers all the series in detail.

Bill and Sue - On Hillman´s ERBzine has galleries on Gold Key´s KORAK comics and because the blog is about all things Edgar Rice Burroughs they also have the entire issue of Dell´s JOHN CARTER OF MARS comic who is now mainly known for the scantily clad Deja Thoris. For my brother one of the main reasons why the latest Disney adaption of JOHN CARTER OF MARS flopped was that they had a political correct version of Deja Thoris.

MUSEUM OF MODERN MYTHOLOGY AND POP CULTURE has posts about Patrick McGoohan in the SECRET AGENT series and Russ Manning´s MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER , COMIC BOOK RESOURCES has the incredible covers by Gold Key as number 188 in their 365 Reasons to Love Comics countdown and a post on Gold Key one shots and the HELLO FROM FRED & ETHEL`S HOUSE blog has many Dell and Gold Key covers for tv comics in better quality than the usual suspects. Speaking about the usual suspects you probably won´t find issue 6 of the second volume of RADIOACTIVE MAN on the list that´s a total homage to those old Gold Key comics.

Thankfully COMICS OUGHT TO BE FUN has a post on that very subject .

You really find weird stuff doing these posts like the PROJECT SWORD MOONBASE CENTRAL website that has a few SUPERCAR comic covers.

A website that´s not such a big fan of Gold Key comics is STUPID COMICS and they have an entry on the BATTLE OF THE PLANETS comic with some interior artwork. Now they say they wouldn´t pay more than one Dollar for an issue of any given Gold Key title but the truth is they are rather pricey and if you want to find out current prices INVEST COMICS has a list of the Most Valuable Gold Key comics published each year from 1962 to 1984.

I´m also including this because there are some nice covers on this one.

Mike Madonna seems to hold the Gold Key comics in the same high regard as you can see by including them in his THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF STUPID blog. Since I haven´t found much interior pages I want to include his posts on TIGER GIRL 1 and BULLWHIP GRIFFIN where you can read the entire issues. And as a fan of Roger Langridge I have to include this one about issue 8 of GROSSE POINT which is a guilty pleasure of mine.

If you are interested in reading more Gold Key comics the SCOOBY DOO FAN COMMUNITY has a post on issue 25 for you that includes a story that apparently is less sexist towards Velma than the current tv cartoon show .

For me it has always been one of great mysteries in life why Velma was always portrayed as the ugly duckling type on the SCOOBY DOO cartoons when she clearly had more going on for her. The only time when Velma Dinkley was portrayed more akin to the way I always saw her was in the movie adaptions where she was played by the very hot Linda Cardellini.

I mean if you like skinny girls that have more beauty than brains then Daphne is definitely the girl for you. Velma on the other side has smarts, real curves and you bet she hides some big torpedoes under her sweater that are at least DDs. If I had to choose I would go on a date with Velma.

Since we ended Today´s proper post section with the movie version of Velma Dinkley our first clips are with the lovely Linda Cardellini. Here´s a scene from the first Scooby Doo movie where she looks really spectacular.

And here´s one from the second film with Velma in a tight red catsuit.

You have probably seen parts of Walt Disney´s classic skeleton dance short in music videos and such but here is the full original movie.

Speaking about skeletons, you always learn new things and something I knew nothing about was Schoolhouse Rock. Thanks to one of the latest episodes on COMIC GEEK SPEAK I found out about this cult series of educational animation shorts that used to be on american tv to teach whole generations of kids about basically everything. I think a big part of why kids are so stupid these days is that there are no more shows like these on tv. Anyway, to keep with the topic here´s THEM NOT SO DRY BONES that explains what the human skeleton is for. Education, yay !

Another tv show I didn´t know : UFO, an english tv series from 1970.

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Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

When I get time I'll send you a copy of my Complete Owl collection. The two issues you talk about were from Gold Key/Western in the 1960s but The Owl later appeared as a darker character in The Occult Files of Dr Spector (also Western). BUT, the Owl and Owl Girl originated back in the 1940s. Later this year, with permission, The Owl will return in his first new story in almost 40 years.

SUBZERO said...

As always you´re generous to a fault. I have added your information - along with anything else I could find - but I guess you will find out soon enough.