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I'm watching a public domain movie from 1943 called Cosmo Jones, Crime Smasher. The title character is a comedic figure who introduces himself as having just completed a correspondence course on detection. He struck me as the possible inspiration for Percival Popp, the Super Cop from the Spectre's series. Perceval Popp was introduced in 1941, but Cosmo Jones was originally a radio character. According to one of the comments at the movie's IMDB pages he first appeared in 1941, in a show called Nightcap Yarns (a.k.a. Armchair Adventures).

 

While I was looking for information I found this blog on old time radio detectives.

DC never reprinted any of the Popp stories in the 70s. From what little I've seen, it's obvious why!
One of my daughter's fish has been found guilty of accidental homicide of another fish. It received a suspended (in water) sentence.


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

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This is seriously impressive. Potentially disturbing images in the video, as the article explains.
Luke Blanchard said:
This is seriously impressive. Potentially disturbing images in the video, as the article explains.


They need to make the box heart-shaped.

 


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! Comics and Games for Everyone!

I used to listen to WOXY.com; It was the future of rock-n-roll! RIP WOXY


In the 40s/50s there were many movie star comics. DC's two longest-running titles in this vein were The Adventures of Bob Hope and Adventures of Jerry Lewis titles (the latter of which started as Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis). These were comedic titles. Many of the others, such as DC's short-lived The Adventures of Alan Ladd, were action/adventure comics.

 

 A couple of days ago I read Tim Holt #34, from Magazine Enterprises. The issue has five stories. Two are "Tales of the Ghost Rider" horror stories (the Ghost Rider does not play a role in the stories, and they are not west-set). One, the cover story, is a straight Tim Holt story (he is portrayed as a deputy sheriff, not an actor). In the remaining two Holt is also the star, but he has a double identity as a masked hero, Redmask. The comic was retitled "Red Mask" from #42. In #34 he wears a mask over the lower half of his face (and red hat and shirt, red pants with a yellow stripe, and black boots), but he later switched to wearing a red domino mask. I like the first look much more. A history of the comic can be found here (scroll down).

 

The three Holt stories in #34 were illustrated by Frank Bolle. The first one (one of the Redmask tales) has a particularly nice splash page. The GCD tentatively attributes the two horror stories to Dick Ayers.

Yesterday I read Tim Holt #41, the last issue before the title change. One of the Redmask stories in the issue features a recurring character called the Black Phantom, a lady gunfighter who was formerly on the other side of the law to the hero and is trying to prove to him she has gone straight. The depiction of her costume on the covers varies a bit. In this issue it consists of a tight blue (possibly intended for black) outfit with an open chest. She often wore an eye mask, but in this issue she doesn’t.

 

In addition to her appearances in Tim Holt/Red Mask, Magazine Enterprises tried her out in a single issue of her own comic. According to the GCD many of Magazine Enterprises’s comics were double-numbered as part of the publisher’s A-1 series, so the issue was both Black Phantom #1 and A-1 #122.

 

The Black Phantom’s background and partnership-like relationship with Redmask reminded me of Madame .44, who appeared in Johnny Thunder’s feature in the final issues of All-Star Western. I haven’t read any of the latter lady’s stories, but she appeared on the covers as “Johnny Thunder” was the cover-feature. Her appearances are attributed by the GCD to Gardner Fox, who also wrote for Magazine Enterprises, so it’s possible she was consciously modelled after the Black Phantom. The GCD tentatively attributes the Redmask/Black Phantom story in Tim Holt #41 to Fox, but I can’t say if that’s more than a guess.

 

Madame .44 wore an all-white outfit, and a mask that covered the lower half of her face. The name had been used earlier, in a 1953 episode of Ford Television Theatre starring Yvonne De Carlo titled “Madame 44”.

 

Another story in Tim Holt #41 featured the return of a character from Tim Holt #11. I was surprised to see that kind of continuity in a story from this period. In addition to three Frank Bolle Redmask stories the issue has a Ghost Rider story that the GCD attributes to Fox and Dick Ayers.

 

Redmask lost covers of the final issues of Red Mask to a magician cowboy hero called the Presto Kid. I've not read any of his stories yet, but the covers are worth checking out. I think he qualifies as a forgotten superhero.

The name had been used earlier, in a 1953 episode of Ford Television Theatre starring Yvonne De Carlo titled “Madame 44”.

 

Wow, that would be interesting to see.

I've done a review of the Presto Kid stories here. When I wrote the post above I didn't know if the Kid had superpowers or used stage magic. He used stage magic, but his skill at hypnosis is superpower-y, although it's apparently not supposed to be superhuman.

  

The question of whether the Presto Kid counts as a superhero got me thinking about the fact that we don't usually take masked western heroes into account when we discuss 50s superheroes. One might argue that if Redmask is a superhero, so are the Lone Ranger and Zorro. Also, that it's natural to class a character like Redmask with Johnny Thunder, who didn't wear a costume but did maintain a double identity. On the other hand, if Ghost Rider or the Presto Kid were modern day characters fighting crime in New York we'd call them superheroes (and Redmask too, although he doesn't have a schtick aside from his second identity and red costume, which incidentally included red boots later on). So it could be argued that a full discussion of the superheroes of the 50s would have to take the western masked heroes into account.

One of my interests is old British thrillers. I'm currently reading Gale Warning by Dornford Yates, first published in 1939. My copy was part of a Classic Thrillers series published in the 80s by the publisher J.M. Dent & Sons. To the point when this volume came out the other books in the series were as follows:

  

Margery Allingham Traitor's Purse

Eric Ambler Epitaph for a Spy

Nicholas Blake The Sad Variety

John Buchan Castle Gay

John Buchan The Courts of the Morning

John Buchan The House of the Four Winds

John Buchan The Power-House

Leslie Charteris Enter the Saint

Leslie Charteris The Saint in New York

Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands

Manning Coles Drink to Yesterday

Robert Harling The Enormous Shadow

Anthony Hope The Prisoner of Zenda

E.W. Horning The Collected Raffles

Geoffrey Household A Rough Shoot

Geoffrey Household Watcher in the Shadows

Sax Rohmer The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu

'Sapper' The Black Gang

'Sapper' Bulldog Drummond

'Sapper' The Final Count

'Sapper' The Third Round

Edgar Wallace The Four Just Men

Edgar Wallace The Mind of Mr J G Reeder

Dornford Yates Blind Corner

Dornford Yates Blood Royal

Dornford Yates Perishable Goods

Dornford Yates She Fell Among Thieves

  

Traitor's Purse is one of Margery Allingham's novels about her detective hero Mr. Campion. Apparently Peter Davison starred as Campion in a 1989-90 TV show. The 1956 British film Tiger in the Smoke, based on another of her novels, has good points. The "smoke" of the title is the thick London smog that once was.

 

Eric Ambler's works include Journey into Fear. A very stylish film version of this starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles appeared in 1943. Another good film based on an Ambler novel is Topkapi (1964), from The Light of Day. Ambler also wrote the screenplays to the very amusing Highly Dangerous (1950), starring Margaret Lockwood, and the 1958 Titanic film A Night to Remember.

 

Nicholas Blake was the poet Cecil Day-Lewis.

 

John Buchan's most famous works are his Richard Hannay novels, the first of which was The Thirty-Nine Steps. In the 30s Buchan became Governor-General of Canada.

 

Erskine Childers's The Riddle of the Sands, first published in 1903, was a big hit in its day. The story was written to warn Britain against the threat posted by Germany. Childers later became an Irish nationalist, and was executed by the Irish Free State authorities during the Irish Civil War. Michael York starred in a 1979 film version of the novel.

 

In The Prisoner of Zenda the English double of the king of the fictional country of Ruritania replaces the king when he is kidnapped. The book has been filmed a number of times; the 1937 version, starring Ronald Colman, is terrific. Parodies/homages of the story include the King of Caronia episodes of Get Smart, the Potzdorf section of The Great Race (1965), and the Doctor Who serial "The Androids of Tara". Possibly you could also count Robert Heinlein's novel Double Star.

 

Geoffrey Household's most famous novel is probably Rogue Male. Fritz Lang directed a 1941 film version titled Man Hunt, starring Walter Pidgeon.

 

The four 'Sapper' books are the first four Bulldog Drummond novels, here in alphabetical order rather than order of publication.

 

The Four Just Men was Edgar Wallace's first novel. He advertised it with a competition challenging readers to figure out the solution to the novel's climactic mystery that left him bankrupt when too many people did so and were eligible for prizes. He went on to be one of the most popular authors of his day. He died while working on the script for King Kong.

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