I've started a thread on Golden Age comics before. My idea was to review runs or portions of runs, but that turned out to be difficult to do; Golden Age features sometimes changed direction in significant ways, so to get a full overview of a long-running feature one has to read a lot of stories. The result was I ended up only reviewing short-running series or one-shots.

 

So I thought I'd start a thread for reviews of individual issues instead. I mean to review comics from the 50s as well as the 30s and 40s. Please feel free to contribute your own reviews.

 

I've included the transition era in the scope of the thread so there need be no debate over when exactly the Golden Age ended. Any pre-Silver Age title is fair game. DC's Silver Age is usually regarded as starting with the Silver Age Flash's debut in Showcase #4, which went on sale in July 1956. The analogous event at Marvel was the appearance of Fantastic Four #1 in August 1961.

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So, this Richard Rich, PI, preceded Harvey's Richie Rich by 9 years.

The earliest appearance of the feature currently listed at the GCD is in Wow Comics #15, 1943, so around ten. Richard Richard's name is a play on the use of "Dick" as a term for detectives.

Is it "Richard Rich" or "Richard Richard"?

Richard Richard, at least in the Captain Marvel Adventures instalment. According to the GCD there were quite a number of instalments altogether.

Nyoka the Jungle Girl #18 (Fawcett, 1948)

Nyoka was a white jungle heroine who didn't wear a jungle queen costume. She originated in a 1941 Republic serial called Jungle Girl. This was represented as based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel of the same name, but according to Wikipedia's page on the character this is set in Cambodia rather than Africa and has no character resembling Nyoka. In 1942 the character returned in Perils of Nyoka, played by a different actress. Fawcett published an adaptation of the latter serial called Jungle Girl in 1942, and then continued the series as Nyoka the Jungle Girl from 1945-1953. The last issue was #77, so this was one of Fawcett's longest-running series. In 1955-57 Charlton published a further nine issues starring the character.

I've not seen the serials. In Fawcett's comics Nyoka is an intelligent and capable heroine, a female equivalent of such characters as Jungle Jim or Congo Bill. For most of the comic's run her costume consisted of a white shirt and green or red shorts. In the stories I've seen she didn't have a regular love interest. In the last three issues her tops became much briefer, presumably in an attempt to make her sexier. From #30 the covers used photographs or photographic collages. Fawcett also used photographic covers on its cowboy star and romance comics.

The present issue has two Nyoka stories. In the first, a two-part story called "The Art of Murder", Nyoka agrees to let an eccentric painter paint her portrait. The painter is insane and means to kill her when he's finished, as he has the other women who've posed for him. In the other Nyoka stories I've seen she wins the day by her own efforts, but in this one she's saved at the climax by a dapper FBI man called Clark. She does save herself initially, though. In the second story, "The Emperor of the Jungles", a man Nyoka is guiding on a hunting trip goes insane after a chimp beans him with a coconut. At one point he forces her to fight a gorilla in a cage and she saves herself by tickling the gorilla with a plant. The cover does not depict an episode from either story.

The GCD attributes the cover and the art of the Nyoka stories to Bert Whitman, in part tentatively, and the scripts of the two stories tentatively to Rod Reed. It also attributes the text story, bylined "Clement Good", to Reed. The art of "The Art of Murder" has a bigfoot element in places, including the depiction of Clark.

The other comics items in the issue are a four-page comedic story about a lion-tamer, a two page account of aardvarks, "Lumber Jack", "Trader Tom" and "Wilbur the Waiter" filler items, and a joke page about kids saying the darnedest things. The text story is a jungle adventure story with a comic element.

In theory I like jungle adventure stories. In practice I don't like most comics ones, but I like Nyoka's stories because of their Fawcett storytelling style and the heroine's ability and use of her brains.

There isn't much depiction of black Africans in the issue. The feature on aardvarks has an image of a caricature native chasing an aardvark. The native who appears in the second Nyoka story isn't offensively depicted. On the other hand, he doesn't say anything or attempt to help Nyoka after she rescues him. The text story involves superstitious natives who worship a many-headed idol and practise human sacrifice.

The issue can be read at Comic Book Plus.

The serials were pretty good. The second one is interesting to Lone Ranger fans since it costars Clayton Moore before the mask. Once he played the Lone Ranger he was rarely seen in public without a mask, or, when the studio forbid him from wearing one, sunglasses.

Looks like a bathing suit on the last three covers. Not much point in the change since they stopped publishing comics a few months after the last issue came out.

 

Presumably the cover photos were mostly drawn from the serials or their associated publicity materials. The two actresses who played Nyoka were Frances Gifford and Kay Aldridge, and images of both were used. (There are very many Aldridge ones, but I think the early ones, such as #34, showed Gifford.) One supposes the cover images were always of one or the other, but I'm not very good at recognising faces so I'm not sure about this.

The last three covers certainly show an actress in a swimsuit - her hair is tied back for swimming - but the shots might not be drawn from either of the serials. The images of the actress on the #75 and #77 covers were presumably drawn from the same sequence (heroine gets out the water, picks up a gun). The #77 cover is certainly a collage, and the #76 cover, which shows the actress petting a tiger, could be a clever one made from an image of the actress petting something else. The actress might be Frances Gifford, but I'd be interested in hearing others' opinions.

There was a try-out photographic cover on #25. I can't tell which actress, if it's either, is in that one. I wondered if Fawcett's use of photographic covers on the series was in imitation of Dell's Tarzan series, but it might be the other way around: I think Nyoka the Jungle Girl started using them first.

Jungle Girl #1 (Fawcett, 1942)

As explained above, the main story in the issue is an adaption of the serial Perils of Nyoka. The adaption seems to be fairly closely based on the serial, but is presumably much simplified as it's divided into six parts and the serial had fifteen. One can spot sequences in the chapters that were probably serial episode endings, such as an avalanche sequence in chapter III.

Apparently the adaptation is also somewhat rearranged: the climax of chapter six described at the above link corresponds to climax of the comic's chapter one, and in the comic comes before Nyoka finds her father. In the comic Nyoka falls into the pit when its edge crumbles as she runs over it. The splash panel of the next chapter shows her being lowered into a fiery pit as the above link describes, but that episode doesn't occur in the adaptation.

The story involves a quest for the "lost tablets of Hippocrates". I've seen the serial claimed as a major influence on Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's not impossible it influenced it, given its quest-for-an-artefact plot and period, but I didn't spot any clear borrowings. One might contrast Raiders's apparent debts to the Charlton Heston film Secret of the Incas and Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories.

The story is wholly set in desert regions of North Africa, so it has no negro characters. The villains of the story are a "horde" of Arab "robbers and murderers" ruled by a woman called Vultura. Vultura has an obedient pet gorilla called Satan. Much of the story is set among the Tuaregs of "Tuareg Valley", who are represented as worshipping a "mighty sun goddess". (Real Tuaregs are Muslims.) They are depicted as having a pre-modern mentality, but are not represented as villainous. In chapter one a "Fascist agent" called Count Torrini takes information to Vultura, but the WWII background doesn't otherwise play a role in the tale.

The serial's title was presumably modelled after that of the silent serial The Perils of Pauline. Although Nyoka is the title character it's actually the male lead, Larry Grayson, who saves the day most of the way through. However, it's Nyoka who fights the story's villainess in the final chapter.

The story ends with a panel inviting letters from those who want to see "more adventures of Nyoka, the Jungle Girl". ("Just send a post-card to Nyoka Comics, 1501 Broadway, N.Y.C. and let us know how you like this new comics heroine!") Fawcett's hope of turning the issue into a series explains why it was titled Jungle Girl instead of Perils of Nyoka.

The GCD's page on the issue ascribes the art to Harry Anderson and the adaptation tentatively to Rod Reed. There's a full page panel in the avalanche sequence in chapter three. The splash panels of chapters one, three and four don't quite correspond to what happens in their chapters, but aren't as far off as the one to chapter two.

The comic also has a six page comedic story about a boy's invention of a powerful new glue, and a one-page story about an artist who draws on street posters. The text story is by Nathaniel Nitkin and involves an attempt by three Free French fliers to recruit the Tuaregs to the anti-Axis cause.

I've seen both serials and I don't remember either actress wearing a bathing suit. It looks more like what Kay Aldridge wore but I think much of her serial took place in the desert. Perhaps they were publicity pictures. Unfortunately my copies were on VHS tapes and I no longer have any way to play them so I can't check.

Interestingly, after leaving The Adventures of Superman, Phyllis Coates did a similar serial, wearing the same outfit Frances Gifford had worn, allowing them to reuse a lot of footage from the earlier serial. Wikipedia says the studio only made one serial after that.

If it is one of the two Nyoka actresses, it could be from something else she appeared in. If the #76 cover is a clever collage, the source needn't have been jungle-set. (The setting of the #75 cover could be jungle, but arguably needn't be. Or, it could be the jungle-style plants in the image were added by collage.)

Or it might not have been from any film. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was being made next door to Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, and pictures were taken of Glenn Strange as the Monster carrying Ann Blyth as Lenore the Mermaid to advertise both films.

I'm not sure it's Frances Gifford, but I don't think it's Kay Aldridge and it would be a bit odd for Fawcett to have used an actress on the cover who had no association with Nyoka. But perhaps that's what they did. I don't really recognise Gifford on the covers of #30-#33 either but I figured it had to be her there.

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