Monday, April 30, 2018

EC Comics! It's An Entertaining Comic! Issue 56




The EC Reign Month by Month 1950-1956
   56: January 1955, Part II


Kamen
Crime SuspenStories #26

"The Fixer" ★★
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Jack Kamen

"Dead Center" ★★
Story by Jack Oleck (?)
Art by Joe Orlando

"The Firebug" ★★ 1/2
Story Jack Oleck (?)
Art by Reed Crandall

"Comeback" ★★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Jack Kamen

When the homicide detectives find young Billy standing alone in his family's kitchen and the bodies of his dead parents on the floor, they sit the lad down and ask him what happened. Billy tells them that, ever since his family moved into the neighborhood, they were shunned by the neighbors for being poor. The cruel treatment drove his Dad to drink and when neighbors started being murdered in the night, people started to suspect Billy's Pop of doing more than boozing. Finally, Billy's Mom accused her husband of the killings, showing him a bloody knife she found in a kitchen drawer. A struggle ensued and she was stabbed to death. Dad then took his own life with a pair of scissors. Billy explains to the cops that it was unnecessary, since he had been playing the role of "The Fixer" and knocking off the mean people who made his parents sad.

Jack Kamen stages a death in "The Fixer."
I knew it was Billy from the very first panel! Wessler and Kamen present a story that is at once obvious and confusing. Was there not a single decent person in the neighborhood? Why could Billy's family only find one house to rent, and why was it out of their price range? How did Billy manage to sneak out at night and murder a series of adult neighbors? My most pressing question is, what did Jack Kamen do before and after EC? According to Wikipedia, he went into advertising and one of his sons invented the Segway. Who knew?

Arthur's wife Selma loves professional wrestling, but Arthur hates it, so their best friend Milty starts taking Selma to the St. Mark's Arena in New York every week to see the matches live and in person. Arthur buys a TV set so Selma can watch the matches at home but she prefers the smells and sounds of the live event. Arthur grows consumed with jealousy, convinced that Selma and Milty are doing some wrestling of their own. He buys two tickets for them, "Dead Center" in the front row, so he can watch the match on TV and see them sitting next to the ring in order to prove that they're not off in a motel somewhere. The match airs, he looks, and the seats are empty. When Milty and Selma get home, he shoots them both dead, only to hear the TV host announce that, this week, they televised the match from Chicago, not New York.

Two things to love about "Dead Center."
Arthur is such a dope. Why not follow Milty and Selma and shoot them at the motel or hire a private eye to do it like everyone else? No, he has to cook up this cockamamie scheme involving buying front row tickets and watching the match on TV. Even then, he doesn't hear the announcer say that the match is happening in the Windy City, which surely must have been mentioned about a hundred times. You're telling me the arena looks exactly like the one in NYC? What a dolt. Joe Orlando's status as one of the lesser EC artists is growing, since his work on this story is not impressive at all.

Fire chief Mitchell Slade leads his team in battling a warehouse blaze. Was it started by an arsonist, a pyromaniac? If so, then who is "The Firebug"? That's the question that bothers Lieutenant Humphries of the Arson Squad. Humphries finds proof of arson and the arsonist sets a plan in motion. Humphries gets a late-night call from Slade, who was warned about another fire. Slade gets to the scene first and beats the supposed arsonist to death before Humphries can stop him. Later, when the two men share a drink at a bar, Slade lights a match for Humphries's cigarette and Slade's reaction to the flame is so extreme that it becomes clear he is the real arsonist.

"Okay, I'll stop now."
("The Firebug")
Reed Crandall's art is impressive, so much so that it distracted me from the weaknesses in this five-page story. As in the Kamen story that opened this issue, I knew who the culprit was from the start, and the twists and turns of the plot came too quickly to make much sense. What really bothered me was Slade murdering the man right in front of Humphries with Humphries barely batting an eyelash. I don't buy it for a minute.

Sybil Oliver is not fooled at all when hubby Raymond comes home and shows her the neat new letter opener his friends at work gave him for his birthday. She is well aware that it was a gift from Joyce Adams, the cashier with whom he's been having an affair. Raymond thinks back to how it all began and, after we wake up from a three-page flashback about Raymond and Joyce's courtship, he demands that Sybil grant him a divorce. She says no, and he kills her with the letter opener. Like any good wife killer, he goes to work the next day, steals fifteen grand from the bank safe, and hot foots it to South America, where he disappears into the fields and lives as a peasant for months. Finally missing Joyce too much to go on, he shaves and cuts his hair, returns to the big city, and looks her up, only to find his "Comeback" ruined by the news that Joyce was electrocuted for the murder of Sybil over six months before. Her fingerprints were all over the letter opener, see, and he was wearing gloves at the time of the murder . . .

Jack Kamen stages another death.
("Comeback")

At least one story in this issue had a twist ending that I did not see coming. The plot is decent and makes the cookie cutter artwork by Kamen bearable. But why two Kamen stories in the same issue?  --Jack

Peter: The penultimate number of Crime SuspenStories is one of the worst single EC issues I've had to sit through, with only the Reed Crandall art as a minor plus (even Crandall seems to phone it in for the most part). The "shocks" are telegraphed or, in the case of "Comeback" and "The Firebug," never materialize. "The Fixer" and "The Firebug" read like rejects from Shock, with their "deep analysis of the human condition," but lacking the real depth found in those early Shocks. Two of the stories are uncredited but there's no reason not to believe they were penned by the same writer responsible for the other two atrocities. This is a really long fall from the heights of the previous year. Two Kamens. Did you think I'd be happy?

Peter has second thoughts after passing up a rare paperback.
("The Firebug")


MAD #19

"Mickey Rodent!" ★★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Will Elder

"Supermarkets!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Jack Davis

"Puzzle Pages!" ★★★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Will Elder

"The Cane Mutiny!" ★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Wally Wood

"Mickey Rodent!"

"Mickey Rodent!"
Why the heck is "Mickey Rodent!" trying to contact Darnold Duck? Everyone in town, from sexy Minny Rodent to Pluted Pup (the only mute animal in Walt Dizzy's world) to Goony, has been stopping Darnold in his tracks and relaying the message: "Mickey Rodent is looking for you!" The Duck can't stand the Rodent as the dirty rat can't help but hog the spotlight and, anyways, who's the bigger star in the Dizzy universe? The rat or the fowl? So, whatever, the rat finds the duck and the duo scamper off, trading insights on life in the Dizzy world (why do all the animals have to wear white gloves? Even on hot days.) and eventually doffing clothing and skinny-dipping in a local mud hole. While the boys (?) are enjoying freedom, some miscreants (probably the Looney Tunes) swipe their garments, thereby leaving them open to the elements. Our heroes follow the tracks of the robbers to a nearby zoo but, in a moment of evil selfishness, Mickey locks Darnold in a cage and hightails it, ostensibly to renegotiate his contract with Walt Dizzy.

"Mickey Rodent!"

Though not quite reaching the lofty heights of "Starchie!" (which was, despite what my two knucklehead colleagues might say, the Best Story of 1954), "Mickey Rodent!" comes pretty darned close. Is it just that I love these strips that demolish beloved icons, showing us how these characters would look and behave in "the real world," or is it that Harvey has a special gift for crawling under their shiny surfaces and pointing out the absurdities we ignore? Maybe both. Particularly hilarious is the scene of Mickey and Darnold, foliage covering their naughty bits, walking through the forest when the Duck notices Bill Elder's signature at the bottom of the page and exclaims, "Hah, look at that signature! It's not Walt Dizzy's style . . . I knew the style of this drawing was different!" Or how about Goony advising Darnold that maybe he should wear pants the next time he leaves the house? Blink and you'll miss KurtzElder's subtle slam at the Disney merchandising machine in the guise of Big Ben with a Mickey face.

"Supermarkets!"

The last we saw of Dad Sturdley and his family, they were braving the wilds of a "Restaurant!" (back in #16). Not having learned their lesson, the Sturdleys decide that it's a good time to investigate that new supermarket down the road. Bad parking, frenzied automatic entrance doors, unobliging and obese fellow shoppers, and grocery carts designed for the Indy 500 are just some of the obstacles in the way of the Sturdleys' happy adventure. In the end, our hapless family agrees that maybe that little Ma and Pa shop they frequent is adequate. "Supermarkets!" is mildly amusing in the same fashion as that earlier Sturdleys chapter (by the way, Jack Davis's Sturdleys look nothing like the earlier version conjured up by Will Elder), but it's apparent to me that MAD's bread and butter is its media parodies rather than its piercing eye on the American way of life; that will change within a couple years, of course.

Relax with an easy brain twister!
("Puzzle Pages!")

What's more relaxing with your cup of coffee in the morning or after a long day in the salt mines? Why, a brain puzzler, of course! And the editors of MAD have been generous enough to share with us several difficult brain teasers. In fact, some are downright impossible. These types of parodies are usually pretty bad but I stopped counting guffaws at about 100 (Rebus #4 is especially side-splitting-- it's reprinted below); there are just so many clever little nuances to KurtzElder.

And they've been nice enough to provide the solutions!
("Puzzle Pages!")

"The Cane Mutiny!"
The USS Cane has gone to pot thanks to its slob of a captain, but now the Navy intends to put things right by sending out a slave driving captain named Kweeg. The men (including Ensign Willie Wontie) immediately take offense to everything the new guy does, including subjecting them to eating desserts of white sand (don't ask) and wearing pants. Eventually, matters reach a boiling point and the crew mutinies. A court case (shown "off screen" because it would be to boring for readers) ensues and Wontie is assigned another ship: the Bounty. "The Cane Mutiny" is the only real dog this issue but it's quite a dog, lacking anything resembling humor. Instead, Harvey resorts to renaming characters and dragging "laughs" out across several panels. It's all rendered by Wally, which is a plus, but it's a real slag to get through.
--Melvin Enfantino

Jack:  I'm surprised EC did not get sued by Disney over "Mickey Rodent!" I thought it was reasonably amusing until the last page, which I thought was great. Overall, it's pretty biting satire. "Supermarkets!" was also somewhat funny, though a bit long at eight pages. Not much has changed about grocery stories since the '50s, except that neat conveyor belt that sends your groceries outside where a clerk loads them into your car for you. "Puzzle Pages!" was funny, especially the answer page, and "The Cane Mutiny!" is another dud of a movie parody, livened up only by Wood's insertion of a gorgeous gal every so often.

Proof that the readers may have been just
as MAD as the creators.


Craig
The Vault of Horror #40

"Old Man Mose!" ★★ 1/2
Story and Art by Johnny Craig

"An Harrow Escape!" ★★
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Joe Orlando

"The Pit!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Bernard Krigstein

"Ashes to Ashes!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Graham Ingels

Ned Rogers comes upon some boys throwing stones at "Old Man Mose!" and stops them, protecting the unfortunate man and hiring him to help around the house. Not used to being treated kindly, Mose grows attached to Ned and his wife Belle. Soon, the townsfolk warn Ned about Mose, who is said to consort with the Devil. Ned sticks up for Mose and heads home, where he finds that the stock on his rifle has split and he needs a replacement. After having trouble sleeping that night, Ned awakens and encounters Mose coming home late, claiming he was out for a walk. The next day, the townsfolk tell Ned that a man was murdered the night before. He lies and says Mose was with him all night. Ned races home, worried that Mose is a killer and that Belle is in danger. He arrives home to find Belle on the kitchen floor and Mose with scratches on his face. He beats Mose to a pulp before his wife reveals that the old man was protecting her from a murderous escaped convict, whose dead body lies just outside, near where Mose had spent the previous night making a new rifle stock for Ned.

"Old Man Mose!"
I was surprised to see in the GCD that Johnny Craig wrote this story, since it has the same clunky plotting we've come to expect from Carl Wessler. Things are going along fairly smoothly until there's that obvious plot device of the broken rifle stock, which stands out and is clearly a setup for something to come later. Craig's art is still fine, but the writing is not what it was earlier in the series.

Captain Grady brings his Coast Guard cutter alongside the Seawitch, a small craft drifting aimlessly on the waves, and boards her, only to find a dead woman on one bunk and a nearly dead man on another. The man tells a strange story: he and his fiance, along with another couple, were on a cruise the day before when their boat was caught in a storm and they sought refuge at a castle on Harrow Island. That night, the man discovered that their hosts were vampires and that the other couple was dead. He killed one vampire but was too late to save his fiance, who had been bitten already. The captain thinks the story of "An Harrow Escape!" is bunk but, just to be sure, his lieutenant plunges a stake into the woman's heart and her body turns to dust. Not long after that, the captain and his lieutenant are up on deck and realize--too late--that if the woman was a vampire and bit the man, he must be a vampire, too. As he attacks them from behind they realize they were right.

Surprise! He's a vampire!
("An Harrow Escape!")
Carl Wessler's stories tend to follow the same pattern: he introduces a strange scene, then has a long flashback to explain how things got that way, then brings us back to the present, where the conclusion soon occurs with a supposedly surprising twist ending. This story is a straightforward vampire tale with little new or different from many we've seen before. Orlando's art is less offensive than it has been in some time, however, and he draws the young woman well.

The crowd revels in bloodshed as two roosters fight to the death in "The Pit!" Felix Johnson doesn't much like running the violent show but his wife Lila likes the money it brings in. They have competition from Aaron Scott and his wife Beatrice, who run a nearby dog fighting show in a similar pit. Things go from bad to worse as the wives badger their husbands to make the games bloodier and more violent to try to attract crowds away from each other. In the end, the husbands put their wives in the pit for a final, bloody battle.

Yikes!
("The Pit")
Bernie Krigstein sure draws some weird-looking people! There are panels in this story where the spittle in the characters' mouths resembles long fangs. The story is fairly obvious and disgusting, but I must be a dope because I did not see the ending coming until the last page. That final panel is pretty gruesome, with Lila sinking her teeth into Bea's arm.

For six generations, the male members of the Frankenstein family have worked to create life. At age 50, Emil Frankenstein finally succeeds! A seemingly perfect baby is born from raw slime, but is it normal? Can it grow and reproduce? To test it, Dr. Frankenstein switches the baby at a hospital for a dead infant and then watches it grow up for twenty years, at which point the good doctor observes two young men, Karl and Heinrich, arguing over a woman named Louisa. She chooses Heinrich and Emil comes back later with a gun but, instead of shooting his rival, he accidentally kills Louisa. Her body dissolves into "a greenish-black blob of vile, stinking decay," demonstrating that she, and not one of the two men, was the Frankenstein baby grown to adulthood.

Fifty?
("Ashes to Ashes!")
Like Joe Orlando, Ghastly brings his "A" game to "Ashes to Ashes!," a story that appears late in the day for the EC horror line. Wessler's story is nothing special, and the twist ending isn't very exciting, but Ingels does very smooth work.--Jack

Peter: The final issue of Vault is, for the most part, a well-written parting shot. "The Pit!" should be the obvious standout here, with its B. Krigstein art and "deep, meaningful" script. Krigstein gets high marks as always but Wessler's script is predictable and, ultimately, pretty silly. My compadre, Jack, may slight BK for the exaggerated and downright disturbing Bea and Lila but I'd argue that was the point. Without the escalated transformation from sexy babe to bloodthirsty beast, this would just be another weak Shock wannabe. Imagine "The Pit!" with Kamen attached!  I liked "Old Man Mose!" as well, especially the fact that we never see the real threat until the final panel and no tidy expository (other than a mention that the assailant is an escaped con). Craig avoids all the usual cliches and just tells an interesting story. "Ashes to Ashes!" is a bit talky but it's a clever reworking of the Frankenstein mythology and benefits from one of the best last lines in an EC horror story.  "An Harrow Escape!" is the only dud this issue, a juvenile monster story with a twist ending that was, evidently, only surprising to its writer. "Oh, crap, he's a vampire? Who'da guesst?" Interesting that Johnny Craig was assigned to redraw one of "Harrow" panels for the cover.


Evans
Shock SuspenStories #18

"Cadillac Fever!" ★★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by George Evans

"The Trap" ★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Jack Kamen

"In the Bag" ★★★★
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Bernard Krigstein

"Rundown" ★★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Reed Crandall




"Cadillac Fever!"
Poor Clyde Wilkes jes' wants ta ride in a Cadillac once afore he dies but his greedy wife, Effy, steals his saved-up quarters for more of her consarned women stuff. What's a man to do? Effy pays no heed to Clyde's threats of blowin' a hole in her mid-section and the thievery continues. Daughter Ruthie sympathizes with her hen-pecked pa but what's a poor young girl to do aside from escortin' Clyde past the Cadillac dealership every day and feedin' his dreams of someday ridin' in a Caddy? Then, one day, Effy turns up with a "hole in her big as youah fist" and the law comes down on Clyde. At the trial, Ruthie allows as how Pa gunned down her Ma after a steamy altercation and Clyde is sentenced to die in the 'lectrical chair. Once Clyde gets his Caddy ride, in a coffin to the cemetery, Ruthie owns up to pullin' the big trigger on her Ma so's Pa could satisfy his "Cadillac Fever!" Carl Wessler satisfies his need to be Erskine Caldwell for six pages and we're left with an okay SuspenStory (well, I could have done without the silly final expository) and some nice Evans visuals. Ruthie's scene with Mr. Wyler, a wealthy Caddy owner, is nicely handled and genuine pathos is generated from Clyde's predicament, but we've seen Effy, a cliche if there ever was one, several times before.

Yep, pre-murder Matt looks
completely different from post-
thanks to the wonder of Jack Kamen.
("The Trap")
Nag nag nag. That's all Irene Hall can do as far as hubby Matt is concerned. She's not happy with the dump they live in or the rotten neighborhood they're stuck in or the rags she wears, but there is a way out, she insists. If Matt could cash in his life insurance policy, they could have twenty grand to splurge on the niceties of life. Irene has even enlisted the help of local undertaker (and, evidently, medical examiner) Larry Grover and the two have concocted the perfect plan: Matt will fake his own death and Grover will take care of all the "burial" arrangements. Matt bites and the plan is put into action. After Matt is declared dead, he heads for Argentina to lay low for a year, at which time his wife will join him. Eighteen months later, with no sign of Irene, Matt gets fidgety and heads back home, only to find Irene and Grover married. When Matt raises a fuss, the couple ID him as the killer and he hangs for his own murder! Interminably simplistic (Grover manages to oversee everything related to the "Matt Hall murder case" and the police, evidently, never lay their eyes on the "corpse"), head-scratchingly baffling (Matt grows a mustache in order to fool the entire town into thinking he's someone else--in a Kamen cartoon!), and just plain giggle-inducing (when a cop is asked to check post-murder Matt's fingerprints, he exclaims "That's it, chief! I thought they looked familiar . . ." and whips out the fingerprints from the murder weapon--a perfect match!), "The Trap" is a blending of several elements we've seen countless times before, usually wrapped in a Kamen bow: the shrewish wife, the hen-pecked hubby, the faked death, and the more-than-a-little-interested third party. Special Award for Stupidest Husband of 1955 goes to Matt Hall.

The world's most observant beat cop.
("The Trap")

"In the Bag"
McLeod, a plain-clothes cop, becomes suspicious when a mousy guy with an odd sack shuffles by. When McLeod shouts to the man to halt, he notices the bag is round with a red stain at the bottom. The creep hightails it but McLeod manages to catch up. When pressed, the man admits that, "In the Bag" lies the head of his pushy boss. The psycho gets away and McLeod alerts two beat cops to issue an APB while he searches the dark streets. Hearing footsteps behind him, McLeod turns to see a man approaching, holding a sack, and the cop guns him down. The beat cops return, informing McLeod that they've apprehended the psycho with the bloody bag. McLeod has shot a man carrying a bowling ball.

I've run out of adjectives for the work of Bernie Krigstein so I'll just drop my jaw and utter, "Wow!" I thought I'd be clever and highlight some of the genuinely unique aspects of "In the Bag" but, alas, it's already been done by EC historian extraordinaire, Bhob Stewart, in an interview that appeared in Squa Tront #6 (1975):

"In the Bag"

Bhob Stewart: We were sure you had adapted film technique to comics when we found a panel in "In the Bag" where you had drawn the effect of the headlights of a car reflecting on a camera lens.

Bernie Krigstein: That's definitely an occasion where it was a camera effect . . . Sometimes I'd think in terms of a camera or a movie . . . I desired to stop all action and make everything still and repetitious, and come back again and again, and keep repeating the effect. I'm fascinated by movies.

And you can tell just by turning the pages and drinking in Krigstein's panels. So many are almost like the flickering of film frames, such as the sequence on page three (below), where the murderer is relating his motive to McLeod and his face changes shape and reaction each successive panel. The aforementioned headlight reflection from the first page and McLeod's flashback of a previous series of murders (shown only in black, white, and blue and as if seen through McLeod's eyes) contribute to that vibe that we're actually watching the events unfold on the big screen down at the Fox on Friday night. The beat cop's hushed "You . . . you better give me your gun, McLeod" accompanies our "Holy Crap!!!" as the screen fades.

Best Story of the Year is
almost "In the Bag."

"Rundown"
All that Joe Harris needs, he believes, to keep his gorgeous wife, Marsha, from running away with another man, is a little dough. So the dope withdraws all forty-three bucks from his account and lets it ride on red. When the little ball lands on black and Joe is broke, he hangs around at the casino to watch an elderly man clean up. The man makes a haul of over sixty grand and then heads for home, with Joe following. A simple robbery goes bad and Joe ends up gutting the man, but the real problem is getting rid of the evidence. Our hapless "hero" can't find an unpopulated area anywhere in the city, finally having to do with stuffing the body down a manhole. Fearing he's been seen by a couple of cops, Joe hightails it, only to discover one of the officers hot in pursuit. Crossing the street in a panic, Harris is "Rundown" and fatally wounded by an auto driven by--surprise!--his wife and her lover. The cop helpfully explains to Marsha that she can come down and claim Joe's bankroll at the precinct as her husband expires. "Rundown" is not a great script but it's not awful; it's a quick five-minute read and has a couple of nice twists in its final panels, and who can complain when the visuals are supplied by Reed Crandall? Marsha is cut from that same broad cloth that Carl drew from to create Effy Wilkes and Irene Hall, three shrews with not a whit of personality or originality between them. The same could be said for weak-kneed and hen-pecked Clyde, Matt, and Joe. Not a strong man among them.

"Rundown"

When we began this journey two years ago, I had not read any of the EC stories in over thirty years (since the Cochran box sets were published) and, to my mind, the strongest title was Shock. The twists, the controversies, the tackling of subjects ignored by other publishers, this series had it all. So, how did it measure up on re-reading? Not as perfect as I recall but still pretty damn good. Of the 72 stories Shock presented, I awarded 32 with a rating of three stars or more (ten of those got a perfect "four"). That's a respectable percentage if stacked up against the other titles (and I'll present a complete overview in our publisher wrap-up in December) and it's even more respectable if you omit Jack Kamen's sub-par contributions. So many classic Shockers. This is one title I am very much going to miss. --Peter

Jack: Not surprisingly, my ratings for the stories were exactly the same as yours, except for "In the Bag," since I'm not as gaga over Krigstein as you are. The issue as a whole is dragged down by Carl Wessler's mediocre writing. The cornpone dialog in "Cadillac Fever!" is a chore to read and the final ride is obvious from early on, but Evans's art is a joy. Not so Kamen's work in "The Trap," where some panels are so bad I wonder if Kamen even drew them. The story is terrible, too--bottom of the barrel. "In the Bag" gets almost all of its noir atmosphere from Krigstein's art, but the story doesn't come close to a four-star rating. Finally, Crandall shines in "Rundown," making me think he and Evans are my favorites at this point. Two Cadillac stories in the same issue is at least one too many and the ending comes out of left field. That panel of Joe getting run over is a shocker.


Next Week in
Star Spangled DC War Stories #129:
Is This the End of Easy?

5 comments:

Nequam said...

The "Old Man Mose" story sounds like a reworking of a very old urban legend about a man who thinks his once-feral wolf dog tried to kill his baby son, but reworked with an all-human cast: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-dog-soldier/

Anonymous said...

I'm on Peter's side on the subject of how great "In the Bag" is, but while I'm sure it would make my Top Ten list for 1955 I'm also sure it couldn't be my Best Story of the Year, because Krigstein will top it at least twice once the New Direction titles start up. I have always thought that the last five or six issues of the Mad comic are a bit of a drop-off after a stellar run during most of 1954 -- with Mad # 12 my favorite issue and "Starchie" and "3 Dimensions" from that month my all-time favorite Mad stories -- but "Mickey Rodent" (with its incredibly dark ending) is easily my favorite from 1955.

-- Jim

Peter Enfantino said...

Jim-

Without giving too much away, you're spot-on. I've just gotten to what I assume is one of those BK stories you refer to and it challenges "In the Bag" for the top spot. Stay Tuned! Some of rival publisher Harvey's humor comics (with Howard Nostrand's chameleonic art) are pretty funny but nothing the other guys published even touches the best of KurtzElder. Sixty years on (great song that one!), "Mickey Rodent," "Starchie," "Woman Wonder," and on and on are still fresh and filled with smiles and guffaws. Comparing today's MAD with the 1955 version is just depressing.

Will Rigby said...

"According to Wikipedia, he went into advertising and one of his sons invented the Segway. Who knew?"

Huh. That's neat.

Jack Seabrook said...

Will, I thought that was an interesting fact, too!