Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Norm DiPluhm: D. J. Arneson

After the nom de plume "Norm DiPluhm" at Charlton was attributed by fans to Steve Skeates, he spent years explaining that it wasn't him.

Rip Jagger's recent post on his blog about DiPluhm's Phantom stories reminded me of who the writer really is—the splash page to "Skyjack" that Rip uses as his illustration has the Ghost Who Walks saying "Great Scot" with one "t" rather than the more common "Great Scott." That and other markers unlike Skeates' identify the writer as D. J. Arneson. (He also wrote as DiPluhm for Go-Go and Abbott and Costello, two titles Skeates worked on, which may help explain those fans' thought processes). This example is from "The Giant Ape of Thawth."

Phantom 34 'Great Scot!'

Phantom stories written by D. J. Arneson
* = credited (as "Norm DiPluhm")

Aug/69 33  The Phantom's Death
Oct/     34  The Cliff Kingdom *

The Giant Ape of Tawth
Feb/70 36  The River That Never Ends *

Very Special Timber *
Apr/     37  Bandar Betrayers *

Skyjack *

Disband the Patrol! *
Jun/     38  The Dying Ground *

The Phantom's New Faith

 The Trap

That's the entirety of Arneson's Phantom stories. On Ghostly Tales here are the stories that jumped out at me in flipping through the entire run for my own indexing; there may be a few more.

Ghostly Tales by Arneson
* = credited (as "DiPluhm")

Oct/67 63  Up on the Mountain
Feb/68 65  The Phantom Crew *
May/     66  Water, Water, Everywhere *
Sept/     68  Yo Ho Ho and a Dead Man's Jest
Nov/     70  Pop Goes Popolos

Friday, April 29, 2016

Working Backwards from the Who's Who--Sam Citron

The Who's Who credits Sam Citron with Girls' Love Stories 1968 at DC. It gives him stories at Gold Key around the same time  in Ripley's Believe It or Not and The Twilight Zone. On the Grand Comics Database the latter stories, uncredited in the comics themselves, have been identified. But possibly the art spotters who paid attention to the weird anthologies at one company didn't cross over to the romance ones at another.

Gilrs' Love Stories 138

That art of Citron's for Girls' Love Stories is on "Don't Leave Me Again" in number 138 (Oct/68). As with the Gold Key stories, he's inking himself here; at ACG three or four years earlier, all his stories (credited in the comics, as per usual at that company), were inked by Pete Costanza or Tom Hickey. This story's splash page has been correctly noted in the GCD as a reprint of the Infantino & Giordano cover.

I spent some time looking though the Sixties DC romance books to see if Citron had any work obscured by inkers, but finally had to admit to myself that the handful I found were by perhaps Werner Roth or Tony Abruzzo. DC did try to homogenize art into a house style at times via the inking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Carl Memling Suspense Stories

A feature of Charlton's Lawbreakers Suspense Stories and its retitling, Strange Suspense Stories, for awhile was the contest where readers provided a solution to an unfinished story; that synopsis would be scripted and illustrated in a later issue. The odd thing is that Carl Memling scripted five of the solutions but only one of the unfinished story/solution pairs.

SSS 18 Sam Dora's Box

"What Was in Sam Dora's Box?" (art by Steve Ditko) recycles a gimmick from an EC story but the pun in the character's name is what's of interest here; compare with the (better) pun for Memling's story "Appointment with Sam Mara" in Dell's Ghost Stories 4 Oct-Dec/63).

Memling's stories may start in #11, which I haven't seen.

Written by Carl Memling:
Lawbreakers Suspense Stories

May/53 12  Breakout
Murder on Rye
July/      13  Death Raps Twice
Escape from the Noose
Change in Script
Sep/      14  Man Overboard
The Last Drop
Richard Capp's Solution to "Murder on Rye"
Nov/      15  Out of the Frying Pan

Strange Suspense Stories

Mar/54 17  Beautiful Night for Murder
10¢ Worth of Doom
May/     18  What Was in Sam Dora's Box?
Caroline Denver's Solution to "Face to Face"
Dead Right
Jul/      19  All Burnt Up
Aug/     20  The Payoff
Donald Coronado's Solution to "Moment of Decision"
Sep/      21  Mary Lou Wachtel's Solution to..."Prize Package"
Nov/      22  Malcolm Hutcher's Solution to..."The Kill"

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


How much Jim Steranko contributed to the published stories of the characters he created for the Harvey Thrillers begs two questions: how many scripts did he submit and how many were used? Steranko's scripts on Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, are much more in the Marvel style than anything at Harvey, so although there isn't a lot that lets me say "The Birth of a Hero" is written by Steranko, there's nothing that leads to any other writer.

Spyman 2,3 'Kwhamma'

Look through France Edward Herron's credited work at DC on Blackhawk and Challengers and you'll find "Kwhamma" a lot.

Otto Binder's attributions for the back-up pieces in the Thrillers line seem to have morphed into credits for the main features, but I can't find him on Spyman, for one. I can't even find his style on the Eye Spy backup in #1.

Nick Caputo gives Mike Esposito as a possibility for the inks for the first part of Tuska's story. A CGD guess at the second part's inks is Carl Pfeufer.

I suspect the intro pages on the Thrillers are more likely written by editor Joe Simon than by the main-feature writers.


Sept/66 #1  The Birth of a Hero w: Jim Steranko?
   p: George Tuska
Dec/     #2  The Hand Is Quicker Than the Monster w: Ed Herron
   a: Dick Ayers
Feb/67 #3  Death of Spyman w: Herron  a: Bill Draut

Spyman backups

Sept/66 #1  Eye Spy and His Gal Friday...Jane Blond w: Dick Wood??  a: ?
Dec/     #2  You Push a Button [ROBOLINK] w: Otto Binder
   a: Carl Pfeufer
Feb/67 #3  Campy Champ: The Terrific Teen w: Binder  a: Pfeufer

Friday, March 11, 2016

Stanley and His Monster under Joe Orlando

Stanley and His Monster was only one issue old (having displaced The Fox and the Crow in their own title after a couple of years as a front-of the-book "back-up" feature) when the editorship and the format changed. Issue 109, the last under Murray Boltinoff, contained a full-length story with credits for Arnold Drake (the feature's sole writer since the first episode in Fox and the Crow 95), Bob Oksner, and Tex Blaisdell. As of 110, under Joe Orlando there were no writers' credits, and signatures for the story artists only in 111. The format became three stories per issue.

Orlando kept Oksner and Blaisdell for some stories, but did not use Drake. He went to Howie Post for scripts. The credits pasted onto '80s reprints for Drake are very likely sheer guesswork rather than from the records.

The inker on the Sekowsky story could be Tex Blaisdell, but Stanley's face throughout looks to be by a different hand. Why is there a comma in the title? Ask the Rolling Stones.

Stanley and His Monster written by Howie Post

Jun-Jul/68 110  Carnival Caper p: Bob Oksner   i: Tex Blaisdell
Camp Cru-m-bee's Pet Dog...Spot a: Henry Scarpelli
Music, Monster, Please p: Win Mortimer  i: Blaisdell
Aug-Sep/     111  Film Flam Man p: Oksner  i: Blaisdell
Badtime Story a: Scarpelli

Superhulk p: Oksner  i: Blaisdell
Oct-Nov/     112  Like Father, Like Son? a: Scarpelli
Painting the Town, Red p: Mike Sekowsky   i: Blaisdell?
All Kinds of Spot a: Scarpelli

In The Best of DC, out of inventory; written by Post

Oct/82 29  [PiƱatas] a: Oksner

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

George Roussos Inks DR. STRANGE But Not Dr. Strange

George Roussos is credited in the Grand Comics Database with anonymously inking the Dr. Strange story "The Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo" in Strange Tales 114 (Nov/63). The comment suggests that he may have been brought on board because Stan Lee wanted to rush the story into that issue (Dr. Strange stories appeared in 110 and 111 but not in 112 and 113).

Actually Steve Ditko had plenty of time to ink the story. And then Stan had the time to have Roussos do artwork corrections.

Roussos inked Victoria Bentley. I might have said he redrew her, but I see Ditko's poses still there. Dr. Strange himself, Mordo, and so on, are pretty much Steve Ditko's work, pencils and inks. Roussos may have contributed a bit more—on this page, the tree in panel 3 and Mordo's hands in panel 6 look like his brushstrokes—but to my eye the men's faces are more finely inked than Victoria's.

Strange Tales 114 Dr. Strange, Mordo, and Victoria Bentley

Monday, February 15, 2016

Trapani and Company on Flying Saucers

Sal Trapani had a signed story in each issue of Dell's Flying Saucers (#5 reprinted #1). Who ghosted the pencils for him? I'd say two artists we're familiar with.

I believe I see the generic Charlton style of Bill Molno under three stories; the tier from "Swamp Gas" uses the man-at-the-steering-wheel shot I compared in stories signed by Molno and those Molno ghosted for Joe Shuster.

In the fourth Trapani-signed story the penciling style changes and reminds me of the scratchy effect in mid-seventies Charlton work by Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico. The clouds from the flying saucer in "Space Spiders?" show it most obviously.

There are two FS stories which Trapani left unsigned because he had nothing to do with them, but the general Charlton feel seems to have connected him with them. They're both pencilled by Dick Giordano. I can't say who inked them; not only do I not see Trapani work, I can't say I see Giordano himself or Frank McLaughlin on the inks either.

Flying Saucers Trapani or Giordano art

Apr/67 Strange Shoot Out p: Bill Molno  i: Sal Trapani
July/     Swamp Gas p: Molno  i: Trapani
Oct/     The Fear of Death p: Dick Giordano  i: ?
A Nightmare in Broad Daylight p: Molno  i: Trapani
Nov/     Trust Your Eyes p: Giordano  i: ?

Space Spiders? p: Bill Fraccio  i: Trapani