Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That Strange Feeling That You've Been Here Before

Some of the notable examples of comic book features recycling stories are in The Spirit, the Superman family, and the Marvel western and weird titles. That's not even counting writers redoing stories they did at other companies; I can think of a Jack Oleck story appearing at EC, Harvey, Prize, and DC. The rewrites I speak of are ones instigated by the editors; as Mort Weisinger is supposed to have rationalized it, there's a new audience of kids every five years.

Unusual Tales 41, Black Cat 1st page--dancing around black cat statuette
This pair of stories at Charlton—"The Black Cat" in Unusual Tales 41 (Sept/63) and "The Golden Horse" in Strange Suspense Stories 73 (Jan/65)—came out only a year and a third apart; I don't see the editors not being in on it. The same artist, Rocco Mastroserio, drew both. If there's anything not by the original writer, Joe Gill, in the rewrite, I can't see it. Panel for panel this is the same story, rewritten to fit a different historical period. In both versions a statuette falls and shatters, but in the second it's made of gold, a flubbed detail that shows the speed with which Charton work was done; Gill later told that he couldn't afford to do second drafts at the page rates.

Strange Suspense Stories 73, Golden Horse 1st page--dancing around golden horse statuette

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Woolfolk Records 1950/02

Modern 101 cover
To repeat the background: through the good graces of Donna Woolfolk, Marc Svensson some time ago scanned William Woolfolk's original records of his comic-book script sales in the Golden Age. Bold additions are my tracking down (or making a best guess at) where the stories were published.

Publishers this month: Fawcett, Orbit, and Quality.

The only place I can imagine the boxing bout text piece fitting is on the inside covers of Joe Louis 1, which I haven't seen but whose 36 pages already contain a front cover, 32 pages of comics, and a letter ghosted for Louis. Woolfolk writes issue 2's text piece in May.

UPDATE: I guessed the Monte Hale gold rush story for one called "The Great Gold Strike" only to find after posting that I'd gotten its date wrong; Monte Hale Western 40 was published long before this story was written. LATEST UPDATE: darkmark found it.

February 1950 Comic Book Scripts by William Woolfolk

6 pg  Marvel Family school for witches chapter
"The School for Witches" [Chapter 3]
MF 52, Oct/50
10  Death Always Knocks Twice strong man killer—poisons self in mistaken belief cops are after him
9  "Death Always Knocks Twice" Wanted 27, July/50
How to Box "Victory for Jimmy" Joe Louis 2, Nov/50
Corbett vs. Jeffries bout fiction yarn [text] Joe Louis 1, Sept/50
Monte Hale fake gold rush to raise price of beef
"MH Battles the Great Hunger" Western Hero 94, Sep/50
26  Joe Louis book champion of champions
[untitled story] Joe Louis 2, Nov/50
13  Blackhawk creatures from outer space
"Creatures from Outer Space" Modern 101, Sept/50
Captain Marvel Jr. battle of birds and beasts
"The Battle of the Birds and Beasts" CMJ 90, Oct/50
10  Wild Bill Pecos school for outlaws
"School for Outlaws" The Westerner 28, Sept/50
10  Captain Marvel Jr. meets the ice monster
"The Giant Ice Monster" CMJ 91, Nov/50
10  Death Trap man sets a death trap in which he meets his own death
"Death Trap" Wanted 28, Aug/50

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just Before Fantastic Four: Amazing Adventures

At 1961 Marvel the fifth monster anthology, Amazing Adventures, distinguished itself from Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, and Tales of Suspense with a series: occult master Dr. Droom, in #1-4 and 6.

With no full credits at this point, the best guess at authorship has been that whatever Stan Lee didn't sign was written by Larry Lieber. In late '61, it looks as if they were indeed the only two writing for the company; that wasn't be true a couple of years earlier, where Jack Oleck, for instance, was one of the writers with a story in TOS 1 and Jack Kirby was for a short time allowed to be the writer/artist he'd been elsewhere (see Nick Caputo on Kirby's scripting his own stories in Battle).

Since by 1961 Stan and Larry's styles are very, very similar, I'd been relying on that signature; the only story signed by Stan in these six issues is "The Fourth Man" in #6. It's a small surprise, then, that he wrote some stories he didn't sign. The surprise is only a small one because they're exactly the ones you'd think he wrote: the twist-ending shorts drawn by Steve Ditko, quite a different sort of tale by this point than the monster epic leads. AA would, of course, turn into Amazing Adult Fantasy with #7—all Lee-Ditko stories of this sort and all stories, covers, and contents pages signed by Stan and Steve. In the four anthologies that outlasted AA, Stan would continue with the Ditko stories (signed and then credited, when Larry gets credit too on his stories).

Again, this doesn't stretch back years. Steve Ditko's first stories for Marvel in 1959 were not scripted by Stan Lee, who was busy enough with the Western and girls' series.

Amazing Adventures 4, The Bootblack--'I'll cut all your salaries in half...heh heh...and there's nothing you can do about it!'
If Stan Lee (as per later stories' credits) or Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko (as per reminiscences of the Marvel method) plotted some of these, who can tell? (Although that alliteratively-named capitalist Simon Sledge is the villain and not the hero would suggest that Stan could keep all the credit for "The Bootblack" and be welcome.)

UPDATE: I'd originally listed Dick Ayers as the inker of "Sserpo," but Mark Evanier's comment sent me to look at it more closely.

Amazing Adventures

Jun/61 Torr w: Larry Lieber
         p: Jack Kirby  i: Dick Ayers
    Midnight in the Wax Museum w: Stan Lee  a: Steve Ditko
    I Am the Fantastic Dr. Droom w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ditko
Jul/    I Led the Strange Search for Manoo w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
    TheWorld Below [DR. DROOM] w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
    Rocky's Last Ride w: Lee  a: Ditko
Aug/    We Were Trapped in the Twilight World w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
    The Teddy Bear w: Lee  a: Ditko
    Dr. Droom vs. Zemu w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
Sept/    I Am Robot X w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
    Who or What Was...the Bootblack? w: Lee  a: Ditko
    What Lurks Within? [DR. DROOM] w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
Oct/    The Escape of...Monsteroso w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: Ayers
    The Watchers w: Lieber  a: Don Heck
    The Joker w: Lee  a: Ditko
Nov/    Sserpo! The Creature Who Crushed the Earth! w: Lieber  p: Kirby  i: George Klein
    The Fourth Man w: Lee  a: Ditko
    Dr. Droom Defies the Menace Called...Krogg w: Lieber  a: Paul Reinman

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Woolfolk Records 1950/01

Not much has changed over the fourteen months whose records are unavailable: Fawcett, Orbit, and Quality are still William Woolfolk's publishers. The only entries out of the ordinary are the Rocky Lane western instead of a Monte Hale, and the biography of champion boxer Joe Louis.
Joe Louis 1 cover

If we go by his track record before and after this interregnum, I'd guess that during it Woolfolk wrote all the Ibis stories in Whiz 110-124 and close to all of the Wild Bill Pecos stories in The Westerner 21-27; moreover, that he had stories in every issue of Wanted 21-26. By this point he's selling Captain Marvel Jr. scripts every month.

UPDATE: Since posting, I found which issue the Rocky Lane story was published in.

January 1950 Comic Book Scripts by William Woolfolk

9 pg  Captain Marvel Jr. house feuds with Jr.
    "Feud with a House" CMJ 89, Sept/50
Rocky Lane Rocky Lane's bodyguard
  "RL and His Bodyguard" RL Western 17, Sept/50
Wild Bill Pecos his blood brother
    "Blood Brother" The Westerner 28, Sept/50
Doll Man curse placed on family of Danes
  "You Shall Die by Fire" DM 29, July/50
Captain Marvel Jr. trublins—little elves who cause accidents to Freddy
    "The Trublins" Marvel Family 50, Aug/50
Ibis Davy Jones locker & pirates escape
    "Davy Jones' Locker" Whiz 125, Sept/50
Mania for Murder man is made to believe he is mad killer
    "Mania for Murder" Wanted 27, July/50
Plastic Man meets Mr. Aqua
    "Mr. Aqua" PM 25, Sept/50
14  Joe Louis book childhood & amateur days
    [untitled 1st story] Joe Louis 1, Sept/50
10  The Devil to Pay Vannie Higgins had too many enemies
    "The Devil to Pay" Wanted 27, July/50
18  Joe Louis book The Brown Bomber, world's champion
    [untitled 2nd story] Joe Louis 1, Sept/50
letter from Joe Louis [text] Joe Louis 1, Sept/50
12  Marvel Family school for witches
    "The School for Witches" [Chapters 1-2] MF 52, Oct/50

Woolfolk's writing this Marvel Family script happens to fall on the end of the month; he begins February writing its final chapter.