Monday, December 30, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr. #40 (July 1946 Faces a Grave Situation)

Capt. Marvel, Jr Faces a Grave Situation

This story seems to be out of sequence. In the previous story we see that Freddy is head of the newsboy club and in this story he is just being induced into the club. This story is an important one as it seems to prefigure the horror comics of the later 1940s and early 1950s. While there were other  comic book strips at the same time and earlier that used horror themes it wasn't until Adventures into the Unknown #1 (Fall 1948) that a comic book title was devoted exclusively to horror and supernatural themes.

The creepy scene of Freddy having to walk through a cemetery at night and stumbling into an open grave was certainly not your typical Captain Marvel Jr. story.  The deep blue rendering of the night scenes expertly express this eerie atmosphere. The morbidly psychotic sculptor Bernardo seems to be a villain straight out of various B horror films of the period. This story sports some very impressive backgrounds (see page 2, panel 7, Page 5, panel 7 and page 7)
that add real suspense to the story.

Very likely Bob Rogers was response for these backgrounds as Bud Thompson did the overall art. This is one of the better CMJ stories of 1946.

(Note: Because I'm dealing with some serious health issues new postings will be limited for the near future.  We are not abandoning this blog but it is necessary to to this. To our regular reaaers thanks for your continued interest.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr. #40 (July 1946- Puts On the Pressure)

Capt. Marvel Jr. Puts On the Pressure

Several things form the basis of this story. First is the circulation wars of rival newspapers in the early 20th Century. It is hard to image the power of newspapers in a pre-television and pre-internet age. The only other mass media at this time was radio, magazines and movie news trailers. In 1946 according to one survey 85 percent of the US population read newspapers. Newspapers were truly very powerful in molding public opinion during this time.

Second, all throughout the 1930s and ever earlier there were Congressional committees set up to investigate subversive elements such as fascists, Nazis and Communists. In 1945 the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities was organized to monitor the activities of subversive groups. While the ideology of Mr. Ridgewood's Daily Chronicle is not delved into his unscrupulous behavior and bulling tactics earns Freddy's dismissive concluding comment (referring the Cap Jr. battle against the evil publisher), "He was just fighting for the cause of every real American!"

We also note that Freddy is head of the newsboy's club in this story with art by Bud Thompson.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr. #40 (July 1946- Principal Draws Interest!)

Principal Draws Interest!

In this story CapJr. tackles the issue of school bullies and juvenile delinquency. In this story we see the Blue Boy using his local star power to raise money for a worthy project--the construction of a needed play ground. At the end of the story Freddy declares, "What we need is more playgrounds like this throughout the country." Perhaps this is a somewhat prophetic announcement of the "baby boom" generation that was just starting at that time. School facilities would expand greatly in the next few years to accommodate the rapidly expanding number of children. As with the 
first story the center of attention is on the actions of misbehaving boys.

There are several issues that really aren't resolves at the conclusion of this story. One is the fate of Freddy Freeman. Freddy is bound and gagged and thrown into furnace which is lighted. As the one boy rightly exclaims this is an act of (attempted) murder. Freddy's fate gets ignored in order for the Principal to be exonerated. Also The Blue Boy bursting out of the furnace would very likely cause a fire in the pool hall cellar. Again excellent art by Bud Thompson.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr. #40 (July 1946, The Boy Who Couldn't Grow Up)

The Boy Who Couldn't Grow Up

One of the significant genre within the Captain Marvel Jr. corpus was what can be termed "Boy stories". These stories deal with Capt. Marvel Jr helping younger or about his own age boys. In this Otto Binder-scripted tale Cap Jr. helps 15-year-old Dick Sanders over come a most unusual problem. The theme of a boy out of control who the Blue Boy needs to protect from his own irresponsible actions would be repeated in other stories. In some ways Dick Sanders' repeatedly stupid actions seem more to fill out the requisite number of story pages than results of true motivations. Than again some teenagers especially bored ones can do repeatedly dumb things. In later stories Cap Jr. in this story relied on the help of an outside  scientist to come up with an "elixir" but in later tales would do it himself. Interesting side note we are told Freddy Freeman's 1946 address in this story (85 Center St.). This would change a year later when the crippled newsboy moved into Mrs. Wagner's Boarding House. Very effective art by Bud Thompson.

For more on the "Boy Story" genre see the Blue Boy Chronicles #1

Monday, December 2, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr. #38 (May 1946-Capt. Marvel Jr. Haunts the Ghost Vigilantes)

This story combines old west cowboy lore (Buzzardville was active 50 years before placing it in the 1890s) with the beginning of the uranium mining boom of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Also the ghosts represented here are the popular notion of the spirits of dead people haunting their former habitations. The artwork in this story as well as the previous one has consistently rendered backgrounds (perhaps Bob Rogers was the background artist).  Art: Bud Thompson.  Otto Binder, writer 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Capt. Marvel, Jr. #38 (May 1946, The Magic Act)

The Magic Act

This is a story involving drug trade an issue that would play very prominently into crime comics that were to become very popular a few years in the future. This is a real world crime problem upping the "ante" from the usual thieves or co men Cap Jr. battled. The dope-crazed crooks at the beginning of the story suicidally try to stop an armored car with their bare hands. The villain Spavini is a malevolent cross between Harry Houdini and Mandrake the Magician. The art has a lot of atmosphere aided greatly by the detailed backgrounds. Art by Bud Thompson.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr. #38 (May 1946- The Stolen Half Century)

The Stolen Half Century

The rather anemic artwork (as in the first Greybeard tale) prevents this story from being a good CapJr. yarn. Perhaps August Froehlich's reliance on medium shots,  8-panel grid pages --pp. 5-7 and Mac Raboy tracings prevent this story from being at all visually memorable. The writer strives to make this story relatable on a human level (a 50th wedding anniversary gift from a loving husband to his wife) but the art work militates against the noble thematic ambitions. Script by William Woolfolk.