Monday, March 4, 2013


The moment I saw this Linda Walter cover, I found myself wanting to
read Susie Q. Smith.  This comic is the second of four Dell Four
issues featuring the character who was appearing in a comic
strip by Walter and husband Jerry. Though the indicia title reads
SUSIE Q. SMITH, No. 377, this is part of the long-running series of
one-shots with which Dell tested the market back in the day.  It’s
dated February 1952, but it hit the newsstands in my birth month of
December 1951.

The late Don Markstein - and I miss him to this day - described
Susie as “a female Archie-type — not exactly an imitator, because
Archie, who had started only four years earlier, hadn't yet become
popular enough to spawn imitators, but part of his genre. She
attended high school, where her teachers often seemed unreasonable
to her, interacted with the opposite gender in a typically
adolescent way, and her parents didn't completely understand her.
And she was cute and perky as only a teenage girl can be.”

The Walters launched Susie as both a daily panel and Sunday strip
in 1945.  The daily panel became a traditional comic strip in 1947.
Of them, Markstein wrote: “Tho each was capable of doing both major
jobs in comic strip production, their usual working method was for
Jerry to dream up the ideas and write the dialog, while Linda did
the artwork.”

Surprisingly, the four Susie comics were not reprints of the strip.
They featured mostly original material by the Walters.  Courtesy of
the Grand Comics Database, here are the contents:

“My Diary” appeared on the inside front and back covers.  The GCD
describes the pages as “Seven one-panel gags representing the days
of the week from Susie's diary”
and opines these gags may have been
reformatted from the newspaper panels.

“Jealousy is Strickly for the Dogs” (15 pages).  The GCD synopsis:
Susie thinks Hutch is taking another girl, Lucinda, on a trip to
the park. When she gets there she finds that Lucinda is Hutch's new
dog. Embarrassed, she flees into the swamp where she gets lost and
has to be rescued by Hutch's dog.

“Every Dog Has Its Say” is a two-page filler consisting of letters
from girls complaining about boys and boys complaining about girls.
The GCD indexers add “Susie and Hutch live in Woodstock, N.Y. (or
at least that's where the letters are to be sent.)”

“Owlie Olson...Boy Genius” (13 pages). The GCD synopsis: The gang
goes on a skating party and has a picnic inside an old barn. The
next morning the owner of the barn accuses them of leaving a fire
that burned down the building and Owlie has to find a way to prove
their innocence.

Rounding out the issue are a pair of one-page Susie fillers.  The
back cover has another “Susie’s Dairy” feature.

Susie ended her newspaper run in 1959.  As with all the birth month
comics I write about here, I would love to trade items from my Vast
Accumulation of Stuff sales for a copy of this comic book.  E-mail
me if you’re interested.


As I promised yesterday, here is another lawyer-theme comics pitch
from the past.  This one is from 1994.  DC had licensed Judge Dredd
and my pal Paul Kupperberg was the editor.  We talked at a Chicago
convention and he invited me to pitch a story, giving me the Judge
Dredd bible DC had prepared.  Usually, when I run one of these old
pitches, I preface them by saying I think it would have made a good
story or series.  Not this time.

All this springboard had going for it was my love of Judge Dredd,
my dislike of lawyers and a few funny elements.  I don’t think it
ever came together the way I’d have liked.  Am I wrong about this
story? You decide...


This story takes place in 2045, shortly before Mega-City-One
disbands its police forces.  It opens with a scene of Judge Dredd
doing what he does best, taking down the perps.

Judge Dredd is the law; “Hairy” Mason is the lawyer.

Forty-five years ago, a disreputable criminal defense lawyer named
“Hairy” Mason (for his hirsute appearance) became afflicted with
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Disease, an illness characterized by random
pyrokenetic seizures (explosions). The lawyer is put into suspended
animation until a cure can be found.

While Mason lies in frozen sleep, the country’s legal system grows
too large to function.  Congress moves to eliminate a major source
of the congestion: lawyers.  Political considerations come into
play, however, and a grandfather clause is added to the law.  All
lawyers may continue practicing their profession for a period of
ten years after the passage of the law.

In 2044, a cure (sort of) is found for Mason’s illness.  His
seizures can be controlled with medication.  He is brought out of
suspended animation.

Mason is warned not to resume his law practice, but he finds a
loophole in the law.  His allotted ten years didn’t begin until he
was brought out of suspended animation.

The result is chaos.  Mega-City must reinstate the vexatious legal
procedures and protections that almost brought the place to
ruination.  The wheels of justice stop dead in their tracks while
every criminals who can afford Mason hires him. 

Dredd and the other Judges try to deal with the outbreaks of crime
that accompany this archaic system of justice.  They don’t like it,
but even they have to abide by the law.

Crime is out of control and anarchy rules once more...

...until Judge Dredd discovers a loophole in another ancient law
allowing for the interest on parking tickets to be compounded
weekly until the original fine is paid.  Mason has an outstanding
ticket from 2000.  His debt is roughly three times the net worth of
Mega-City One.

Confronted with this, Mason has a truly spectacular seizure.
Charging through the mass destruction, Dredd lands a brutal punch
on Mason’s face. Dredd’s own version of a sedative.

Mason is arrested and placed in the Iso-Cubes.  The interest on his
fine will continue to accumulate, thus insuring the city’s
continued safety from one of the worst threats it has ever faced:
a lawyer,

When he is asked to comment on the end of this menace, Judge Dredd
responds with characteristic brevity:

“It’s a start.”


Paul Kupperberg is now doing the best writing of his career on the
Life With Archie magazine, which features two ongoing series that
show the adult lives of Archie and the Riverdale gang.  In one of
the two series, Archie married Veronica.  In the other, he married
Betty.  These are terrific comics.

My only other literary brush with the law came with the 2004 novel
Star Trek: The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse by Bob Ingersoll and
Tony Isabella.  This paperback, which was designed to look like the
old Perry Mason paperback, stars Sam Cogley, the lawyer who made an
unforgettable appearance in “Court Martial,” which aired during the
first season of the original series.  Ingersoll deserves credit for
most of the heavy lifting on this collaboration and it remains one
of my favorites of our collaborations.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. I'm a fan of Judge Dredd and it would have been interesting to see what the actual story would have looked like.

    By the way, I had always hoped that there would be a sequel to the Sam Cogley book. I really enjoyed what you and Bob did with the character and the ST universe.