Monday, January 7, 2013


Comic books that starred funny animals were big in the early 1950s,
especially when the funny animals came from the popular theatrical
cartoons of the era. Walter Lantz New Funnies #180 [February 1952]
had the two biggest stars from the producer’s menagerie: Andy Panda
and Woody Woodpecker.

Dan Gormley pencilled and inked the cover of this issue.  I get a
kick out of how animated Andy Panda is in both body and expression,
though I don’t remember Woody being such a dick.

The GCD has artist information for the stories in New Funnies #180,
but lacks writer credits.  Writers known to have written for these
characters circa 1951-1952 include John Barron, Don Christensen,
Del Connell, Anahid Dinkjian (who inked some of the stories in this
issue), Mick Dubin, Steve Dubin, Vic Lockman and Frank Thomas.  If
anyone can identify who wrote the stories in this issue, I would be
delighted to share that information with my readers.

The comics stories in this issue are untitled. Here’s the line-up:

Andy Panda (8 pages). Pencilled by Dick Hall with inks by Suzanne
Seaborne. Charlie Chicken also appears.

Oswald the Rabbit (11.5 pages). Pencilled by Lloyd White.

Woody Woodpecker (7 pages). Pencilled by Hall, inked by Dinkjian.

Homer Pigeon (4.5 pages). Pencilled by White, inked by Seaborne.

To the best of my recollection, I’ve never read any of the comics
featuring Lantz characters.  I’d be interested in a collection of
them.  Anyone know who holds the rights.

Keep watching this blog for more vintage comic-book covers from my
birth month.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


Shockingly, historians have completely ignored an important part of
the life of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
(1861–1865).  Fortunately, we have Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
(2012) to enlighten us.  Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith,
who adapted his book for the screenplay, this action/horror movie
tells of Lincoln’s secret life as a vampire slayer.  I got the DVD
from my local library.

We first see Lincoln as a young boy, trying to defend his friend,
a free black youngster.  He and his father incur the wrath of the
latter’s boss, who, unknown to them, is a vampire. The boss takes
his revenge by killing Lincoln’s mother. His father makes Lincoln
swear to not seek vengeance, but, after his father’s death, the vow
is null and void.

The now-grown Lincoln goes after the vampire.  It doesn’t go well,
but the future President is saved by a mysterious stranger who then
trains Lincoln in the hunting and killing of vampires.  Lincoln is
taught to avoid personal relationships because of the danger they
would face from the vampires.

The movie has the usual training montage before Abe starts taking
his trusty axe to the vampires.  He’s learned that part of the job
well, but falls in love with Mary Todd and, on learning a shocking
secret about his mentor, decides to fight injustice by running for
office.  You know the rest of Lincoln’s recorded history.

Benjamin Walker and Dominic Cooper are fine as Lincoln and mentor.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty wonderful as Mary Todd.  I got a
kick out of how the movie weaves vampires into the known history of
Lincoln and the United States.  The Underground Railroad, a passion
of mine, also figures into the action.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is fun, which is all I ask from an
action or horror movie.  I recommend it for a Saturday afternoon or
evening with your favorite soft drink and a big bucket of popcorn.
That’s living!


Years ago, I read several chapters of Emma, a manga by Kaoru Mori
about a Victorian Era maid who falls in love with a man above her
station.  I liked what I read and, just as soon as I find the rest
of the volumes in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I plan on reading
the entire series.

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something [Yen Press; $16.99] collects a
number of short stories and other drawings by Mori.  Reconnecting
with her work was a revelation.  Her detailed drawings are nothing
short of gorgeous.  Her sense of humor is sharp without being even
slightly cruel.  Some gorgeous Mori creation would take my breath
away and then one of her comedic sequences would have be chuckling
out loud.  It gave me a new appreciation for an artist whose work
I already liked quite a bit.

The first thing that I did after reading Kaoru Mori: Anything and
was to see if my local library had the first volume of A
Bride’s Story
[Yen Press; 16.99].  I’ll crib from Wikipedia for a
description of this amazing series:

Set in Central Asia in a rural town near the Caspian Sea during the
early 19th century, the story revolves around a young woman, Amir,
who arrives from a distant village across the mountains to marry
Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior. The story unfolds among details
of every-day family and community life. However, the peaceful
atmosphere is disturbed when Amir's family demands to take her back
to their village.

Again, Mori just took my breath away with the first volume.  I was
taken to a time and place utterly foreign to me but presented with
such detail and skill that I never felt lost.  Her characters are
well-drawn in both the artistic and literary sense.  I got to know
her characters as if they were neighbors.  I was fascinated by how
they lived and how they conducted their lives.  I was, naturally,
bowled over by how good the drawing was. 

Mori’s comics are the kind of comics I live for.  Not only are they
told with an individual and unique voice, not only are they stories
told by a masterful writer and artist, but they bring me into their
worlds and let me believe in those worlds.

Mori’s the real deal. I look forward to read a lot more of her most
excellent work.

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something

ISBN 978-0-316-22913-5

A Bride’s Story Volume 1

ISBN 978-0-316-18099-3

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. I don’t remember Woody being such a dick

    What part of "woody" and "pecker" does not say "dick" to you?

    Seriously, though (at least by comparison): I read some Gold Key Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda comics in my 1970s childhood that were at least as bland at the contemporary cartoons. Woody got a makeover in looks and personality — when, I don't know — that placed him somewhere between the completely neutered Mickey Mouse that existed by then and the more mischievous (if still toned-down from his earliest days) Bugs Bunny. Watching newer material and older stuff mixed in with it on TV as a kid, I much preferred the older look and the Bugs-like "Ain't I a stinker?" edge. That's all from dim memory, though. Not to mention that based on what Mark Evanier has said about the Dell/Gold Key comics the characters appearing therein were hardly beholden to their cinematic counterparts, so the cover you reproduce could well be chalked up to nothing more than the artist and editor agreeing that the sight gag was paramount.

    I really appreciate what you wrote about Kaoru Mori. Despite an interest in Japanese history, culture, and language since college, an interest in anything comics since forever, and the fact that Japanese comics' breadth at least rivals and likely surpasses that of any other country's, my experience with manga is woefully minimal. Of course I have more prose and comics on my list to read than I ever can, but I will try to get to Mori before "ever".