Friday, December 14, 2012

Action #328

This was an issue that I didn't have back in the 1960s, but picked up on ebay.  You can see the entire premise for the story on that cover, and given that premise, the story practically writes itself.  Of course Superman doesn't really blow up Metropolis, and to add some drama, it's not hard to guess that there will be some scenes of Superman almost clapping his hands together:

But finally he does:
But, no surprise, it turns out to be a hoax on the mobsters, because Superman had cottoned to their scheme when they tested the explosives.  They timed the test for when an underground nuclear test (remember those?) was planned out West, but like the idiots they are, they didn't adjust for the time zone difference and so their blast went off too early.

BTW, that's one of two things that definitely establish that Metropolis is somewhere in the Eastern US; here's the other:
TV and radio station call letters start with a W east of the Mississippi, and a K west, with one interesting exception.  KDKA, the first radio station in the US is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Superman catches the mobsters and threatens to clap his hands in front of them if they don't sign a confession.  Fortunately they don't seem to have heard of his code against killing.

Comments: It's an interesting premise, although as noted the story is very predictable.

The Supergirl story is an oddball one.  It starts out with some aliens landing and contacting the authorities to tell them:
They reveal that she's been faking her superpowers and when Superman is summoned to be a character reference:
And she's got a third eye in the back of her head:
Faced with all this evidence, the authorities let the aliens take her back to their home dimension.  But once there, the aliens reveal that they had set up the whole thing as a hoax:
Well, if she won't fight, she'll be marooned in that alien dimension forever.  They intend to restore her superpowers, but for some reason they don't work here, and so she is forced to rely on her wits to defeat the beasts, which she does.  Given this result, she is taken to meet the king:
He had been turned into the beast by a wicked sorcerer.  But Supergirl discovers that he is kind and gentle and seems to be falling for him, despite his ugly appearance. Apparently she has forgotten all about the "contest of peril" which had killed the other heroines.  Anyway, the king's assistants tell her that there is a legend that what was lost will be regained if a maid from another planet kisses the king. Conquering her revulsion for his appearance she does so, but instead of restoring his looks, it returns her superpowers.

Angered, the "kind and gentle" king orders his assistants thrown in the dungeon.  They decide to kill him rather than face imprisonment, but Supergirl saves him with her rediscovered powers.  And later:
But as far as I can tell, that never happened.

Incidentally, the whole "beauty and the beast" subplot had previously been used in Action #243, which (no surprise) had been published almost exactly 7 years before this issue:
Update: Diane points out in the comments that WBAP in Dallas/Fort Worth is another exception to the rule; Wikipedia indicates that there may be others.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis #3

Dobie was DC's only remaining teen star in the early 1960s; A Date With Judy was about to give up the ghost shortly after this particular issue hit the newsstands and Binky and Buzzy had both been cancelled a few years before. The story starts out with Dobie trying to haul out a load of food from the small store owned by his parents. At first, his dad doesn't want him to take too much, but then:
This was apparently a running gag on the show, with Pop always fantasizing about the death of his son, who's eating up all the profits from the store. As an aside, when I was a teenager, my dad would ask me if I wanted five hamburgers for dinner, or six. And no kidding, on my first driver's license I was 6'1" and tipped the scale at 139 pounds. I just could not put on weight. Wouldn't I love to have that problem again!

Dobie and Maynard head out to the beach club, where a beauty contest is planned. The organizer of the contest is the manager of a Hollywood starlet, and he immediately sizes Dobie up correctly:
The manager offers Dobie $50 if he will just pick his client as the beauty contest winner.  This is something of a stock comedy plot, as there are quite a few situations that the hero can be placed in.  An obvious one is the boyfriend of one of the contestants asserting that his gal had better win.  And there's also the chance that the hero's girlfriend herself enters the pageant:
Well, why wouldn't he pick his darling Thalia as the winner?  Maynard can think of 50 good reasons.  And so Maynard comes up with a brilliant scheme to get Dobie out of his predicament:
And Dobie tries, but it turns out that Thalia knows all the rules:
To make matters worse, Dobie can't give back the $50 he took from the manager, because he's lost his wallet.  Desperate, he offers to work for his dad, who's stunned at the sudden ambition of his usually lazy son:

But then the manager comes into the store and says it's okay, his starlet client doesn't need to win the beauty contest after all.  Now Dobie is free to pick Thalia, and win her everlasting gratitude.  But:
Fortunately, a gorgeous redhead arrives with his wallet, which she found at the beach club. And thus the story ends on a happy note:
Comments: Overall it's a pretty entertaining story and the art by Oksner fits the tone well. BTW, you probably already know that Dobie Gillis was where Bob Denver became famous, but two of the other stars of the show did rather well for themselves: Tuesday Weld and Warren Beatty.

Update: NES Boy reminds us that several issues of Dobie Gillis were recycled in the late 1960s as "Windy and Willie", which was covered by Dial B for Blog last year. Robbie expressed surprise that the comic was successful enough in its Showcase launch to justify four issues as a separate title, but looking at the timing I suspect the main factor was one I have talked about before.

In early 1969, DC had still not raised its prices from 12 cents to 15 cents, and so they were looking to produce magazines as cheaply as possible. What could be cheaper than comics that just required a little change to the hairdos and some minor text editing? It's certainly a lot less expensive than commissioning 23 new pages of artwork and a script. The first two issues were produced with the old cover price; the latter two came out after the bump to 15 cents. This is similar to what Mort Weisinger had done in the early 1960s when he recycled old Superboy stories in Adventure Comics.

Update II: Had to do some digging for this one, but a thought occurred to me.  One of the other drawbacks to licensed products is that DC didn't have the copyright to the characters.  For example, the Adventures of Bob Hope contains a copyright statement in the indicia showing that the copyright belonged to Mr Hope.  The Dobie Gillis issues bore this copyright:
20th Century Fox and Selby-Lake Inc.  But the Windy and Willie issues were copyrighted by NPP: