Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Comics #13: Cat-Man

Back when I first got into comics, I created my own comic book characters that I would use to act out stories using refrigerator magnets. Some of the characters I created I have rewritten into stories here and elsewhere. Most of my characters were cat-themed because I was apparently going through a cat phase at that time. What was weird is that sometimes they weren't cats so it was kind of like humans and anthropomorphic cats coexisting with each other. One of these examples was Catman, my Batman clone, who was a man who dressed as a cat. One would think that it would be the felis sapien equivalent of blackface but he always got along with the feline heroes.

My Catman was originally very similar to Batman but soon became more like Wildcat with a hint of Wolverine. In-universe, Catman died along with all the other heroes I created during the Crystal Mission, where a living crystalline alien spreads across the universe engulfing earth. Catman will be reintroduced next month in Incredible Comics #5 and I hope that he becomes a mainstay around here.

The Holyoke Publishing version of Cat-Man debuted in Crash Comics #4 in 1940. Cat-Man had a very Jungle Book-y origin as Cat-Man's secret identity, David Merrywether, is raised by a jungle cat. In India, David is just a baby being raised by his parents. One night, the Family Merrywether are attacked by racist caricatures and slaughtered, leaving only baby David alive.
So much racism.
Soon, a mother tiger arrives to pick at the corpses a bit and discovers David crying in his crib. Her motherly instincts kicking in, the tiger carries David off to raise him as her own.
"This white kid is going to get me in the door of a lot of countries."
According to a giant text box, David grows up with the mother tiger's cubs and learns the language of the jungle. He ends up saving one of his "brothers'" life and is rewarded from the tiger with being shown where a human city is. Because David was raised by tigers in the jungle, he has essentially become a cat so when he returns to civilazation, disappointed by how terrible humans are, he devotes his life combating evil as The Cat-Man!

While listening to a live broadcast of a radio show, David hears an S-O-S coming from the prop machine gun used on the program. Believing that something is wrong, David doffs his street clothes to reveal The Cat-Man!!
Gah! Put the street clothes back on!
When Cat-Man arrives at the studio, he sees the voice actors tied up and no sign of the hoodlums. The criminals have kidnapped Stella Richards because Bull Jackson wants to use her radio program for evil and she refuses to do it. It's not explained how he wants to use it for evil but I assume he wants to add more annoying drive-time deejays with names like "Rockin' Randy and the Clit". Cat-Man busts in, and shows off his skills of leaping tall ceilings in a single bound and his glowing, searchlight-like eyes, saving Ms. Richards. Unfortunately, one of Bull's henchmen pushes over a chimney knocking Cat-Man out cold.

Cat-Man and Stella awake in Bull's dungeon-like prison but are able to escape due to an air vent that was left open.Cat-Man drops Stella off at a police station and then makes another appearance at one of Bull's other hideouts. Cat-Man is immediately stabbed and killed, his body lying in a pool of blood. Bull then speeds off to the police station to recapture Stella.

As Cat-Man dies, the spirit of his feline guardian visits him and restores his life because, since he is a cat, David has nine lives. Bull has taken one life so David has eight lives left. Cat-Man arrives at the police station, picks up Bull and his men and just throws them in jail. The police chief, or whoever, offers Cat-Man a job with the force. Cat-Man turns him down.
"Ok, that's fine, but why are you yelling?"
Cat-Man continued to appear in Crash Comics until Crash was canceled with #5 but then received his own series the following years that lasted sporadically until 1946. As the series wore on, Cat-Man got a better costume and a sidekick in the form of Kitten, his orphaned eleven-year-old niece. So, yes, everyone was on board the child endangerment train.

The Cat-Man has since fallen into the public domain and has been used several times by other publishers. A different version of Catman is currently associated with Batman at DC Comics and there's another, a villain, over at Marvel so there is no shortage of the use of the name.

Did...did he slaughter his Tiger Mother for those gloves?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Comics #12: Marge's Tubby

Marjorie Henderson "Marge" Buell's Little Lulu first appeared as a replacement to the comic panel "Henry" in the February 23, 1935 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. "Little Lulu" ran in the Post from 1935 until 1944 and then as a nationally syndicated comic strip from 1944 until 1969. "Little Lulu" continued as a comic book series from 1948 until 1984, a theatrical short series lasting 26 shorts between 1943 and 1948, and two television series--one on ABC from 1976 to 1977 and HBO from 1995 to 1999. Introduced in 1941, Tubby Tompkins became Lulu's portly, misogynistic friend. Tubby was so popular that he got his own comic book series from 1952 to 1961.

Tubby can best be described as the 1950s version of Eric Cartman, less bigoted and murderous but equally misogynistic. Tubby, as leader of The Fellers, his neighborhood boy gang, routinely kept girls away from their clubhouse, insulted them, made them cry, made them feel less than people and was just basically a mean ol' jerk to them. Thankfully, Tubby usually got what was coming to him in the form of public embarrassment or child abuse (re: constant spanking).

Most stories featuring Tubby were about him trying to do something fun and having it backfire causing hijinks to ensue or being a lazy piece of crap. One of my favorite stories that I have read has him doing latter. Trying to keep from practicing his violin.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Riley & Tyler

An enthralling narrative of complex friendships and relationships, father-daughter conflicts and the awakenings of one's sexual identity. This captivating novella of two sisters whose confusion and heartache of teenage life echoes the literary prose of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.

Tauy Creek Quarterly debuts today with all new stories available for purchase on your Amazon Kindle. First up, is the story of Riley and Tyler who become friends and ultimately start dating during their junior year of high school.

Order here for $1.99.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Incredible Comics #4

The small wooden cargo ship crashed into the pier around 2 o’clock. The pier had been abandoned for a couple of years so no one was around to witness the splintering of the wood into the dock. Two figures left the ship, splitting up as they entered the night. One, a small figure, lanky and quick. The other, animal-like and snarling. The creature left the dock and warehouse area and emerged onto the well-lit Water Street. The hulking dog foamed and drooled as it growled and looked around. A couple blocks down the street, the dog spotted a lone figure, a man in tattered clothes wandering the street, ducking into the alley and coming back out after a minute or so.

The dog slowly headed toward the man, picking up speed with each step. The man saw the dog just a second before it knocked him and tore into his flesh. When done, the dog ran off and disappeared into the shadows.

Harold stayed late at the Fix-It Shop the following night to finish some work he had been lax on after spending more time as Time Man. As he left the Shop, he noticed a beat officer walking down the street. “Good evening, officer. What brings you out here? This neighborhood hasn’t had a beat cop in years.”

“A man was murdered nearby, over by the piers. The department is increasing the number of beat cops until the suspect is found,” the officer explained.

“Well, I hope you catch him and welcome to the neighborhood. I’m Harold Banner.”

“Officer Gareth Murdock,” the officer smiled. The two men shook hands and parted ways.

Harold went around the corner and then ducked into an alley, slipped on his sundial and changed into Time Man. He flew into the air and circled around his neighborhood, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. He landed in the alley next to his apartment building, took off the sundial and went upstairs to his apartment.

Officer Murdock continued walking his beat, soon becoming the only person in the neighborhood, save for a few stragglers, night-time workers, homeless people and a couple of prostitutes that Murdock ignored, even when one of them climbed into a car. Around one, Officer Murdock was heading back to the precinct when he heard a blood-curdling scream. He ran to where he thought the scream came from. Down the street, on the next block, Murdock found the mangled corpse of a man. “54, this is Murdock. I need an ambulance and back-up to 112th Street and Belle. Also, send the coroner,” he radioed in.

The next night, Officer Murdock started his beat on only two hours of sleep. He was only thirty minutes into it when Time Man landed beside him. “I want to help,” he said.

Murdock let out a gasp by the sudden voice. “Time Man, right? I would love the help, especially from overhead. We’re dealing with some kind of monster. The victim’s throat was torn out.”

“I think it’s some sort of animal. I don’t know what kind. Has anyone stepped forward, said that they’ve seen it?”

“We had a couple eyewitnesses say they saw two things running from the abandoned docks. One looked human and the other looked like a dog or wolf.”

“We should go look. We may find something.”

The smashed boat was still in pieces at the dock, some of it had washed out with the tide. “Why did no one report this? This had to have been heard from at least a mile away,” Murdock exclaimed.

“No one in this part of the city cares. They tend to ignore what goes on around them,” Time Man said. He went into the ruins of the ship and into the steering compartment. A body lie on the floor. Time Man went over and rolled the body over. “The captain,” he said quietly. He saw a book on a table against the wall. It was the captain’s log. He turned a few pages then turned and left the ship, carrying the book out. “The captain is in there, dead. No one else on board. The ship is from Constanta, Romania. It seems the captain took on a passenger and that passenger killed crewmember after crewmember, dumping the bodies in the ocean during the voyage.”

“What the hell?” Murdock took the log from Time Man. A scream echoed through the streets and alleys.

Murdock and Time Man looked at each other. “The southeast, along Water Street near 109th?”

“Sounds like.”

“I got this,” Time Man said and stopped time. He flew over to Water Street and saw a giant dog standing over a man who was laying in the gutter of the street. Time Man landed next to the two, the man clearly dead. “How do I stop this thing?” he asked himself.

He uneasily kneeled down and wrapped his arms around the dog’s neck and tightened his grip. He squeezed, pulled and twisted the dog’s head and tightly closed his eyes and shuddered when he heard the neck snap.

He stood up and shuddered again, shaking his arms. He unfroze time and the dog collapsed and went limp. A few minutes passed and Officer Murdock arrived at the scene. “That’s it?” he was surprised.

“Yes, this isn’t the passenger the captain was talking about so they are still out there but they don’t seem to causing any problems.”

“Yet,” Murdock said. “I’ll call this in. Thanks for helping. A lot on the force are skeptical of you but you’re okay in my book.”

“Thanks. That’s a ringing endorsement,” Time Man smiled and lifted off.

As Officer Murdock radioed in, a lone figure watched him from the top of a nearby building. She was dirty, with brown hair, wearing a tattered white ie with black designs in front and along the arms and a plain white dress that was also in tatters. When an ambulance and other police cars arrived, the girl lifted her arms, revealing leather-looking bat wings and flew off into the night.