Thursday, October 31, 2019

ME, DAVY and ROY salute the NATS!


I haven't been happy with World Series results since the last Giants win in 2014, but this year my buds and I are feeling fine. I'd have preferred the Twins, of course, and their loss to the Yankees cut me to the quick - but this year's win by the Nationals will keep me grinnin' well into next season! 

From Crime and Punishment: ON THE LEVEL (1948)


As a public service, we present these cautionary tales for those contemplating a life of crime (and maybe a few tips for those already well down that road.) These appeared in early issues of Crime Does Not Pay's sister mag, Crime and Punishment





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Four Adventures of ZORRO (circa 1959)


These four records, based on early episodes of the Disney series, relate the saga of Nacho Torres, a noble hidalgo in bad odor with the governor. Guy Williams and Henry Calvin reprise their roles from the series, while Jan Arvan fills in as Nacho, Phil Ross as Comandante Monasterio and Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd as Padre Felipe.







Tuesday, October 29, 2019

CHARLIE CHAN in "Here Comes Trouble" (1948)


Been a while since we had a visit from old Charlie, so I figured it was time to invite him back. This one, like the first two, is from issue number 1, dated Jun-Jul 1948, and scanned for comicbookplus by freddyfly. Thanks again, Fred!











Saturday, October 26, 2019

The First LONE RANGER Sunday Strips (1938)


The Ranger made his newspaper strip debut - with the Sunday page above - on September 11,1938. The daily strip started the next day, but followed a different storyline. The five Sunday strips shown here constitute the first completed adventure. Both dailies and Sundays were credited to artist Ed Kressy. The story was based on a radio story by Fran Striker, but research by Ron Goulart suggests the script was actually written by Kressy's wife.





Friday, October 25, 2019

Forgotten Books: DEAD MEN'S LETTERS by Erle Stanley Gardner (1990)


Chances are you have a copy of the big honkin' Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. (If not, you oughta.) The book leads off with a story by Erle Stanley Gardner - an adventure of Ed Jenkins, the Phantom Crook called "Come and Get It."

As the blurb preceding the story explains, it's the third in a sequence of tales involving blackmail, a crime trust, an icy-eyed crime boss and a girl with a mole, hailed as "the most thrilling work the popular Mr. Gardner has yet produced." Intrigued, I wanted to read the whole sequence, and discovered it was contained in the 1990 collection Dead Men's Letters.


Ed Jenkins, I was amazed to learn, appeared in Black Mask 72 times between 1925 and 1943, and returned for a final performance in Argosy in 1961. Dead Men's Letters features six of those adventures, four of which comprise the sequence I was looking for. They are: "Laugh That Off" (Sept. 1926), "This Way Out" (Mar. 1927), "Come and Get It" (Apr. 1927) and "In Full of Account" (May 1927).

The Phantom Crook, so called because cops all over the country are incapable of catching him, is living in San Francisco with some sort of immunity deal. He's been careful not to commit any crimes that the police know about in California, so he's able to live a quasi-normal existence there. Trouble is, other crooks see him as fair game, and are always trying to inveigle him in their own schemes. And, of course, the cops are chomping at bit for him to slip up and give them an excuse to nail him.

In the first story, Jenkins meets - and is forced to become engaged to - flapper socialite Helen Chadwick, whose recently deceased father was being blackmailed, casting a shadow over the reputation of girl and her mother. Ed, whose specialties are safecracking and forgery, is lured into an elaborate scheme to deprive the girl of her inheritance and her hoity-toity friends of a fabulous jewel. Does clever Ed turn the tables on the bad guys? What do you think?


Illo from "Come and Get It." I believe that's Ed on the right.

Next up, Ed meets another flapper, this time with a mole on her hand, and a master criminal he calls Icy-Eyes, and is offered chance to obtain all the blackmail evidence against Helen Chadwick's pop. Of course, Icy-Eyes tries to trick him, and Ed endeavors to trick him right back.

Icy-Eyes and Mole Girl return in the third tale, and Ed is embroiled in preventing a massive jewel heist, while still trying to secure that blackmail evidence. But Icy-Eyes escapes again, setting up the final story. This one involves a jeweled crown, a very pissed off Phantom Crook, oodles of vengeance and salvation at last for pureheart Helen Chadwick.


In all, it's a fun, snappy, fast-moving yarn, with a lot more excitement than your average Perry Mason novel. It was an interesting contrast to the Race Williams and Continental Op adventures appearing in some of the same issues. Some of those same issues, in fact, featured portions of the first Race Williams novel, The Snarl of the Beast, and the first could-have-been Op novel, Blood Money.

Gardner was clearly a better writer than Daly, but there are similarities between Ed Jenkins and Race Williams. Both consider themselves the best in their fields. They're proud of it, and don't care who who knows it. Both are do-gooders, but operate outside - and sometimes in opposition to - the law. Both are consistently involved with slim, delicate young women, whose charms they force themselves to resist. In Ed's case, the girls are all of good families (though sometimes forced into bad behavior), while Race's girls are often born bad, but still have noble tendencies. The main difference is that Ed lives by his wits, while Race lives by his guns.

But Gardner was clearly not the writer Hammett was. His stories, while cleverly plotted and well told, are popcorn compared Hammett's steak, and Ed Jenkins, like Race Williams, is a stickman compared to the Op. The characters are so different they almost defy comparison.

The other difference is - Ed Jenkins never made into novel form. So why not? The four stories I've described form a "novel" in the loosely connected manner of Red HarvestThe Dain Curse, and the Race Williams books The Snarl of the BeastThe Hidden Hand, and so on. Given that as the norm, why didn't Gardner seek to have this quartet published as a book? Or did he? I'm hoping there are some ESG experts out there who can advise us.