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Posts tagged ‘George Papp’

Clip Carson, American Adventurer (Early Golden Age)

The entire mood and tone of the Clip Carson series changes in 1940, as Bob Kane is replaced by Sheldon Moldoff.  Clip looks more like a romantic action hero, less like a cartoon, and the stories become more realistic as well, at least by the standards of the time.  Moldoff holds the reins for much of 1940, and the artists who replace him are of lesser abilities, though George Papp`s art would carry much of the series final year at a reputable level.

The subtitle “Soldier of Fortune” is used periodically in Action Comics, but in More Fun when there is a subtitle, it tends to be “American Adventurer.”

The story picks up with Wolf Lupo disrupting the ivory trade.  Clip is captured by him and the native tribe he is working with, but uses his harmonica to call the tribe he had befriended last issue, and they rescue him.

The next story takes him to Algiers, and this is when Moldoff takes over the art.  The tale itself is mediocre, many of them would be, but at least it is lovely to look at.  After accompanying another trade caravan from Algiers, Clip sails across to South America, dealing with a very confusingly written onboard theft before reaching shore.  Once there, Clip aids the government forces in Verdania against the rebels.  This story runs from Action 23 – 25, and the most interesting element is that the rebels are being funded by an evil American oil man.  The last panel, which sees rebel leader Calero hung for his crimes, is very darkly coloured, almost in silhouette, likely to decrease the intensity of the visual.

Clip heads to New York City in issue 26, and from there to Canada to help Miss Trent find her missing father.  The man had discovered a mine in “Hudson Bay country,” but been captured by evil metis claim jumper Jacques Frontenac.

From here he heads to Hollywood, where Clip begins work as a consultant on a movie called “Adventure Pictures,” which really sounds like a lame title for a movie.  Nonetheless, everyone seems to think it will be a massive success.  There is a rival film crew that sets up in hidden locales to film the same action, hoping to release their version first, and a foreign film company trying to delay the shooting so they can release theirs first.  Amidst this, actors keep getting murdered on set.  Clip solves no less than four different crimes between issues 27 and 31, when he quits his job to head to Mexico and help out an old friend.

Professor Quint disappeared after finding an Incan temple.  This really would be quite a remarkable find in Mexico.  Clip saves the man, and then is called by another old friend being menaced in Colombia, after discovering a vein of “minelite,” so off Clip heads to Colombia.  Moldoff had left the series by this point, and the art is no longer good enough to carry the weak stories.

And the Colombia story is one of the weakest in the run.  It runs for three issues, and there is no surprise that neighbour Grasso is the one behind the threats – the dead body wearing a mask of Grasso’s face really only serves to make him more of a suspect, and Grasso turns out to be Mr. Z, as well as Mr. X, and even Agent X-11, a foreign spy.

The relative continuity of location ends at this point, and Clip’s further adventures jump from the Panama Canal to the Everglades, Alaska, Montana and Honduras before he heads back to South America, for stories in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.  With the exception of the Alaska story, all are one-shots, as Clip battles rebels and asian spies, rampaging seminoles, bank robbers, kidnappers and gamblers, but none of the stories have much spark to them.  The killer plants in More Fun 68 are the most interesting bit, but they are not particularly well-used in the tale, or even well-drawn.

During the Alaska story in More Fun 70 and 71, Clip works with yet another old friend, Bill Weston, who is identified both as a foreign correspondent, and a spy.  I find this of great significance, given the final Clip Carson adventure.

In More Fun 76 Clip is abruptly in China, almost single-handedly fighting off the Japanese invasion of a city.  He is now a foreign correspondent for an American newspaper.  Given that he has never had any experience reporting, that we have seen, I believe it is safe to say that this is another case where foreign correspondent means spy.

Clip is not seen again, and as his series ends in February of 1942, just after the attack on Pearl Harbour, I think his mission in China may have been less of a success than his last story would imply, and we can count Clip Carson among the Americans who died in China fighting the Japanese.

Clip Carson:  Action Comics 20 – 36 (Jan 40 – May 41)

More Fun Comics 68 – 76  (June 41 – Feb 42)

Pep Morgan (Early Golden Age)

Pep Morgan was the all-round athlete went from high school to university, moving to Ardale with his parents, and alternated between college and professional sports.  In his last stories, he had become a bodyguard for an industrialist, and was heading home on vacation.  As the series continues, Pep would go through some wild career/schooling changes, and I believe we can see the sad story underlining it.

Pep is an athlete, but when it comes to dealing with the bad guys, he basically just beats people up.  When he can get his hands on a gun he will use it, but essentially he is just a brawler, and I think the stories we read of him show those in a positive light, but I suspect he had many fights that did not.  It would explain a few things.

So he comes home on vacation and is playing baseball on the city team when Jimmy Dee crash lands his plane on the diamond.  Pep helps save the man, who offers him a job as his mechanic as he competes in the Air Races.  Apparently aside from needing no qualifications, the mechanic sits in the rear seat of the biplane – perhaps to perform repairs while the fly.  At any rate, Jimmy passes out and with no teaching time whatsoever, Pep takes the controls and wins the race.

He then takes a brief job as the bodyguard to a racehorse owner in Florida, then returns to Ardale and spends his time hanging out with the volunteer firemen.  This boy has lost his direction in life.  He goes to Pennsylvania to aid a cousin who owns a mine against workers who want to strike – now he is simply a hired goon.

Pep goes back to Florida in issue 24 and gets a tryout to be a substitute pitcher on a professional team.  He gets wind of a plot by gamblers to kill the primary pitcher, Fog Bellows, and Pep messes up his tryout to save Fog’s life.  He gets booted, and although at the end he is told he is back on, this must just mean he is allowed to finish the tryout, because in the very next issue Pep is in England, on a cruiser in the Channel, as a war correspondent.

So there is no way he made the team.  Now why on earth a newspaper would choose to send this boy to England as a reporter is beyond me – and, in fact, the story goes far beyond the bounds of reality.  After not only the ship Pep is on gets torpedoed, but the rescue ship as well, the lifeboat capsizes.  Pep swims around tirelessly saving people until the sub surfaces and they are brought on board.  Despite being an american kid and not in the military, Pep is brought before the sub`s commander, and manages to get his gun from him and single-handedly take over the sub.

The commander of the sub wears a white uniform, which I thought was odd.  As they are showing England at war, why would they not depict the nazis as they appeared?

Then it become clear.  The art “error” is our clue to confirm that this story is a preposterous tale – this is the story Pep told people to explain why he left for a while, rather than telling them the truth about his dismal Florida tryout.

Pep has a pretty good adventure in the Saskatchewan “district” of Canada in the next issue, 26.  He is hunting with a local guide, who speaks French and is named Pierre, but I let that pass.  After Pierre breaks his leg Pep endures quite genuine threats in a snowstorm to get Pierre to some safety, and then to a Hudson’s Bay Post to get help.

Pep battles some more gamblers in two adventures as he competes in college track meets, though it is unclear what college he is in, I believe these should come after issue 29, and be placed in Midtown.

George Papp takes over the art with issue 29, as Pep goes on a summer vacation to Cambodia to hunt a legendary monster that turns out to be a dinosaur.  I think we can put this tale in the “Pep’s lies” category.

So with issue 30 Pep is now attending Midtown College, sharing a dorm with Slim Pickens, and they talk a fair amount about studying chemistry.  His failed professional career behind him, Pep is taking another shot at schooling.  But Slim seems not to be the best roommate for Pep, perhaps.  Slim is rich, he buys himself a jet plane and takes Pep on a couple of adventures in it, and his uncle lives on an estate nearby, which he rides to by horse.  Pep gets a taste of the good life, and maybe a bit more.

Pep and Slim are on many teams together, and after Pep scores a goal in a hockey match, Slim says “I could kiss you.”, to which Pep gives the response, “That’s just like you, Slim, getting romantic with ten thousand people watching.  Why don’t you wait.”

Soooooo, Slim and Pep are more than just roomies.

Slim gets kidnapped in issue 38, and Pep of course is the one to hunt down the kidnappers and save his guy – but this may have outed them?  Slim is not seen again after this story, and with issue 39 Pep is playing baseball at a new university, Midwest College, with a different chemistry instructor.

Given Pep’s propensity for violence, I’m going to toss a lover’s quarrel into the pot, and make that the explanation.  Whatever it was, it was extreme enough to make Pep change schools and cities midway through a term.

In issue 40 Pep is out of school again, and takes another bodyguard job, this time for Don Alvera, from the South American country of Chileanos, who has come to the US to sell diamonds on behalf of the government.  Impressed with Pep, Don Alvera beings him back to Chileanos, just in time for Pep to rescue the president of the country from being kidnapped.  In 41, the final issue of Pep’s run, Don Alvera brings him to his ranch in the country, where Pep is pitted against the local bandit king, Tuerto, whom he kills.

The last we see of Pep he is embracing the prone Juantia, as her father Don Alversa looks on approvingly.  After his failed gay relationship, his failed professional baseball career, and his many failed attempts at college, Pep settles down in Chileanos, becoming the muscle behind the powers the run the country.  And after marrying Juantia, and becoming heir to Don Alvera, Pep was sure to rule like a warlord.

I imagine, in the end, Pep was unable to accept the frailties of age, and attempted some fight or daring act when his body was no longer capable of it, and died stupidly.

Pep Morgan:  Action Comics 20 – 41 (Jan 40 – Oct 41)

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