Type Comic
Date 1939-04

All-American Comics #1

All-American Comics #1 (1939-04)

Red, White and Blue

This one is billed as "The Adventures of three real Americans", and features Red Dugan of the marines, Whitey Smith of the army, and Blooey Blue of the Navy. Red, Whitey, and Bluey grew up together and have arranged to meet, but when Red arrives on the pier, there's no sign of Blooey. Blooey has been thrown in the ship's brig for a 'harmless little prank', but Red is able to get him out of it, and the two head to a cafe in Cristobal, to wait for Whitey to arrive.

In the cafe, the two see a man accosting a pretty young woman, so Red intervenes. This leads to a huge brawl, to which scene Whitey arrives. The three of them emerge victorious from the melee, but the girl is nowhere to be seen. They do find her purse, and so from her card learn her name--Doris West. They also find a set of photographs of the area. Photography, Red exposits, is illegal in the canal zone, so the only one who'd have such photographs would be an international spy. Having learned Doris's address as well, the three go to confront her.

After a tense exchange between the four of them, it transpires that Doris is in fact an agent of the U.S. Secret Service, and she had those photographs because she was attempting to draw out a ring stealing military secrets. Unfortunately, it turns out that the head of the criminal ring has also learned Doris's secret, and a fight ensues. Red is able to send off a message to the coast guard, who arrive to arrest the criminals for espionage.

This isn't the end of the adventure for Red, Whitey, and Blooey, though. Doris takes them back to headquarters where they learn that they're being rewarded for their efforts--by being put "on special duty to work as a unit to ferret out spy activities."

I find this very reminiscent of Spy! or Slam Bradley. The story is very like any Slam Bradley story, with a questionably necessary fight leading to some mystery or other, which is ultimately resolved with another fight. It's not really bad, for such an early comic, but it's nothing special.

Humor Strips

Quite a few pages following are dedicated to humor strips, probably all newspaper reprints. I'll just comment on one: Mutt and Jeff. This classic strip ran for more than 70 years, and for good reason. The art is nice and the jokes are good, and that's all you really need, for a strip like this. Have an excerpt:

Hop Harrigan

An unlikely story in the vein of any boys' adventure serial. Our hero, introduced simply as 'the boy', has trouble at home--his father's farm, left to him in his father's will, has been sold right out from under him. So, he does what any boy would do: he hops in a conveniently located old plane and flies around for a couple of hours. At the end of this, he sees a man with his parachute caught in the on the tail of a plane. Thinking quickly, he lowers his knife on a line and flies over the jumper, who uses the knife to cut himself free, whereupon he opens his emergency parachute and escapes the situation unharmed.

After landing, the boy meets the jumper and the pilot of the plane: Ikky Tinker, the world's best aviation mechanic, and Prop Wash, a test pilot. The boy introduces himself to them as Harrigan, and Ikky comments that that was "some hop, Harrigan." Prop likes the sound of this, and declares "Hop Harrigan! That's it! What ever your first name was before, kid, from now on it's Hop!"

Before long, Hop has arranged to sell his old plane for $500, and Prop offers to get Hop a job, and teach him all he knows about flying.

Wait for our next exciting issue, I guess. This one is a mixture of unbelievable and uninteresting, but adventure strips often are. I'm willing to give it a chance.

Scribbly

More humor. Amusing, but not of any especial interest to me. The creator of this comic, Sheldon Mayer, would go on to create the Golden Age Red Tornado--in fact, would do so in this very comic. That is of more interest to me, so I'll keep an eye on this one.

Adventures in the Unknown: The Mystery Men of Mars

This one stars Alan Kane, a brilliant college student, "the brains", Ted Dolliver, another student, "the brawn", and Professor Lutyens, who has invented a spaceship that travels by reversing the laws of gravity. This comic is six pages long, but I think I can summarize it in six words: the three set off for Mars. The comic ends just as they arrive.

Not much happens, but it's not too bad. It puts me in mind of The Time Machine or A Princess of Mars. This one may turn out to be good, if if focuses more on scifi than action.

Ben Webster

These comics, I believe, ran in newspapers for some years before the publication of this issue, and the story here starts somewhere in the middle. Ben receives a box of money, and is instructed to let Professor Mattix use it to do good--without letting him realize that the money is coming from Ben. I think it's a complete enough description of the following four pages to say "hijinks ensue." Let's leave it at that.

Not a bad comic, really, but not very interesting, either.

Spot Savage

...what? Six little panels, and not so much as a hint of a story. Spot Savage, the all-American news hound, is tasked with interviewing 'the Duchess'. He's unhappy about this, until he finds out that 'the Duchess' is a man. The end.

Really. That's it. See you next issue!