Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Month of... Celebrities in Comics, Day 15: Midnight and the kitties are sleeping

Midnight is goin' to Hollywood! Along with his sidekicks Doctor Wackey and Gabby the Talking Monkey (currently off-stage inside the suitcase). Sheesh, with characters like that, we may not need any celebrities! But look, there's already some: the lovely Veronica Lake and the vivacious Ann Sheridan!

Panels from the Midnight story "Murder Tunes In Unexpectedly" in Smash Comics #34 (Quality Comics, July 1942); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Jack Cole

And then on page two already, we've got Myrna Loy, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Hedy LaMarr! Va va voom! Not only that, but Midnight's civilian identity is Dave Clark, whom we oughta know from his hit single "Over And Over", recorded with His Five. Hold on, I've made another one of my silly mistakes. Dave Clark is not related to the British Invasion musician. But wouldn't that be a great cover for a secret identity!

You may have noticed that Midnight's costume (blue suit, easily obtainable from any traditional tailor, matching crown fedora, and black mask) depicts him as eerily similar to The Spirit, Will Eisner's iconic crimefighter with a blue suit, fedora, and mask. That ain't coincidence. When Eisner reclaimed the comic book rights to the Spirit from Quality Comics, Quality Comics publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold told Quality artist Jack Cole (a tragic figure who ironically also created one of the most fun comics characters ever, Plastic Man) to dream up a similar character. Well, you can't get much more similar to the Spirit than that! Except Midnight's accomplices were less problematic than the Spirit's sidekick Ebony.

There's lots of Eisneresque touches in this strip by Cole, too. He was pretty adept at a Spirit pastiche without being a sheer copy. Note the creatively designed splash page, this hectic and fun final page wrap-up, and the conceit of lettering starlet Joy Devine's name in cursive every time, which suggests it's just absolutely lilting off the tongue in the dialogue.

Midnight! Come for the sexy Hollywood starlet guest appearances, stay for the talking monkey!

1 comment:

Terrence O'Malley said...

I thought only my wife and I remembered that bit! "Midnight, and the kitties are sleeping, down by the furnace, while birdies are cheeping..." I'll bet even Dave L. doesn't remember this!