Saturday, August 06, 2022

Today in Comics History, August 6: Happy birthday, Alfred, Lord Tennyson!

Born on this day in 1809: English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson! (You may know him better as Batman's butler.) Now, Tennyson has never starred in a comic book stories (aside from Bette Kane periodically saying "Tennyson anyone?"), but he's been adapted into comics more than once!

from New Adventure Comics #12 (DC/Nicholson Publishing Co., January 1937), illustrated by Henry Kiefer
(Click picture to half-a-league-size)

Dig these crazy second-class mail-compliant page-fillers from Classics Illustrated! But geez, if I were gonna put together a page of sea poems, I woulda included The Popeye Theme.

from Classics Illustrated #10 and 12 (Gilberton, September 1948 and June 1949)

But perhaps the most faithful comics depiction of Tennyson's works is in the pages of EC's Frontline Combat. Let's take a look at this historically accurate, faithful to the original adaptation:

from "Bomb Run" in Frontline Combat (1951 series) #4 (EC, January 1952), script by Harvey Kurtzman, pencils by John Severin, inks by Bill Elder, colors by Marie Severin, letters by Ben Oda

Oh, I seem to have made another one of my silly mistakes. Here's the real story, in all its colorful, vibrant, gory glory.

from "Light Brigade!" in Frontline Combat (1951 series) #4 (EC, January 1952), script and vellum layouts by Harvey Kurtzman, pencils and inks by Wally Wood, colors by Marie Severin, letters by Ben Oda

"I have a dispatch for Lord Lucan!" "He's missing, sir!"

Here comes the poetry, but alas, here also comes the massacre. Duck, you suckers, duck!

As I frequently say about war comics: WAR IS NOISY!

Does EC Comics put a sardonic modern observational twist to this story in the final panel? Of course they did!

So, what'd you get for all that, Alfred? ₤100 a year? Wow, that's like $650,000,000 today! And 36 gallons of wine?!? Wow, I gotta get into the laureatin' business.

from "Highlights of History" in Famous Funnies #125 (Eastern Color, December 1944), text and art by J. Carroll Mansfield

So thank you, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, for "The Lady of Shalott," for "Ring Out, Wild Bells" and "Maud" and "Ring Out, Wild Bells," but most of all, for the laughter, and for the love.

frontispiece to Age of Bronze v.2: Sacrifice (Image, July 2004)

Anything to add, Jim?

from Star Trek (1967 series) #24 (Western/Gold Key, May 1974), script by Arnold Drake, pencils and inks by Alberto Giolitti

Happy birthday, Al!

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