Friday, October 17, 2014

What's in a Name?

Mister Mystery was a wildly uneven comic series featuring both excellent examples of top notch pre code stories, as well as hilariously clunky, barrel bottom gems like today's tale concerning a hapless fool trying to pull a fast one, (fast = 5 years?!) Charles Stern's art here is about as stiff 'n flimsy as the script, though there is a minor moment where he's suddenly channeling (aka swiping) either Jack Davis or Howard Nostrand with a teensy bit of suckcess, see the panel at the bottom of page 3 (mad head) for an example-- har! Also, those of you out there who are model airplane enthusiasts might find that yes, life really does imitate art!

From the January 1953 issue of Mister Mystery #9.


Brian Barnes said...

Outside of the story, I've always wondered about Mister Mystery. Did he pre-date this comic? I don't remember him hosting or being in another comic (maybe super hero or crime story.) He seems completely out of place in your regular collection of ghouls, mummies, and skeletons.

A old guy in a domino mask and top hat screams "don't go in the van" not "scary tales ahead" or "the perils of model airplane buying."

Mestiere said...

Wow, that story was... different!

You knew you were in for something special from the first page. From the first panel showing Johnny with a nostril-less nose and exactly three teeth on each jaw, to the German boss with variable baldness from panel to panel, a right hand made of thumbs and a left one with a seven-inch index finger, the art was reflecting the protagonist's obviously unhinged mental state. Look at his tiny hand on page two, panel five, or his grotesquely shortened right arm in page five, panel two! He was insane in the membrane. Since people don't get "sentenced" to mental hospitals for a fixed amount of time—because they are not prisons—he undoubtedly was in the madhouse the whole time. Why, a crazy guy like that would never have a girlfriend. He wouldn't have a boss who thinks he is a moron but repeatedly puts large amounts of money in his hands. No, the entire story is clearly a hallucination from beginning to end. How clever. The writer and artist were geniuses!

Grant said...

Since when does a model plane cost the same as a dinner date? Unless maybe it's a vintage model plane, and there's no suggestion of that.
Either way, that scene looks ahead to the "nerd who can't hold on to a girlfriend" joke - all right, maybe it was already around then, but it got a lot bigger along the way. Either way, I'm kind of glad this was written before Star Wars or Star Trek, because making him a model plane collector is a bit more original!

Mr. Karswell said...

I have a few note Mister Mystery tales on the way, so stay tombed... thanks for the comments