Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Ghoulish Revenge of Dr. Psycha

Everyone liked that last Weird Adventures story so much, let us indulge in another one, this time from the October 1951 issue of Weird Adventures #3. Dick Kirby was apparently created to be an ongoing feature, unfortunately, this interesting P. L. Publishing series mix of pulpy horror and dynamic detective action tales came to an end with this charmingly creepy third issue. Some really fun / different kind of dialog here too-- and once again adios to that fourth wall!


Mestiere said...
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Brian Barnes said...

I like the art. It has a real amateur feel in places, but Dr. Psycha -- more than likely lifted from somewhere as I recognize it -- is a great visual. The blood drops on page 4 are pretty poor (and in a single plane!) but panel 3 is great, I love the coloring and the positioning (blood drops aside.)

There's some real good and bad stuff in this art. I like the giant bug, too. Last page, panel 3 shows the artist was good at posing and action.

What is not good is the wall of text and narration and the super convenient story (oh, hey, side note, did you hear about this guy with the ring???)

JBM said...

Starts with a WTF cool cover. Just what is happening to our not so brave hero? For me the splash is a little too bereft of detail and goofy. Seventh panel page two, boy what an artist Karl was. I have to agree that is a lot of lettering, leaving less art. Mr. K. you are so correct about the crazy dialog. So many comments out of nowhere. Nope never heard of Dr. Pscha. Again I have to agree on the unevenness of the drawing. Lack of backgrounds are not fixed by changing colors. But! this was completely insane fun! Thank you Mr. K. Oh yeah, my spine was tingling. I've got the creeps! Hope there's a cure.

Glowworm said...

Maybe it's just me, but the design for Dr. Psycha reminds me of an antisemitic portrayal of a Jew, with his thick, crazy looking beard, round glasses, large pointy nose and long cloak and fedora hat. I know it wasn't intentional, but then again, the paper Dick reads on the Dr. states that he died during the Inquisition--so who really knows.
Got to love that all-knowing narrator, especially when Karl gets mocked for living as a hermit.

Mr. Cavin said...

Is there some background to the attitude Kirby is directing toward the uniformed officer over and over in this story? Or is "Dick" just some kind of nickname?

I liked the art, too. There are times when it looks more like a modern parody of pre-code styles than the real thing: Those thick, posterizing outlines, the crazy unnecessary colors, the sense of overlapping elements. Perhaps it's a tad thick. But I think the last two panels of page one and the final panel of four have a really neat look. Also neat? That whacked-out rhyming introductory narration in the splash. That'd make a great open mic monologue on beat night down at the old zombie nightclub.

'Behind this diabolical comedy of dementia lurks a king-sized drag, man."

(Snaps fingers.)

Guy Callaway said...

I think you're on to something with Dr.Psycha's look.
Really reminded me of the villains in the 'Bibleman' video series (seek them out at your own risk!). Completely the same agenda.

JBM said...

nazi Germany propaganda posters featured similar imagery. It seems to me.

Mr. Cavin said...

This is an interesting line of conversation about Jewish caricatures. A cursory look into P.L. Publishing in general (and Homer Fleming particularly) didn't turn up much one way or another, but I'd err on the side of assuming that antisemitic attitudes didn't get employees very far in the post-war New York publishing scene. I mean, never say never; but it seems unlikely that mean spirited bias against the Jewish would find much sympathy there.

Not that I don't recognize this as a Jewish caricature. And if this were an equally stereotypical cartoon of an African American or Asian character, I would assume it was meant to be mean-spirited. But the fact is that this kind of character design looks a lot like cartoons drawn by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Eisner, and were pretty common expression of self-satire in this industry at that time. I don't know if that means its use was, or should be, considered acceptable by all the creators of that era, but I can't be sure how to gate-keep that acceptability. And I imagine the ubiquity of this type of caricature meant its use was as often unconsciously used as not. Or it may have been.

So I agree that its a Jewish caricature. But I'm less certain it should be dismissed as antisemitic.