Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Supermouse in "The Meanest Man in Town"

Supermouse isn’t really about battling evil. His primary focus, instead, is helping and loving his friends – who are normally children. Unpleasant or mean adults are simply friends waiting to happen. Or, to look at it another way, they are adults learning to be children. Or, to look at it yet another way, it is a brilliant kids’ comic.

The art is by Milt Stein, and his bigfoot style is wondrously vibrant, perfectly composed, and smooth as silk balloons. He drew the greatest three-fingered hands that have ever been drawn. I’d bet a dollar he did the cover, too.

And, not for nothing, he could bring a sudden, child-like emotion to the fore like a thunderclap. Take a peak at page 6 last panel.

This is from Supermouse No. 7, May, 1950. All scans are from my own comic. Just click the image for the big picture.

This humiliating ad is from the same issue. For you boys out there, if you jiggle when you run and the other kids laugh at you, try to ignore them. Your day in the sun will come, I promise. Do not wear a girdle in the locker room under any circumstances.


  1. Very expressive gestures by this artist~! Funny how~ Kids' Comics seem to naturally work best when it's just line art~ void of heavy blacks, cross-hatching, and feathery inks. I like how SuperMouse points out in the end that the house numbers only needed to be switched ! Why didn't I think of that when reading the story ! Using force seemed like a normal solution to my adolescent brain !

  2. Lysdexicuss: Expressive is the word. I noticed that at the end myself, about the house numbers, and thought it very clever. I sure didn't think of it. I'm afraid the thoughtful solution didn't occur to me, either!

    I think that bigfoot style of cartooning, which is my favorite, insists upon simple, varied line drawn with a very relaxed confidence. I think you have to draw very, very well to do it right. His balloon hands were so perfect and fun and, like you said, are perfectly expressive.

    I love that one panel where Supermouse, without the slightest hint of anger, clobbers the meanest man with the see-saw. -- Mykal

  3. Love love love this thing, Mykal! Thanks so much!

    A while ago I was going to ask you for some Milt Stein stuff, but I didn't have the nerve and, anyway, I thought it would better no to, I had a feeling that you'd end up posting a Supermouse story sooner or later. It was sooner to my jubilee!

    Stein was really great. He had a gift for kid comics. Everything is smooth and clean and softy and surprisingly big. And the stories develop naturally for a 5 years old kid (like me) so that he can catch the meaning in full with no problem.
    Unfortunately, a very little is known about him--! He has all the ingredients to turn into a myth: a huge talent, mystery and suicide.

    Luckily, we have his great stories and guys like you prepared to share them--

  4. "Gee, doesn't Tubby look funny running around the bases? Like a bowl of jelly on the run!"

    Supermouse needs to set that chick straight. A see-saw to the chin ought to change her tune.

  5. wow great stuff! i have never heard of milt stein (or SuperMouse)thank you for the introduction, he is a master at drawing appealing well balanced characters with great form.
    It just proves EVERYthing was better in the 50's ;)

  6. Gabriel: Ask me for anything! If I can find it, I'll put it up, my friend! Yes, Stein is a legend in waiting, I think. All the ingredients are there: Little is known about his life, his work is wonderful, and his end is terribly tragic.

    Erik: I know! I hate those girls. Supermouse would have never endorsed that product anyway!

    Brad: He did have tremendous form, didn't he? Kid's comics were definitely better back then, for sure, or at least more plentiful. More Stein coming.

    Thanks, guys, for stopping around and leaving me your comments! -- Mykal

  7. Thanks for posting this story, Mykal.

    I've long been a fan of the Better/Standard/Nedor stable of characters and Supermouse survived well beyond the point when they stopped publishing regular four-color heroes. Milt Stein was terrific!

  8. Thanks, Chuck and my pleasure! More Supermouse to come! -- Mykal

  9. Very intersting! Thanks for enlightening this narrow-minded comic reader, always fun to find new stuff...BTW, I still wear my PlayKing Atheletic's slimming action-ized construction keeps me from getting that 'falling apart feeling' we so often experience. And access 'never denied' with the patented detachable crotch piece! I can run the base path with confidence, and forget those snarky bee-yotches. Thanks, Playking!

  10. Apocolyte: HaHa! I know! The PlayKing is a must when running the base paths or impressing the girls! And don't forget kids, it's sure to impress the guys in the locker room as well.

    This particular issue of Supermouse had three full page ads, all attacking directly sensitive points of a boy’s, or a young man's, security. The other one I almost posted was a particularly brutal Charles Atlas ad that wondered if the reader were a worthless skinny toothpick who the other boys called sissy; and the third addressed the problem of adolescent baldness.

    Again, I must stress, Supermouse would have never endorsed such insensitive, emotionally hurtful products!

    Thanks for coming by. More of the glorious Milt Stein on tap. -- Mykal

  11. Mykal,
    What exactly is this "bigfoot" style of comic book cartooning? And while I'm asking, do you know of any current source book (compendium, digest whatnot) that relates the history of Kids Comics? Your blog is just inflaming a new-found love for this wonderful genre. Tons-O'- Thanks

  12. R/E: Basically, it is a "cartoony", non-realistic style of cartooning and drawing where the extremities (feet and hands, noses and ears) are exaggerated or drawn in over sized, simple shapes. Characters have big feet and hands (thus the name). hands in particular are drawn like baloons in this style, and hands always have three fingers as there simply isn't room to draw a fourth finger. You see it most prevalently in kids' comics as young children respond better to the style than to realistically drawn characters. I can think of no better example of the style than the great work of Milt Stein (or Carl Barks, or Howie Post, or . . . ).

    I don't know of any history that focuses on Kids' comics exclusively (and, boy, if anyone does, please let me know). I can, however, recommend some fine collections. First, any of the Harvey reprints from Dark Horse. There are 5 volumes, and all are worth having. Just go to Amazon and search for "Harvey Comics Classics."

    Also, The Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics selected and edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly is great. There is a forthcoming collection to I am waiting for: Golden Treasury of Krazy Kool Klassic Kids' Komics edited by Craig Yoe, looks worth picking up.

    I hope this helps! -- Mykal

  13. It does indeed Mykal... a great heap on all levels. Thanks. Not only does this blog "rawk" but the customer service can't be beat. :)
    Mykal, one last question: do you happen to teach a college level course on children's comics and related fantasy genre materials? Your own personal knowledge and insights need to be shared with all!!!

  14. Aw, Fievel Mousekewitz from An American Tail is reminiscent of Supermouse.

  15. R/E Every time I pick up a comic, I learn something new! Thanks for the compliment. I love sharing comics and I'm glad I could help! -- Mykal

    Jacque: Thanks for stopping by. I had forgotten about An American Tale, but you are right (naturally). They were both profound problem solvers that loved their friends with a fierce loyalty! -- Mykal

  16. The ad seems to be by Mort Meskin. I have added a copy to my blog, if you don't mind, and have mentioned your blog of course.

  17. Hey guy, it's good that you scan comics. A question : Will you scan An American Tail: Fievel Goes West comic books?

  18. No plans for Fievel Goes West as of now. -- Mykal

  19. Love this comic! Liked the clever way Supermouse outwitted that mean guy and made a nice playground for those kids.


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