Saturday, March 20, 2010

ATOMIC MOUSE No. 22, June 1957

Al Fago’s funny animal comic, Frisky Fables, was very popular during the late 1940’s. In the 1950’s, he became managing editor of Charlton, and in 1953 he created his most famous character, Atomic Mouse. Later came Timmy the Timid Ghost. All in all, Fago wrote, drew, and sold comics to kids who loved them for thirty years - a legacy well worth remembering. All stories in this post are Al Fago, as is the bold cover.

Atomic Mouse got his superpowers from eating irriadiated pills of U-235 (an isotope of Uranium), which were made for him by his pal, Professor Invento. This by itself puts our hero in the atomic age hall of fame. Plus, he always wore spats. In this first story, we see Fago’s fluid, well-composed style, reminiscent of Milt Stein. I particularly like panel 5 of the 4th page. Nice character action lines, and what a pretty little castle fantasy town.

The following two stories are happily more of the same. Atomic Mouse had a nice cast of characters, particular the evil team of Count Gatto and his henchman, Shadow. The writing is solid and clean throughout. “I gotta shield my eyes, Count,” says Shadow in Genie. “That’s how brilliant you are!” I can hear the kids saying that one out loud.

Timmy the Timid Ghost was clearly a Casper knockoff, but nonetheless was a solid comic for Charlton. It’s easy to see why from this next story. Fago’s brush work and character design is just so smooth. The reoccurring plot hook of Timmy was that he always performed bravely because he was too frightened to do otherwise (a theme that re-occurs also in the memoirs of many war heroes). The majority of Fago’s legacy is funny animals, but his rendering of the sub crew in this story makes me want to see more Fago funny humans.

This neat page is from the back cover.

Finally, this ad is from the same issue. This certainly looks to me like the work of Bazooka Joe artist, Wesley Morse, but I am unable to confirm it for certain.

Update: A member of Wesley Morse's family has contacted me and verified that this is not his work. Nancy has left her comments on the Chip-n-Dale post of just previous.

17 comments:

  1. Great stuff! Your blog makes it really feel like Saturday morning!

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  2. Man, those were some pretty huge adventures for the short amount of pages containing them. It's very much like Uncle Scrooge in that way.

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  3. I just wanna say thanks for taking the time, to scan this issue. It happens to be one I do not have. The issues seems to be in great shape, most of the Atomic Mouse issues I have collected have not been so. I was very glad to see this... it is apart of my childhood. Thank you again Myk.

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  4. Rob: My pleasure, my friend! -- Mykal

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  5. KW: Atomic Mouse had it all going on! I love those punchy 5-page stories. That's what great comic book writing is all about! -- Mykal

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  6. I don't know whose comment to second the most, so I'll just say, "yeah"!

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  7. Chuck: That says it all! -- Mykal

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  8. Currently I am taking a stab at doing an Atomic Mouse comic book, in the classic Al Fago style. I hope to have it all done, including inking by the end of the summer. I'm crossing my fingers

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  9. Rob: How exciting! Please let me know how it goes. When it is available, please let me know as well! I am very eager to see it! -- Mykal

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  10. Even If it doesn't sell, I'll let you post it here. It was plotted Martin L. Greim, and he helped to edit the script. I wrote the script based upon is plotted story.

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  11. Rob: I can't wait to see it! -- Mykal

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  12. Always liked the comic books version of Mighty Mouse (animation, too), so what's not to like about Atomic Mouse? An exact replica of MM down to the Terrytoon-looking villains and secondary folks. That said, it's still well done, so I enjoyed this a lot.

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  13. Gary: You are so right about the Terrytown villians. It seemed that it was Sago's lot to do knock-offs (at least his best known stuff), which is probably why he isn't as well known as some. Still, well done stuff, as you say.

    Jeez, now that you mention it, AM even has posture and facial expressions of MM, doesn't he? I kept seeing a Milt Stein simularity with the odd angled panels. Good eye, my friend! And thanks for commenting. -- Mykal

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  14. U-235: Breakfast of Champions!

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  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  16. Wow, that's some extreme psychedelically- awkward drawing style motif going on there, while it reminds me of H.C Chambers a little bit, it actually truly looks more exactly if you took the entire SPUMCO drawing style (that is, John K., Bruce Timm, Lynne Naylor, Jim Smith, Chris Reccardi, Eddie Fitzgerald etc.), most notably that of Ren and Stimpy, Super Mario, Colonel Bleep, Angry Beavers and Tumbleweeds and slab them together like modeling putty, clean it and after that showing it's one and true form.

    I hope you are well aware that Al Fago was the older brother of Vince Fago, as we all know, Vince started at the Fleischer studios in the early 1930s, as for Al, well really it mostly looks like he had gotten HIS start at either Van Beuren (if it was then it would have to be in the late 1920s) or Terrytoons, which ever one may be correct.

    And as for why it's so bizarre, it seems Al Fago is trying to keep up to the standards of time, trying to show up a comompetory past mid-1940s feel to his art, when in actuality, since this was drawn in 1957 (late 1950s) that time had past and became decadent, so that means he is failing, and even regularly, his art to me is rather weak and kind of stiff.

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