Controversial! Fun And Also Games! First Comic Book related blog to be featured in the Australian National Library's Pandora archive. 2016 Rondo Award nominee. Pop culture, music, film and comic book expert. Would be willing to write for biscuits.
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Siegel & Shuster's Funnyman in Australia
Funnyman is a
largely forgotten strip created by Jerry Sigel and Joe Shuster, the creators of
Superman.Originally intended to be the
next big thing in comic books and designed to pick up the mantle from Superman
and show DC Comics what they’d missed, the strip itself lasted just over a year
before it folded.The strip also spawned
a line of comics, but, sadly, that didn’t last long either and Funnyman never
became the highly sought after hit that Siegel and Shuster desired.Lightning struck once for the duo, and in
their attempts to recreate the blast, they fell somewhat short.
is that the strip wasn’t that bad, certainly not as bad as people might
imagine.However the concept – Danny
Kaye dressed as a clown fighting crime with comedy – was always going to be a
hard sell and it’s possible ton theorise that the duo were just a little bit
too burnt out from their trials and tribulations with DC Comics over
Superman.The comic was published by one
other than Vin Sullivan, who had originally bought Superman off the duo for DC
Comics.On paper, at least, the
ingredients were right.The comic made its appearance in 1948 and it marked the professional artistic debut of none other than Dick Ayers,
who would later become better known for his involvement in the creation of the
Marvel Universe with the likes of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and
others.Ayers began drawing with the
early issues of Funnyman and later co-created the original Ghost Rider with
Sullivan.As Dick recounted to me in
2005, “I admired them (Siegel & Shuster) and I was quite honoured when Joe
Shuster got friendly with me when I was going to school at nights with Burne
Hougarth.I gravitated down to his
studio and did some penciling for him and he was nice to work with.And Jerry would come in once in a while
because he was the writer naturally.
“I was in awe
of them.They created a word that got
into the dictionary and they had all this popularity as Superman was really
flying high.When I worked for them they
were in the process of trying to get ownership of it back from DC.”Dick also confirmed that Funnyman was based
on Danny Kaye.Sadly the comic would
only last for six issues due to DC Comics cracking down on Sullivan using the
Superman name to promote Siegel and Shuster and, by proxy, the Funnyman book.
The Melbourne Argus, March 22, 1947
In late 1948
Siegel and Shuster landed the strip with the Bell Syndicate who distributed it
to newspapers across America
and it wasn’t long before a daily strip and a Sunday strip were in place.Sadly the duo weren’t able to maintain the
same standard that they’d set with Superman and the strip was cancelled by the
end of 1949. Faced with yet another
setback, Siegel and Shuster ran out of steam and Funnyman vanished, seemingly
for good, destined to become a footnote in comic book history.Jerry Siegel returned to DC in the late 1950s
and began to work anonymously before doing some editing and writing for Marvel
in the mid 1960s, Joe Shuster would virtually drop out of the comic book world.
Funnyman had an entirely different life in Australia.The strip never made it to newspapers, there
were no Sunday strips, but it was published here in a very unique format.Funnyman began its Australian publishing life
in the Australian Women’s Weekly on the 2nd of July, 1949.An ocean away from DC Comics and their
lawyers, the Women’s Weekly, who also counted Lee Falk’s Mandrake, amongst its
comic strips, decided to announce the new strip with a flourish and devoted an
entire page to announcing the strip and introducing its famous creators to the
country.The resulting article would be
amongst the first to debunk the DC Comics myth of how Superman was created, and
also made reference to Sigel and Shusters lawsuit, and their resulting defeat.The bulk of the material came from a press release
that was released when Funnyman made its debut and clearly the Women’s Weekly had no issue
with running it as they saw it.
reformatted for a weekly strip format, using daily strips, and it ran in Australia for
just under a year, ending on the 5th of June, 1950.Finding a complete set of the Funnyman
strips, as published in Australia,
is a task in itself, and these scans aren’t of the highest quality, but as
historical artefacts they stand as testimony to the fact that Funnyman reached
shores beyond America,
and lasted beyond its originally accepted cancellation date. It also stands as silent testimony that there was far more to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster than Superman and his own universe.
Be warned - read this, take note and learn the easy way - we've learnt this lesson the hard way.
As people who read this stuff on some form of a regular basis might be aware we're off to New York in just over a month. Three weeks in New York, one week in San Fransisco. The key, for us anyway, is booking some decent accommodation, so we decided that, as we're going to be in New York for three weeks solid, that we'd go for a serviced apartment over a hotel room. So we started looking on the proper web-sites for places until we found one. Great location, it does exist, great photos - the lot. Perfect for our needs. The other half made contact with the 'owner' via the web-site and made arrangements to pay. We were asked to pay via MoneyGram, no biggie and no alarm bells started to ring - we've not done this before and all seemed normal. We made the first payment and got an email back from the 'owner' saying he'd gotten the payment and could we fix th…
Let's nip this right in the bud now and call this image bullshit (as Penn & Teller would say). Yesterday a link was emailed to quite a few people, showing the image you see on the left, which is supposedly the Jack Kirby version of The Amazing Spider-Man. If it the art was genuine then it'd rewrite Marvel history as we know it. There's one slight problem though - it's a hoax, and not a very good one at that. Someone has taken the Giant Man image from the splash page of Tales To Astonish #51 and doctored it, using a logo taken from page #183 of Joe Simon's Comic Book Makers book and parts of the design that Steve Ditko drew for one of Robin Snyder's books (in which he discussed the differences between Jack Kirby's discarded version of Spiderman and the final, Steve Ditko-Stan Lee version of Spider-Man) and mashed them all together. As to why anyone would want to do that, or what end they hoped to achieve is beyond me. But then that's life.
Go and have a read, and, more importantly, pass the word on to everyone and anyone who is thinking of travelling anywhere and booking. First rule of thumb - NEVER pay anyone via a money transfer system such as Western Union or Moneygram. They assist the scammers, and once your money is gone, those companies couldn't care less. They've got their cut. Make sure you pay in such a way that you've got recourse - if it's a money transfer then it's a scam, as far as I'm concerned.