The Case of the Cackling Conjurer!

« Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. » — Denis Charles Pratt (1908-1999)

Longtime companions Bruce and Alex, who spend their days tracking down and investigating “queer events”, presumably for a guide they’re putting together, happen to drive near Oakville, where a gleeful oldster is on a tear.


I’m thinking Quentin Crisp, because his fellow raconteur and bon vivant Sir Noël Coward wasn’t especially into large, floppy hats.

« The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us. » — Quentin Crisp ( Denis Charles Pratt)
You don’t say, Bruce! Let’s face it, screwball ideas hardly ever fail to bear fruit in these zany yarns.
More action-packed merriment with Bruce & Alex, roving queerness inquirers!

Alex has a plan, and Bruce grasps instantly what Bruce has in mind. It’s like they’ve done this before. Somehow, Alex’s brainstorms always involve Bruce disrobing, and, judging from his expression, he’s unfailingly eager to comply.

This saga is that of The Cackling Conjurer (Strange Adventures no. 201, June 1967, DC), writer regrettably unknown, art by that magnificent oddball Bernard Baily. Edited, of course, by Jack Schiff; he may have screwed DC out of Jack Kirby’s talent throughout the 1960s, and nearly drove the Batman titles over the cancellation cliff, but he certainly produced some perversely entertaining crap. Incidentally, Schiff retired from comics two issues after this one, but surely that’s mere coincidence.

As you can see, the rest of the issue was quite mundane and utterly devoid of eccentricity. Cover by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos. That’s a rather… intimate hold the Mod Gorilla Boss has on Animal-Man, don’t you think?

– RG

Golly, a pop quiz?

« Have a nice nap, young man? »


The punchline to the EC story “Pleasant Screams!”, written by the usual Bill Gaines / Al Feldstein combo, with art by Joe Orlando. From Tales From the Crypt no. 37 (August, 1953) Can anyone in the class tell me where this panel was swiped and quoted (to hilarious effect) in the eighties? The answer follows…


Here it comes… pencils down, everyone!

Poor Fifi. He hardly seems to be the right breed of pooch for the Canadian Arctic, not to mention its special precipitations. Reprinted several times since, this edifying tale of poetic justice first saw print in the final issue of the Yummy Fur mini-comic (no. 7, Sept. 1985, Tortured Canoe).
Chester’s closing argument in the case.

Ah, for a return to the days when we didn’t know way too much about Chester Brown, when he was a mysterious, self-published cartooning genius and Châteauguay‘s finest son. I remember how awestruck I was upon encountering his brilliant Yummy Fur minis, available at Toronto’s gone-but-not-forgotten Dragon Lady comic book store in the early-to-mid 1980s. What a surreal breath of fresh air they were!

A cat’s meow and a cow’s moo
I can recite ’em all

Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey
and I’ll tell you who to call

Nobody can get no sleep
There’s someone on ev’ryone’s toes

But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
everybody’s gonna wanna doze.

The source of Bobby Zimmerman‘s inspiration: Anthony Quinn as “Inuk” in The Savage Innocents (1960). Back then, people dressed like this where and when it was actually cold; nowadays, it may be sunny and well above freezing, but those fierce, dauntless Polar explorers roam the streets in great numbers, clad in their fashionable down-filled, fur-lined hooded coats…  


The Impeccable Logic of Comics



Beware of the man who only dreams logical dreams! That says a lot about Luthor’s personality, actually.

This legendary encounter between Mr. Mind and Luthor comes to us from “Captain Marvel Meets… Lex Luthor?!”, written by Dennis O’Neil, pencilled by Bob Oksner and inked by Tex Blaisdell.  It’s part of a 100-page issue (Shazam! no. 15, November-December 1974), which I think was my first exposure to The Big Red Cheese… and I was instantly hooked, even though I’m not generally fond of cross-overs (or, generally speaking, super-heroes). These issues may not cost 60 cents anymore, but they’re still totally worth tracking down!

Mr. Mind is usually considered to be a worm, but frankly, he looks more like a caterpillar (which is more dignified, anyway). In his quest for world dominion, he hatched many a plan to topple world order, some of which I will enumerate for readers’ enjoyment so you can admire the impressive span of Mr. Mind’s machinations:

  • To crush North America beneath a giant glacier using a giant gyroscope that makes the Earth shift on its axis.
  • To make Captain Marvel his mental slave using Billy Batson.
  • To topple all the buildings in Captain Marvel’s home city by controlling an army of worms and termites.
  • To trap the United States in eternal darkness by stopping the Earth’s rotation.
  • To use the ten-mile-long gun “Great Big Bertha” to literally blow holes in America and Russia.
  • To invade Scotland from an artificial floating island of ice.
  • To cause a giant volcano to erupt in the middle of Britain.

So if you encounter an angry-looking (but myopic) caterpillar on your travels, please mind what you say.

~ ds