Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 2

« Every scarecrow has a secret ambition to terrorize. » — Stanisław Jerzy Lec

I can’t help but feel that a villain who makes time in his nefarious schedule for taking his, er, pooch for regular walks can’t be *all* bad. Likewise for a rogue who appreciates the cleverness and joie de vivre of a raven.

This is The Joker no. 8 (July-August 1976), featuring The Scarecrow’s Fearsome Face-Off!, which was edited by Julius Schwartz (in case the alliterative title hadn’t tipped you off), scripted by Elliot S! Maggin, pencilled by the always-solid Irv Novick and inked by Tex Blaisdell. Cover by Ernie Chan (as Ernie Chua).

In the mid-70s, The Clown Prince of Crime held his own book for ten issues (nine of which appeared at the time… the tenth only seeing print in… 2019!), and its stories chiefly (and rather winningly) focussed on his squabbles with other members of The Batman’s rogues’ gallery (certainly the finest in comics). I haven’t followed the dodgy shenanigans of the back issue marketplace in decades, but I was amused and bemused by the lofty prices that this otherwise-innocuous little series commands. Overflow from his cinematic popularity, perhaps?

I like the way Professor Crane works. Over these past couple of years, this last two panel sequence has probably come to pass in real life more often than one would care to count.
The Joker adopting a hyena as a companion was but a cruel cover dodge, but The Scarecrow‘s pet raven, Nightmare, is present and accounted for, superbly crafty and most efficient, just like the genuine article!
The same page, from the original printing. In closing, a slight editorial note: It’s easy to forget that, unless you kept close tabs on the printer’s work, most mainstream comics were quite badly printed… it’s especially easy to forget since much of the more popular work has since been reprinted from the original art or photostats, and digitally coloured-and-printed. Conversely, when it comes to the work of defunct publishers, and if the original artwork, or quality photostats of same, is no longer in existence or otherwise unavailable, reprinters have to make do with a flawed, not to mention secondary, sources — at best. For instance, the printing of my original edition of this Joker issue is dreadfully out of register. In the wings, things were quickly shifting at DC: as of late ’75, Carmine Infantino (publisher, etc.) and Nick Cardy (art director, etc.) were out, and an absolutely crucial production technician, Jack Adler, was being sidelined. He would retire a few years later. Long story short, Sturgeon’s Law in action, and why I went with the digital colour job. After toning down the contrast a bit. A guy’s got to have standards.

– RG

Hot Streak: Bob Oksner’s Leave It to Binky

« Like its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves. » — J. B. Priestley

Here at WOT central, we’re both massive Bob Oksner (1916-2007) fans, and it’s not generally for the writing. For a long time, his multi-faceted talent was used to great effect all over the DC Comics line, but he rarely received the acclaim he so richly deserved.

Take for instance, a peek at this jaw-droppingly generous, downright encyclopedic overview of his lengthy career, and then just try to tell me Mr. Oksner wasn’t even more accomplished than you’d reckoned.

After DC sent up a trial balloon with Showcase no. 70 a year prior, Binky returns after a decade’s sabbatical (an eternity in the teen world!). This is Leave It to Binky no. 61 (June-July 1968, DC). The product was slightly updated (fashions and hairdos) dusty reprints with fabulous new covers.
This is Leave It to Binky no. 62 (Aug.-Sept. 1968, DC). For the record, Peggy is Binky’s blonde girlfriend. Let’s face it, she’s the true star of this book.
This is Leave It to Binky no. 63 (Oct.-Nov. 1968, DC). Lovely inks provided by fellow Golden Age veteran Tex Blaisdell (1920-1999).
This is Leave It to Binky no. 64 (Dec. 1968-Jan. 1969, DC).
This is Leave It to Binky no. 65 (Feb.-Mar. 1969, DC).
This is Leave It to Binky no. 66 (Apr.-May 1969, DC).
During last year’s Hallowe’en Countdown, I spotlighted Mr. Oksner’s fine work on DC’s long-running licenced Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis titles, but also featured his holiday-appropriate Binky cover. For thoroughness’ sake, here it is again: this is Leave It to Binky no. 67 (June-July 1969, DC).
And one more: this is DC Special no. 2 (Jan.-Mar. 1969, DC). Hard to fathom why this one came out at all, its great cover aside.

And then it was over, in this visual idiom anyway: with the following issue (LITB68), DC brought in well-traveled Henry Scarpelli to handle the covers and create the impression that Binky was just one more Archie clone. Over the subsequent four issues, a handful of (pretty good) new stories were mixed in with the reprints. Then came a change of title and a new logo. The book, now simply called Binky, was a full-on Archie ersatz, and lasted another ten issues into 1971… with one final special popping out of nowhere in the summer of ’77. For ol’ Binky, par for the course!

-RG