Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Slugs And Kisses From The Blonde Bomber

With the exception of Senorita Rio and Undercover Girl, none of the heroines that fascinated me seem to rate cover treatment in a comic book title. Their stories were often relegated to a place deep in the book. And their series were often short-lived.

One of the ladies who definitely received short shrift was The Blonde Bomber, a news photographer whose adventures popped up semi-regularly in The Green Hornet, from the Harvey comic line. She also made sporadic appearances in All-New and Speed Comics.

Her real name was Honey Blake and her work as a news agency camerawoman presented all sorts of opportunities for mayhem.

She earned the Blonde Bomber title from her aggressive habit of taking on troublemakers, frequently decking them with her fists. It was a welcome change of pace from other heroines of the period, who usually resorted to firearms, improvised weapons, or Judo throws to bring down an opponent.

For back-up, Honey relied on her partner, a rotund but stalwart technician named Jimmy Slapso. Their relationship was strictly Platonic... a partnership of mutual respect and support. If you can excuse Honey's occasional jibes about Slapso's weight.

This story is from Green Hornet number 22.

(Try to excuse the trite, Latinized dialogue provided to the folks from the Southern Hemisphere. The notion of ethnic sensitivity was barely a spot on the horizon during the 1940s.)

I've no clue regarding the artist and writer for this piece. A check with the Grand Comic-Book Database drew a blank.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hola, Senorita Rio

When AC Comics first introduced me to the concept of Good Girl Art with their fabulous Golden Age reprints, I was amazed by the variety of heroines that emerged during World War Two.

Not superheroines, mind you; not the women with incredible powers, striking costumes, and alter egos. My attention was drawn to those features where the female lead could right wrongs while fashionably dressed (and in various states of undress), depending on her own wits and resources. No need for a nick of time intervention by a muscular male (as was too often the case with a certain reporter named Lois).

These ladies embodied a special ideal for the American women during wartime: beautiful, capable, and self-reliant.

My early-on favorite was Senorita Rio, who debuted in Fight Comics no. 19 from Fiction House Publications. A versatile actress turned versatile spy, she looked after the strategic interests of Uncle Sam in Central and South America. The Latin regions were a hotbed of intrigue for Rio, full of exotic locations, esoteric cultures, shifting allegiances and Nazi conspiracies, replete with resources important to the Allied war effort.

Her debut was illustrated by a rising young talent named Nicholas Viscardi. After a remarkable stint in the U.S. Army during WW2, he returned to comics under the pen name of Nick Cardy, gaining recognition for a bevy of work during DC's Silver Age. Check out his website at www.nickcardy.com.

These images were downloaded from goldenagecomics.co.uk, and were likely copied from the gallery on Cardy's website. Admittedly, the resolution is less than prime, but an opportunity to show Rio's premiere is hard to pass up.

Especially when you see her in that red gown.
AC Comics reprinted a selection of Rio's stories, with background information and a new adventure, in a paperback titled 'Rio Rita'. (Sorry, but you'll have to find your own copy.)