Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Here's a real gem:  a comic book edited by Hugo Gernsback!  Who knew that Uncle hugo had a comic book?  I didn't.

Suprworld Comics ran for only three issues from April through August of 1940.  True to Gernsback's marketing philosophy, this oversized comic vowed that all features were "based on present-day science" and were of "an educational trend."  Yep, "nothing will ever be printed in this magazine that is downright impossible."

And check out some of the contributors.  The first story, "Mitey Powers and Zagar-/x, The Madman of Mars" was drawn by Frank R. Paul (!) and written by Charles Hornig, the science fiction wonderkid who became the managing editor (hired by Gernsback) of Wonder Stories when he was seventeen.  During his brief stint at Wonder Stories he published Stanley G. Weinbaum's first story, "A Martian Odyssey."  (One of Hornig/Paul's Mitey Powers stories was reprinted in 2012's Frank R. Paul:  The Dean of Science Fiction Illustration.)

This story is followed by the announcement of a contest asking kids to think of new uses for rubber bands.  I kid you not.  Gernsback offered $100 in prizes split among 61 winners, with first prize being $10.

`1The next story was also by Hornig, writ/////////////////////ng under his "Derwin Lesser" pseudonym, with artwork by R. A. Burley -- "Buzz Allen -- The Invisible Avenger."  Buzz is a "humble radio amateur" who has "discovered the secret of invisibilty through an accidental connection with his transmittor."  He vows to use this ability to avenge his father, who had been murdered by gangsters.  Following Gernsback's dictum, we know this story is downright possible.

Hornig also wrote the next story, featuring Hip Knox, the Super Hypnotist.  Knox was trained by his father to have a superbrain, capable of hypnotizing any living thing.  Working with the govenment, Knox hunts down criminals.  His bete noir is Eric Mac Fadden, who had developed a wire net mask that deflects Konx's hypnotic abilities.  Knox wears a strange hair net and a full red body suit with an eye emblazoned on th chest.  Good times.

"Smarty Arty" is a know-it-all kid in green shorts  who comes up with humerous inventions.  Written and drawn by John  Macery.

Which leads us to another contest with a dollar prize for every invention accepted from the Junior Inventors.  Example:  sandpaper glued to the inside of a clothes pin can be used as a pencil sharpener.

Gernsback himself contributes a two-page artile on learning while you sleep.

Next, Detective Crane solve "The Case of the Sleeping Death" in a story written and drawn by Homer Porter.  An evil scientist has discovered a way to put people into a "sleeping death" in order to rob them.

Charles Hornig returns with a story about Marvo 1-2 Go +, the superboy of the year 2680.  We learn that only ten people in the world are allowed the "+" designation added to their name -- the same as in the world of Hugo Gernsback's novel Ralph 124C 41+.   In this story, Marvo and his friend investigate unseasonable weather in Pennsyvania.  We may need them to look into our current weather conditions.

Another filler shows us how to do seemingly impossible things.such as cutting glass with a pair of scissors.  A trick like that is sure to come in handy some day.

Next up:  four pages of Winsor McCay's classic Little Nemo in Dreamland.   Just a little lagniappe to help make this a great issue.

"Alibi Alice" is a little girl in Ruth Leslie's brief and humerous contribution.  Alice saves a little lion who does a little lyin'.

Winsor McCay closes out the comic book with "Dreams of a Mince Pie Fiend" as by "Silas."  This appears to be a reworking of some of his "Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend" strip which ran under the Silas pseudonym beginning in 1904.  I cannot find any reference to Winsor's using the mince pie motif instead of the rarebit one in the comic strip so I assume that Gernsbach altered the strip for reasons of his own.  (There is a cartoon reference -- not by Winsor -- of mince pie dreams that appeared in the Omaha Sunday World in December 1900.)

On top of all this, there's also a 25-question test on this issue.  Fail it at your own risk

All in all, a darn good issue for your 1940 dime.

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