Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Clarence Linden Crabbe II was much more than a gold medalist Olympic swimmer, film and television actor, and swimming pool businessman.  According to this comic book, the "All American Hero" somehow found the time to have some amazing adventures "in the Jungle, on the Range, and thru Space Outer Worlds."  By the time kids read this issue, Buster would be in India with his eight-year-old son "Cuffy" for more adventures.  (Remember "Cuffy"?  He played the kid on Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion.  Nepotism, anyone?)

In the world of comic books, Buster Crabbe began with twelve issues of Buster Crabbe Comics from Eastman Color (1951-1953) and then moved over to Lev Gleason's The Amazing Adventures of Buster Crabbe for four issues.

This issue begins with "The Jungle Talked Back," in which Buster takes a group of young boys for a trip to Africa in the summer of 1948.  One of the boys, 'Tiny" Prince, was almost not allowed to go because of his small size.  Tiny vanishes on the trip and one week later a bloody shirt with Tiny's name on it was found by the river.  Convinced that Tiny is dead and that his body will never be recovered, Buster returns to New York to break the news to the parents.  Fast forward five years...a newspaper story reports that a mysterious white boy has been spotted in the African jungles.  Buster and Tiny's parents head to Africa on the first ship out, a freighter captained by a ruthless drunk.  The captain wrecks the ship and leaves Buster and the Princes to drown.   The captain and his crew land among a tribe of cannibals, which they soon take control of; in the meantime, the three abandoned passengers manage to make it to shore a few miles away where they run into a feral white jungle boy -- Tiny!  Soon Buster and the Princes are captured and are about to be fed to lions.  It's up to Tiny to remember his past and save his parents and Buster.

The next story, "Dead Man's Gold," takes Buster back to the Old West where he is delivering three fierce bulls (trained to attack anything red) that will eventually go to the Mexican bullfights.  Young Chet Waring (in his red shirt, natch) is late for school so he sneaks a ride on the back of Buster's wagon.  When the bulls begin to get antsy, Buster discovers Chet, warns him about his red shirt, and lets him ride up front. Later that day, Buster is getting a shave at Laredo's local barber shop when the crooked McCandless brothers decide to steal the bulls, knowing they could get a thousand dollars apiece for them.  The bulls get loose and chase Jess McCandless up a tree where Buster captures him.  Before Buster can take Jess to jail, however, his brother aims a rifle at Buster.  Enter young Chet, his red shirt, and his knowledge of bullfighting.  The bad brothers then go on to kill Chet's father and rob him.  When Buster brings in one of the brothers, the town's cowardly lawman  lets him go.  It's up to Buster and Chet to bring justice to Laredo.  The story ends with Buster being named sheriff of Laredo.

Did you know Buster was a professor of ichthyology?  He's a man of many talents, that guy.  In "I Cover Mars," the first four expeditions from Mars to Earth led to the death of Martians from Earth's poisonous oxygen atmosphere.  One of the rockets from the fifth expedition goes astray and lands in the Atlantic off the coast of Maine where Buster and his student Johnny are studying marine life from a bathysphere.  The Martians are surprised to find intelligent life on Earth -- intelligent life that lives on land with a poisonous oxygen atmosphere!  Buster helps the government devise a helmet that will allow the Martians to move about Earth, but one of the Martians exhibits a classic case of xenophobia and works to poison his home planet against the Earthmen.  Can interplanetary peace ever become a reality?  Of course, it's all up to Buster.

For one man to do all this -- in the past, the present, and the future -- is mind-boggling.  But, hey, Buster can do just about anything, you know.  I'm convinced.

Read this and you, too, may be convinced that Buster could do anything and everything.