Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Fiction House's Jungle Comics had a fifteen year run, from  January 1940 to January 1954 -- 163 issues; for much of the entire run, the main feature was a blond jungle man named Ka'a'nga.  It is not known who was official creator of Ka'a'nga but the character was a definite Tarzan knock-off.  When Fiction House turned to a jungle pulp magazine titled Jungle Tales, it featured a jungle lord named Ki-Gor; when they started their jungle comic book...Ka'a'nga was born -- he was Ki-Gor with a different name; he was Tarzan if Tarzan had been blond.  Ka'a'nga also appeared in a short-lived comic book of his own.

Tarzan', Ka'a'nga's parents had been killed by jungle beasts, but the young boy was rescued and raised by a she-ape.  Then, when beautiful aviatrix Jane, Ann Mason crashes in the jungle and is captured by slavers, it's up to Ka'a'nga to save her, beginning a long relationship.  Ann goes a long way in civilizing the jungle lord.  Ann, for her part, takes to wearing a two-piece leopard skin suit, matching Ka'a'nga's jungle shorts, just so you know they're an item.

In issue #26, Ka'a'nga and Ann battle the "Gorillas of the Witch Queen" in a story by-lined by Frank Riddell.  (I'm not sure is Riddell was a real person or a house name like John Peter Drummond was for the pulp Ki-Gor stories.)  When a jungle queen with an army of gorillas capture Ann, Ka'a'nga and his pygmy friend Ngeeso come to the rescue.  Stilted language ensues.

Roy L. Smith's Wambi the Jungle Boy is a lad who can talk to the animals.  He is an enigma to comic readers; he has no origin story and lives in a jungle that has both lions and tigers, Indian and African elephants, oh my! He wears a red mankini and a red turban.  Wambi has a curl right in the middle of his forehead and has distinctly feminine facial features -- not that there's anything wrong with that.  Like Ka'a'nga, Wambi also had his own short-lived comic book.  In this issue, the Rajah of Harik is killing all the buck in the jungle, leaving nothing for the tigers to hunt except for Wambi's animal friends.  Wambi, Ogg the gorilla, Tawn the elephant, and Coco the parrot teach the evil rajah a lesson.

Tabu, Wizard of the Jungle, is another muscle-bound blond.  Unlike Ka'a'nga, Tabu's shorts a red and skimpier and tighter and he wears a red cape (and sometimes it's blue, don't know why in either case).  Tabu once saved a witch doctot who then gave him another sense, which allowed him to "leap higher than a leopard, able to soar through the wind with more speed than the eagle."  In this issue Gai Taylor, daughter of a local trader, is paddling a canoe and looking for native flowers when a storm strikes, Knocking her (and her amazing, distinctive mammaries) into the crocodile-infested water.  Luckily, Tabu is on hand and, in best wizard fashion, turns the crocodilia into turtles.  Seeking shelter from the storm, Tabu and Gai are captured by the evil chief Iglana, who holds them as ransom for rifles so tht he can take over the jungle.  Tabu is a bit of a dim bulb because he doesn't use his powers right off the bat, which would have shortened the story by three pages.

The Red Panther has a belt holding up his shorts, while also holding a sheathed blade.  He also wears a red panther's head as a wimple.  This fashion faux pas has the abilities of a panther for some reason.  In this issue, The Red Panther accompanies a couple of explorers (one a good guy, the other a baddie only interested in "treasure") into the Gone-Gone Valley where none who enter ever comes out alive.  Well, we'll see about that.

There's no stinking jungle for Captain Terry Thunder.  Instead there are the hot desert sands for Thunder and his fellow Legionnaires and for Thunder's friends Kismet the camel, Vincent the vulture, and Anderson the Arab.  (Thunder is the character whose name forced Fawcett to change the name of its hero to Captain Marvel.)   Here, Vincent, who has been ostracized by others of his kind because he is a "vulture with a conscience, is feeling lonely and in need of a girlfriend so he flies off alone to sulk.  Vincent comes across Bob Cane and his wife who have been abandoned and left to die by their Arab guides.  In true hero fashion, he saves the couple from attacking vultures.  then Arabs attack just as Thunder, kismet, and Anderson arrive on the scene.  The whole story is a mess of nonsense.

Camilla, Queen of the Lost Empire, started out as immortal. a descendant of Genghis Khan.  She slowly evolved over 107 adventures from a jungle queen to a jungle girl/heiress whose real name is Camilla Jordan.  In this issue, she's still a queen and wears a red skirt and metal winged brassiere.  She carries a knife and a (probably buffalo) horn and sports a jaunty winged helmet.  To make things more interesting, Camilla's warriors happen to be Vikings, so when the evil Tzai attack Camilla's friends the pygmies, her viking ship sails over rough seas for revenge.  Logic and geography take a back seat in this one.

Simba, King of Beasts and lord of jungle, plain, and mountain, may be a lion but he's no pussycat.  He witnesses the destruction of a village and the kidnapping of the chief's son.  The wanton killing offends his regal and leonine sense of justice and he goes after the kidnappers.  First a python, then a murderous wart hog try to stop Simba but...well, he is the king, isn't he?  In the end the boy, Boku, decides he would rather be with Simba than with humans so they go off together to have adventures.

Jungle explorer Roy Lance was not as popular as the other characters in Jungle Comics; he only lasted for eleven adventures.  Lance fights with the Free French against Nazis and the many menaces of the jungle.  Baddie General Badeaux releases a vicious and badly-drawn leopard into Roy's lodge, hoping to kill our hero.  Roy escapes and discovers that Badeaux has also released leopards against the Free French, killing and injuring many.  But when it's Nazis against a quick-thinking jungle explorer, who do you think is going to win?

Finally we come to Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle, who is said to have been the first super-heroine in comics.  She has godlike powers that vary depending on the situation.  Most notably, she can transform herself into a blue phantom skeleton/vreature of into a flaming skull with blonde hair.  (She doesn't do this in this issue.  Rats.)  Sometimes she's a blonde and sometimes her hair is albino white.  She's not as zaftig as Gai Taylor in the earlier story, but with those powers, who needs to be?  She's not a nice lady to cross; she can be brbutal and cruel to her enemies.  In this episode she's accompanied by jungle boy Ken and black panther Fury.  An explosion has drained a jungle lake, revealing an ancient Egyptian city.  Vroon, a murderous baddie kidnaps Ken and forces Fantomah to use her powers to allow him -- Vroon -- to loot the ancient city of its gold.  Fantomah agrees -- to a point -- but her agreement puts young Ken in more danger than before.

That's nine stories in 68 action-packed pages, not a bad deal for ten cents.


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