Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, January 11, 2020


As far as potential Australian costumed comic book heroes go, it was a good bet to go with Catman.  Consider the alternatives:  less jumpy than Rooman, less likely to pee on you than Koalaman, and certainly less feral than Dingoman.

In truth, Catman was a ripoff from an American comic book.  American comics were popular in Australia but their import was banned from 1940 to 1959 because of a long-standing economic embargo.  American comic book characters still appeared Down Under -- Some Australian publishers bought reprint rights from their American counterparts.  Others, like Catman, got an Austraian remake.

In America, Catman first appeared in Crash Comics #4 in 1940.  By issue #6 the character became hyphenated and took over the book's title:  Cat-Man.  Cat-Man was a run of the mill caped crusader, distinguished only by his alluring female companion, Kitten.

Catman dropped the hyphen as well as Kitten when he made his Australian reboot in Super Yank Comics #2 (December 1950).  Instead of Kitten, his companion was now a young boy named Kit.  Lloyd Piper drew the Catman adventures for the fifteen remaining issues of the comic book (#3-6, #8-18; evidently there was no issue #7).  With the demise of Super Yank Comics Catman went into comic book limbo until 1958, when he appeared in his own title, drawn by John Dixon,  Dixon toned down Catman's costume and gave him both the CatJet and the Cat Rock, a mist-enshrouded mountain hideaway.  (Catman lasted for 22 issues, the last eleven of which were apparently reprints and issue #13 was never published, leaving only twelve original Catman stories.)

Later American versions of Catman from DC and Marvel comics are completely different characters.

In Catman #9, our hero is called to the South American country of Coco-Rica (presumably next to the South American country of Coca-Cola) by that country's only honest politician, Treasurer Pietro Lopez, who is the only person standing in the way of President Rickardo Garcia's attempt to become a dictator.  Garcia has the support of the military and Lopez has the trust of the people.  A civil war is on the verge of happening.  What Lopez doesn't realize is that Garcia is absconding with five million dollars of American aid, leaving the country to tumble into chaos.  Before he flees the country, Garcia arranges for Lopez to meet an "accidental" death by way of an avalanche.

Shortly before Catman and Kit arrive in Coca-Rico, the rocks came a-tumbling down on Lopez.  Rushing to the scene, they rescue the treasurer who now suspects that Garcia has his eyes on the American cash.  Rushing to Lopez's office, Catman discovers the safe empty and Garcia gone.  The military catch Catman by the open safe and try to arrest him for stealing the money.  Ain't nobody gonna put Catman in a box, not even a litter box -- he escapes.

Will Catman be able to clear himself, capture Garcia, retrieve the stolen money, and prevent a bloody civil war?  Of course he will because he has to fight a giant robot in issue #10.

And what about Catman's boy companion Kit?  He does nothing, nada, nil, squat, and zip of consequence in this issue.  O the tribulations of a sidekick, eh?

One other thing.  Like most Aussie comics, this one is in black and white.


1 comment:

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