Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, March 31, 2023


 "Jim Hardy" began his career,  (sort of) as Jim Conley, Ex-Convict.  Creator Dick Moores worked with Chet Gould on Gould's Dick Tracy strip for nearly four years, from 1932 to 1936.  During that time, Moores was constantly trying to come up with a strip of his own.  After several dozen tries, he managed to sell Jim Conley, Ex-Convict to United Features Syndicate.  Moores envisioned a hard-boiled, gritty strip, more realistically drawn than other leading strips, such as Tracy or Little Orphan Annie.  The only problem was that no newspaper would touch the strip -- some balked at the idea of making an ex-convict the hero, others shied away from Conley's Irish name.  The idea was re-tooled and the result was Jim Hardy, no longer an ex-convict seeking redemption, but a "down on his luck" guy versus the world.  Hardy starts off being kicked out of his boarding house and approached by crooks to join them.  Hardy bounces around from job to job, acquiring a girlfriend and a kid companion, until he lands a job as a reporter, battling racketeers and corrupt politicians.

The comic strip was never overly popular and, about four years in, introduced a skinny cowboy character named Windy, who was in charge of a racehorse names Paddles.  In late 1940, Jim Hardy left the strip forever and it was renamed Windy and Paddles, until the strip was cancelled in October, 1942.  Jim Hardy, however, found an audience in comic books; the comic strip adventures were reprinted in Tip Top Comics and were featured in one-shot appearances in Comics on Parade, Sparkler Comics, and in 1944's giant edition of Jim Hardy Comics Books.  A Big Little Book, Jim Hardy, Ace Reporter, was published in 1940; no others featurng the character were published.

Moores went on to work for Walt Disney's comics strips and, in 1959, began a 27-year run as the writer and artist of Gasoline Alley.

In this issue, Jim and Molly are investigating the deaths of two race car drivers.  (Whoops!  Make that three...Whoops!  Add a private eye to the death count,,,)  Molly puts her ife on the line by driving one of the cars but Jim is able to unmask the "Black Goggles" killer in the nick of time.  Next, Mollie overhears a plot to destroy the city's cable cars and she and Jim go on the trail of the baddies.  Finally, JUim and Molly get involved in a plot against a young boy who does a death-defying motorcycle act.

Also in this issue are four adventures of The Triple Terror -- the three Brandon Borthers.  Their late father's genius was used in destructive warfare, so the brothers -- Bruce, Richard, and Brandon -- vowed to use their talents only to aid humanity.  Bruce Brandon was Menta, the Mental Master of Men, Richard Brandon was Lectra, the Electrical Wizard, and Barton Brandon was Chemix, the Genius of Chenistry.  They all wear yellow body suits, blue tights, red underwear on the outside, and domino masks.  These adventures were written by Fred Methor and drawn by Reg Greenwood.

Not to be out-"Dunn", there's also an episode of Mo Leff's Dynamite Dunn, Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Closing out the comic book are nine short adventures of The Mirror Man by Methot and Greenwood.  This is not the latter-day Batman villain, but is Dean Alder, the head of the Alder Academy, who fights crime and instructs the young.  He wears the Mystic Garment, a robe that enables him to walk in and out of mirrors and gives him some powers.

A bargain for 1944.  132 pages for just a quarter.  The sheer size of the comic book would make it seem a worth the cost to most kids in those 10-cent comic days.  

As far as the quality of some of the stories, let's just say that some comics publishers would search for a schitck, throw it against the wall. and see if it sticks.



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