Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, September 23, 2017


The Young Rascals.


Talk Like a Pirate Day was this week so I thought I would make the occasion with a nautical comic book today.

Pulp writer and prolific men's paperback adventure novel author Manning Lee Stokes (writing as Thorne Stevenson) starts us off with "Murder Goes Native!" -- an adventure of South Sea Girl.  South Sea Girl is Alani, the warrior ruler of the Vanishing Isles, a girl who takes no guff and seems never to be without Cheeta, her leopard.  When a movie company films an adventure on Alani's turf, the imperial star of the film becomes jealous of Alani and tries to murder her.  Bad idea.

Stokes also wrote the closing story in this issue:  a Harbor Patrol Adventure, signed only as "Manning."  When a gang of thieves steal uranium from a government lab, they head to the docks where they rendezvous with Cindy Ford, a ruthless female with her own submarine.  The Harbor Patrol is understaffed, leaving only Steve and Squeaky to bring the neer-do-wells to justice.  Easier said than done after the two patrolmen are captured and held prisoner in the sub.

The other major story (and it's a very minor story) in this issue features The Ol' Skipper, a retired sea captain living in the restored wreck of a ship.  A developer is about to evict him when Skipper tells a story about a sea rescue that brought him his home.

There's the usual one and two-page fillers, all nautical related, and a five-page story that covers the career of Joshua Slocum, as well as a four page tall tale written by the aptly named "Watt A. Lyre."

Most of the ads are aimed at boys/men who want to be admired by girls/women.  For only 98 cents you could receive the handy book How to Get Along with Girls.  Then, for $1.98, you can get Master Key to Hypnotism  and apply those skills to women.  Now that you know how to get girls and how to hypnotize them, you're ready (for another 98 cents) The Date-Getter, which allows to score the girls you go out with and includes such things as Date Score Sheets, a Rating Form for Gals, a Date Analyzer, an Automatic Date Selector, and Alibis and Repartee -- and, if you value your life, none of which should be used today.  Each of these three books come in a plain wrapper.

Ignore the ads and dip your toes into this issue of Seven Seas Comics.


Friday, September 22, 2017


Jackie DeShannon.


Keep the Baby, Faith by "Philip DeGrave"  (William DeAndrea) (1986)

There are times when you instinctively know that an author just came up with a cute title and them wrote the book around it.

Yes, there is a woman named Faith and, yes, she is pregnant.  When the book opens, four attempts have been made on Faith's life in a deliberate attempt to kill her unborn child.  Faith is alone and friendless in New York City.  The only person she knows in the Big Apple is her best friend's older brother -- Harry Ross, a newspaper man (as opposed to a journalist) who is responsible for the television listings in a great metropolitan paper referred to as 'The Grayness.'

Harry has known Faith since she was in diapers back in Scarsdale but had not seen her for three years, since he moved to New York city after college graduation.  That was also when Faith graduated from high school and decided not to go to college.  Instead she took her inheritance and her parents' life insurance payment -- about $30,000 -- and moved to Paris to experience that city.  An accidental meeting with the handsome but pale Paul Letron, a man about fifteen years older than the teenager.  Within a week, Letron had proposed to her, within two weeks she accepted.  Letron had a couple of secrets.  First, he was incredibly rich, the very savvy business owner of a large cosmetics company.  And, second, his paleness, which he attributed to anemia, was indicative of something far worse -- a viralant form of cancer.  For the past year, he has been in an irretrievable coma and is now at death's door.

Paul's family had consisted of his step-mother, three step-brothers, and a step-sister-in-law.  Paul himself had inherited control of a small company from his father, which he then grew into a multinational business.  His father's will had specified that, in case of Paul's death, a comfortable living would be given to his wife if he should marry, with the remainder to be split among his second wife and her three children.  But...if Paul fathered a child, the vast amount of the estate would go to the child.  Paul knew how sick he was but did not want to father a child while he was so ill.  He arranged to have his sperm frozen and had Faith agree to artificial insemination when and if he fell hopelessly ill.  So now Faith is pregnant and close to term.  She is convinced that Paul's family is behind the attempts on her life; if she dies before the baby is born (and if the baby is born before Paul dies), her in-laws stand to reap a much larger inheritance.  Now she needs a place to hide until the child is born...And Harry is the only friend she has in New York.

Faith's story is, on the surface, fairly ridiculous and Harry is a trust-but-verify guy.  Faith's story appears to check out.  It seemed much more plausible when Harry and Faith were nearly killed by a homemade bomb, which killed another person.  Then another person dies of poisoning in from of Harry and Faith.  There is a murderer out there, but who is it?  Which family member is out to get Faith and her baby?  Or was it all of them?

Keep the Baby, Faith is a fast first-person read.  Harry is kind of a nebbish with a strong Jewish sense of guilt, and although his Jewishness is somewhat underplayed.  He has a nagging Jewish mother, for example, but she's not that nagging.  Harry is also a bit slow on coming up with ideas and on solving the murders; homicide Lieutenant Craig Rogers is always at least one step ahead of Harry but Harry's help is needed in getting the final proof.

There are references to Doctor Who (this was during the Tom Baker era)and there's even a l;awyer named Hi Marks (which I assume he got).  All-in-all, a solid but not great read.  I'll probably forget all about the book in a week or two, but it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Keep the Baby, Faith was the second of two books William DeAndrea published under the tongue in cheek pseudonym Philip DeGrave.  Under his own name he published eighteen mystery novels (winning an Edgar award twice), one collection of short stories, and the well regarded (and Edgar winning) reference book Encyclopedia Mysteriosa.  I believe he also wrote at least one historical novel under a house name for the Lyle Kenyon Engel fiction factory.  DeAndrea was also a well regarded mystery columnist.  DeAndrea died much too young at 44 from cancer, leaving his wife, mystery writer Oriana Papazoglou/"Jane Haddam" and two young children.

DeAndrea created four popular series:  Matt Cobb (network television investigator), Niccollo Benedetti (professor of criminology), Clifford Driscoll (American spy), and Lobo Blacke and Quinn Booker (DeAndrea's homage to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, set in the Old West).  He also wrote two interesting historical detective novels.  It's fair to say that his early death robbed the mystery field of interesting and unwritten books.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


The Temptations.


Chic Young's Blondie began as a comic strip on September 8. 1930.  Eighty-seven years l;ater it is still going strong,having spawned two television shows, a successful film series, a long-running radio show, animated cartoons and several books.

Originally, Dagwood Bumstead was the scion of a wealthy railroad family.  He dated Blondie Boopadoop, a lovely "flapper" and (apparently) showgirl.  When the two got married, Dagwood's family disowned him and the married couple had to survive on their own.  Blondie evolved into a suburban housewife, while Dagwood went to work as the J. C. Dithers Construction Company's office manager.  They had a son, Alexander, originally called Baby Dumpling; then a daughter, Cookie.  Both are eternal teenagers now.  In the 60s, their dog Daisy had a litter of five unnamed pups.  Daisy has stayed with the strip, but the pups are now long-gone.  The Bumstead's now live in an unnamed suburb, which was once in the Joplin, Missouri, area.  In popular culture, the comic strip has given the world the Dagwood Sandwich.

The Blondie radio show began on CBS as a summer replacement show for The Eddie Cantor Show.  The show continued on CBS (moving briefly to NBC for a few months in the latter half of 1944) until June 1949.  It spent its final season on ABC and ended in July, 1950.  Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton reprised their roles from the film series.

"Dagwood's New Suit" was first broadcast on October 30, 1939.