A huge workload and some personal obligations that can't be postponed have forced me into a busman's holiday on the column this week, but fortunately there are always great little known old comics out there to poach for a column or two.

Simon & Kirby mucked around in virtually every genre in the '40s and '50s, creating romance comics and generating a "true crime" comic that was pretty much second in its field only to the progenitor of crime comics, Charles Biro's CRIME DOES NOT PAY. From HEADLINE COMICS, they take on the notorious St. Valentine's Day Massacre:

Jerry Grandanetti spent much of his early career as Will Eisner's inker on THE SPIRIT - and obviously picked up a few pointers on inventive storytelling from his boss. In the early '50s he produced the occult investigator series "The Secret Files Of Dr. Drew" for Fox Comics, which inexplicably published them in their war/western comic RANGERS instead of their horror comic GHOST. While he began developing his own style in later episodes, early episodes, like this one, bordered on indistinguishable from THE SPIRIT, except for protagonist:

Joe Kubert's best known for his war comics, and his adventure comics like currently published TOR, but in the early '50s he and partner Norm Maurer produced a series of titles (including TOR's original version, and THREE STOOGES; Maurer married into the Stooges family) for publisher Archer St. John. Here's the debut of his short-lived screwball high school comedy, MEET MISS PEPPER:

But we can't all live in the distant past, so we close today with a strip I stumbled across and can't resist torturing Ed Brubaker with, one of his early forays into comics, published in one of the last undergrounds when they tried to struggle back into existence during the comics boom of the '80s. I forget what comic this was in, but acorns and mighty oaks, right?

And I just realized I can't run it, because this is a family column and the five page story is filled with awful language and naked women and the things he does to Elvis Presley and Charles Manson are just too awful to show without kid-proof barriers. Plus it looks like he drew it himself, and that you really don't want to see. But it's here, Ed, and I can run it anytime, so don't cross me.

Anyway, sorry for this week's swerve, but look at it this way: you got a comic's worth of material by some of the greats in the business out of it free. Back to normal next week, and thanks for your indulgence. In closing, a cautionary public service announcement for all you hipsters out there:

Notes from under the floorboards:

The only note I have time for is a reminder that my ODYSSEUS THE REBEL webcomic drawn by Scott Bieser is currently running at Big Head Press, while Boom! Studios continues to run TWO GUNS online. Both are free, so you're running out of excuses. Go!

Congratulations to Steven Marsh, the first to spot last week's Comics Cover Challenge theme was "saints." Steven's the managing editor for digital gaming site e23, so that's where he'd like you to go snoop. Check it out.

For those who came in late, almost every week I run a Comics Cover Challenge: the covers of seven seemingly unrelated comics (thanks to The Grand Comic Book Database for the covers) from throughout comics history are spread, usually not in any particular order, down the column. But a secret theme - it could be a word, a design element, an artist... anything, really - binds them together, and the first one to e-mail me with the correct solution can promote the website of their choice, subject to my approval. IMPORTANT NEW RULE: PLEASE INCLUDE WITH YOUR GUESS THE WEBSITE YOU'D LIKE TO PROMOTE IF YOU WIN. This week you shouldn't need a secret hidden clue, but there's one cleverly snuck into the column anyway. No foul, no gain, right? Good luck.

Editor's Note: we didn't have space to run them throughout the column this week, so we're grouping them below for your convenience!

Available in pdf e-book form at Paper Movies and The Paper Movies Store:

TOTALLY OBVIOUS. Collecting all my "Master Of The Obvious" columns from 1998-2000, with still relevant commentary on comics, culture, creativity and the freelance life, revealing many previously unvoiced secrets behind all those things.

IMPOLITIC: A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEARS VOL 1. Collecting my political commentary of the early terror years, from Sept. 2001 through April 2005, revealing the terror behind the War On Terror.

HEAD CASES. A collection of comics scripts from work done c. 1992-1995 for various companies, including an unused script. Annotated.

Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail me but the chances of a reply are next to nil these days, given my workload, though I do read all my e-mail as long as it's not trying to sell me something. IMPORTANT: Because a lot of people apparently list it in their e-address books, this account has gotten a slew of virus-laden messages lately. They're no real threat but dealing with them eats up time I don't really have, to the extent I can no longer accept unsolicited e-mail with attachments. If you want to send something via attachment (say, art samples) ask me first. If I say okay, then send. Unsolicited e-mail with attachments will be wiped from the server without being read.

IMPORTANT PUBLIC NOTICE OF COLUMN POLICY: any email received in response to a piece run in this column is considered a letter of comment available for printing in the column unless the author specifically indicates it is not intended for public consumption. Unless I check with you or the contents of your e-mail make your identity unavoidably obvious, all letters are run anonymously.

Please don't ask me how to break into the business, or who to submit work to. The answers to those questions are too mercurial for even me to keep up with.

The WHISPER NEWSLETTER is now up and running via the Yahoo groups. If you want to subscribe, click here.

I'm reviewing comics sent to me - I may not like them but certainly I'll mention them - at Steven Grant c/o Permanent Damage, 2657 Windmill Pkwy #194, Henderson NV 89074, so send 'em if you want 'em mentioned, since I can't review them unless I see them. Some people have been sending press releases and cover proofs and things like that, which I enjoy getting, but I really can't do anything with them, sorry. Full comics only, though they can be photocopies rather than the published version. Make sure you include contact information for readers who want to order your book.

Tags: ed brubaker, joe kubert, charles biro, jerry grananetti

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