Jan 28, 2018

The Gay Artist for the Catholic Schoolboy Comic Book

A Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact was a Catholic comic book, published every two weeks during the school year from 1946 to 1972, meant to be given away at parochial schools.  Its main emphasis was religion and patriotism (since American Catholics in those days were often stereotyped as anti-American, in the pocket of the Pope).

But there were lots of humor and adventure stories, too -- sports, jungle adventures, pirates -- which made for some odd juxtapositions:

"Get to Know the Sacraments" oddly juxtaposed with "El Vaquero the Cowpunching Bear."

The history of the Canadian Mounted Police juxtaposed with "But Aunt Eileen, does modern life help to destroy true values?"

My favorite juxtaposition is from the November 19, 1959 issue.  "Tarcisius Protects the Holy of Holies," an adaption of the novel Fabiola by Cardinal Wiseman.  Tarcisius was a twelve-year old boy who was trying to save the Blessed Sacrament from desecration, when an irate crowd beat him to death.

How'd you like to read that over your Corn Flakes in the morning?

Next was a humorous story about ice hockey.

Many stories were drawn by Reed Crandall (1917-1982), a Golden Age comic book artist who also drew such superheroes as the Ray, Dollman, Blackhawk and Ka'anga Lord of the Jungle, and invented Firebrand, a muscleman in an invisible shirt.

Why invisible?  So you can perv on his pecs, duh!

He also drew E.C. Horror, the Flash Gordon comic strip, and a series of illustrations for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books.

 His beautifully detailed drawings of muscular men inspired a generation of beefcake artists, including Frank Franzetta and Boris Vallejo.

After Crandall graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1939, he moved to New York with his mother and sister to seek work in the fledgling comic industry.  Eventually they moved back to Wichita, and Crandall lived by himself, a "confirmed bachelor," for many years.  He died in 1982.

"Confirmed bachelor," right.

I imagine that George A. Pflaum, the publisher of the Treasure Chest, never realized that one of his chief contributors was a gay man.

1 comment:

  1. And people wonder why "It's not gay, it's manly" is a meme for my generation.


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