Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Case of the Funny Paper Crimes

This review isn’t part of the Weisinger-era reviews I’ve been doing. Rather, we’ll be jumping back to the Golden Age to answer the question that has perplexed comic book fans for decades:

“What comic strips did the Daily Planet carry?”

Well, until the latest volume of The Superman Chronicles was published, I had no idea this vital interrogative had been answered way back in Superman #19 (Nov/Dec 1942). “The Case of the Funny Paper Crimes” actually gives us a picture of the Planet comics page while Clark and Lois peruse it.

There’s Prince Peril, followed by Detective Craig. Next is a Western strip called The Solitary Rider. This is followed by Streak Dugan and Happy Daze.

And showing us the comics page is actually an important set-up for the plot. Soon, giant versions of the bad guys from these strips start appearing in Metropolis, committing crimes along with the help of normal-sized henchmen. Superman tries to deal with this, but the giant villains have the ability to become incorporeal, then vanish completely.

One of them, though, is solid enough to kidnap Lois.

To add to the confusion, the leader of the gang is wearing a round yellow mask that makes him look like an evil version of the Happy Face icon.

It turns out the villain wearing the mask is a failed comic strip artist. He’s invented a machine that makes two-dimensional images real—calling up comic strip villains to commit crimes since he failed to make his fortune as an artist.

Why the heck he just didn’t make a fortune legitimately after INVENTING A MACHINE THAT MAKES TWO-DIMENSIONAL IMAGES REAL is not a question we will explore at this time. Apparently inventive genius and common sense don’t necessarily go together.

Anyway, Lois nabs herself a couple of Crowning Moments of Awesome when she uses a fairly clever ploy to use the machine to tell Superman the location of the villain’s hide out, then later uses the machine to call up comic strip GOOD GUYS to help take down the various bad guys.She then gets made two-dimensional, but the Man of Steel manages to rescue her regardless.

This story is goofy fun from start to finish. Jerry Siegel’s script tells the tale in a straightforward manner that allows us to enjoy it for what it is while still appreciating its innate goofiness, while artist John Sikela’s pencils fit the ambiance of the story quite nicely.

But this story left me strangely aggravated. Why? Because now I’m sad that all those comic strips don’t actually exist.

Yes, I know they are merely take-offs on real-life comic strips of that day, such as Prince Valiant and Dick Tracy. But all the same, that one brief glimpse of the Daily Planet’s comic page got me hooked. All five of the comics look like fun. I want more. I want them to be REAL, gosh darn it.


  1. I can't remember another instance of comic strip characters reading comic strips.
    It's like characters on TV shows seldom seem to watch television; it was quite startling when I saw the end of an episode of "Dawson's Creek" and they were watching "Felicity" !

  2. In the 1970s, the characters in the show Emergency were watching an episode of Adam 12. Later, those same characters appeared IN an episode of Adam 12.

    A few issues after The Case of the Funny Paper Crimes, Clark took Lois to the movies where they were showing one of the Fleischer Studio Superman cartoons. Clark had to distract Lois whenever the cartoon showed the animated Clark changing into Superman.

  3. I happen to have this comic.

    For years I wondered what comic issue it was, as it came to me without a cover, and if I recall, missing the 1st page.

    It was in bad shape when I got it, and as an 8 year old in the 60's we did not put our comics in plastic.

    But it is the oldest comic book I own, and is a fun part of my collection. Now I know it is Superman 19, and has an awesome 1940s cover!

  4. I'm glad I could help clear up a mystery. That's gotta be a cool comic to own, even if missing the cover.


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