Friday, March 16, 2012

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Ringside Racket"

It's a new decade and a new publisher for Phantom Lady!
But, the stories are still being edited (and probably written) by Ruth Roche with art from the Iger studios!
Though the Comics Code had not yet been instituted when Phantom Lady #5 came out in 1954, it's effects were being felt throughout the comics business.
(BTW, though it's #5, this is the first issue of Phantom Lady by Ajax/Farrell.
It carried over the numbering of the short-lived teen-humor book Linda since the publishers didn't want to pay for a new second-class postage license, which was required for each periodical!
It gets even weirder when the next issue of Phantom Lady is numbered as #2!)
Horror and crime comics, which had become the best-selling genres after World War II, were being cancelled en masse due to public pressure provoked by Dr Fredric Wertham and his crusade against comic books, which he claimed were the primary cause for a wave of juvenile delinquency sweeping the nation!
With over half their lines canceled, publishers looked for safe, even innocuous, material to publish.
Ajax/Farrell went with material from Iger Studios, who had an assortment of Fox Comics character stories that were in various stages of production when Fox went out of business in 1950.
While they wanted to use the name value of Phantom Lady, the publishers were aware that she had been one of the primary targets of Dr Wertham's scandalous screed Seduction of the Innocent.
So, the existing art was modified to cover up her exposed cleavage and replace her short skirt and oft-exposed panties with gym-type shorts.
All-new art also followed the modified costume design.
The artist is unknown, but the style is clearly the same as the later Fox stories, so it's probably at least Jack Kamen pencils.

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featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

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