Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Serials - Captain Marvel and "The Monster Society of Evil" chapter one!

Captain Marvel and "The Monster Society of Evil" was a serialized story which ran in "Captain Marvel Adventures" beginning the the March 1943 issue #22.

Serialization was a method used by magazine and newspaper publishers since the day they began to help insure readers would buy the next issue to see what happened. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain stories were originally published in serialized form which kept consumers on pins and needles waiting to see the continuing adventures of Pip or Tom Sawyer.

When motion pictures began, they took notice and theater owners clamored for a serial to come to them, to bring patrons back week after week. From Les Vampyres and Tom Mix in the silent days of the 1920's, right through the heyday of the western and adventure serials by Republic most notably, but also by a number of other studios to the 1950's when television took over.

Television too took over the serial reigns with the daily soap opera which it had inherited from radio. And radio itself not only had the tear-jerking traditional soap, but also comedy serials like "Amos and Andy", "Lum and Abner", "The Goldbergs" and "Vic and Sade" and adventure serials like "Jack Armstrong" and "Speed Gibson".

Newspaper comic strips had already taken up the mantle in the 1920's. Being the children of newspapers anyway, the continuing adventures of "The Gumps", "Gasoline Alley", "Little Orphan Annie" had long brought readers back day after day to the same paper in the days when cities had multiple publishers to choose from. Later "Thimble Theatre", "Li'l Abner", "Buck Rodgers", "Flash Gordon", "Tarzan",...well, you get the picture.

Comic books were relatively late in coming into the fray. While there were always "continuing adventures of..." the likes of Superman, Batman, Captain America et al, they were really self contained stories akin to announcing "a new Marx Brothers film", or "Claudette Colbert is back!" draws to each issue, there was no real pull to get every issue to see what happened to your favorite character until the 1960's and the Marvel age of comics and their soap opera ways. No real continuity was present.

Except for one publisher, Fawcett Comics.

They had already made a splash when Republic Pictures adapted their masthead character to the silver screen and produced "The Adventures of Captain Marvel". The first ever comic book superhero adaptation to the big screen and some say the best serial ever made of any genre.

So why not do a serialized story in their own four color format?

Why not indeed. And they did a doozy of a job. Most film serials of the era were paring down from the old 15 chapters to 12 chapters. "The Monster Society of Evil" was a monstrous 25 (count 'em TWENTY FIVE chapters long!!

I present this because:

1.) I am a huge fan of the Fawcett comics of the 1940's and 50's.
2.) I suddenly find myself with bootleg scans of every chapter of this legendary serial.
3.) Saturday's make me feel like watching a serial.
4.) My big brother Bob, born in 1942 and having lived through this first hand, has long pointed out to me that my spotlight of Superman in these blog pages is fine...but "Shazam!"...he was a Captain Marvel man.
5.) Because it's just plain cool!

Here's chapter one, "The Pearl of Peril!".

I hope to see you all at this blog next Saturday for the next exciting chapter!!!!

That's fun to say.

Talk to you soon.

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