Soapy Sam: Howzabout More VARIETY in Comics?

Comic books have changed an awful lot since the forties. There used to be a lot more variety; not just a lot of different genres and different styles...there were lots of successful anthology titles that had five or six ongoing series running concurrently in the same book for years.
There was also more variety
among the individual stories in each book.
Today's "Exhibit A" is Soapy Sam the Snooper Man.

Soapy Sam. Dude's a window washer,
but he dreams of being a detective.
(Check out that flattened nose.Is that because
it's always pressed up against the glass?)
Take a look at these three pages
of pure cartoon weirdness!
This story appeared as some comic-relief filler
in a 1947 issue of Black Cat,
published by Home Comics, Inc. St. Louis, Mo.

As usual, CLICK on any one of the pages
to see a king-size comic book page.

As usual, CLICK on any one of the pages
to see a grande-size comic book page.

This story is signed "Jack Keeler." Jack Keeler!? Do you realize who that is?

Don't look at me...I have no idea!

And it's not for lack of trying to find out. Whenever I post one of these golden-age oldies, I try to find some background info to give it context. Can't find a blessed thing about Jack Keeler. I bet there were hundreds of guys that drifted in and out of the totally disreputable comic-book trade, worked under pseudonyms for a few years on a few obscure titles, then went back to earn a decent, respectable living as insurance salesmen or electrical engineers.

  • One of my favorite things about old comics is that they weren't afraid to mix up genres just to keep things fresh. In many crime and action-oriented comic books, they had these little one- two- or three-page fillers that sort of cleansed the palette in between the more serious stuff.

In this case, this goofy tri-page treat was sandwiched in alongside a Black Cat story by the awesome Lee Elias,

...and a pulse-pounding Danny Dixon...CADET adventure,

...and right after a single-page comedy strip
about a Miss Lonely-hearts called, "Getting Maisie Married."

After the Soapy Sam story comes a real oddball title: "His Honor and...The DEMON!"

Signed by long-time utility-player Bill Draut, this Batman-style story is about a judge who dresses up as a red devil at night and metes out vigilante justice on the underworld criminals that are beyond the reach of his courtroom!

This issue of Black Cat finishes off with more short comedic comics.

Real short.

Two half-pagers stacked one on toppa the other.

Meet Jobless Jerry and Crackpot Cornelius...

There's nothing more hilarious than being unemployed!

Not sure who did the Jobless Jerry strip, but Crackpot Cornelius was penned by gag cartoonist Art Helfant, who apparently drew tons of these comic book fillers during the 1940's and 1950's.
I dunno...maybe Helfant did them both. Click the image below for the macho-sized gag page.

Now THAT'S a comic book! Thrill, chills, jokes, even a classic "plop" panel at the very end of that last page.


Call me old-fashioned, but I like comics that are FUN!

If you're interested in seeing any of those other stories from this comic, just let me know and I'll post 'em right up! See You next time!

UPDATE: There's LOTS more comic book scans
to look at and download! Click HERE

  • ...And if you liked this post, please help me share it
(Click one or more of the links directly below) Thanks!


Jay Lender said...

I found a few referencs to Jack Keeler online--even a mention of one story he did with Stan Lee in Kid Colt, Outlaw! When you do your search, make sure you put his name in quotes and add the word "comics" (out of the quotes).

Meanwhile, check out this link. You have to sign up to see it, but it looks like there was some original art for sale last year:

Mike Nassar said...

damn sherm, sweet post sir. even the name Crackpot Cornelius sounds fun!
great finds. EVEN the artist's name was fun! "Art Helfant". That's the name of a cartoonist no doubt about it.

Vincent Waller said...

I love the shot of the cadet under water.
Thanks Sherm for posting all of these wonderful things.

sdestefano said...

GAH! Soapy Sam is absolutely KILLER! No joke, this is exactly how I'd like to draw....Thanks for the post, Sherm.

Sherm said...

Hi, Jay! Hey, Mike! Howdy, Vincent! Hiya. Stephen! I'm glad you all were diggin' on these comics! Thanks for the nice comments, and If I ever find more Soapy Sam , I'll be sure to post 'em. I've got some fun stuff on deck, so keep an eye out, K?


S said...

Some background about Jack Keeler. he was my uncle. He was an adverising exec on Madison Avenue in the 50s and 60s. Professionally trained in art at the Cornish School in Seattle, Washington. He has 2 paintings in the Smithsonian Institute in the Navy collection from the WW2 era. We have many original cartoon drawings in our family as well as fine art paintings. He designed many campaigns in the 1960s such as Folgers Mr. Coffee Bean and the original 1967 Camaro ads. I don't know where you found this but I've never seen it and it certainly is pretty cool! It was probably a hobby or fun gig, I didn't catch the date. He was always drawing these for friends and family-- and believe me they made the best birthday cards ever.

Sorry to burst your bubble about the insurance salesman/electrician theory. He died in 1992, leaving behind a legacy as a talented local artist as well as a beautiful home in Marin.