Friday, November 22, 2013

My Heroine Addiction : Madame Strange

The subject of this blogpost is strange… and not only in name. Her back-story is filled with lots of strange and interesting minutia.

Madame Strange appeared in the immodestly titled GREAT COMICS. The comic was a product of an obscure house known as Great Comics Publications. According to the GCD the outfit only issued 2 titles for a total output of six comics. Seemingly the very definition of fly-by-night.

I have no doubt that the contents were the product of one of the packaging studios. In those early days publishers would often sub-contract the editorial content of their comic books to firms that specialized in producing such work. Famous examples of these were the Eisner & Iger shop, as well as the Busy Arnold shop. Hiring these specialists was often cheaper than hiring permanent employees. Interestingly enough, one of the contributors to GREAT COMICS #1 was Bob Kane.

Madame Strange first appeared in the debut issue of the title, sans an origin. She is shown possessing incredible strength and with her cape she seems to be an amalgam of DC’s Superman and Wonder Woman. This initial appearance is credited to ‘Achmed Zudella’ which was an exotic nom de guerre for cartoonist Chuck Winter. Winter would later render another superheroine in the Golden Age; DC’s Liberty Belle.

For her third story she takes on a new cartoonist and an entirely different look. The artist was Pagsilan Rey Isip, an émigré to the US from the Philippines. Initially his work was found in pulp magazines. Here is a cover to an issue of Street & Smith's Unknown Fantasy Fiction.

And here is Madame Strange’s adventure from GREAT COMICS #3. Again I have to apologize for the racist characterizations.

Isip continued to work in comics through 1943, before he joining the military. Upon his return from the war, Rey abandoned comics for illustration work. Rey lived until 1979, to the age of 68.


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