Thursday, August 01, 2013

Mostly Invisible

Thursday Comic Strip Day.

This strip is quite well known among collectors, because it has such a remarkable premiss and quite a long run. The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil started in the early forties. The main character was a lady detective who could turn invisible and the fanboys have made that to be that she was one of the first superheroines in the papers. But none of it was superhero-like in any other way. Only her 'origin' may sound a bit influenced by the comics of the times, but not knowing the artist Russel Stamm I am not sure that is where his influences lay. Here is how Don Markstein put it: "Scarlet got the power of invisibility from a ray her father, a scientist, was experimenting with. She curiously put just her finger in the ray, and suddenly disappeared, clothes and all. Fortunately, she discovered that a certain nerve in her left wrist could work as a toggle for the power — touching the nerve turned her invisibility on or off. This origin story was told in the first episode, in the form of a quick flashback to events years earlier, so she could get right into action. " Russel Stamm drew the strip in a solid 'Chicago school' style and indeed he had been an assistant to Dick Tracy. But this charming strip wa a lot more friendly and sems to have been a bit ore tongue in cheeck as well. Although it had a good long run, it seems not to have been in many large papers. I have never come across any original Sundays it appeared in, but it does pop up in many of the smaller papers available online.

Towards the end the gimmick of her invisibillity had apparently run out and the strip moved to another here, Stainless Steel. I have a lot of samples of those as well, which I will share the next two weeks.

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