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Ralph Oppenheim’s Pre-squito Stories

Link - Posted by David on March 3, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays,but we’re gonna start this year by looking at Mr. Oppenheim’s pre-Mosquito pulp stories. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

Ralph Oppenheim cut his teeth on the Haldeman-Julius’ line of Little Blue Books writing about Balzac, George Sand, and Richard Wagner—getting some good notices with a couple of his five titles. Before his last two little blue books hit the stands, the 19 year-old Oppenheim had already switched gears and had started submitting stories to the pulps.

Although Oppenheim started writing tales of the Three Mosquitoes very early in his pulp career, they were not in his first published stories—their first adventure was Oppenheim’s third published story. Both his first two stories though were aviation tales full of life or death action, and oddly, both feature parachutes.

Oppenheim’s first published pulp story appeared in the February 1927 number of Action Stories and would have hit the stands New Year’s Day, January 1st, 1927. Action Stories was Fiction House’s premier title. It printed all sorts of adventure stories—adventure, western, detective, mystery, sea, sports, and aviation. And Oppenhiem’s first story—as were many of his subsequent stories—was an aviation tale.

Doom’s Pilot

Oppenheim’s first story for the pulps takes place at an Army Arsenal, whose innocent-looking buildings housed enough T.N.T. to blow up a fair-sized city. Although every safety precaution had been put in place, it seemed disaster was unavoidable when a letter arrived from an anarchist:

Dear Major:
    For a long time we have been trying to think of a way to deal a decisive blow that will hurt hundreds instead of one or two. The naval arsenal catastrophe gave us our lucky inspiration. Because I am the only man who dares to go to such lengths, I have been chosen upon to deal the big blow that will carry our Cause so much further ahead, towards the goal of righteousness. You are helping me, major dear, by storing in that new ammunition. Before those three days are up, you and your whole stinking outfit, and as much of the surrounding villages that your excellent shells can reach, will be in hell where you belong. I have to go with you, for I must remain on the spot to see that everything goes right, but I shall know that I have died doing my best to bust this damned country.
    Best regards, major, from one who will soon have the pleasure of dying with you.

—The Fearless One.

Their only hope of preventing the destruction of the base and the near by towns may lie with one of the pilots’ pride and joy—a speedy flying racer he had built and waswas planning to enter in an upcoming race!

Red terror of anarchism—a hurricane—and one of Uncle Sam’s birdmen in a grim, ruthless battle with Doom!

A Parachutin’ Fool

Oppenheim’s second published pulp story was another aviation tale, this time for the pages of Dell’s War Stories for April 1927. In this second tale, John Slade is posted at an American base in France. Slade is to take a photographer over the lines in a two-seater observation crate without an escort in hopes of getting vital pictures of a ruined town the German’s are presently holding that the Allies want to take. Slade is an exceptional, daredevil pilot perfect for the job—his only fear is using a parachute! And this job may require that if he can’t get through the German’s A.A. guns and any planes they may send out to shoot them down. Will he be able to face his fears when the time comes?

Slade watched Harlan jump, saw the parachute open, yet he kept his seat in the burning plane! Why? A thrilling vital yarn of the aviation corps.

It was Oppenheim’s third published story that hit paydirt! It was the story that introduced Kirby, Travis and Carn—The Three Mosquitoes! Check back next week for that first tale of the inseparable trio!

“Cat’s Spad-Jamas!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on November 27, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

All the Allied Brass Hats were frantic. For Hauptmann von Heinz—the “Owl of the Ozone”—was raising fifty-seven varieties of Cain along the Western Front, and something had to be done before he perpetrated the fifty-eighth. Yes, it was a job for the famed Pinkham. But when the Boonetown Bam tried to snare the Kraut killer into a dog fight, somebody let the cat out of the bag. And from then on it was cats-as-cats-can!


As a bonus, here’s a great article on author/artist Joe Archibald from April 24th 1927 edition of the The Brooklyn Citizen!


Joe Archibald Sees, Comes and Conquers,
Ascending Ladder of Fame as an Artist

by Murray Rosenberg • The Brooklyn Citizen, Brooklyn, NY • 24 April 1927

To show he’s a good sport and a cartoonist Joe Archibald drew this picture of himself—without the use of a mirror. He knows himself too well for that.

Red fire of determination in his eyes, grit in his heart and with very little money in his pockets, young Joe Archibald, cartooning pride of a rural, somewhat obscure town in the New Hampshire hills, fared the whole wide-cold-and seemingly unfeeling world, fully determined to set that chily sphere on fire.

His pen, grit and perseverance were his only weapons but artist Joe was young and he felt that they were match enough for any universe.

It took him four years to get a drawing in print.

Year after year of earnest endeavor in contributing to all types of publications failed utterly. Joe began to suspect that he was the only person who knew he was good.

The art editors, cold bloodily refused him interviews, the papers went to press just as well without his work, the magazines returned his efforts without comment, without the checks he so fondly hoped to find. But Joe gamely contained his persevering struggle for recognition, and then the events of a single day wiped out all the heartaches and bitterness of four long years. One of his cartoons was in print.

It was the “Judge” magazine that suffered. It might be reportod here that Joe, claims the distinction of having more rejection slips than any other cartoonist—sufficient to paper the entire ceiling of the museum of Natural History. But his motto is “keep feeding them pictures until they accept one in self-dense.”

The King of Sports

To-day Joe Archibald, who a decade and some odd years ago was a happy go-lucky country schoolboy, obscured from fame in a hinky-dinky rural village in New England, is recognized as a cartoonist de luxe and a national medium in the sports realm, for, as you probably know, Joe makes it his specialty to draw sport cartoons. Yes, he now sits up on the throne of success to look upon the public with a contented smile, for, like every scout, he does his daily good turn by brightening up sport pages with his peppy drawings and offering the fans intimate glimpses into the lives and records of their favorite athletes.

Following the first purchase of his sketch, the rocky road to success grew a bit smoother and life took on a brighter aspect. Other periodicals accepted his contributions and then he sent a cartoon of a prominent sport event of the day to a daily paper. To his surprise and joy the drawing was accepted and published, and thus Joe embarked on the trail that has finally led him to national fame as a sports cartoonist.

From the position of irregular sports department artist on a junk-town paper Joe emigrated to the big city and began again the routine of presenting his drawings to editors, “big-time” men this time. They were accepted from time to time and soon his work attracted the attention of William J. Granger, sports editor of “The Brooklyn Citizen.” He quickly came to the conclusion that young Joe would be a worthy addition to the cartooning staff of the “Citizen,” following which the machinery began functioning to secure his services. Joe finally consented to pen his “John Hancock” to a contract; and now cartoonist Joe, who through his own relentless efforts and unswerving and set ideals has surmounted the steps to success, provides the many thousands of “Citizen” readers each day with vivid picture descriptions of the latest doings in sports.

Backward, Time in Thy Flight!

Let us look back a bit upon some of the past history of Joe Archibald at the time he began his career—a career fraught with thrills and excitement. He first awakened to the content of his latent talent when be completed a picture with chalk on the blackboard of the little red schoolhouse in New Hampshire. It was a drawing of Lincoln and a startling likeness. It was exhibited in the town and made him famous in the “400.” That was the population of the hamlet.

Then came the ascension of the second rung of the ladder to fame when one of his drawings was selected as the best among many competitors by the famous Homer Davenport. This consequently brought him much fame as a cartoonist in the neighboring counties. When 17 years of age he left the Academy of Arts in Chicago to enlist in the navy. While at Newport, R.I., he joined the staff of the “Newport Recruit,” a famous war time publication and it was here that he labored until the kaiser cried “quits.” Then he landed in New York.

There are few sports cartoonists today better equipped to portray athletic events in cartoons than Joe Archibald, who far back as he can recall has been a keen observer and close follower of every phase of sports. His activities as a sports scribe and artist bring him into close touch with some of the brightest luminaries in athletic competition and it usually is Joe Archibald who much wanted interview. This together with the draftsmanship that seems to make his characters actually “live” on the sport pages, have all served to make his reputation an envied on envied among the brotherhood of cartoonists. joe’s cartoons and articles have been syndicated in close to 100 cities from coast to coast. He was at various times affiliated with the Portland, Me., Press Herald, Boston Advertiser and Telegram.

An Artist Athlete

To cap all that has been said, Joe is himself a finished athlete which accounts partly for his deep and sincere interest in each and every one of his cartoons, in an effort to bring it up to the acme of perfection both in the way of reality and mechanical exactness. And together with aforementioned sufficient humor is injected into his drawings to give the reader a reaL moment of enjoyment.

Cartoonist Joe made a serious study of every star whose name is a byword among sport fans and in the vernacular of the modern slangsters. “He knows his onions.” His lot was success for he saw—he came—he conquered.