Monday, December 31, 2012

Barry O'Neill and Fang Gow of China

No one speaks normal English
in this comic
Not too long before the publication of Superman and the rise of the capes, there was Barry O’Neill. Barry is lauded as the first modern action hero in comics. He has a strong jaw, quick punch, and blank personality.

Barry is a creation Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. A idea born to help his new business a line of comic books containing all original material. Barry started appearing in National Periodical Publications' (DC) very first comic, New Fun Comics, in 1935. He moved to More Fun Comics when the title changed, continuing in two pages installments until #25.

His arch villain, Fang Gow, was yet another Fu Manchu-styled stereotype. The plots and side characters could have easily been lifted from the pages of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu.
Fang Gow was never really as interesting as his fellow yellow peril villains. His only unique feature is his directed hatred for France rather than some vague white, western enemy.Given China history with France at the time, this effort makes some historical sense.

He did make a serum to turn men in to wax dummies one time. That was interesting.  Sadly, like most really cool serums of the 1930s and 40s, it was never heard from again.

Barry and his side kick Legrande returned to fight their genius adversary in 1946. Atomic Comics reprinted 12 of their adventures with new art by Leo O'Mealia. With World War II over negative Chinese stereotypes were deemed usable again. See his reprinted adventures from Atomic Comics #1 below.

32//33 //34 //35 //36//37//38 //39

Leo O'Mealia also did the art for the news strip adaption of Fu Manchu in 1931 to 1933.

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