Monday, July 31, 2006

Lois' Life Aquatic

I've been making my way through the second volume of the Showcase Superman, which contains stories originally published in 1960-1.

There are some pleasingly strange stories to be found here, and my focus in this post is a particularly striking sequence of images from one titled "The Mermaid From Atlantis." (Superman #138 [1960]; written by Jerry Siegel and pencilled by Wayne Boring.)

In this tale Lori Lemaris, the fetching mermaid whom Superman once loved, is trying to trick the man of steel into proposing to Lois Lane. (Lori has moved on and is married to a merman named Ronal. However, she still cares enough about Superman that she wishes him to experience the kind of wedded bliss she now enjoys).

Part of Lori's plan involves using her mind to push incessant telepathic suggestions at Superman: "She's beautiful ... and so ... helpless! Take Lois into your arms, Superman! And kiss her ... Kiss her now!

When that attempt fails, Lori arranges things so that an unsuspecting Superman will be surrounded by a school of bizarre chimeral fish who have Lois Lane's head superimposed upon their otherwise normal bodies.

Needless to say, this stratagem fails, too.

While all of this is adequatley quirky and strange, what I think is really interesting is that the bizarre face-on-fish imagery might be a visual homage of sorts to George Herriman's Krazy Katfish, his surrealistic aquatic doppelganger to Krazy Kat.

Katfish first showed up in Herriman's Krazy Kat in 1916, and made sporadic appearances thereafter. Since Herriman's comic is absolutely suffused with unrequited passion (Krazy for Ignatz Mouse, and Officer Pup for Krazy), it's not too much of a stretch to imagine an artist visually connecting Lois' own frustrated love to Krazy's.

Here's most of the strip from Sunday, January 30, 1938, one of Krazy Katfish's notable appearances (Krazy and Ignatz, 1937-8, [Fantagraphics, 2006] p. 69):


The 60's were interesting.
Yeah, I agree. The second Superman showcase book is a veritable compendium of delightfully off-the-wall stories.
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