Today's WFMU Comics Supplement Section shines a light on an interesting find: the ninth issue of 'From Here to Insanity', the Charlton Comics answer to MAD magazine, originally published as the April 1955 edition. I had never seen famed composer and conductor Raymond Scott parodied in a comic book before, so this was a real shock when I stumbled upon it! In fact, this issue is full of music references, and I've included a single page feature and another short story from this same book, along with the featured tale which sends up the 'Plucky Strike Hiss Parade'.
The Hiss Parade yarn is bulging with 1955 pop culture references, most of them identifiable, but several that I can't quite put my finger on just who is being parodied, and I'm hoping our readers can help me out with those. Here in order of appearance is the group of players in this nutty story:
Our hero Raymond Scat, who is easy enough to peg - I had never thought of his ears as being all that large (see photo), but people did look much different than in real life on camera in those earlier days of cruder transmission technology, and also the colorist made him a blonde, but did retain his mid-fifties flat-top look; the interviewer 'Dick Johnstown' - obviously drawn to resemble actor Jack Webb, but just whose name is being joked with I'm not sure; 'all-knight DJ Vary Grayface' - I don't have any idea on this one -but it's probably easy for someone with a better knowledge of 1950s DJs than me to identify; 'Spooky Lambsclub' (series regular Snooky Lanson); singer 'Dorothy Collars' - there's an easy one - Dorothy Collins, the regular singer on most seasons of the show and the wife of host Raymond Scott); 'Givesall McKillsme' - (another series stalwart- Gisele MacKenzie); 'Van Monotone' (love these names!) - no idea who he's supposed to be; an unbilled Lee Liberace sticks his mug in there for one panel; and in the third piece shown below, "What in the Heck is a Mambo?" we see Groucho Marx, who delivers a pointed MAD magazine reference and tells a character who says 'mad', "That was the lucky word!"
No writer credits (and this is some fudged-up 'humor' writing - those MAD imitators had their work cut out for them, the scripts in this book are almost completely incoherent), but the book was produced in the Al Fago studio (so he may well have had a hand in the writing), and the cover and single page feature were drawn by Fred Ottenheimer, who also drew for Charlton's other MAD clone "Eh!", and the two full-length stories were drawn by famed 1950s-1960s comic book artist Dick Ayers.
Let's take a look at this odd and insane magazine right after the jump!