Sunday, November 29, 2009

Golden Age Idol--Swing Sisson!!!!

There are certain genres of action hero who have been lost to the murky depths of time, once superheroes began to dominate the landscape.

And isn't it high time we revived them? Because, frankly, what comic books need today is a swinging bandleader who always manages to find time to bust up crime gangs:

That's right--Swing Sisson, Ace Of The Bandstand, was the Tommy Dorsey of the Quality universe...except this bandleader wouldn't have punked out when the Godfather made him an offer he couldn't refused--he'd have busted up Vito Corleone's gang and been back in time for the evening set!!

You see, in almost every issue of Feature Comics, Swing and the band would just be getting the joint jumping, when:

So, he'd go out and defeat the bad guys:

...and make it back to dedicate a new song to the hoods he's just busted:

How delightful.

Now, you may mock Swing Sisson. After all, who wants to read the continuing adventures of a swingin' crime-fightin' bandleader? Well, apparently Golden Age comics readers, that's who. Swing's run lasted nearly 100 issues in Feature Comics, ending only when that mag folded. He never made the cover, but he outlasted every other feature, including Doll Man!!

Now, the more skeptical amongst you may be asking, how in the heck do you keep the adventures of a crime-fighting jazz band leader interesting for nearly a decade? The answer: occasionally, you get really weird:

Yeah, that's right:

You see, we start with Swing buying some "antique" musical instruments from a really poor auctioneer:

But at the same auction, some low level hoods buy a very special sword:

Yes, in the view of the Golden Age, ancient wizards were really brilliant scientists (whose science somehow got lost in the intervening years, because they forgot to publish or something). And hoods were very touchy whenever their underlings questioned that fact. Ahh, the Golden Age...

Well, it turns out that the sword can cut through anything, so the hoods use it for a crime wave. But Swing's new horn? Baby, it's the Horn of Roland, whose blast can defeat armies by making them drop any iron or steel weapons!! So, when the unstoppable object meets the unopposable force, it goes a little something like this:

And after a round of exposition...

...the "special science" weapons are sent off to languish in the warehouse next to the Ark...

And that was the last Swing Sisson story ever. Which is pretty sad and terrible, because that hep cat could rock both the 1940's night club scene AND the 1940's criminal scene. Swing was king, and I have to believe that there's room in today's comics world for a bopping band leader who is also the scourge of the underworld.

Presumably, DC owns Swing these days (along with all of the other Quality characters). Then again, as far as I can tell, he hasn't even been mentioned in a comic for 50 years, so he very well could be public domain. So anybody out there--start printing Swing Sisson stories now!!

I mean, think about it--a jumping jive band leader, who fights crime every night, and had access to a magic special scientific trumpet that can defeat any modern weapon...that fits right into The Core Marvel Universe...

Swing Swisson panels are from Feature Comics #50 (1941) and #144 (1950).


theotheradamford said...

It would be interesting to see the attempts to merge contemporary music and crimefighting down the ages. I can think of a few badly done examples, like the wu tang comics, and that death metal monster band that armagideon time featured recently, but it would be interesting to see if it could be done well...

Anthony W said...

I was bracing myself for the part where you mention a black sidekick who has a silly name like bebop or jive cat but thankfully Swing Sisson avoided that.

Whew! :)

Stewf said...

Great post. Glad I found it while cleaning up our 2004 interview with Swing Sisson creator Phil Martin. I’ll link his mention of the comic to here. Phil was a pretty crazy dude who went on to become type designer and retirement lounge singer in his later years. He died in 2005.

snell said...

Tune in today. stwef, for another of Swing's crazy adventures!!