Sunday, November 15, 2009

Minimidget in "They Called Him... Big Boy!" -- from Amazing-Man Comics #16, 1940

Salutations, dear friends. I am overjoyed to report that I'm--quite literally--back on my feet! The modern breakthroughs and conveniences of science and medicine continue to astound me.

Bound to my ailing, gouty foot is a fantastic device. I believe Dr. Doynter referred to it as a "digital phase compressor." He said the phrase once, rather quickly, and patently refused to repeat it. "Don't get it wet" was something he told me, over and over again.

I am not sure if Dr. Doynter really likes me as a person. I suppose that isn't the most cogent point of reference between physician and patient. Doctors have every right to like--or not like--their subjects.

He is rather remote--as said earlier, he despises small-talk. His favored modus operandi is a funereal silence, punctuated by his harsh exhalations of breath. It's something akin to a teapot's whistle--perhaps pitched an octave lower, but just as sharp and arresting.

Its tone becomes quite staccato when the Doctor concentrates most heavily. At this time, he chuckles to himself--as if recalling the macabre punch-line to long, gruesome shaggy-dog story.

I'm not quite sure that I like Dr. Doynter. But he is a "pro," and I am but a humble patient.

While the Doctor attached the "gizmo" to my foot, I recalled today's story, and chuckled my own private chuckle. Dr. Doynter looked at me--his eyes reading a mix of contempt and curiosity--and then returned to the focus of his work.

Let me describe this apparatus while my memory is still fresh. It consists of a series of blue-hued "gel-packs," which are molded to conform to the contours of my afflicted foot--and to the dimensions of each toe.

The sensation to my feet and toes is warm and squishy--akin to a hot, wet towel. Apparently, these "gel-packs" suspend my foot and toes, and isolate each "digit" to reduce stress, chafing and abrasion.

The packs are enclosed by a translucent plastic shell, which has a pattern of sea-shells and starfish printed on it. On the bottom of this casing is a small, lubricated wheel. By simply scooting forward, while using a cane for balance, my foot is free of pain and stress.

It does make driving difficult. My foot tends to stick on the gas pedal, which has caused numerous unwanted accelerations at red lights, busy intersections, and has frightened more than a few pedestrians.

To help warn others of my state, I made a sign, which I've affixed to the front of my car. BAD FOOT, it reads. MAY PRESS GAS PEDAL. PLEASE PARDON ME.

Dr. Doynter said that, if I can successfully keep this gadget water-free for one week, that it may do the trick for my gout. As well, I have stuck steadfast to a no-goodies diet. Friends, it is like eating straw, pebbles and sticks. I do not recommend it unless you are an antelope or gazelle!

It was my errant driving that brought today's story to mind. Shockingly, for its era, this tale depicts a cold-blooded hit-and-run automobile attack--in which a small child is slaughtered. This story has brought tears to my eyes more than once.

It is a reminder that I must remain vigilant--I must learn to control the gas pedal whilst still I wear this device. How bitterly ironic, if this object, designed to heal, should lead me to kill another!

Some good news: Dorrie is back home! The trombone symposium proved too much for her nerves. As well, my insurance has agreed to pay for a new car! I shall miss my old faithful Dodge Dart. It's deeply interwoven with my panelological findings and passions.

But the old girl doesn't get good gas mileage, and she's begun to rattle and clunk in her dotage. The check should arrive any day now.

And, if the "Digital Phase Compressor" does its magic, I shall return to my office next week. I can only imagine the disarray of my desk! Other employees tend to use a vacant desk for their "home-away-from-home." It will be covered with sandwich crumbs, old coffee cups, abandoned note-pads with pornographic doodles, and such. I've come to expect these "glad tidings" from my "team members." I try to set a good example by not sullying the workspaces of others... but one can only do one's best. After that, 'tis said, the devil with the rest!

And, on that note, here is an outstanding episode of the highly imaginative, unpredictable Golden Age gem-- MINIMIDGET!

As with any work excerpted from a longer narrative, this "Minimidget" tale may contain some puzzling references. Writer-artist John Franklin Kolb favored lengthy, byzantine plot-lines that, in some cases, casually extended across a dozen issues!

This story well displays his love of combining story genres. Here, in its seven pages, we encounter the following:

Robots! Gangsters! Color-changing automobiles! Scientists! Bank robberies! Burning houses! One could easily fashion an acceptable story from any single element on this list. Mr. Kolb believed "the more, the merrier" in his narrative style. He accosted the lucky reader with everything but "the kitten sink." His seven-page stories read like a full-length graphic novel to this reporter.

Poor Kolb did not last long in the panelological realm. Wartime duties called him--not as a soldier or sailor, but as a machinist. Kolb went to work for Lockheed, where his imaginative skills helped devise several war-winning gadgets.

Kolb paid the price for his ingenuity--he made the panelologists' ultimate sacrifice. Both his arms were severed at the elbow during a factory mishap, in which a poorly-installed buzzsaw blade flew loose of its housing. The unfortunate man was in the blade's vicious path.

Kolb learned to draw with a pencil or pen in his mouth, but the results did not match his earlier "Minimidget" work. He attempted to return to the comic magazine trade. It took him, on average, 11 months to complete a six-page story. He could not generate sufficient income to survive.

Kolb became a screenwriter for television. His scripts adorned such classic series as "Lassie "Ironside" and "Rawhide." A mind such as his could not cease its imaginative paths. Even in the heavy restrictions of television, Kolb produced solid, satisfying plays. I haven't seen any of his "boot-tube" work in years, but I recall it as fondly as his panelological efforts of yore.

I just peeked in on Dorrie. Poor dear! She is apparently pretending to make some brownies. Old habits die hard. I await the day when I can, once again, savor the rich rewards of her culinary clarity!

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