Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Flip Falcon In the 4th Dimension from "Fantastic Comics" #20, 1941

Greetings, my comrades in the comic arts. I write to you today from a most unusual spot: a hospital bed.

My gout has not improved. Thus, Dr. Doynter asked me to stay at the Emberton Memorial Medical Center for an overnight check-up. Thank heavens for my insurance coverage. I believe they charge patients by the breath in this place.

This hospital has "hi-fi" Internet service. That means that I may access the Web, and its sundry wonders, from this none-too-cozy hospital bed.

Dr. Doynter seems confident that this bout of gout can be vanquished. I am quite ready to return to my normal workaday life. I am sure the office is a lesser place without my presence. I am, if anything, a "den father" to the others at the office. Without me, I sense my "team members" drifting, unable to fend for themselves--even worried.

Dorrie had a consultation with Dr. Doynter, after she dropped me off for registration. I was privy to the better part of it. Dr. Doynter's tone of voice became quite heated. I heard such phrases as "no marshmallows," "keep your butter to yourself" and "egg nog is poison to this man!"

Dorrie seemed downhearted as she left the consultation. She could not bear to look me in the eye.

Finally, she sat beside me on the hospital bed, and took my hand. "Mace," she said, in a stage whisper, "I didn't mean to hurt you. I know how you love my cooking. It makes me happy to fix treats for you. But the doctor says--"

I squeezed her hand and smiled. "Dr. Doynter just doesn't understand me the way you do. Soon enough I'll be back on my feet--"

"Oh, Mason." Dorrie looked downcast again. She has me pegged as an inveterate punster. I do not consciously plan such answers. Nor do I intend them to be puns of any kind. It rather miffs me when Dorrie reacts this way. It was all I could do to bite my tongue and remain calm.

"That is to say, when my gout is cured and I am able-bodied again. When that day comes, I shall welcome any and all treats from your cookbook."

Dorrie smiled: at last she saw my sincerity. All was well again.

That was two hours ago. In that time, I began to get bored with the stasis of hospital life. I'd despaired of the fact that I didn't have any new scans with which to compose a posting here.

Who should come to the rescue but good old "Sparks" Spinkle. Today's story arrived in my Gmail box some half an hour ago, along with this e-mail. I'm sure "Sparks" won't mind my sharing it with you:


From: Wallace Spinkle [sparkgun@gmail.com]
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 13:40:05 -0800
Subject: Flip Falcon
To: macemoray@gmail.com

Mason, you old rutabaga!

Just serving my time here at the "coo-coo chalet." Today's my turn to
run the library here. Nothing much to read, but I do get to use the
library scanner.

Thought I'd treat you to another top tale from the old funnybook
vault. Remember how we used to talk about "Flip Falcon" back in the
day? The fella could just leap into his screen and visit the fourth

I still laugh about the time I tried to do that with my TV set. Guess
I'd had too much beer or something! All I got was a sore head, and my
Magnavox never quite worked right after that.

You know, "Flip" was one of the few Fox characters who got better
later in the game. The rest of 'em are dull as crackers by this time.
Not old "Flip." He kept his edge.

Tell your wife that anytime she feels like baking me some cookies, or
some of that fudge pound cake, that it's always welcome. The desserts
here taste like school paste.

Come to think of it, everything here tastes like school paste. Except
for the school paste! It tastes like filet min-yoan.

Maybe you can run this "Flip Falcon" story on your almighty blog. Just
mention my name and make with your usual brilliant comments.

Oop, gotta go. Some nut's waiting to check out "The Story of Mankind"
in an EZ-Eye edition. Should I tell him how it ends?

Cordially yours, warmly,



Here, then, is "Sparks"' gift to us all: "Flip Falcon in the 4th Dimension." Enjoy!

"Flip" did indeed improve as it went onward. Writer-artist "Orville Wells" was, in reality, a shy substitute teacher named James Mannings Jr. Mannings served at a Catholic grade school where comic magazines were considered the anathema to clean living.

Thus, Mannings wrote and drew "Flip" on the fly. He would rent a hotel room some 75 miles away from his apartment for one weekend every month. There, he would feverishly create a new "Falcon" adventure.

The finished art boards were mailed to a laundry near Times Square. Once received, they were ferried to the Fox offices by an elderly woman who rode a tricycle. Most Fox staffers vividly recall these deliveries. They marked the only times a female ever entered the Fox premises!

This is, indeed, a particularly choice episode in "Flip"'s career. Herein, he battles Lucifer himself, is tricked by a false show of cowardice, and nearly gobbled whole by snake-like "death plants"--all vividly, thrillingly rendered by Mannings.

Sadly, this story "outed" Mannings to his superiors. The story was the subject of a highly negative sermon one Sunday morning, soon after its publication. Mannings' intent had been to incorporate Lucifer into the fictive world of "Falcon" to prove his evangelical zeal to his readership.

The minister chose to interpret the story as "devil worship," foisted upon innocent, unknowing youth by sinister miscreants.

This provoked Mannings to stand up before the congregation and announce, loudly, "I am this sinister miscreant!"

Mannings was fired on the spot. Alas, "Flip" was soon cancelled. Mannings was drafted, and saw some heavy action via the Merchant Marines.

At war's end, he became America's most distinguished biographer of birds. His illustrated books, Confessions of a Thrush and I, Woodpecker remain in print to this very day.

Touches of the "Orville Wells" style abound in his generous, full-color illustrations. Mannings sought to depict avian life as it really happened. By giving voice to our feathered friends, Mannings won many accolades, in public and print alike, before his untimely death in 1970.

I hoped to interview Mannings, but missed that boat of opportunity.

I now await the results of Dr. Doynter's tests on my foot. He has attached some sort of hose to my big toe. Its constant humming and vibrating has been a distraction while I composed this post. But if it means I walk away a better man, so be it.

Ah, my health salad has arrived! I must sign off. Perhaps, when next we meet, I will be cured!

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