MARTIN BLAKE: THE ANIMAL KING
This serial was one of the initial features in Three Aces Comics. It definitely appeared in issue 1-2, perhaps in 1-1 as well. It ceased to be published somewhere between issue 1-9 October 1942 and issue 2-1, February 1943. The credits name only Doris Slater but it is likely this adventure story was principally a partnership between Doris and Ted McCall an experienced hand at authoring adventure cartoon stories. The fact that McCall and Slater were related through marriage strengthens this supposition.
Located in Africa, the series revolves around Martin Blake (and his pet lion Alvar), his neighbours John and Joan Newcombe and faithful servant Juba in an ongoing conflict with the villainous Red Fagan. World War Two remains very much in the background. In issue 1-2, Martin Blake took a Dr. Nash of the Royal Museum to a lost world of prehistoric creatures that John Newcombe stumbled across it while prospecting for gold. We quickly encounter Red Fagan who tries to kill Blake and who incites the natives against the party. In response Blake rescues his friends and reconciles the natives but Red Fagan escapes to cause trouble another day. This issue established the basic plot line for each of the stories. In issue 1-3, introduced Joan Newcombe the gutsy heroine who develops a considerable hero worship for Blake, rather reminiscent of Natasha’s hero worship of Freelance. The series is typical of the McCall fast paced style. The serial has a stereotypical view of African natives which was almost universal for the time.
One story is quite interesting. At the request of a fan Carl Libbey of Fredericton N.B., who won an original Martin Blake drawing for his suggestion, Martin Blake and company were transported from the African jungle to an unnamed city. It began in African where Blake encountered a new set of villains father and son millionaires Simon and Cyril Slyme, who are after the map of a valuable mine. After a series of adventures on a yacht and in a hotel owned by the villains, Blake again saved his friends and secured the map for the allied war effort. They then returned to the African jungle. An episode in which Juba is lured to the dance floor by big band music seems more like a touch of Slater introducing her interest than of McCall.
“Martin Blake” disappeared from the pages of Three Aces Comics about the end of 1942 but is likely the inspiration for “Terry Kane”.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Front: Illus., probably Doris Slater. 3 Aces, 1-3, March 1942.
Win a drawing of Martin Blake by answering questions. No credit. 3 Aces Comics, 1-5, May 1942: 38.
“Martin Blake Animal King.” Contributor unidentified. 3 Aces Comics, 1-2, Jan./Feb. 1942: 20-35. Black & white.
|“Martin Blake Animal King…” Car., D. Slater. 3 Aces Comics. Black & white.|
|“…Savages and Diamond Smugglers.” 1-3, March, 1942: 23-42.
“…The Leopardmen Try Voodoo.” 1-5, May 1942: 23-37.
|“Martine Blake Animal King…” Car., Doris Slater. Three Aces Comics. Black & white ..|
|“…The Rock of Doom.” 1-6, June 1942: 13- 27.
“…Jungle Defenders in the City.” 1-8, September 1942:12-27.
“…The Land of the Golden Lion.” 1-9, October 1942:12-27.
Between issues 1-9 and 2-1 “Martin Blake Animal King” was replaced by Fawcett Publications characters “Bulletman and Bulletgirl”.
A 12”x15” drawing of “Martin Blake” (see GALLERY above & below) will be sent to winner of contest.
Illus., probably Doris Slater. 3 Aces Comics, 1-3, March 1942
An early piece with Doris Slater’s signature. 3 Aces, 1-3, March 1942: 23.
Three Aces Comics, 1-9. October 1942: 12
Three Aces Comics, 1-8, September 1942: 19
Contest, The winner receives this original by Doris Slater. Three Aces Comics, 1-5, May 1942: 38.