MARTIN BLAKE: THE ANIMAL KING
This serial was one of the initial features in Three Aces Comics published by Anglo-American Publishing Ltd.. . It definitely appeared in issue 1-2, Jan./Feb. 1942, perhaps in 1-1 as well. Somewhere between issues 1-9 October 1942 and 2-1 February 1943. It was replaced by the Fawcett Publications characters “Bulletman and Bulletgirl”. “Martin Blake” disappeared from the pages of Three Aces Comics but is likely the inspiration for “Terry Kane” who appeared in 1944..
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 though not to each other 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 are in an ongoing conflict with the villainous Red Fagan. World War Two remains very much in the background in this serial. 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 while prospecting for gold. They 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. 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’s fast paced style, and it has a stereotypical view of African natives which was almost universal for the time.
Of interest is the story based on the request of a fan Carl Libbey of Fredericton N.B., who won an original Martin Blake drawing probably the one pictured below for his suggestion, In this story, Martin Blake and company are transported from the African jungle to an unnamed city. It begins in African where Blake encounters a new set of villains father and son millionaires Simon and Cyril Slyme, who are after the map showing a valuable mine. After a series of adventures on a yacht and in a hotel owned by the villains, Blake again saves his friends and secures the map for the allied war effort. They return 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.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY: All published by Anglo-American Publishing Ltd. Interiors black & white, covers two colour,.
3 Aces Comics, 1-5, May 1942: “Win a drawing of Martin Blake by answering questions”: 38.
3 Aces Comics, 1-2, Jan./Feb. 1942: “Martin Blake Animal King.” Author (s) unidentified: 20-35.
|3 Aces Comics …: “Martin Blake Animal King…” Signed, D. Slater..|
|1-3, March, 1942: “…Savages and Diamond Smugglers”: 23-42.
1-5, May 1942: “…The Leopardmen Try Voodoo”: 23-37.
|Three Aces Comics…: “Martin Blake Animal King…” Signed, Doris Slater. .|
|1-6, June 1942: “…The Rock of Doom”: 13- 27.
1-8, September 1942: “…Jungle Defenders in the City”: 12-27.
1-9, October 1942: “…The Land of the Golden Lion”: 12-27.
3 Aces, 1-3, March 1942: Illus., probably Doris Slater.
A 12”x15” drawing of “Martin Blake” (see GALLERY below) will be sent to winner of a contest.
3 Aces Comics, 1-3, March 1942: Illus., probably Doris Slater.
3 Aces, 1-3, March 1942: An early piece with Doris Slater’s signature: 23.
Three Aces Comics, 1-9. October 1942: 12
Three Aces Comics, 1-8, September 1942: 19
Three Aces Comics, 1-5, May 1942: Contest, The winner receives this original by Doris Slater. 38.