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E-Mail | Introduction | Archives | Message Board September 02, 2005
Issue #1084 of 1097
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[Scott Shaw!]

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Title: Wambi (The Jungle Boy)
Issue: No. 8
Date: 1958
Publisher: I. W. Enterprises, Inc.
Cover Artist(s): Unknown

Move over, Dr. Doolittle! No, it's not Bambi's twin�and it's not a zombie, either! Meet WAMBI THE JUNGLE BOY, the animal-talkin', high-divin' Tarzan-wannabe star of this week's Oddball Comic - and the bestial pals at his command, including Tawn the elephant, Ogg the gorilla, Tiku the monkey and Sirdah the continent-challenged tiger! (Talk about a bungle in the jungle!)

Pop culture's first jungle-bred hero was Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan Of The Apes", who made his first appearance in the pages of the October, 1912 issue of ALL-STORY MAGAZINE. Two years later, the A. C. McClurg Company reprinted Burroughs' story as a hardback book. Eventually, Burroughs' jungle hero was adapted to comic strips - by Hal (PRINCE VALIANT) Foster in 1929 -- and then comic books (Dell, 1939). This spawned a spate of four-color jungle heroes, including "Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle", "Ka-Zar" and the ever-popular "Jo-Jo, Congo King", to name but a few. Jungle heroes became so popular, in fact, that an entire new comic book anthology was built around the concept, Fiction House's JUNGLE COMICS, (the first issue cover-dated January, 1940). Co-created by the legendary team of Will Eisner and S. M. "Jerry" Iger, its premiere issue introduced "Wambi The Jungle Boy" - where the heck did that name come from, anyway? -- who shared the book with a variety of other Caucasian (!) jungle heroes, including "Ka'a'nga, Lord Of The Jungle", "Simba", "Tabu, Wizard Of The Jungle", "Camilla", "Capt. Terry Thunder", "Fantomah, Mystery Woman Of The Jungle", "The White Panther", "The Red Panther", "The Desert Panther" (apparently, panthers were a big deal around Fiction House) and others. Although Wambi's final appearance in JUNGLE COMICS was in its. 158th issue; the series continued until No. 163 (Summer, 1954). Wambi received his own title, cover-dated Spring, 1942. Fiction House published a total of eighteen issues of WAMBI, JUNGLE BOY, with the final issue cover-dated Winter 1952/1953.

In 1958, funnybook entrepreneur Israel Waldman acquired the printing plates for pages of artwork from various defunct comic book publishing companies. With little or no regard for prior rights to this material, Waldman published dozens of comics with new titles and covers (often by Joe Simon, Sol Brodsky and the team of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito) but with interior stories reprinted from the past decade. Rather than being distributed to newsstands, these comics - most of which one-shots - were sold through discount stores. Waldman's line of "I. W." comic books (for "Israel Waldman", get it?) spanned the gamut of genres -- superhero, adventure, crime, romance, war, western, horror, science fiction, detective, kiddie, teenage and funny animals, among others -- even unauthorized reprints of Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT! (In 1963, Waldman created a second wave of "new" reprint titles, this time under the banner of "Super Comics", and in the early 1970s, Waldman and former I. W. cover-artist Sol Brodsky formed Skywald Comics, which combined new stores with more reprints of Golden Age material.) Waldman didn't overlook the genre of jungle comics in his line of prefab funnies, either. This issue - the only one published by I. W. -- is a reprint of Fiction House's WAMBI, JUNGLE BOY No. 12, albeit with a new cover -- one that looks as if Wambi and his African amigos forgot to attach their bungee cords! (So, why in the name of Johnny Weismuller is the animal-loving jungle boy attacking that poor, defenseless giant gorilla?) And please note that the red-haired kid on this cover in no way resembles the "real" Wambi - who has black hair and a red turban - in this comic's interior stories!

Included in this issue of WAMBI THE JUNGLE BOY are the following stories, features and advertisements:

  • Two black-and-white, inside-front-cover ads: "Hi-Power Binoculars - See Up To 18 Miles", available through mail order from the "Bruce Sales Co."; and "Own And Fly Your Own Jet Engine Plane", a model aircraft available through mail order from "Jetex Skyfighter".

  • "TV Booster Makes TV Sets Work Better", an antenna-augmentation device available through mail order from "TV Booster Co."

  • An untitled 10-page "Wambi The Jungle Boy", credited to "Roy L. Smith" and drawn by Alex Blum. - "The most harmless prank can turn out to be dangerous! Long go, WAMBBI, the jungle boy, had learned this lesson. Often he preached its wisdom to his animal friends. But now only one thought filled his mind�his little friend, Tiku, the monkey, is sick�" On a tip from Maggo the macaw, Wambi asks Tawn the elephant to take them to a white man's safari camp near the river. They arrive only to find one of the explorers under attack by Sirdah the tiger, who's apparently a looong way from home!. (Oddly, tigers are indigenous to the continent of Asia, not Africa! Looks like "Roy L. Smith" forgot to do his homework!) After Tawn tosses the striped feline back into the jungle, grateful Professor Goode expresses his thanks to Wambi by treating little Tiku - poisoned by a water hole drugged by a hunter named Gowdy -- with the proper medicine. Quickly recovering, the mischievous monkey pulls a sealed envelope out of the professor's pack and hides it under a rock. Later, at Gowdy's camp, Professor Goode - accompanied by Wambi and Tawn - confront the insensitive, not-so-great white hunter. The professor intends to serve Gowdy with an official order from the territory's governor to cancel his permit to drug the jungle's animals, and to free all the beasts he's already captured. Unfortunately, unknown to the professor, the order was in the envelope that Tike hid earlier. Meanwhile, Wambi starts prying open Gowdy's cages, letting loose a leopard, an antelope and a rhinoceros. When Gowdy threatens the jungle boy with his bullwhip, Tawn intervenes, despite the hunter's threat to shoot the brave pachyderm. Splitting up, Professor Goode searches for the governor's order, while Wambi, Tawn and a gorilla named Ogg spread the word about the drugged water holes. "Ho, you of horn and hoof, of claw and fang, of beak and feathers�come to the council rock! COME!" Meanwhile, Gowdy orders his men to build a huge corral and using torches, drive allthe animals in the area into his stockade. Then they'll leave with their catch, before Professor Goode can locate his letter from the governor. While they plot, Wambi addresses a multi-species gathering of animals at the Council Rock. Sirdah the tiger refuses to believe Wambi's warning (see, I told you he didn't belong in an African jungle!), claiming that it's just a trick, but the jungle boy swears that he's not playing a prank on them. Suddenly, their confab is interrupted when a fire - one set by Gowdy's men - threatens to engulf them. As the beasts of the jungle flee in panic - just as Gowdy planned - Wambi, Tawn and Ogg follow then to the stockade built near the hunter's camp. Wambi orders the mighty elephant to charge into the giant holding pen, shattering its timbers and freeing the trapped animals within. Suddenly, the wind shifts, blowing the wildfire back toward Gowdy and his men, driving them into the crocodile-infested river. Before they can meet a grisly fate, Wambi and Tawn rescue them. Despite this, Gowdy refuses to cooperate, until apologetic Tiku the monkey arrives unexpectedly, bearing the missing envelope in his mouth! While Gowdy leaves the jungle in disgrace, Wambi lectures his simian pal, "What is that, Tiku? You say you are sorry. Remember, hereafter, to be more careful with your tricks. For this one nearly cost your friends their freedom!"

  • "Jungle Lore", a two-page educational feature about the Kavirondo tribe that dwells on the eastern shore of Africa's Lake Victoria.

  • "Test For A King", a two-page text-feature, credited to "Roy L. Smith".

  • A page featuring two unrelated ads: "Learn Karate - Self Defense - Faster, More Effective That Judo!" (correspondence courses from "Davis & Bennett"; and "250 Magic Tricks Revealed" from the "Magic Collection".

  • A page featuring two ads: "Record Your Voice At Home" (for low-tech recording equipment) from the "Honor House Products Corp."; and "Safety Deposit Bank Vault - Genuine Combination Lock", also from the "Honor House Products Corp."

  • An untitled 6-page "Wambi The Jungle Boy", credited to "Roy L. Smith" and drawn by Alex Blum. - "'MYSTERY VALLEY is just ahead�I will carry you no closer to it', Tawn trumpets. 'Enter it not, man-cub, for evil beings lurk its haunts!'" Despite the warnings of Tawn the elephant, Ogg the gorilla, Tiku the monkey and even Sirdah the tiger, Wambi's curiosity drives him to explore the unknown territory. As he moves further into Mystery Valley, Wambi recalls his bestial friends' frightening tales of a stone idol, a giant head without a body, a giant and glowing balls of light. Scoffing at their stories, Wambi arrives at a site of ancient ruins, when suddenly, he's panicked by the startling sight of - you guessed it! -- a huge face, a giant and glowing balls of light. Wambi stumbles into a bog of quicksand, one that lies in the shadow of a huge stone face carved by some ancient civilization. Fortunately, Tiku has followed his human friend, and tosses Wambi a vine to save him from being sucked under. Tiku explains that he and his simian friends booby-trapped a secret water hole to frighten away other animals. They rigged the stone idol's head to swing on a vine, an old tree to look like a giant, and even dipped coconuts in shiny mud, all to drive away any unwanted visitors. Later, as a reward for saving his life, Wambi honors Tiku's secret by addressing the region's animals at the Council Rock: "I too saw those horrible things you saw, my friends. Never must any of us enter the valley again!"

  • An untitled 8-page "Wambi The Jungle Boy", credited to "Roy L. Smith" and drawn by Alex Blum. - "'Hunt not unless you hunger!' Wambi thought all jungle dwellers knew and kept the law�until one day, while resting in (a) friendly tree, he saw�" While attempting to pass his rite of manhood by killing Leo the leopard, a young African named Mogo is nearly crushed to death by a Tyro the python. Ordering the deadly reptile to back off, Wambi rescues unconscious Mogo, then places the boy in a canoe which floats him down-river back to his village. In disgrace, poor Mogo is humiliated when his tribe's chief orders him to do penance in a small hanging cage. Overseeing this, Wambi enlists the aid of Ogg the gorilla to teach the natives a lesson in hunting. First, they construct a pit-trap, with Ogg using himself as bait to lure Mogo's friends into it. That night, Mogo's tribes begins to worry about their missing sons. Wambi shows up, promising to take them to their sons only if they agree to stop hunting animals in their rites. As the tribesmen attempt to catch him, Wambi attracts the attention of a pack of wild dogs, which he sends after his pursuers. Things look grim for the warriors, until Wambi calls his animal friends together. The united team of jungle-fighters -- including a gorilla, an elephant, a giraffe, an antelope, a Cape buffalo, a leopard, a tiger, a wolf, a rhinoceros and a zebra (what, no lion?) - make short work of the wild dogs in a menagerie-filled melee. With the tribesmen safe, Wambi lives up to his promise, leading them to their sons who have safely been kept hidden in an underground tunnel. In turn, they agree to release Mogo from his confined punishment, adding, "And after this, the boys will be taught to make friends with the animals instead of hunting them!" (So when is Wambi planning to make reparations to that poor pack of wild dogs he intentionally manipulated toward his own ends?)

  • A page featuring various booklets from the "Padell Book Co.", including "Learn To Dance At Home", "Fun For Girls", "How To Carry On A Conversation" and "A Guide To Beauty And Charm".

  • "The World's Greatest Molder Of Handsome He-Men And Champs Out Of Weaklings Says 'Skinny Or Fat, I'll Build You Into A New Athletic Streamlined Mighty-Muscled He-Man As I Have For 35 Years Re-Built Millions Like You!'", a black-and-white, inside-back-cover ad for mail order bodybuilding courses from the "Jowett Institute Of Body Building".

  • "Gain Weight - Stop Being Skinny!", a black-and-white, back-cover ad for weight-gain tablets available through the mail from the "More-Wate Co."

ODDBALL Factoid - Cartoonist Alex Blum also illustrated many adaptations of famous works of literature for Gilberton's line of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED comics!

For more from Scott Shaw!, visit his Web site at http://www.shawcartoons.com/.

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Scott Shaw!
Staff Writer, CBR

comicbookresources.com | 09.02.05

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