Tuesday, October 03, 2017


Doing a review of Hurricane Harrigan is a natural follow-up to our review of Blaze Baylor (see BTC entry for Friday 29 September 2017) since Harrigan was also a secondary comic character found in Cat-Man Comics, and he was also the creation of Charles M Quinlan, who was quite active (as a penciler and inker, though he also wrote, as he did here and with Baylor) in the comics world of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Harrigan lasted a bit longer in Cat-Man than Baylor did--six issues as opposed to four--and he came from a far different background.....

When we look at the competition in the field of action-adventure-oriented pulpy popular entertainment aimed at the 12 year old male in all of us during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, we have radio shows (often 15-minute episodes, kind of like audio serials, which seem to go on for weeks, during this period, and alas, often NOT preserved or if they are, then preserved in muffled sound quality, as they were not considered “major” radio shows a la Jack Benny), we have B-movies and serials made by the likes of Republic or Monogram or sometimes Columbia, we have comic strips (Terry and the Pirates, for instance), we have pulp magazine fiction (characters such as “Singapore Sammy”), and we have comic books....like the one under review today.

Once again, our friends at Gwandanaland have extracted the comic-book stories of one character--HURRICANE HARRIGAN--from six issues of Cat-Man Comics circa 1941-42 and given this unique creation his own comic book....75 years after the fact....but better late than never

Harrigan is the kind of outrageous character who can exist only in comic books or pulp magazine stories or serials.....or nowadays, in straight-to-video action films. He is a Texas cowboy who was a fan of the works of Rudyard Kipling, so he saved up his money....and traveled to India, looking for adventure! Yes, just imagine one of the lesser-lights of the B-western world, such as Wally Wales or Jack Hoxie or Lane Chandler, one of the quick-to-action but at the same time aw-shucks variety (NOT a Hoot Gibson or a Bob Steele or a Johnny Mack Brown, all of whom had a more complex persona), stepping into action in some fantasy version of “India” that seems to mix up Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism, and other than a pagoda or two on view and locals calling various people “Sahib,” bears no relation to even Kipling’s version of Colonial India, let alone the real thing. But hey, this is not a documentary....it’s aimed at people, both juveniles and juvenile-minded adults like me, in the US who’ve probably never been to their state’s capital city, let alone even Canada or Mexico. It’s all made up for time-killing action-filled entertainment!

Don't fault the accuracy of the details when the work never sought to be accurate; instead, credit the imagination of the creator, sitting in some cluttered cubicle somewhere and taking imaginative leaps out of his boring world into some hazy but colorful dream-world....and taking along tens of thousands of comic-book reading juveniles and adolescents and adults. It really did not matter that Edgar Rice Burroughs had never visited Africa or India or Brazil or wherever before creating Tarzan....it really did not matter that Karl May had never visited the American West before creating Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. No, it’s imaginative popular entertainment. Sit back and forget the troubles of the REAL world and let your mind run free in this comic-book world.

Each of the six stories moves quickly and creates a situation that, frankly, could easily be transposed to a western setting....or an outer-space setting....but here, it’s in Fantasy India, which often bears more similarity to something like the world of serials such as UNDERSEA KINGDOM or THE PHANTOM EMPIRE, if everyone there wore turbans and spoke in pseudo-Indian mumbo-jumbo.

Of course, Harrigan needs a “local” sidekick, so he helps and befriends a giddy but docile adolescent whom he names Skeebo, following one of the first rules of juvenile-oriented action comic strips and serials: have a juvenile in an important role as the viewpoint character of the audience, so they can “fit in” themselves to the scene.

I could summarize the plots of the six stories for you, but they are best appreciated with an element of surprise present. Let’s just say that he helps local exploited people, breaks criminal rings, helps ladies in distress, helps individuals set upon by crooked local officials, etc etc.....just like he would in a western!

If you have a taste for absurd cross-cultural lowbrow entertainment as I do, and the idea of something like THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS ON GILLIGAN’S ISLAND excites you as it does me, you’ll want to score a copy of this 38-page gem, which is all killer and no filler. Just go to Create Space or Amazon and search for “Hurricane Harrigan” and “Gwandanaland” and you too can live in this over-the-top fantasy world where cowboys ride the range among ancient temples and exotic pagodas and jeweled idols and defeat the enemy in six pages. If only life were that easy....but since it isn’t, Hurricane Harrigan is back from comic book limbo to take you out of your (my) world of dreary work-weeks and empty bank accounts and a-hole neighbors and work-mates, and put you into a world where you can strut alongside our hero through a perfumed, jeweled comic-book-exotica world of action and intrigue. That’s an offer that I can’t refuse!

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