Notes to The Forty-Niners

by Jess Nevins

The text here, except where otherwise credited, is © copyright 2005 Jess Nevins, and may not be duplicated, in part or in whole, without my permission.

Page 3. Panel 6. Private Iron is an analogue for D.C.'s G.I. Robot.

Note that Private Iron's emblem is a U.S. Army Private's stripe.

Page 4. Panel 1. Jetlad is an analogue of Charles Biro's teenaged aviator Airboy. There were a number of teenaged aviators in pre-war comic strips and comic books of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Hop Harrigan.

Panel 2. "Ungeheuer" means (among other things) "monster."

"Steven Traynor" may be a play on Steve Trevor, the friend and sidekick to Wonder Woman.

Page 6. "Hotel Palooka" is a reference to Ham Fisher's working class boxer, Joe Palooka.

"Ming" may be a reference to Flash Gordon's Yellow Peril enemy, Ming the Merciless.

"Elzie Segar Marine Supplies" is a reference to Elzie Segar, the creator of Popeye the Sailor.

Page 7. Panel 1. That's Al Capp's Li'l Abner (and grandmother?) next to the rails. To Li'l Abner's left may be Saunders & Woggon's Big Chief Wahoo. To Big Chief Wahoo's left may be Fawcett's Phantom Eagle.

The woman walking down the stairs is familiar, but I can't place her.

Panel 3. "Blutegelm" means "Leeches."

Page 8. Panel 1. Parker and Beck's Spy-Smasher and Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy and Sluggo are walking down the stairs.

I've no idea about the cow; the turtle with the pirate hat looks familiar but I can't place him; that has to be Fritz Freleng's Porky Pig; no idea about the ghost; no idea about the crocodile; no idea about the dog; Reit & Oriolo's Casper the Friendly Ghost; and no idea about the skeleton. Don MacPherson sensibly notes, "Given the number of newspaper comic strip characters in this scene, I can only assume the animals are from Walt Kelly's Pogo."

Panel 2. V.T. Hamlin's Alley Oop is at the bottom of the stairs; I've no idea who his companion is.

Walking down the stairs is Binder & Cole's Daredevil (Golden Age edition).

If the three pilgrims are a reference to anything, I'm unaware of it.

To the right of Daredevil is Ken Bald's Namora and Binder & Swayze's Mary Marvel.

Panel 4. The "E E" woman is a reference I'm not getting.

I don't know if the teetotalers are a reference to anything in particular.

To the right of the teetotalers is a out-of-shape Red Bee.

Page 9. Panel 1. "Infantino Cigars" is a reference to longtime DC creator and artist Carmine Infantino. "Hotel Nodel" is a reference to Golden Age Green Lantern artist Martin Nodell.

I think the "The" banner, and the two oddly-shaped buildings beneath it, are references to the buildings shaped like letters in Will Eisner's Spirit comics.

"Pegleg Pete's Seafood Restaurant" is a reference to Mickey Mouse's enemy Pegleg Pete.

Next to the trashcan are Errol Flynn's Robin Hood and, as Don Macpherson points out, the Golden Age Sandman.

Panel 3. The "Fresh Air Taxicab Co." and "Andrew Jones" and "Amos H. Brown" are references to the radio program Amos 'n' Andy. (On the radio show, it was "Amos Jones" and "Andrew H. Brown").

Page 10. Panel 1. The "Blue Dart" seems to be an analogue for the Golden Age Green Arrow.

Panel 3. Referring to vampires as "Evenin' Folk" is similar to the traditional injunction against calling faeries by their real names and instead using euphemisms like "the fair folk."

Panel 4. The tumbling motorcyclist is the Golden Age Sandman in his second costume.

Page 11. Panel 1.  If the "Coles Exp--" on the truck on the left is a reference to something by Jack Cole, I'm unaware of it.

Walking on the sidewalk with his back to us is Bill Everett's Amazing-Man. Next to him is Legion of Superheroes member Ultra Lad as a child. Next to him is the Claw, the arch-enemy of the Golden Age Daredevil.

Panel 2. Argh, curses, I should have gotten this one. Don MacPherson says, "Is the security guard Popeye's nemesis, Bluto?"

Panel 3. I don't know what "Finnian and Odessa Schwarm" might be a reference to.

The two chauffeurs are dressed like Kato, the chauffeur/sidekick of Striker & Trendle's Green Hornet.

The cigar-smoking clown/hobo in the lower left looks familiar, but I can't place him.

Page 12. Panel 2. The "Blitz-Wheel" is a reference to the War Wheel.

Panel 4. Leni Muller, the Sky-Witch, Jetlad's enemy during the war, is likely a reference to the Valkyrie.

Page 13. Panel 2. Behind Leni Muller are Richard F. Outcault's Tige and Buster Brown.

Behind Jetlad are Robin and Batman.

Page 15. Panel 1. If "Christ Man" and "Macra Boy" are a reference I don't know what it is.

"Chop Chop's Chop House" is a reference to the racist stereotype Chop Chop, the sidekick to Will Eisner's Blackhawks.

Panel 3. Richard F. Outcault's Yellow Kid is walking on the sidewalk.

"--terror, America's Fighting Master of Migraines" and "10 cent Formic Ethers," with the skull emblem, is a reference to Hughes & Gabrielson's Black Terror.

On the righthand side of the panel are Mutt and Jeff.

Panel 4. On the righthand side of the panel is the Phantom and child.

Panel 5. The radio is in the shape of the Rocketeer's helmet.

Page 16. Panels 2-3. "Me, all my cowd, we got moved here first. We were ordinary, Bootsy and Toots, Sloppy Sullivan...but we were funny or smart, and that was enough for people back then."
I think this is Moore's commentary on the way in which adventure comic strips drove out earlier, more domestic comic strips, a theme he touched upon before in his "Pictopia."

Page 17. Panel 1. I don't know what the witches in the sky are a reference to.

Panel 2. I assume Muller's song lyrics are a reference to something.

On the sidewalk are child versions of Parker & Smalle's Bulletman and Bulletgirl.

Panel 3. On the left is Wentworth & Purcell's Sargon the Sorcerer. I don't know who he is talking to.

I can't make out the words on the alcohol bottles or pack of cigarettes.

Page 18. Panel 2. "Scowlin' Joe O'Brien. Used to be I was a flyboy myself, y'know." This is a reference to Zack Moseley's aviator hero Smilin' Jack.

The "Skysharks" are a reference to Will Eisner's Blackhawks.

"Airknight" is likely a reference to Iron Ace, from Air Fighters Comics, who fought the Germans while wearing full plate armor.

Panel 5. The exaggerated Frenchness of the French member of the Skysharks is a reference to the stereotypes of the Blackhawk members.

Page 19. Panel 1. Just as the Blackhawks called their Chinese member "Chop Chop," so do the Skysharks call their Pacific Islander member "Tiki-Face."

Page 20. Panels 3-4. The attempted shakedown of Scowlin' Joe is probably Moore's reference to the way in which ordinary criminals and organized crime replaced supervillains as the central concern of comics after World War Two.

Page 22. Panel 2. Don MacPherson says, "Rocket Ryan seems a lot like DC's Adam Strange, but a later reference to him being from the future puts one in mind of Buck Rogers instead."

Page 27. Dagwood's is probably a reference to Chic Young's Dagwood.

Page 28. "Big K Cola" is actually a real kind of soda pop.

"Nyoka" may be a reference to serial heroine Nyoka.

The pin-up is a heroine done in the style of classic pin-up artist Alberto Vargas; even the signature on the pin-up here is close to Vargas'.

Page 29. Panel 2. "I saw Scorchy Smith fly once, when I was your age" is a reference to John Terry's Scorchy Smith.

Panel 3. "...but she just listens to old band music. Me, I like sox." I think this is a reference to "bobby-sox" music; see panel 4 below.

Panel 4. The lyrics and reference to "Bobby's stuff" makes me think that Moore is implying that, in the 1949 of the world of Top 10, Bobby Darin, not Frank Sinatra, became an early musical star; the lyrics are close to those of Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me," but are altered for a sfnal touch.

Page 31. Panel 3. On the right may be Siegel and Shuster's Doctor Occult.

Page 32. Panel 6. In the upper right are a British bobby and a French gendarme. It may be that the halls of the precinct station are filled with a variety of policemen from different eras; an early American policeman can be seen in Panel 3 on Page 31.

Page 33. Captain Zaran Orval has costume of the pre-Crisis Jor-El (Superman's father), although his background is slightly different.

A definition of Omega Point.

Page 34. Panel 3. "Sam Slinger" is the father of Toybox, from the first Top 10 series.

Panel 4. The Black Rider is dressed like Zorro.

Page 35. Panel 3. Zorro's horse was Tornado, not Midnight.

Page 36. Panel 1. The Asian figure on the righthand side of the panel looks familiar, but I can't place him.

Panel 2. I can't figure out the Puzzleman's puzzle here.

Panel 3. Or here.

Page 37. Panel 1. Chester Gould's Dick Tracy is to the left of Leni Muller.

Page 38. Panel 1. There are a number of Native American comic book characters in this panel; tradition has it that Native Americans went into the construction industry in disproportionate numbers. (I have no idea whether the historical facts bear this out). Visible are DC's Pow-Wow Smith and airman Johnny Cloud, among others I can't place.

"Felix the Hat" is a reference to Otto Messmer's Felix the Cat.

I know I should be able to place the figures flying in the buckets, but I can't.

Panel 2. Might those be the animals from Orwell's Animal Farm walking on the sidewalk?

Panel 3. Creig Flessel's Shining Knight is on the road. Popeye's friend Wimpy and Lester Dent's Doc Savage are on the sidewalk.

Panel 4. I know I should recognize the helmeted figure on the left, but I don't.

Page 41. Panel 1. Pathe Films has been one of Europe's largest film companies since the end of the 19th century. Pithe's logo is similar to Pathe's, only reversed.

Panel 3. Tom Strong is one of Alan Moore's creations, and exists in the same universe as Top 10. Atoman was a Golden Age superhero, published by Spark Publications; a character with the same name showed up in the first Top 10 series.

The "bizarre Nazi super-weapon" is the "Blitz-Wheel" referred to on Page 12, Panel 2.

Page 42. Panels 4-5. "Svetlana X" is one of Alan Moore's creations and appeared in Tom Strong.

Page 44. Panel 1. For some reason Slinger and his toy soldiers remind me of the lyrics to "The Grand Old Duke of York."

Panel 3. "It's some sort of free energy from these atoms or whatever that go both ways in time." Something like a tachyon, perhaps?

Page 45. Panel 3. "--zenjamm--" is a reference to Rudolph Dirks' Katzenjammer Kids.

"Barney Goggles" is a reference to Billy DeBeck's Barney Google.

Page 47. Panel 5. The wallpaper, which Muller was complaining about earlier, is an early version of Mickey Mouse.

Page 51. Panel 2. Is that Peter Pan flying by?

Page 55. I can't make out the graffiti on the left side of the panel. On the right, "Dial H for Head" is a reference to Dial H for Hero.

The crumpled can of beer on the ground may be a can of Duff beer, from The Simpsons.

Page 65. Panel 1. Besides the mummy following the Egyptian-themed characters, I can't place any of the references in this panel.

Page 69. Panel 5. "Irrsinnig" means "madman."

Page 73. Panel 1. The seal on the crate is very similar to that of the Comics Code Authority.

Panel 4. Those are Krispy Kreme donuts the policemen are eating. (Krispy Kremes are the Nietzschean übermenschen of donuts).

Page 74. Panel 2. On the right is Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan, as played by Warner Oland.

Panel 3. That might by talking tiger Mr. Talky Tawny, from the Fawcett Captain Marvel stories. Behind him might be Will Eisner's Spirit.

Page 75. Panel 3. In the lower right is the Golden Age Flash.

Page 81. Panel 1. On the sidewalk are the Three Stooges in their golf apparel.

There's also a car with a spider logo, which may be a reference to R.T.M. Scott's Spider.

Page 82. Panel 2. In case you haven't gotten it by now, the Maid's name is "Joanna Dark," a.k.a. Jeanne d'Arc, a.k.a. "Joan of Arc."

Panel 5. "Baby Snooks" is a reference to the Fanny Brice radio show 'The Baby Snooks Show."

Panel 6. Don MacPherson points out that Joanna Dark has Rip Hunter's Time Sphere.

Page 85. Panel 1. Among the policemen is Tarpe Mills' Black Fury.

Page 87. Panel 1. The only products I can make out on the nightstand (besides the magazines, which all seem to be real), is "Etta Candy," a reference to Etta Candy, one of the female sidekicks of the Golden Age Wonder Woman, and "Dragon Lady [unintelligible]," a reference to the Dragon Lady, the immortal femme fatale of Milton Caniff's "Terry and the Pirates."

Page 88. Panel 1. Don MacPherson gets the references I should have gotten:  "The red-haired photographer and the green suit is Jimmy Olsen.  Note the
elongated neck.  He was also Elastic Lad, remember? The dark-haired kid in the red sweater is another comic-book journalist: Billy Batson (note the initials on his shirt), AKA Captain Marvel."

Panel 2. Larry Lomax appeared in the first Top 10 series as The Hound.

Page 89. Panel 1. I'm sure there are vampire references here, but I'm not getting any of them.

Panel 2. On the left side of the panel is Captain Haddock, one of the sidekicks of Herge's Tintin. In the middle of the panel is Elzie Segar's Popeye. On the far right is the DC sailor character Captain Compass. Don MacPherson notes the presence of Robinson Crusoe and his pal Friday.

Page 97. Panel 1. "Vote Stephen Byerly" is a reference to two Isaac Asimov stories from I, Robot.

Page 100. Panel 5. My favorite Easter Egg in The Forty-Niners: on the right of the panel is the familiar panel from Margret & H.A. Rey's Curious George at the Fire Station.

Page 101. Panel 1. "--ston Brand Undertakers" is a reference to Dranke and Infantino's Deadman.

Page 103. Panel 7. Flying with guns drawn is Jon Blummer's Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man.

To the right and below him are members of the Honor Guard from Kurt Busiek's Kurt Busiek's Astro City, including Starwoman, Cleopatra, Max O'Millions, N-Forcer, and the Silver Agent. On the sidewalk in the lower left is the League of Infinity from Alan Moore's Supreme issues.

Next to them is Mr. Monster.

I've no idea who the kids in the drill are, or the characters next to them.

Thanks to: Alicia, of course; Don MacPherson.

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