Friday, 26 June 2015

The Cat in: Stampede!

I really liked The Cat and was disappointed when she became Tigra, and then when her costume went off and had a solo career of it's own as Hellcat.
I don't know why I liked her, clearly nobody else did, as her comics career only lasted a meagre 4 issues ( even Black Goliath beat her! ), but there was something about this slightly tokenistic feminist mini-period in Marvel's history ( that also included short series for Shanna The She-Devil & Night Nurse ) that I thought was fun, and a bit different.
Maybe it was simply that first issue, with spectacular art from Wally Wood & Marie Severin:
That we first read over here in glorious black & white, in Marvel UK reprint weekly The Superheroes.

Or maybe it was simply the thrill of having a brand new character you could get in on the ground floor with, after all I have similar residual affection for fellow also ran's / never was's like The White Tiger or Jack Of Hearts, to name but two.
Whatever, I like The Cat, and I don't care who knows it. Sure it was fairly generic stuff, but it was fun generic stuff. And at least, unlike Ms. Marvel, it was a feminist superheroine actually written by a woman, even though scribe Linda Fite confessed to being none too impressed with the assignment: ' I thought: A cat? Oh my god how unoriginal. We'll have a woman and we'll call her cat and she can be in catfights. ' 
I'm sure you've all seen the first issue somewhere on the net, so for once, let's have a look at the last issue, with art by Jim Starlin & Alan Weiss, both of whom cameo on pg. 2 of the story. In an interview with Shaun Clancy for Back Issue, Starlin gave the background to this issue:  ' I got the job and he ( Weiss ) lived down the block, and the job needed to be done in two days, and we were pretty well loaded the whole time we were working on it. My girlfriend was bringing us a round of wine, we were partying, and later on Alan Kupperberg came over and helped out a little bit'.
Well, we've all done that, haven't we? Got wrecked and drawn an entire comic in two days, I mean...


  1. Hi Pete,
    The story that was promised at the end of issue #3 ("The Cat -- Spawn of the Devil? So cries the Witch!!") was never published. We know Ramona Fradon penciled all, or almost all, of the pages because we've seen the original art appear on the 'net. It would be great to find out what happened to cause Marvel to have issue #4 rewritten and redrawn over the weekend.

  2. I'd forgotten that, Darci, I think Back Issue did a piece on it and Ramona. I shall do some digging!

  3. I'm a bit suspicious about how those Marvel "feminist" books were actually written. Wasn't Linda Fite Herb Trimpe's mrs?
    Not trying to suggest women can't write - mid-70s Marvel would surely have benefitted from a serious attempt to find writers who weren't all white men - but when they just seem to put wives on the credits (who never get work scripting anything else) you've got to suspect at the very least heavy editorial input.

    Not Starlin or Weiss' best work, but impressive given the circumstances. Not quite as good as the last part of the Kree-Skrull war though, which I believe John Buscema bashed out over a weekend. The mind boggles.


  4. I sort of know what you mean, Sean, yes there was obviously some nepotism going on here, with Mrs. Trimpe on The Cat, and Carole Seuling & Jeanie Thomas on the others, but equally both Stan & Roy have said in interviews that they had so much product to put out at this time that they were taking writers where and how they could get them. Plus I remember Jim Starlin saying that Marvel were taking just about anybody who could hold a pencil when he & Al Milgrom showed up.
    So I would assume they were trying out people and seeing if they could be trained up, but yeah, probably novice writers were helped out by experienced editors like Roy & Archie. That's just the nature of the business.
    I still like The Cat though; It's a middle ground Marvel book like Subby's solo series or similiar issues of DD, and maybe nothing wrong with that.
    Personally, I love stories like Jim & Alan doing this book in a weekend: It reminds me of that famous Golden Age tale about ( I think ) Jerry Robinson, George Tuska, Mort Meskin and many more doing a 52 pg book over a weekend with some of them drawing in the bathtub 'cos there was no room anywhere else.
    And Big John finishing the Kree / Skrull War. Amazing stuff.

  5. Yeah, I love stories like that too. It never fails to amaze me that even on regular deadlines people like Buscema or Gene Colan were drawing two or three whole books - to that standard - every month for years. I believe Kirby's contract at DC called for a minimum of fifteen pages a week - that's including script, of course. Scary!

    Fair enough point about the writers on The Cat and the like. I have a soft spot for those books aimed at reaching a new audience - although I'm more into something like Brother Voodoo than Night Nurse - but I can't help but think they were doomed to failure thanks to Marvel's half-arsed approach.
    Mind you, that lack of rational strategy is part of Marvel's appeal. I suppose you can't have it both ways.


  6. Actually, that last bit should read "was part of Marvel's appeal" - they seem to approach business differently these days,
    Those Disney shareholders want to see the metrics first...


  7. Roy arranged for Linda to write the Cat, his wife Jean to write Night Nurse, and Carol Seuling to write Shanna. Linda had written at least 2 previous stories (in Rawhide Kid #67 and Kid Colt, Outlaw #141) as well as the featurette in X-Men #57 reprinted to take up the remaining pages in this issue. Her marriage to Herb was announced in the Bullpen Bulletin for March 1973 so she wasn't Mrs. Trimpe when she started this gig.
    Jean had co-written a Werewolf by Night story in Marvel Spotlight #2, two stories for My Love, and a story for Our Love Story previous to tackling Night Nurse. Carol hadn't written anything previously, AFAIK, and soon turned the duty over to Steve Gerber.

  8. Thanks, Darci - I take it all back about Linda Fite and the scripting of those books,
    Note to self - must make sure I know what I'm going on about in future:)