Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fanzine Fever: The Eye Special #1 (White House of Comics, 1965)


Don't be surprised if you've never heard of The Eye, or his creator Biljo White for that matter. White was a huge contributor to the Fanzine craze in the early Sixties, and created characters like "The Fog", "Astro Ace", and "Commando King" among many others. But "The Eye" was the most popular character of White's, and in 1965 the hero got his very own Fanzine special.

But more about that in a bit. It is important to note just how much comics meant to Biljo White. Collecting them since the 40's, White had amassed a huge collection of Golden Age comics including a near-complete run of Batman, which he stored in a building behind his house that he dubbed, "The White House of Comics".

As a huge fan of Gil Kane, White sent a letter to Kane asking him for advice on how to break into the comics industry. Not only did Kane reply with a nice three-page letter to White, but he also instructed him to take his portfolio to the DC Comics office in NYC. White did just that, but unfortunately was turned down. White had never been to art school, of which DC preferred. Still, that did not stop him from making his own comics.

The Eye Special #1 features the first adventure of The Eye that appeared in Star-Studded Comics #3, as well as some serialized strips that had run in the Voice of Comicdom fanzine. There is also a "Tom Trojan, Private Detective" backup story in this issue. White loaded The Eye with powers, as he has just about every cool power you can think of, from Burning Beams and Hypnosis to Mind-Probing and X-Ray Vision.



The first story portrays The Eye as a dangerous criminal working for the Mob. He supposedly "takes out" the Mob's enemies, but as the story continues he actually sets the Mob up at the right moment. He shoots a guy in the face with his "Burning Beam", but somehow it doesn't melt his face off. The Eye's greatest move is by taking out an overhead sprinkler system, drenching the Mob in water!



The next story is an espionage tale that begins when a USAF plane disappears behind the Iron Curtain. The Eye gets involved and captures a Russian thief, using his Hypnotic powers to interrogate him. That leads us to a showdown between The Eye and Voslov, the Russian villain.


White's artwork is very good considering he taught himself, and I was impressed with many of the layouts and panels used here. It would have been nice to see The Eye use more of his powers, but White did a great job incorporating stories he dreamt up while stationed in Germany during his military days. The Eye went on to appear in various comics perhaps in an ode to White, who passed on at the age of 73 in 2003.

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