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April 2, 2010

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Ferd’nand and The Green Hornet

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Written by: Drew
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Welcome back to From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we take a peek at some awesome Sunday fun with Ferd’nand and the classic serial epic of The Green Hornet!

Sundays Rock:  Ferd’nand

Ferd’nand is the classic silent strip that has entertained us for generations. This simple comic, time after time, has brought smiles to thousands of faces, as we see humorous outcomes in the everyday lives of Ferd’nand, his son, and his wife. Like Tin-Tin and the Smurfs, Ferd’nand originated from Europe, starting publication in 1937. Its growing popularity there, added in with the thousands of Americans running around during and post-World War II, led to its publication here in American newspapers starting ten years later in 1947.

Over the years several artists have served on the strip. It was originally created by Henning Dahl Mikkelsen, who drew from 1937 to 1955 (interestingly, he moved from Europe to the U.S. in 1954, where he stayed until he passed away in 1982). The strip was passed on to Frank Thomas (who created Golden Age superhero The Owl, and worked on both Woody Woodpecker and Little Lulu comics at Dell), Al Plastino (who aside from working on several strips also co-created The Legion of Superheroes while working on Superboy and Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane at DC Comics), and most recently back under the European-pen of Henrik Rehr.

The artwork in Ferd’nand is simple, nothing over the top, but like any comic strip that works, it finds its magic in the art of simplicity and universal story-telling through images with not a single word on the page. Today, Ferd’nand is still published in over 30 countries and in over 100 newspapers. If it’s not in your everyday paper, you can check it out for free at comics.com.

Something To Watch: The Green Hornet (1940)

The year was 1940, and Universal Studios was getting into the whole “masked-defender” properties for their movie serials as they unveiled to the United States The Green Hornet. Starring Gordon Jones as the Green Hornet (although when disguised as this ego, the voice is done by Al Hodge, voice of the Green Hornet on the radio-dramas), this 13-chapter serial gives us plenty of beat-em/bash-em action, as Green Hornet and Kato take on a local crime ring.

Story-wise it is fairly simple: the serial starts out with a brief origin and roots of the Green Hornet and Kato, then goes into them fighting crime; what more could we want, right? The writing varies, sometimes really interesting and sometimes fairly cookie-cutter (similar to how the scripts for the Green Hornet radio-drama are, too). Acting-wise though, they couldn’t have gotten together a better cast to play these parts. Everything is spot on, colored with moments of fun. The editing also has moments of fun where some of the scene transitions seem to explode in shapes of comic book-like bubbles, a nice touch on the part of Universal’s editors. Swank side note is this is also the classic full face-mask Green Hornet here, for that unique yet strange look (fans of Dynamite’s The Green Hornet: Year One know how the original mask is different and such).

Like the Captain Marvel movie serial, it has been preserved fairly well and looks nice on DVD. With Green Hornet mania cropping up across the country, which will only keep growing until the film comes out with Seth Rogan and Cristoph “I’m Friggin Amazing, Did You See Me In ‘Inglorious Basterds” Waltz, now is a great time to check out this serial from the days of yesteryear.

That’s it for this week! See you in two!

Drew McCabe



  1. Billy

    Great stuff Drew! I think that Ferd’nand character looks like Wimpy from Popeye. I really wanted to pick up Green Hornet but was feeling that I didn’t want to pay cover price. I really wanted to order it from Previews but didn’t pull the trigger. 🙁

  2. Thanks for bringing these to my attention Drew! I really want to check out some of the old school Green Hornet episodes. Especially since the cult following has come out of the woodwork with Kevin Smith’s new series.

  3. Sequential art at one of it’s finest examples! This was actually one the examples my teacher used in an Art History class when I was in school

    I’m so hoping for a Green Hornet realease on DVD however I’m more partial to the ones with Bruce Lee as Kato but I’d check out the earlier ones as well to complete my collection.
    I wonder if Seth Rogan will have an english accent since Britt is from across the pond?

  4. Drew

    @infinite: I agree, Ferd’nand is timeless and perfect on its delivery.

    The Green Hornet serial and the 2nd Green Hornet serial ‘The Green Hornet Strikes Back’ were actually quietly released on dvd earlier this year from VCI entertainment. As for the TV show, it looks like we’ll be waiting a little while longer 🙁

  5. […] if you like Heathcliff, you may want to check out Ferd’nand or Ripley’s Believe It or […]

  6. […] down for your viewing pleasure this week! also if you like serials, check out Captain Marvel or The Green Hornet […]

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