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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Who On Earth Is “Cast Iron Chris”??

That’s what I tend to ask.  You see, this character, like many others, never had any sort of origin tale that I know of.  The Iron Boy is weird enough, but more about him another time.  These were just strips drawn to fill pages for a few shillings by creators who didn’t have the luxury of expanding beyond one page with sometimes nine panels.

To all intents and purposes, Cast Iron Chris is a British superman but without a costume and more in the mold of other characters such as Desperate Dan –one wonders whether that might have been the intention?  John “Jock” McCail seemed to be a mainstay of Gerald Swan’s line of Swan Comics (Ah Wong, Dene Vernon, etc.) and drew at least one Cast Iron Chris strip that I know of.

We do not even know who it was that created the character. This was all “throw-away” entertainment after all and few creators chose to sign their work from choice.  We do know that in Slick Fun No. 22 (1945), McCail depicts Chris getting into a battleships 20 inch guns and falls asleep –he is fired into a German naval vessels and his impact sinks it.

That’s pretty good invulnerability.

But there is more.  In Black Tower Gold (volume 4) I reprinted another Cast Iron Chris strip (it was sent to me with no issue credits I believe it is from the Slick Fun Album,1950).  In the opening panel Chris is having a letter “C” tattooed onto his chest…using a pneumatic drill as opposed to a tattooist needle!  He then loses a book down an open manhole cover where there is a gas leak –striking a match to find the book in the dark, Chris is blown hundreds of feet into the air.  He goes through the cockpit floor of an aircraft and jumps back down to earth carrying the pilot.

Now, if that ain’t super human then I have no idea what is!

This is certainly not John McCail’s art style.  Unfortunately, a lot of artists were still using the Tom Browne Style so it could be any one of a number working for Swan. McCail’s style was more “straight”.

One can use one’s imagination to work out an “origin” but, honestly, the reader being a youngster, was supposed to just accept it all –a suspension of disbelief as it were. And that’s how it was supposed to be.

I have used Cast Iron Chris in a Black Tower strip but not to any great extent.  In 2012 he will be back and then I may have to make up an origin!

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