Created by Pete Morisi and Ken Fitch (pseud. of William Waugh)
"The Wild Man from Chicago! He's rough! He's Tough!
JOHNNY DYNAMITE was definitely the best of the pre-Comics Code comic book eyes of the fiftiies -- and, it turned out, the one with the longest legs.
With his best gal and faithful secretary Judy Kane by his side, and his cop pal Lieutenant Hennessy dishing out info and occasional backup, this rock 'em/sock 'em private eye from the Windy City burned hot and bright for a few years.
Even the loss of an eye, in issue #4's memorable "An Eye for an Eye" couldn't slow Johnny down. He just slapped on an eye patch and continued slugging and shooting his way through a morass of pimps, thugs, gangsters, dope dealers and other assorted denizens of the Windy City. Suffice it to say there was more than a little Mike Hammer influence at work here
The first nine Dynamite books, printed by Comic Media starting in 1953, were all pre-code, and thus full of all kinds of good stuff, like prostitution, drugs and good ol' graphic violence; with great rough-and-tumble artwork by Pete Morisi.
The series was later picked up by Charlton for a few issues, and were considerably watered down. Still, not bad, but a pale imitation of those pre-Code issues, which featured some truly hard-boiled stuff and a truly hard-boiled dick. Charlton tried, but it just wasn't the same. After three issues, they revamped Johnny, making him a government agent who travelled abroad, mostly to mix it up with East German spies and changed the name of the mag to Foreign Intrigue. But it also flopped after three issues, and it looked like the end of the road for the Chicago Wildman until...
Johnny was re-introduced to eighties readers when long-time fans Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty, creators of Mike Mist and Ms. Tree, began using reprints of Dynamite's stories as backup features in Ms. Tree #36, which also featured a brand new story featuring Tree, Mist and Johnny himself, now retired and married to the former Miss Judy Kane.
Not quite done with Johnny, Collins and Beatty brought Johnny back in a psychotronic/occult/period piece zombie-filled four issue mini-series for Dark Horse in 1994 and pitted him against a mob of gangsters risen from the grave. They prove to be almost as resilient as Johnny himself.
A rare Dynamite prose story by Ken Fitch, with a spot illustration by Pete Morisi.
Dropped Johnny Dynamite completely after #15, and became BATTLEFIELD ACTION with #16)..
Reprints of the original Johnny Dynamite stories, as well as a few of Lt. Hennessy without Johnny, can be found in:
Max's Official Website! Here you can find information on Max and his latest works, all done up in a most excellent fashion by his son, Nate. So, buy his dad's stuff!
The Ms. Tree co-creator's official site.
ALSO OF INTEREST
A beautifully produced book by comic book historian Dan Nadel, offering an interesting survey of forgotten comic book artists and writers, including two complete stories each of Harry Lucey's Sam Hill and Pete Morisi's Johnny Dynamite.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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