The Sunken Pearls of Captain Hatch
Weird Mystery Tales #10
DC Comics, Feb-Mar 1974, Cover Price 20 cents
Although it was state of the art when built in 1948, by the 1970s the printing coming out of the comic book production plant at World Color Press in Sparta, Illinois, left something to be desired. Cheap newsprint paper and heavy color inks that obscured the blacks of intricate pen drawing did not help the collapsing comic book entertainment market.
In an era in which trends like Glam had pushed away the earthy hippy fashions of the late 1960s, the everything shiny-and-new look certainly doesn't coincide with how comic book pages looked. Though not the most important factor in the demise of the news-stand distribution system that at one time moved millions of comics each month, but it cannot have helped when the physical look of the product makes could look muddy.
But the world has changed and now comics are printed on quality gloss paper. The leap from junk-object to something like an art-object has been made. But underneath all that rushed printing of the past is some very nice artwork from Jess Jodloman, one of artists from the Philippines that worked on so many of the American comics of the 1970s (the last comics credit I see for Jodloman is 1986). (According to Lambie, Jodloman was born February 25, 1925).
You can see a photo of Jess Jodloman with Abe Ocampo and Tony DeZuniga at a January 2007 gallery opening for DeZuniga's "Superheros" exhibit at artist Garry Alanguilan's web site.
The "Sunken Pearls" storyline is a quintessential DC Comics mystery story of the late-60s to late-1970s. A greedy, evil pair of relatives for an old retired sailor plot to swipe the supposed sunken treasure that lays off of Matecumbe Key Island off Florida which only old "Captain Hatch" knows about. Enter Fran Lawrence, hired nurse who actually takes an interest in the old sailor's tales and the two strike up a friendship.
Of course, the two avarice-minded relatives are doomed; DC Comics didn't jump onto the the "evil pays" wagon until sometime after the huge success of the Halloween movie in 1978, so it was strictly an eye-for-an-eye moral universe ruling these earlier comics.
Cover Art Weird Mystery #10
Weird Mystery #10, Feb-March 1974, Luis Dominguez cover art
Related: DC Comics' House of Mystery
Original page Thursday, July 10, 2008. Updated September 2012.