October 4, 2008

Vintage Comics: In Search of Atom-mannen

I wrote to Hyperdave at Datajunkie.
"I need help identifying a superhero. I recently found out that there was a comic fan and amateur (in every sense) sculptor here in Sweden who has, during the last 50 years, created a sculpture park with all types of comic characters. I've only seen a couple of photos from there and one of those shows a sculpture of a superhero character that I've never seen before. On the base of the sculpture reads "Atom-mannen" which would - in English - be "The Atom Man". However he doesn't look anything like any of the atom men I've seen. Of course sometimes names aren't translated directly so he might be called something completely different. Now, it must be said that it's not certain he is American, perhaps he's even Swedish but it's not likely. I would appreciate if you'd have quick a look 'cause if someone would know it would be you. Cheers!"

website for the sculpture park - Seriegården (Comics Farm)

I had spent several hours searching for the right Atom Man. Here are some of the results that came up searching for comics/atom/superhero/atom man/atomic/atoman etc:

OK, back to my letter to Hyperdave. To my surprise he had no clue what superhero this could be!! But another one of his readers did. Lamont kindly informed that "He's Sparkman, from United Features Sparkler Comics". Wow, finally a breakthrough! He supplied us with an image of an issue of Sparkler Comics too, featuring "The Spark Man". I thought with a correct name there should be no problem finding a number of images on the Internet but ...no, not much at all. Four Sparkler covers and another one with a tiny image. That's it.

I guess The Spark Man wasn't very popular or at least he isn't now. Just one poor superhero among superheros. Probably short-lived. One would think though that there'd be - if hardly any images - some information available but the result is even worse. "King of Manhattan: Sparkle Comics. This madman who lived in the sewers with access to dutch settler's gold was in the habit of kidnapping and torturing beautiful women. Was opposed by the Spark Man." That sounds pretty interesting but that's about the only mention of The Spark Man that I could find. Well, if there is anyone out there with more you are welcome to share. That concludes my little story of my accidental and slightly obsessed search for Atom-mannen AKA The Spark Man.

...or so I thought...
Just about to publish this post I came to think of dear ol' Lex10 of the GlyphJockey blog who I know has a certain liking for the Nancy comic. As you may have noticed on the covers above Nancy was one of the featured comics in Sparkler Comics. So I took a look in GlyphJockey and what did I find if not an episode of The Spark Man!!! The costume and the colours are a bit different but it is The Spark Man. The comic seems really bad but... who cares!

Sparkler Comics #41 1945.

PS. The creators were Fred Methot and Paul Berdanier who also made the unforgettable Triple Terror comics. Remember? ;)

PPS. I found some additional information and more covers at atomicavenue.com: "Sparkler Comics (2nd Series)- Two issues of Sparkler Comics (1st series) were published by United Features Syndicate in 1940, but this second series ran from 1941 until 1955. As one might expect, the stars of this long-running series were primarily United Features comic strip characters: Tarzan (by the legendary Burne Hogarth); Nancy (by Ernie Bushmiller); The Captain and the Kids; Li’l Abner; and Abbie & Slats. The title also introduced the super-hero Spark Man who went through two or three costume changes over the course of the series, but was only cover-featured eleven times."

Golden Age of Comic Books