“The Evil Eye of Count Ducrie!” Appeared as the first story in KEN SHANNON #1. Quality Comics, October 1951. Bi-monthly. Art unsigned but generally known to be by Reed Crandall. [Story by Joe Millard. See comment #1.]

   Hardboiled (and somewhat lantern-jawed) private eye Ken Shannon’s first appearance was not in this, the first issue of his own comic, but rather in issue 103 of Police Comics (December 1950). That’s when both Plastic Man and The Spirit were dropped, and a new lineup of non-superhero crime-stoppers were introduced. Evidently he was popular enough there that the folks at Quality gave him his own title, all the while continuing on in Police Comics.

   His assistant (and quite possibly a very close girl friend) was the fiery red-haired Dee Dee Dawson, and as “The Evil Eye of Count Ducrie!” the first story in this issue begins, she and Shannon stop a young girl from jumping off a bridge. It seems as though she believes her life is cursed. All of her recent boyfriends have died in strange and unusual ways.

   Taking the true blame, however, is her current suitor, the much older and quite evil-looking Count Ducrie, who threatens Shannon with death when he tries to interfere, and he very nearly succeeds. If this sounds screwy, that’s because it is,and yet, in spite of anything I expected, this is a fair play mystery, or at least it makes a good effort to try to be.

   Two more Shannon stories, “The Playful Pickpocket” and “The Carrier Pigeon Case!,” appear later in this issue. Both are seven pages long, as compared to ten for the lead story. All three of the Shannon stories are filled with action and fisticuffs, but they’re surprisingly heavy on dialogue as well. You do have to read them!

   Sandwiched in between the first and second Shannon story is a five page untitled adventure of Angles O’Day, another private eye whose cases were decidedly on the humorous side. His stories, all backups in Shannon’s comic books, were drawn by Jack Cole, creator of Plastic Man of superhero fame, and who later became quite well known as a cartoonist for Playboy magazine.