Tuesday, April 22, 2014

T is for T.N.T.

When the United States government was recruiting scientists to work on the Manhattan Project, they overlooked one of the most brilliant nuclear scientists to ever live. Not only did Treve N. Thorndyke manage to split the atom in his personal workshop (while avoiding killing himself in the process), he also managed to invent an "atom gun" that was far more surgical in its killing capacity than any other atomic weapon devised by humanity. Thankfully, Thornedyke chose to use his invention for good rather than evil, putting on a mask and cape and joining the superhero set as T.N.T.

T.N.T. made his one-and-lonly appearance in the pages of Amazing Man Comics #21. Published by Centaur with a cover date of March 1941, this series was the most successful of all the titles featuring creations from the studios run by Harry "A" Chesler, and it was a treasure trove of exciting and bizarre comic book heroes--the strangest of which being Mighty Man, who is best described as a cross between Paul Bunyan, Hercules, and Plastic Man. (I'm going to be putting a book or two together of Mighty Man's weirdest adventures at some point.)

T.N.T. is one of artist Dan Gormley's first published professional works; Chesler and his editors had a great eye for talented artists and they gave many industry giants their first paying comics gigs... including Joe Kubert, who swept up around the studio as a young boy while getting pointers from the artists as they labored over their drawingboards. By mid-1941, Gormley was a staff artist at Dell/Western, and he would eventually become one of the premiere illustrators of children's comics.

As for T.N.T., although his one appearance ends with a great set-up for future adventures--he's wanted by both the law AND the underworld--he was never heard from again. We will rectify that ever-so-slightly, as he is slated to join the Science Sleuths line-up of characters. Look for him in Issue #6 in a couple of months, where he'll be featured in an all-new roleplaying game adventure!

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