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FRAN FRAZER

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Full Name: Fran Frazer
Nationality: American
Organization: Strife Magazine
Occupation Photographer

Creator: Irving Novick , Joe Blair
Time Span: 1940 - 1942

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Fran Frazer is a photographer for Strife Magazine.
       The year is 1940 and this highly experienced, dedicated, and extremely resourceful woman is a wizard when it comes to getting terrific photos of exciting action and important events. Her exclusives have resulted in nations having to drastically alter their plans and more than one would-be alliance has been sundered by what she uncovered.
       We learn nothing about her life before the first recorded adventure except through extrapolation. She already has her job with the magazine and seems quite established there letting us conclude she has been there for some years. Her knowledge of and skill with the camera lets us know she has been a shutterbug for quite a long time. Since she freely travels to all parts of the globe even before the hat drops, she has little or no ties to hold her back at home.
       She appears to be in her late 20's or early 30's and is in terrific shape considering the things she does not hesitate to do and manages to pull off. She is very good looking but does not waste any time with makeup or dressing up which shows she does not concern herself with such things any where near as much as she does getting that next shot.
       She sports shoulder-length red hair on the first four stories, then is a blonde for one, back to being a red-head for one more assignment, then a blonde again for the remaining 11 adventures.
       In addition to being so versatile with the camera, Frazer is comfortable and capable behind the controls of a plane. She also demonstrates on one occasion that she is well versed in underwater diving. She is also very skilled in fighting either with her fists or with any weapon that comes to hand.
       Frazer is a woman dedicated to getting the picture no matter what or who stands in her way and she has the equipment and the foresight to be prepared. At various times she has shown she has cameras all over the place. She has a "needle" eye lens camera in her belt buckle. She has a tiny one on a bracelet. She also has a hidden camera in her purse. She has a broach with a tiny camera inside, not to mention a miniature camera hidden in her garter.
       Tagging along with her on all her adventures is reporter Hal Davis. He is always referred to as her rival and they certainly do have a fun competition going. At all times it is he that is trailing her knowing she has the knack for getting the best stories. He is not into photography for we never see him with a camera; he writes, she snaps. Later they do collaborate on stories with her getting top billing. While we see him outside her employer's office a time or two, it is made clear that she works for a magazine and he for a newspaper. One important factor in their relationship - he is usually the one needing saving. It is not that he is inept or bumbling; it is just that she is better.

Interesting promos starting the first two adventures:

"Fran Frazer, beautiful girl photographer, lives in a constant whirl of romance, excitement and danger ... caught in a maelstrom of Europe-at-war, Fran is given a roving assignment, by the famous magazine 'Strife", to cover the tumultuous events of future history!"

"Fran Frazer, girl photographer, has faced many weird adventures in foreign lands, and always she has proven that, in spite of her sex, she is a better man than any of her male rivals."

Interesting quip:
Fran: "I'm anxious to get some real good shots, Hal."
Hal: "What kind - rifle or camera?"

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:17
First Appearance:1940
Last Appearance:1942

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Note: None of the stories had actual titles. The ones listed without quotes were given in brackets by comics.org. The ones in quotes are my invention.


1 The Invasion of Luxeria The Invasion of Luxeria
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Joe Blair (writer), Irving Novick (artist)
Copyright: 10/1940

From Top Notch Comics #9 - Fran Frazer has a hunch that the European nation of Luxeria is going to be invaded so she rushes via train to the border for photos of the attack. To get good shots, she flirts with the leading general and entices him to storm a castle.

2 Mission To Murania Mission To Murania
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer), Irving Novick (artist)
Copyright: 12/1940

From Top Notch Comics #10 - Hearing there is trouble brewing in the Balkans, Fran Frazer catches a plane to Murania to get a scoop. On the tarmac there she rescues a dog almost run over by a plane and is thanked by the owner, Crown Prince Miklas. He is appreciative and from him she learns his father's girlfriend is really working for the Nazis.

3 Intrigue in Istanbul Intrigue in Istanbul
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Irving Novick (artist), Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 01/1941

From Top Notch Comics #11 - Hearing something is up in Istanbul, Fran Frazer is there to learn that a spy ring is working hard to get Turkey to join with the Axis powers in the war. Captured by them she still manages to get the proof and save the day.

4 Mission in Moscograd Mission in Moscograd
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 02/1941

From Top Notch Comics #12 - In Moscograd looking for anything unusual, Fran Frazer is splashed with mud by a passing car carrying a German official who slaps and berates her for being miff. He accidentally drops a note which she tries to return only to find it is something secret worth him having her killed.

5 'Double in Serbania' 'Double in Serbania'
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 03/1941

From Top Notch Comics #13 - Fran Frazer is in the Balkan country of Serbania for an interview with the King, not knowing he has been kidnapped and replaced with a double. While the double does a good job fooling her at first, she catches on to the truth.

6 'The Bombing of Taranto' 'The Bombing of Taranto'
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 04/1941

From Top Notch Comics #14 - British bombers are headed to the Italian naval facility at Taranto to destroy it. Fran Frazer sneaks onboard one of the planes to get pics of the attack. Hal Davis does the same. The plane is hit and they have to parachute with her snapping photos on the way down. Mussolini and Hitler both try to pretend nothing happened but she has the proof and the scoop.

7 The 'Execution' of Fran Frazer The 'Execution' of Fran Frazer
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 05/1941

From Top Notch Comics #15 - In Albania reporting on the fighting between Italy and Greece, Fran Frazer is helping an American doctor help the wounded when German soldiers arrest her as a spy. She and Hal are sentenced to be executed.

8 Wheat Shipment to Spain Wheat Shipment to Spain
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 06/1941

From Top Notch Comics #16 - Britain wants Spain to remain neutral and not go to help Germany so they made an agreement to send a wheat shipment to help. Fran Frazer learns the Germans are planning to destroy that delivery but Generalissimo Franco will not believe it so she risks her life to get proof.

9 Hal Davis's Double Hal Davis's Double
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 07/1941

From Top Notch Comics #17 - Bulvania is a neutral country. Fran Frazer reports that German soldiers are in the country but the Premier of that nation denies it. Frazer and Hal Davis want to get proof and they find a way through meeting a German spy who looks just like Davis.

10 Indochina Incident Indochina Incident
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 08/1941

From Top Notch Comics #18 - Fran Frazer is arrested as a spy in Indochina under Japanese control. She and Hal are going to be shot as spies but she had blackmail proof hidden away showing the base commander accepting bribes.

11 The Pigeon's Message The Pigeon's Message
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 09/1941

From Top Notch Comics #19 - In Singapore, Fran Frazier is relaxing in a park feeding pigeons when she spots a homing pigeon land who has a message on its leg. Japanese agents show up to snatch it back but not before she takes a picture of it.

12 The Russian Border Raid Incident The Russian Border Raid Incident
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 10/1941

From Top Notch Comics #20 - Border clashes have relations strained between Russia and Japan. Fran Frazer and Hal are in the area to cover the unrest when their car breaks down. A nearby house proves to be the meeting place between agents from Germany who have disguised themselves as Japanese to foment distrust, actions they will kill to keep quiet.

13 The Two New Harem Additions The Two New Harem Additions
Published by M.L.J. Magazines

Copyright: 11/1941

From Top Notch Comics #21 - Both Fran Frazer and Hal Davis are caught in the middle of an Arab raid and must hide in a harem to escape harm. When they are forced to come to the chief of the tribe, they find him with a German attache working to arrange a raid on Nazareth.

14 'The Oilfields of Iran' 'The Oilfields of Iran'
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 11/1941

From Top Notch Comics #22 - Fran Frazer and Hal Davis are in Iran to meet with the Premier of that nation. Frazer is on hand when a coup d'etat is attempted, backed by Nazi spies. She gets pictures to show them forcing the signing of a treaty giving Germany access to Iran's oil.

15 'Trouble in Tobruk' 'Trouble in Tobruk'
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 01/1942

From Top Notch Comics #23 - On an English battleship which had just sunk an Italian warship outside the Tobruk harbor, Fran Frazer sees a survivor and talks Hal into jumping in to save him. The man still dies but not before revealing that German u-boats wait in the harbor to take out a soon-to-pass convoy. When no one believes them, Frazer dons a diving suit to get underwater pictures as proof.

16 'Cable Car to Freedom' 'Cable Car to Freedom'
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 02/1942

From Top Notch Comics #24 - In the French alps which are occupied by Germany, Fran Frazer see a squad of German soldiers confiscating American food shipments. She snaps pictures of the theft to send back to the States but the Gestapo is there to stop them.

17 'The Phony Russian Ruse' 'The Phony Russian Ruse'
Published by M.L.J. Magazines
Contributors: Harvey Biern (writer)
Copyright: 03/1942

From Top Notch Comics #25 - In Russia trying to get a scoop but denied access to the front line, Fran Frazer is bicycling back to town with Hal when they notice a German parachute. When they report it to the local military leader, they are arrested.

MY COMMENTS

       I have often complained about the quality of spy stories in comic books in the late 30's and early 40's as rushed and poorly written or with terrible plots or not taking the time to flesh out an adventure.
       This is NOT the case with this series. I was stunned at how well the writers and artists did in just 4 pages for each adventure. Each tale was intelligent and well crafted with the reader seeing the situation right away and the characters having to go through some effort to get the job done. Of course there was a ton of poetic license but it was not used to ridiculous extremes.
       I also was impressed at how they started out using imaginary European country being threatened or attacked by another imaginary nation as was very common in comics. But after that, the enemies became real with Germany and Italy and then Japan being specifically named and this was before the U.S. actually entered the War.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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