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War Combat #1-5 (March-Nov. 1952) continued as Combat Casey #6-34 (Jan. 1953 - July 1957).
Formerly War Combat, Combat Casey was a rather crude and violent war comic set during the Korean War, churned out by Atlas during the 1950s under their “Sports Action” imprint. Casey is a rough-and-ready fighting machine with a fierce red goatee. With no fear and even less doubt, he leads his squad into blistering fire fights behind enemy lines. Casey’s bravado is counterbalanced by his compatriot Penny P. Pennington, an intellectual (how do we know? It’s the glasses, of course!) private who uses his smarts to get himself and Casey out of tough spots. Each issue of Combat Casey features two bloody bust-em-up stories of Casey and his crew, and a filler story highlighting some aspect of life in the military.
In the first section of On Writing, Stephen King vividly recounts the experiences that helped shape him as a writer. He grew up in a single-parent household with his older brother, Dave. His mother, hard working and insightful, encouraged him to write after he showed her his very first story, a copy of a Combat Casey comic:
That year my brother David jumped ahead to the fourth grade and I was pulled out of school entirely. I had missed too much of the first grade, my mother and the school agreed; I could start it fresh in the fall of the year, if my health was good.
Most of that year I spent either in bed or housebound. I read my way through approximately six tons of comic books, progressed to Tom Swift and Dave Dawson (a heroic World War II pilot whose various planes were always "prop-clawing for altitude"), then moved on to Jack London's bloodcurdling animal tales. At some point I began to write my own stories. Imitation preceded creation; I would copy Combat Casey comics word for word in my Blue Horse tablet, sometimes adding my own descriptions where they seemed appropriate. "They were camped in a big dratty farmhouse room," I might write; it was another year or two before I discovered that drat and draft were different words. During that same period I remember believing that details were dentals and that a bitch was an extremely tall woman. A son of a bitch was apt to be a basketball player. When you're six, most of your Bingo balls are still floating around in the draw-tank.
Eventually I showed one of these copycat hybrids to my mother, and she was charmed-I remember her slightly amazed smile, as if she was unable to believe a kid of hers could be so smart-practically a damned prodigy, for God's sake. I had never seen that look on her face before-not on my account, anyway-and I absolutely loved it.
She asked me if I had made the story up myself, and I was forced to admit that I had copied most of it out of a funny-book. She seemed disappointed, and that drained away much of my pleasure. At last she handed back my tablet. "Write one of your own, Stevie," she said. "Those Combat Casey funny-books are just junk-he's always knocking someone's teeth out. I bet you could do better. Write one of your own."
Read more at Suite101: On Writing by Stephen King: Find Inspiration in This “Memoir of the Craft”
Combat Casey, "the infantry's red-bearded riot," is a grunt, a frontline soldier in the infantry (unlike "Rock" Murdock and those snooty Marines, who are too hoity-toity to mingle with ordinary soldiers). With his best bud, Penny P. Pennington, Casey fights the Godless Enemies Of The American Way; during Korea he kills dozens and hundreds of the Communist Scum, and during World War Two (he's also veteran of WW2, The Big One) Casey slaughters Nazis (in North Africa) and Japanese by the hundreds as a member of Dog Company. During Korea he serves under Captain Rocke, a more-than-usually intelligent Army leader.
Casey is clever, coming up with inventive new ways to murder the enemy (like hiding under sheepskins and then popping out, guns a-blazing, when the enemy draws near). He is, naturally, a good shot and a skilled hand-to-hand fighter who shows no compunctions about killing.
Like "Rock" Murdock and the other Atlas war characters, Combat Casey's adventures, when they aren't blatant attempts at propaganda or mindless excursions into rousing bloodlust, come off as poor imitations of Kurtzman's E.C. war stories. But what sticks in the mind--with me, anyhow--is Casey's truly atrocious taste in facial hair. For God's sake, man, if you're going to grow a beard, do it right!
Robert Q. Sale (Robert Q. Siegel) (1924 - 1962, USA). Robert Sale got his education in fine arts at the Cooper Union High School. He began his comics career working for Lev Gleason, doing 'The Claw' and contributions to 'Crime Does Not Pay'. Through the Funnies Inc. studio between 1947 and 1949, he did crime features for D.S. Publishing and Hillman, 'Wonder Women of History' for National/DC and 'Candid Charlie' for Novelty. Sale shared studio space at the Charles William Harvey studios with Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, John Severin and Charlie Stern. In the 1950s, he worked mainly for Marvel/Atlas between 1951 and 1957. He drew more than 250 stories on their war, mystery and horror titles, especially in Combat Casey where he penciled and inked almost all the issues.
He spent the final years of his career doing commercial art.