Vision Off… Sound On!

Back in the 1700s, mariner Jabez Stone was shipwrecked in the Nahia Islands in the South Seas and came to be worshipped by the indigenous people almost as a god. Now an imposter is posing as his descendant, Peter Stone, and fomenting rebellion among the islanders. Plantation owner Anthony Lowry sends for the adventurer Jim Bradley, known as Jungle Jim, to seek out the real Peter Stone and get him to make the natives docile once more.

That’s the background to ‘The Peter Stone Mystery’, a serial in Alex Raymond’s veteran color Sunday newspaper strip, Jungle Jim (1934-54), which ran from December 1939 to June 1940. Scriptwriter Don Moore probably didn’t consciously realize that he had appropriated the name Jabez Stone from Stephen Vincent Benét’s short story ‘The Devil and Daniel Webster’ (1936), later filmed in 1941 (and, quite incidentally, graced with a spanking publicity photo). But that need not detain us, nor indeed do we need to ponder the fate of the real Peter Stone, because we’re much more interested in the fate of…

Kitty St John is a spoiled rich girl who is another of Lowry’s guests on the plantation. She takes a fancy to Jim, unperturbed by the fact that he is accompanied by his girlfriend Shanghai Lil, and when she overhears him discussing his daring plan to infiltrate the natives along with his faithful manservant Kolu to learn more of what is going on, she decides to tag along for some excitement. But what she gets when Jim and Kolu discover her following them is perhaps more exciting for us than for her:

Or rather it would be, if the spanking hadn’t disappeared in the gap between these two consecutive panels! And it’s not as if it’s unimportant to the story: we see in the next episode that Kitty is so annoyed at having been spanked,

that she vengefully throws in her lot with the villain, the bogus Peter Stone. At least she learns the error of her ways later on when he gets fresh and Jungle Jim saves her honor, after which she goes on to be a recurring character in the strip.

But what you can’t see, you can still hear.

The Adventures of Jungle Jim also ran concurrently as a radio serial starring Matt Crowley. Each installment was dramatized from that week’s strip and broadcast the day before the pictorial version came out, with strong exhortations to buy the Hearst newspapers that carried it. And since the radio episodes ran for 14 minutes, obviously the storytelling was a little fuller on incident than was possible within the constraints of the four panels allotted to the strip each week.

So on Twelfth Night 1940, radio listeners got to hear Kitty’s inept efforts to stalk Jim and Kolu through the jungle, and the altercation with Jim which ends with him picking her up and carrying her back to the house. And then he was heard putting her down, obviously in an interesting position, followed by the sound of three sharp slaps, then Kitty’s frustrated, powerless remonstrance, almost verbatim from the strip panel:

‘Oh! Oh, you… you… devil! You spanked me! I’ll teach you to treat me like a child! I’ll show you!’

Sadly there’s no record of the actress who played Kitty, but you can listen to the episode here.

2 thoughts on “Vision Off… Sound On!

    • Harry says:

      Thanks, and sorry for the wrong link, which is corrected now. On the website the episode is titled ‘Jim’s Made Up His Mind’, but in other sources it is given as ‘She Who Gets Slapped’, which might be a bit more definitive from our point of view!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.