Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #108


Cover Date: May 1963

“The Painter of a Thousand Perils!”

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Robert Bernstein (credited as R. Berns)

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

After having a plot foiled by the Human Torch, Wilhelm van Vile dug a tunnel to escape from prison. Along the way, he stumbled into an ancient cave with magic/alien paints that allowed anything he paints to come to life!

He used the magic paints to complete his escape from prison. Now, he wants to use them to defeat the Human Torch!

Is It Good?

Nope! This issue focuses almost entirely on The Painter (von Vile), and he’s simply not an interesting character. Jack Kirby’s pencils make this better than it should be, but it’s still pretty bad.


  • The Painter is famously bad with details…and yet is a professional forger.

  • The Painter opts to humiliate the Torch, rather than make his gang rich.

  • The Torch defeats the Painter by using his magic paints before the Painter can.


  • This is the first appearance of Wilhelm von Vile, The Painter.
  • The Painter’s abilities include painting at super-speed, the ability to make his paintings come to life, the ability to control his creations through telepathy, and the ability to erase his creations with a thought.

  • Johnny uses his fire to make flaming scissors and smoke rings to capture the bad guys.

  • Once again, asbestos thwarts the Torch.

  • The Painter’s magic paints are destroyed at the end of the issue.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I would have determined whether or not I thought the Painter was a fraud before I stepped onto his flying carpet, but that’s just me.

  • I love that the aliens apparently stand on top of their spaceship when traveling.

  • Something being “similar” to Egyptian hieroglyphs, but much (a million years!) older, would mean that you are dealing with an alphabetic, syllabic, and logographic written language with 1000+ unique characters. You wouldn’t be able to decode anything without a Rosetta Stone-type translation to compare it to. If Old English is incomprehensible compared to Modern English after just 1000-ish years, just imagine what a million years would do.

  • Johnny could have destroyed the magic paints while the Painter’s gang slept, but he instead opted to play along because…um…he’s immature?

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