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Minimidget

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Minimidget

Minimidget is a fictional character, a superhero who first appeared in Centaur Comics. Minimidget was written and illustrated by John F. Kolb (1913–2004). Because Centaur collapsed in the early 1940s, Minimidget is now in the public domain.

Fictional history

Minimidget first appeared in Amazing-Man #5 (the first issue, the other four were never published), and in his first story, he and a girl called Ritty are shrunken down to about six inches tall by a scientist named Dr. Anton Barmell. Barmell brings Minimidget to his family home and then has him climb up a drainpipe into the bedroom of his elder brother, whom Minimidget kills with a poisoned needle. After two more such killings - both victims were also Barmell's relatives - the FBI men manage to uncover the truth, after which Minimidget is fatally wounded in a mousetrap. Upon being cornered in his lab, Barmell blows it and himself to kingdom come.

Although Minimidget was supposed to have been killed, in the next issue (#6), Minimidget is revived by a paramedic. Free from the spell of Dr. Anton Barmell, he and Ritty fall in love and go on to have many adventures together, in Amazing-Man and then in Stars & Stripes comics before Centaur Comics ceased production later in the forties. Minimidget was the first shrunken superhero, beating Doll Man by a matter of months.

Minimidget and Ritty's real names were never revealed in the original comics, but he is later described as being Jack Rhodes, a character who had also appeared in Amazing-Man #5 and then never reappeared in another Centaur Comic (or any other comic, for that matter) in the AC Comics version of his story.

Inspiration

John's primary influence was Flash Gordon; he even named his son after one of the characters in the Flash Gordon series. Ritty was based on his wife, who died suddenly when his son was a boy. He didn't pick up a pen to draw for more than 30 years after she died, and much of his work was lost during that long depression.

The character may have been inspired by the movie The Devil Doll, which featured Lionel Barrymore as an escapee from Devil's Island who poses as an elderly female dollmaker and sells dolls that are actually real people shrunken down to a size of about six inches through a secret process developed by a mad scientist. Once in the home of the person who has bought them, the "dolls" climb out of their containers and stab their owners in the feet with poisoned needles - exactly the way Minimidget's victims were killed in his origin story.

Another movie may have provided the inspiration for a classic Minimidget story. Doctor Cyclops stars the virtually unknown actor Albert Dekker as a mad scientist, Dr. Anton Thorkell, who shrinks several people to a height of about six inches. They escape containment and finally manage to destroy the madman by smashing his glasses, without which he cannot see, and he falls to his death. His victims return to their normal size when the shrinking serum wears off after a short period. Doctor Cyclops was the first horror movie to be filmed in three-colour Technicolor, and was an RKO Picture. This movie could have inspired a story in which Minimidget and Ritty are helping a young man who has been framed by his crooked employer for a blackmailer's murder. To bring the murderer to justice, Minimidget and Ritty travel to his shop and Minimidget finds the murder gun while Ritty removes his glasses. While the murderous shop owner is stumbling and groping around his shop, Minimidget and Ritty call the police and have the man brought to justice and his victim released.

Sources

1. Golden Age Comics Downloads - Centaur Comics - Amazing Man

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