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Smilin' Jack. Smilin’ Jack was created by Zack Mosley and appeared in the comic strip “Smilin’ Jack” (1933-1973) and the film serial Adventures of Smilin’ Jack (1943).

“Smilin' Jack” Martin is a suave, clever, resourceful pilot who can fly anything, through any kind of weather, to get any cargo to any location. He is primarily a commercial pilot, carrying freight and cargo to various remote locations, but he also gets involved in adventures and crime fighting. Among other things he works with the Coast Guard, he explores uncharted territory, and he tests new aircraft.

Martin has three memorable nemeses: the Head, a bald Japanese agent; the Claw, a brutish South Pacific crime lord and pirate who has a prosthetic hook; and Toemain the Terrible, who raised his piranhas on human flesh. Jack is assisted by his boy companion, Pinfeathers; his handyman and cook, the portly Polynesian (and former headhunter) Fat Stuff; and Velvet Harry and Downwind Jaxon, two eccentric and sexually sinister (respectively) assistants. Jack goes through a number of girlfriends, but ends up marrying his boss, Joy, and having a son, Jungle Jolly, by her.

* I'm including "Smilin' Jack" in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because the strip is a lot of fun to read. Zack Mosley isn't in the top rank of Golden Age comic strip writer-artists, but that's led to "Smilin' Jack" being underrated by critics and unjustly nudged to the memory hole. "Smilin' Jack" was the longest-running aviation comic strip, but that's secondary to the fact that Mosley and his assistants had a lot of fun writing the strip, and that fun is contagious to the reader. The adventures are fun reading, the characters are fun to read about (Downwind Jaxon ftw!), and the villains are evil-fun in an over-the-top way. "Smilin' Jack" isn't a classic, but it's always a good time. 

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